“Do you not know that you are God’s temple, and that God’s spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.”
(1 Corinthians 3:16–17)
Now, what’s interesting about these two verses is that the bible is saying that you, we, are God’s temple. Now, we’ll see a few chapters from now in first Corinthians chapter six that our body is the temple of the holy spirit. We actually prayed that yesterday based on first Corinthians chapter two. But the picture here in first Corinthians three is not Paul writing to individuals about how their bodies are the temple of the holy spirit. Instead, he’s talking to the church and he says, “Do you not know that you,” and you is not singular there, it’s plural. He’s talking to the body of believers.
1 Corinthians 3 shows us that the church is a unique body because it is set apart by God to be a display of His character.
They’re at Corinth, and he says, “You together, you are God’s temple, and God’s spirit dwells in you,” plural. So, get the picture here of the church. Think about your church that you are a part of, and let me encourage you. If you are not committed to a body of Christ, a local body of believers, to commit yourself in that way. Don’t live the Christian life in isolation or with indifference to the church, kind of hopping from this one to the next. Go commit yourself to a local body of believers, a local church. So Paul is writing to a specific group of people called the church at Corinth. So they knew who they were, this body of believers. And he says, “Do you not know that you are God’s temple? God’s spirit dwells in you.”
So when you picture your church, realize. Just picture the gathering of your church on a Sunday like you are the dwelling place of God. God houses himself among you. That’ll change your perspective on Sunday morning or Sunday night, or whenever you gather together with your church. You are God’s temple. God’s spirit dwelling in you, in this body. And then verse 17 goes on to talk about how God’s temple is holy. This is a pure people, set apart for his purposes. And this is where I want to encourage you, as you think about your church, to realize this is a different group of people. It’s different than any other gathering of people in the world.
The church is a unique body because it is set apart by God. That’s what it means to be holy, to be set apart. The church is set apart by God to be a display of his character. So that means when you gather together with your church, the goal is not entertainment for you. The goal is really not you. The goal is display the glory of God. That’s what the church is, a temple of God. A display of his glory to show the world what his presence looks like in the midst of a people. That’s the purpose of the church. That’s the purpose of the church, and we must not miss it.
So God, we pray for each of our churches. I pray for the church I’m a part of, I pray for other churches representing those who are listening right now praying with me. God, please make our churches holy, set apart. God, we pray that our churches would be a display of your character, of your holiness, of your love, of your justice, of your righteousness, of your compassion, of your glory. The manifestation of your character, may it be on display in our churches. We pray, help us to realize who we are, the place where you house your spirit, where you show your glory to the world around us. So God, we pray that you help us to love and build up your church accordingly. Help us to be the church you’ve called us to be.
Help us to be a display of your holiness for your glory in our gathering, in our singing, in our studying your word, and our praying. And in our loving one another and our serving one another and caring for one another, and all 59 one anothers that we see in the New Testament. God, we pray that you would make us a unique, set apart community that clearly displays the glory of your name and the power and the beauty of your spirit that dwells among us. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
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