The True Temple of God
“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” 1 Corinthians 3:16
A temple is a holy place, a sanctuary of worship. The temple the LORD had Moses construct was in order that He might dwell among His people. - “And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.” (Exod. 25:8). Why was there a tent of meeting? – “that I may dwell among them.” We must never lose sight of the original and perpetual purpose for a temple – for God and man to abide together in relational communion and that the Creator’s will could be advanced in the earth (Gen. 1:26; Jn. 14:15, 21, 23; 17:3; 2 Cor. 6:16-18).
The temple of God is the place He chooses to dwell – to reside. Where did the LORD tell us He chooses to dwell?
“Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for (now) he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also… Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.” John 14:17-19; 16:7
When Jesus spoke these words He had not yet ascended back to Heaven. The Son of God here promised that when He went to the glory of His Father He was going to send the divine Person of the Holy Ghost to dwell inside every born again believer (His temples). This is why Jesus tells us in John 16:7 that it was “expedient” or better for them His disciples (and us), that He went away – so that upon re-entering His Father’s heavenly throne of glory, He could send into the hearts of every saint, the divine Person of the Holy Spirit. Apparently, up until this point the Holy Spirit was only with His saints and not inside of them in the special way He dwells with us under this glorious New Covenant (read the book of Hebrews). Christ here foretells that soon, when He rose again from the dead and ascended up on high, He was going to send forth the Holy Ghost and though now “he dwelleth WITH you,” soon He “shall be IN you.” (Jn. 14:17) But not everyone can receive the divine presence. There is a qualification to receive the very presence of the Holy Spirit - “Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” (Jn. 14:17) Only those who know Jesus and have been cleansed by His holy blood will receive the Holy Spirit and be His temples – the place He dwells. Now that His blood was shed to take away the sins of the world, the divine presence of “the Spirit of truth” was now going to dwell in those temples whom He had regenerated and cleansed in preparation for His abiding (Jn. 14:17).
There is a shadow of this in the law of Moses. This truth (that one must be washed in the blood to receive the Spirit) is a prophetic prefiguring of what Christ become the reality and fulfillment of. Jesus Christ has become the substance of what this was a mere “shadow of things to come.” Hebrews 10:1 says – “For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.” The blood of Jesus has provided for us much better things in our relationship with God, including the truth that we are His temples – the place He has chosen to dwell. The sacrifices under the Old Covenant were infinitely inferior to that of the supreme and matchless perfection of Christ’s sacrifice through which He has granted us a “better covenant.” – “But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant (far superior), which was established upon better promises.” (Heb. 8:6)
The shadow: Do you remember that under the law, the blood was first applied to the priest and then the oil? The substance: There is order with the LORD – one must first be cleansed of all unholy contamination (sin) by the blood of sacrifice before the oil of God the Holy Spirit will come and dwell there.
“And thou shalt take of the blood that is upon the altar, and of the anointing oil, and sprinkle it upon Aaron, and upon his garments, and upon his sons, and upon the garments of his sons with him: and he shall be hallowed, and his garments, and his sons, and his sons' garments with him.” Exodus 29:21
With these truths at heart and for a deeper understanding, let’s peruse through a larger portion of this vital passage recorded in John 14, even the words of our LORD:
“And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide (dwell) with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me. These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” John 14:16-26
The Holy Spirit is now dwelling in us as His temples – “he abideth IN US, by the Spirit which he hath given us…greater is he that is IN YOU, than he that is in the world.” (1 Jn. 3:24; 4:4)
The person who does not understand what God’s Word teaches about the identification of God’s real “church” - “God’s building” - is prey for a wolf to make him loyal to his own cause, diverting and intercepting His focus from the LORD God (soul-damning idolatry - Eph. 5:5-9).
