A Very Big Question
Do you not know and understand that you [the church] are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells [permanently] in you [collectively and individually]?
1 Corinthians 3:16
One of the most astounding truths of the Christian life is that the moment we trust in Christ as our Savior, His Spirit takes up residence in our bodies. Yes, that’s right, inside us. Paul relates this insight immediately after explaining that a day is coming when all our actions and attitudes will pass through the fire to be graded by Christ(1 Corinthians 3:12-15). What’s the connection between being a temple of the Holy Spirit and this report card?
God doesn’t ask us to love the unlovely, live with courageous faith, and forgive our enemies on our own. He knows we can’t do it by ourselves, so He gives us His Spirit to guide and empower us to do His will. The Spirit uses the truth of Scripture, His gentle nudge, circumstances, and the wisdom of mature friends to guide us, and He transforms our hearts to care more about Him and others than about our selfish interests.
The Spirit provides supernatural resources to equip us, but Paul’s question also implies that we live under the watchful eye of the One who lives inside us. Nothing-literally nothing- escapes His notice. We obey Christ, then, for many different reasons: the promise of rewards, the Spirit’s resources to enable and empower us, and the reminder that we live under His all-seeing eyes. Together, they form a powerful motivational punch to keep us pursuing God and His purposes.
It is gloriously exciting to know that we can stay connected to the source of all power and authority just by opening our hearts and our minds to Him.
In the Old Testament if you wanted to connect to God, you had to build an altar, go the tabernacle or temple with a sacrifice and then have the priest to go to God on your behalf. No one except the High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies where the presence of God resided and he could only after an intense cleansing process.
But we who are Christians are living temples and the Holy Spirit takes up residence in us the moment that we confess our sins and receive Christ as Savior. When He moves in, He occupies as much space as we will permit Him to occupy. Because He is holy, every place He occupies becomes holy as well. This is what Paul is saying to us when he asks us whether or not we know that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit.
The incredible benefits of having the Spirit dwelling in us is beyond measure. We are sealed by Him the Bible teaches. Seals have different purposes. One of those is to preserve such as the seal on a jar. We, too, have been sealed by the Holy Spirit who preserves us from the sin and evil that surround us. The second purpose of a seal is to signify ownership such as would be used by a king to stamp documents or the royal insignia that declared certain things to belong to the king. We, too, have been sealed as such by the Holy Spirit declaring that we are the possession of God. Since the Holy Spirit dwells in us we have access to all the knowledge and wisdom of God literally at our fingertips. Furthermore, since the Holy Spirit has all power we have a share of of that power. Remember what Jesus told the disciples? “But you shall receive power after that the Holy Spirit comes upon you….” What an amazing blessing it is to understand that we have the privilege of being the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit.
I hope that lifts up your heart and spirit. Think about the fact that the very Creator of the universe wishes to dwell with us and in us sharing His love, grace, power, and wisdom. It’s not supposed to scare us or to intimidate us to know that the Spirit is dwelling in us. Rather it ought to give us great joy and delight to know that God cares about us enough to become intimately involved with us. Yes, He goes with us everywhere we go so maybe that should give us pause when we are considering where we are going. It is true that He is with us when no matter what we’re doing so maybe we ought to think about our actions. And it is also true that He knows our very thoughts so maybe our thought life might need to be controlled. But let us never forget that the love of God for us goes way beyond our understanding and He really does want what’s best for us. Jesus in telling the disciples about the gift of the Holy Spirit said that He is the Father’s best gift for His children.
“So I say to you, ask and keep on asking, and it will be given to you; seek and keep on seeking, and you will find; knock and keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who keeps on asking [persistently], receives; and he who keeps on seeking [persistently], finds; and to him who keeps on knocking [persistently], the door will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you, then, being evil [that is, sinful by nature], know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask and continue to ask Him!”
So since the Holy Spirit wishes us to be the temple(tabernacle) which means the meeting place with God, what does He want of us? Just an invitation(behold I stand at the door and knock). Just a reception:
“They will be My people, and I will be their God; and I will give them one heart and one way, that they may [reverently] fear Me forever, for their own good and for the good of their children after them. I will make an everlasting covenant with them that I will do them good and not turn away from them; and I will put in their heart a fear and reverential awe of Me, so that they will not turn away from Me. I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will faithfully plant them in this land with all My heart and with all My soul.”
So throw open the door of your heart, invite the Holy Spirit in, prepare Him all the room possible and watch out for all the amazing ways God guides you, blesses you, protects you, and provides for you!
Dr. John Thompson