Archive for July, 2012
Reading today from 1 Corinthians 6-7, I am reminded that Christians, me included, far too often neglect the biblical instruction that our own bodies are the biblical temple of the Holy Spirit and should be treated and cared for appropriately. The Apostle Paul provides the foundation for this way of living by saying “Don’t you know that your body is a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19, 20 HCSB) God the Father has paid the ultimate price for our redemption, He gave His own Son (John 3:16). God the Son laid down His own life so that we might live (1 Peter 2:24, 1 John 3:16, Galatians 2:19-20). All was for the purpose of glorifying God. The point Paul is making can be missed in the English translation. In the Greek, he is using the terminology of a slavery. God purchased us to free us from the slavery to sin “that so easily ensnares us” (Hebrews 12:1 HCSB) to the slavery of righteousness, which is freedom in Christ (Galatians 5, Romans 6).
While I understand what we mean and am guilty of using the same terminology, the church building is not the church. The church building is not the temple/sanctuary of God as it was in the Old Testament. The church building is not the “place” where God resides. For certain, the buildng is a place that should be respected as a “house of prayer” (Mark 11:17) and Christians should do their best to keep it as nice as possible, but we must not project our own inner godly longing for cleansing, purity, and holines onto a physical structure while we neglect the real intended focus: our bodies and our lives. We have been called to holiness, being set apart…different from the world around us. This includes, and in 21st century America I dare say especially, sexual sin.
In some sense, sin is hard to define consisely because of its wide scope but, at least in part, sin can be defined as misusing/abusing God’s creation in ways that He did not intend. As such, Paul is teaching in 1 Corinthians 5-7 (in agreement with the rest of Scripture) that sexual activity is designed by God and placed exclusively in the context of His design for marriage (one man-one woman for life). Paul uses Genesis 2:24 as both context and illustration. One of the biblical pictures for God’s relationship to His people is marriage. Paul builds on that picture here. As a man and woman “become one flesh” through martial consummation, “anyone joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him” (1 Corinthians 6:17 HCSB). The Holman Christian Study Bible contains this note on 1 Corinthians 6:18-20:
Sexual immorality is unique among sins insomuch as it is sin against the body, thus assaulting the sanctity of a believer’s sacred oneness with Christ (sealed by the Holy Spirit who is in you) and the oneness of holy matrimony (cp. 7:2 ). The point is that the believer’s body is a sacred vessel, bought at a price by the Son of God. Believers thus have no business doing anything with the Lord’s body that does not glorify Him.
Christian, as I have been challenged this morning, let me challenge you today to lay aside misuses of God’s design for sex. There are too many variations to list here, but I pray that as you have read this, the Holy Spirit has brought to your mind something in your physical life that is spiritually ensnaring you. Let us strive together today to “offer ourselves to God…as instruments of righteousness (Romans 6:13).
So, you too consider yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, so that you obey its desires. And do not offer any parts of it to sin as weapons for unrighteousness. But as those who are alive from the dead, offer yourselves to God, and all the parts of yourselves to God as instruments of righteousness. For sin will not rule over you, because you are not under law but under grace.
(Romans 6:11-14 HCSB)
Note: The question of whether or not Chrisitans should own and invest in corporate facilities for worship, Bible study, and fellowship is beyond the scope of this writing so I am leaving that discussion for another time and place.