In 1 Corinthians 4:16, Paul asks a question that deserves an answer:
Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
The apostle Peter says as living stones we are “being built up as a spiritual house…acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1) Paul adds that we have been “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the Cornerstone.” (2)
So what does all that mean to you and me? And why does it even matter? We will look at what this means, and you may be surprised by how much it matters!
When Solomon built the first temple, stones we quarried, measured, cut to size, squared up, shaped, trimmed and finished off site, so the sound of a tool was not heard at the construction site. (3) As living stones, how do we get quarried and ready to be used? Buildings never build themselves. Stones do not jump up out of the ground and roll into place. It takes considerable effort to get a stone separated from the hard mass of the ground to become a usable building material. And that is what our Savior, Christ Jesus, does for us. He sacrificed Himself in order for us to become those living stones! And, my fellow Christians, His is a finished work. We are saved by His blood, so the noise of hammering on the outside of the stone is complete!
You and I are fitted together, in a building being constructed as the temple of God. The building is being added to each time another person comes to know Jesus Christ.
Amazing, isn’t it? But wait, there is more…
We, each and every one of us who calls on the name of the Lord Jesus, has been “sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of Promise.”(4) Each of us living stones have the Holy Spirit living in us. This Presence in us is not a consolation prize. Jesus told his disciples that it was better for Him (Jesus! The Son of God! Our Messiah!) to LEAVE because, after He left, He would send the Helper. (5)
Having the Holy Spirit IN us is better than having Jesus NEXT to us!
Let that sink in.
So what does that mean in light of the temple picture? Let’s go back to Solomon’s temple. After its construction was completed, the ark of the testimony was placed in the holy of holies. Immediately “the cloud filled the house of the Lord, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord.” (6) That is the picture, my friends in Christ, of what happens to us when we come to know Jesus as our Lord and Savior. The Holy Spirit takes up residence in us, and it is as if we have the holy of holies inside! The part of the temple which housed the ark, with it’s mercy seat on top for the presence of the Lord, is the holy of holies. This is a picture of our hearts. It has become the dwelling place for the Most High God.
The holy of holies, according to the accounts in 1 Kings 6 and 2 Chronicles 3, was a square space about 30’x30’x30′ high covered in fine gold; walls, ceilings and floors. No wood or stone was visible, only finely crafted and decorated gold accented with carvings and precious stones. Even the nails were gold. Two huge cherubim filled the space with their massive 15′ wingspans which stretched from wall to wall. And they were gold too. This amazingly opulent space is the picture of where His Spirt dwelt in Israel during this period of history. Now He dwells within you and me. I am confident that His dwelling place in us is just as opulent and glittering — for it is a space that was bought with the highest price.
And so now we go back to Paul’s question, “Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” I hope you can now answer, “Yes!”
But why is this important?
It should affect every part of our lives. It should affect where we go, how we treat others and how we worship God. Much of the New Testament is devoted to this subject.
But It should also transform how we act, treat, and think about ourselves. What do you see when you look in the mirror? Do you see your flaws, your imperfections, the weight you want to lose, and the years that haven’t been kind to your body? In light of what you just read, is that what you SHOULD see? I don’t think so. We see with critical eyes that look at what the world sees. But that is not your true reality any longer. You should see through the flesh to the heart of who you are in Christ. He has sealed you with the gift of the Holy Spirit! Your flesh is the shipping container. Maybe the box is a little beat up, it might be damaged, it might even be torn. But what is inside that box is something much more beautiful than gold and more precious than all the diamonds in this world.
One day our outsides will match our insides. Until then, when you look in the mirror and notice the dark circles under your eyes or the coffee you spilled on your shirt, look closer. There is something wonderfully valuable inside the one looking back at you.
And it was placed there by the one you call Savior.