We wrapped up last week’s post talking about the Greek word naos (G3485), translated “temple” and referring to the inner part of the temple. In the physical temple, the right to enter this sanctuary, the Holy of Holies, belonged to the High Priest alone. So reading 1 Corinthians 6, we see that our bodies are the temple for God’s Holy Spirit.
Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. (1 Cor. 6:19-20)
How highly must God think of your body as a vessel for His spirit, if He calls us each naos, the same word used to refer to Jesus Christ’s physical body. We are a holy place for Him, purchased by and belonging to Him. And we are infinitely more valuable to Him than the gold in a physical temple. We are His dwelling place.
There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills. For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. (1 Cor. 12:4-13)
We are given gifts for the profit of the entire body. Each of us individually, in our own bodies, are temples of the Holy Spirit. We are also members individually of the body of Christ, which is greater than any physical temple.
“God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things.” (Acts 17:24-25)
This is what Paul says when speaking to people in Athens. It is much the same thing Stephen says in Acts 7:46-50. In both verses, Greek word for temple is naos. For me the lesson is clear. Human hands can build all the glorious temple complexes they want to build, but God is only interested in one thing – individual human beings who He can indwell through His holy spirit. Think of all the wealth of the ages that has been expended on huge temples, church buildings, and edifices, in human efforts to “glorify God” in material things, and all according to the thoughts and ways of man. We’ll put more gold in the temple (the pharisees loved the gold of the temple), maybe add a little more elbow grease to polish it up and make it nice and shiny for God, more sweet-smelling cedar wood, a higher offering, more money, crystal chandeliers, or in OT times maybe a fatter calf. But what does God really value? And what does He really want from us?
“Reverence My Sanctuary”
The answer to this question all begins with Jesus Christ, the One foundation.
For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are. Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. (1 Cor. 3:11-18)
We all need to be very careful how we regard the temple, or sanctuary, of God, both in ourselves, and in others who are part of His temple. We must all be responsible with the trust God has placed in us, and be on guard because we can come to regard ourselves as “wise,” and with the best of human intentions, bring harm to the rest of His church.
And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you[a] are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” Therefore, “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.” “I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” (2 Cor. 6:16-18)
This is another caution against any type of defilement, or pollution, of His temple, the naos where He dwells in us. It reminds us of our individual responsibility to God, to Jesus the head of the body, and to our brethren. For me personally, this study has provided the greatest incentive to overcome, and reconcile with brethren that I’ve ever run across. In Leviticus 19:30 and 26:2, there is a command that reads, “You shall keep My Sabbaths and reverence My sanctuary: I am the Lord.” I’ve always looked upon this command as it refers to the physical temple and church, but in light of what we’ve seen so far, can we also reverence (stand in awe and respect of) what God and Christ are doing in one another? Can we look upon our relationships with each other in this light? Each of us is a naos to God and Christ, a holy dwelling place for Them and a sanctuary for their spirit. The temple made up of our bodies is something He values so highly that He is willing to put His own DNA (the Holy Spirit) in us and re-write us from the old man into the new.
So, when he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified, and God is glorified in Him. If God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself, and glorify Him immediately. Little children, I shall be with you a little while longer. You will seek Me; and as I said to the Jews, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come,’ so now I say to you. A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:31-35)
Here we are reminded of the command to “reverence my sanctuary” by the command “love one another.” We need to have love and respect for each other as vessels of the Holy Spirit of God. The indwelling of His Holy Spirit is what sets us apart as a holy, sanctified people. We are all sanctuaries for the indwelling of the holy spirit of God.
For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. (Romans 8:5-14)
What is God Looking For?
We’re still looking to answer the question, What kind of “temples” does God want to indwell? Isaiah 66 begins to answer this quite nicely, and with wording that connects us back to the fact that God “does not dwell in temples made with hands” that we saw twice in the book of Acts.
Thus says the Lord: “Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool. Where is the house that you will build Me? And where is the place of My rest? For all those things My hand has made, and all those things exist,” says the Lord. “But on this one will I look: on him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word. (Isa 66:1-2)
God is looking for a people to plant the Firstfruit into so that the harvest can continue. He wants us to walk humbly before His throne, and to respect His word which expresses a way of life that He expects us to live. God wants a people He can dwell in, and a people who will go to the effort to make themselves a habitable sanctuary for Him in the way they treat and think about themselves and the way they treat and think about their brethren. And even though we are not perfect, and we make many mistakes, the greatest mistake we could make is to give up. The churches of God are not in the greatest shape today. Everywhere we look there seems to be stagnation and gridlock. How hard is it for churches today to live in peace and walk in peace! They have to establish committees just to decide whether to recognize each other as churches or to organize an outreach program. But I don’t, and you don’t. Each of us is responsible for our own outreach program. You can extend the right hand of fellowship, make a call, send a card, pray for a brother or sister in the greater body of Christ, and you don’t have to wait for permission from a church group.
In this series on the tapestry of Pentecost, we’ve seen a weaving together of different elements from the whole history of the plan of God.
- The waving of the first sheaf of grain when Israel entered the promised land.
- How that foreshadowed Jesus Christ as the real wavesheaf – the first fruit in a spiritual harvest.
- How the waving of that sheaf before God started a 50 day countdown to Pentecost – the feast of the firstfruits of God – produced by him through Jesus Christ in the called out ones.
- How the promised gift of the holy spirit (given through Him to the church) was made available to humanity by and through the first fruit.
- Then we have the physical body of Christ as our example and forerunner – the original temple (naos) of the holy spirit.
- Followed by the fact that each of our bodies is a temple of the holy spirit. Individual sanctuaries and vessels for the indwelling presence of the holy spirit of God and Christ.
- And the promise that because it all worked for the First sheaf of the harvest – so it will work for all of the first fruits … Christ said, “because I live, you shall live!” and He meant it. That’s a promise to all of us.
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures. (Jas. 1:17-18)
The feast of Pentecost is one of those great gifts of encouragement sent down from the Father of lights and Jesus Christ to each and every individual temple of Their Holy Spirit. I hope each of us considers our responsibility as temples of the Holy Spirit, vessels containing the great gift given to the church on the first Pentecost, and that we use it wisely in the hard times we’re living in the church today. May we all become better habitations for Their indwelling, and treat all of the individual sanctuaries with the reverence that God commands. Update: read the other posts in this series Part One: The Tapestry of Pentecost: Wave Sheaf and Firstfruit Part Two: The Tapestry of Pentecost: The Holy Spirit