Did Jesus ever build a physical building to further His heavenly kingdom? No. So what does He mean by the declaration “I will build my church”? (Matt. 16:18) How does the Bible define His “church”? Greek – ekklessia, which means called out ones (people). The Carpenter from Heaven promised to build and work on His “building” causing it to prevail against all hell could offer (Matt. 16:18). His people are the “church” Jesus promised to “build.” We are each lively stones - “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” (1 Pet. 2:5) Each one of His people are a living stone making up His “building,” His “temple,” His “spiritual house.” (1 Cor. 3:9, 16; 1 Pet. 2:5)
“And I (Christ) say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock (the revelation that I am the Messiah) I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:18
The revealed divine goal is to “build” His family by saving and changing lives that are houses of clay and being conformed to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:28-29). Christ didn’t come to give license to sub-leaders to build their own little kingdoms using His name. He is orchestrating all things to this divine and holy end - it’s all about Him and not us. This is why He has redeemed us and come to dwell in us - to do what He promised and is doing, build His church. Any movement, leader, or organization that does not own and communicate this foundational truth through the Gospel, is preaching another gospel and is false (Gal. 1:6-9). Defining the true Church as the LORD has in His Word is ultra important, especially in this late hour of epidemic apostasy (Matt. 24:3-5; 2 Thess. 2:3; 1 Tim. 4:1-3; Rev. 12:12). Jesus Christ told us that His kingdom was “not of this world” and that His kingdom was within His people and not an organization of mere men or physical building – “the most High dwelleth NOT in temples made with hands.” (Lk. 17:21; Jn. 18:36; Acts 7:48)
Just as the blood of an animal sacrifice preceded the application of the anointing oil, so the precious blood of Christ made it possible for His Holy Spirit to dwell inside each and every believer. This is why Jesus told us that it was “expedient” for us that He go to Heaven after paying the full price for our sins on the cross – so He could send the Spirit into each heart (Acts 2:1-4).
Did you catch that? - “the most High dwelleth NOT in temples made with hands.” (Acts 7:48) God is holy and cannot dwell in any place prepared by the hands of sinful men. As God would have it, only the divine blood of His only begotten Son via His nail-pierced hands and feet could have possibly prepared the place in us for His holy presence to dwell.
This “so great salvation,” wrought by the very blood of Jesus, provided for the indwelling Spirit to inhabit us as His temples and gives full access and blessed provision to every believer for communion and any need (Heb. 2:3; 4:14-16).
God is all about people and yet cannot bestow His blessing until there is true repentance and humility (Isa. 1:18-20; Acts 3:19; James 4:6-10). We should ask His forgiveness for the idolatry of having other gods before Him and therefore aggrandizing self, physical temples, organizations, programs, and mere men.
“For the LORD taketh pleasure in HIS PEOPLE (not physical buildings, organizations or leaders, etc.): he will beautify the meek with salvation.” Psalms 149:4
The Father sent His only begotten Son for people. The earth and everything else is only in existence for His highest creation for which He came and bled. The eternal Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, ultimately purchasing our redemption with His own blood in order to wash away all our sins and grant us intimate relationship with Him who is “holy, holy, holy.” (Isa. 6:3; Matt. 26:28; Rev. 4:8). Christ did not come to the earth so that men could use His name to amass organizations to their own glory, ruling over the people – such is the occupation of “evil workers.” (Phil. 3:1-3, 17-19) Jesus told us that those who truly followed Him would be the greatest servants (Matt. 20:24-28). Any person in leadership who does not strive to be “servant of all” is in direct disobedience to the command of Christ and will inevitably become a wolf operating among the sheep if he does not repent and lay down his life (Mk. 9:35). Hirelings are those who are in ministry positions for their own personal gain – they serve their own carnal appetites (Phil. 3:17-19). As we were repeatedly forewarned, there are “many” who erect physical monuments and perpetuate the existence of religious organizations of mere men while claiming to be Christ’s leaders. This they do while simultaneously rejecting His words (Matt. 7:21; Mk. 8:38).
