the apostle Paul hit on the true nature of the church
body of Christ when he asked,
“Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that
Spirit of God dwells in you?
If anyone defiles the temple of God,
God will destroy him.
For the temple of God is
which temple you are”
We are the temple of God means that we—Christians,
believers in Jesus Christ--
who are joined together in one family as “the church” are a
holy dwelling place for God’s presence.
The Greek word translated as “you” in verses 16 and 17 is plural. So when Paul said, “You are the temple of God,” he was referring to the believers as a group—the local church. The temple in Jerusalem was a sacred building dedicated to the worship of God. According to Paul, the church was the equivalent of the temple. God’s presence resided in the church, and the
church was to maintain holiness.
This passage is part of a more
on maintaining unity and not
letting the church become
divided over loyalties to
(1 Corinthians 3:1–23).
The sacredness of God’s house requires extreme care from church leaders. The Corinthian leaders needed to safeguard the unity of God’s temple, and the believers needed to avoid any moral corruption that would “defile” the sacredness of “the temple of God.”
From humanity’s beginning, God has desired to live among and commune with His people.
In the Garden of Eden,
God walked and talked
with Adam in Eve in the cool of the day
When He made His covenant with Israel, the
Lord promised, “I will put my
dwelling place among you. . .
. I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people”
As the Israelites
wandered in the desert,
God wanted to
inhabit a place with His people (Exodus 25:8).
At that time, the people lived in
presence of God dwelled
in the tent of the
(Exodus 27:21; 40:34–38).
His presence was the guiding force that told the people when to stay put and when to pull up stakes and continue on their journey (Exodus 40:34–38). Later, after the Hebrew people entered the Promised Land and lived in fixed dwellings, God affixed His name to a place, sanctifying Solomon’s temple as the Lord’s holy dwelling place (1 Kings 8:10–11).
In the New Testament, God’s presence was manifested in a new way: in the person of Jesus Christ—the Logos, who is the living, incarnate, eternal Word of God (John 1:1–4, 14–18). The Logos took on human flesh and made His home among us. Through the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, God lived among His people. His name is Immanuel, meaning “God with us”
(Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:21–23).
Jesus Christ became the new earthly temple of God (John 2:21).
“For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body,”
says Colossians 2:9 (NLT; see also Colossians 1:19).
The complete image
revealed in Jesus our Savior
Yet Christ is only the
God’s indwelling presence.
Today, the New Testament church--
the body of believers who gather in the
name of Jesus—constitutes the
temple of God’s Holy Spirit
(1 Corinthians 3:16).
Jesus said, “
Anyone who loves me will
obey my teaching.
My Father will love them,
we will come to them and make our
home with them”
Paul also taught the Ephesians that,
of God’s household, the church
built on the foundation
apostles and prophets,
Christ Jesus himself
In him the whole building is joined
together and rises to
become a holy temple in the Lord.
And in him you
too are being built together to become a
in which God lives by
The church of Jesus Christ is a
spiritual temple made of “living stones . . .
being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood,
spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God
through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5).
Not only is the church as a whole or as the local body
dwelling place of God’s presence,
but individual believers are also to consider themselves
the temple of God’s Holy Spirit
(1 Corinthians 6:19; cf. 2 Corinthians 6:16, NLT).
Sermon on the Mount,
Jesus taught His listeners the difference between
and He emphasized the importance of the heavenly:
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy,
and where thieves do not break in and steal.
For where your treasure is,
your heart will be also”
Whatever we focus on dictates our actions. When we focus on earthly success and wealth, we will expend our energies on earthly matters. However, when we focus on God’s priorities, our actions will reflect different priorities—and our reward in heaven will last forever.
is anything we value above all
else and that which motivates us to action.
For some it is money. For others it is power. Still other people strive for fame or attention. There are many things in this world vying for control of our heart. According to Jesus, determining where our treasure is also determines where our heart is. Many people claim to look forward to heaven, but their hearts are really not in it—their hearts are caught up in the cares of this world, because that’s where their treasure lies.
Jesus warned us that earthly currency has an expiration date.
While it may satisfy us temporarily, it is unstable and fleeting. The ever-changing faces on magazine covers remind us that the famous are here and gone in a blink. The stock market crash of 1929 taught us that the wealthy can quickly lose it all.
Power, prestige, and public approval
and can be gone in an instant.
Even the Son of God
experienced the fickleness of human approval.
One day people were trying to make
Him king (John 6:15),
and the next they were leaving Him in droves
“This world in its present form is passing away” (1 Corinthians 7:31).
The moment we take our last breath, earthly treasure won’t matter anymore. Jesus urged us to think beyond that last breath to eternity.
When our focus is on eternity--
when our treasure is laid up in heaven--
our lifestyles reflect that
We will all give an account of ourselves before God for every action (Romans 14:12) and every idle word (Matthew 12:36). No one is exempt. Excuses are not accepted. God sees and knows every thought we think and holds us accountable for the truth we’ve been given (Romans 1:18–22). We store up “treasure in heaven” when we make choices on earth that benefit God’s kingdom. Jesus said that even offering a cup of cool water to a fellow believer is worthy of eternal reward (Matthew 10:42).
In Luke 16:19–31, Jesus told a story about a rich man and a beggar. The rich man had invested his life in opulence and pleasure. He cared little for anyone or anything but himself. When he died, his riches could not follow him. His life choices had prepared him only for hell, and all the money and prestige he enjoyed on earth counted for nothing. After death, he would have given everything he ever owned for a single drop of water, but his treasure had been invested elsewhere.
It is no sin to be rich, but our passions follow our investments.
Wealthy people who consider their
riches as belonging to God will use
what they have in ways that have eternal significance,
protecting their own hearts from the
love of money
(1 Timothy 6:10).
People whose treasure is in heaven cannot be
owned by their possessions.
They cannot be bought off because nothing on earth
is worth the price of their soul. They value the currency of
heaven and use their earthly treasure to purchase
which will never lose its value.
Investing our treasure in material things
keeps our hearts
anchored to earthly values;
however, when we invest in things of eternal value,
remain loyal to the Lord,
and we will not be
tempted to foolishly attempt
both God and money