What It Means to Be the Holy Temple of God
In the Old Testament, the presence of God made its dwelling in the Holy of Holies. As the innermost sacred area of the tabernacle, it contained the Ark of the Covenant and was only accessible once a year by an Israelite high priest. The presence of God was so powerful, that to go behind the veil in an unworthy manner could potentially mean death. But all of this changed when Jesus died on the cross. The veil was torn in two and all of God’s people gained access to His presence. The Bible now describes us as the temple of God. His presence, the same powerful presence that once dwelt in the Holy of Holies, now dwells within us.
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Defining the temple of God…
Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are. – 1 Corinthians 3:16-17
In the Old Testament, the temple of God was where His Spirit lived. The Israelite nation would carry the Spirit of God with them everywhere they went, including into battle. But with the death and resurrection of Christ, we are now able to be “born of the Spirit.” In other words, we are made clean and holy, able to have the Holy Spirit living within us. So instead of God’s presence being external, His Spirit is now internal inside of all who believe in Jesus.
The concept of holiness is also important. In order for God’s presence to reside with the people of Israel, everything had to be cleansed in blood. His presence is holy therefore the place it resides needs to be holy. The blood of Jesus cleanses us of all unrighteousness making us holy. It is through Jesus alone that we are able to become the temple of God.
Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit…
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body. – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Personally speaking, your body is a temple of God. His Holy Spirit lives within each of us individually. How amazing it that the presence of God actually lives inside of us? In the Old Testament, that would have seemed impossible. But the cross made the impossible possible.
So, the next time you feel weak, remember that the Spirit of God is in you. The next time you are tempted to sin, remember that the Spirit of God is in you. And the next time you feel afraid, remember that the Spirit of God is in you. Greater is He that is in you than he who is in the world!
Together we are the temple of God…
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit. – Ephesians 2:19-22
While the Bible speaks of us being the temple of God individually, it also speaks us being His temple collectively. Truth be told, Paul described us as a temple that under construction so to speak. We are still being “fitted together” and are “growing.” Our foundation is secure (the apostles and prophets) and Jesus is our cornerstone. But the remainder of God’s temple is still being “built together.”
I don’t know about you, but I find this truth to be comforting. Looking at the church today, we don’t have it all together yet. We are definitely a work in progress as we strive to be united in Christ. But the Bible confirms that He who began a good work will be faithful to complete it. The temple will be completed and together as God’s people, we will be a perfected temple of God.
Never forget that as the temple of God, you have His presence with you at all times.
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*Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.
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