The LORD is all about “HIS PEOPLE” and not physical buildings, organizations, religious politics, or the undue and idolatrous worship of human leaders, etc. Those who do not emphasize this truth that Jesus Christ is “Head” and is building His people – His Church – His building, are those who are “not (up)holding the Head (Christ), from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God.” (Col. 2:18-19)
Oh yeah to the naked and untrained eye it looks like Christianity is growing in America with all the church buildings that are being constructed. That’s a picture of the organized, visible apostate church world. As Elijah and the apostle Paul were taught and reminded of, God’s remnant people are not always readily visible to the physical eye (1 Kings 19:14, 18; Acts 18:9-10). But we must ask ourselves if the growth of the kingdom of God is parallel with the construction of brick and mortar buildings and the numeric growth of organizations or local churches.
According to history, organizations, properties, and numbers of people can be thriving while men are simultaneously departing from the LORD.
“For Israel hath forgotten his Maker, and buildeth temples; and Judah hath multiplied fenced cities: but I will send a fire upon his cities, and it shall devour the palaces thereof. “ Hosea 8:14
“Israel hath forgotten his Maker, and buildeth temples” - From this telling statement it seems that as men forget God, they tend to migrate to the idolatry of self by building physical structures as a way to make up for what they lack spiritually. The innate tendency in the man who has a mere form of godliness yet does not know the LORD, is to construct physical things, believing that he is contributing to the building of God’s kingdom. For this sin the LORD promises to send the “fire” of His judgment which must begin at the house of God (Isa. 5:20-24; 1 Pet. 4:17-18).
Those who understand the biblical truth about the true Church and that we are His temples, will cringe when we hear a pastor stand up and say “Welcome to the house of God.” We are the Church (called-out ones) and therefore cannot go to church as many insinuate. We are the temple or house of God and therefore cannot go to the house of God. Now we can fellowship with those in “the household of faith” yet the house of God is not a physical building where we gather (Gal. 6:10). Any leader who misleads people to believe that his little church program or business is “the house of God” simply does not possess a foundational knowledge of the kingdom of God.
Like apostate Israel, in America we see the exponential proliferation of “church houses” at the expense of the advancement and spread of the kingdom of Heaven. Wasn’t this the case with the Laodiceans? They appeared to have substance with all their material wealth and yet God saw them as ready to be rejected out of His body because they were “lukewarm… wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked...” (Rev. 3:14-22). Let’s freshly read these vitally important words of Christ and examine our own hearts in this light:
“And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.” Revelation 3:14-22
One deceived pastor of a large and financially affluent church here in the Dallas area attributes the financial increase and his accumulation of real estate properties to the growth of God’s kingdom. Is that biblically accurate?
“Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest? For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word. He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man; he that sacrificeth a lamb, as if he cut off a dog's neck; he that offereth an oblation, as if he offered swine's blood; he that burneth incense, as if he blessed an idol. Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations. I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear: but they did evil before mine eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not. Hear the word of the LORD, ye that tremble at his word; Your brethren that hated you, that cast you out for my name's sake, said, Let the LORD be glorified: but he shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed.” Isaiah 66:1-5
The LORD is not impressed with physical buildings and organizations of religious men who don’t know Him. The Almighty told us that He only chooses to commune with that redeemed person who is of a “poor and of a contrite spirit” and therefore trembles at His holy Word (Isa. 66:2).
Being His dwelling place requires that I obediently keep His temple clean. (God be praised for repentance, His holy throne of grace, and the restoring love of Christ). Such is a condition for remaining His son and receiving His blessings:
“And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” 2 Corinthians 6:15-7:1
PRAYER: Father, do a fresh work in my heart. Grant a heart of flesh and please remove all stony places in my heart. Bless me to please You in all my thoughts, meditations and acts in this short life. Dig in deep, probing the depths of my heart. Please test the substance of my life and reveal to me the true value or lack thereof of my spiritual life. Grant me repentance and the holy fear of the LORD. Let me be clothed with Your righteousness through the blood of Jesus. Amen.
This message was sent out to each person who is on our Moments For My Master email devotional list. We would love to add you and have the privilege of nourishing your heart with God's Word (1 Tim. 4:6). Click here to Join.