Thursday, April 02, 2009

The Temple of God-My Body

Whenever any person comes to see God as God, his life must change. David has affirmed this reality about God: "You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar" (Ps. 139:2). Turning from his own thoughts and ways he declared, How precious to me are your thoughts, o God! How vast are the sum of them!" (v. 17).

I wrote in the preceding post: The Temple of God, how little we tend to think of the temple of God in his church, as a general rule in North American evangelicalism. I have begun to see that there is a boulder, fashioned over decades, tied to our culture and perpetuated by massive inside evangelicalism organizations that has, in its attempt to make the church "user friendly", succeeded in making it an "assembly of the onlooker". And so God is not present in any power at our services. Those who are trying to stop this boulder can't simply swat it aside, but must begin to lay the groundwork of a barrier, they must begin to through down pebbles. that can slow the boulder a little. And many are doing so.

The place to start is in each one of us. God wants holy vessels. Paul warns Timothy, "Guard your LIFE and your doctrine closely" (1 Tim 4:16). That is the theology of the church as the temple of God, the very body of Christ on earth, the expression of God's glory to the world in the salvation of sinners, must go hand in hand with a lifestyle that matches that belief.

I think this is why the Bible, while emphasizing the corporate nature of the assembled church as the temple in which God's Spirit dwells, also refers to each believer's body as such. "do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body." (1 Cor 6:19-20).

This individual temple, seems to echo the priesthood of believers and leaves us with a tension between recognizing the individual's standing before God on the one hand, as priest, and the Church's standing on the other as bride and body. To view it only from the side of the church, risks a sacramental view of the church's worship, to view it only from the individual side is to reject the headship of Christ. So both must be preserved.

The context of 1 Corinthians is sexual purity. You don't join the temple of God to fornication! This is why 1 Thessalonians 4 is so forceful, "this is the will of God, your sanctification, that you abstain from sexual immorality". (1 Thes 4:3).

Sexual immorality particularity defiles the temple, but to a lesser extent, so does any lesser form of non-sanctification. However, drawing on the thems of sexual purity, as temples of God, what lusts do we indulge? Prostitution? No, of course not. Monogamous premarital sex? Well... ? How about, "loving" homosexual unions? Vicarious lusts through television and movies?

I think when we start asking these questions we are doing the wrong thing entirely. Why ask, just what is the line that defiles the temple? Why not ask, "how can I sanctify to the utmost, how can I honour the Spirit of Christ in my body? Then, Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also, and live in light of the words of Paul, "to live is Christ".

Yet once again, we cannot legalistically set benchmarks and rules for ourselves, the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the spirit is life (Rom 8:6). Only God can sanctify, through our hope and faith in Him, by the spirit. We must begin to see
1) God, as God. If ever any person begins to see God, as God, according to the Scripture they are devastated. And this devestation produces godly sorrow, which leads to repentence, for the Lord, "exults teh humble".
2) Our Bodies as Indwelled by God. He is not a passive observer in our sins or sanctification, he is an active participant, "do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?" (I cor 6:15). Having seen God, as God, and been humbled, we begin to see ourselves in God, as part of Christ's body, as representatives of Christ, as having Christ live within us, then we will finally see
3) The Church as the temple and glory of the living God, and we will cry "better is one day in your church, than thousands elsewhere".