March 19, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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“Don’t you yourselves know that you are God’s temple and that the Spirit of God lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is holy, and that is what you are.”—1 Corinthians 3:16–17 (CSB)
When I was a kid, I desperately wanted to dye my hair. Several of my friends had streaks in their hair, and I wanted to be like them with pink streaks piercing through my jet black hair. My mom; however, protested every time I asked her, saying, “You’re not everyone else, you’re my daughter, and my daughter will not have pink hair!” I didn’t understand it at the time, but my mom was speaking words of identity over me. In today’s passage, Paul is teaching the church in Corinth a powerful message about their identity as God’s chosen people.
In the preceding verses, Paul describes himself as a master builder, the Church as God’s building, and materials that withstand the heat of fire. Now, Paul goes on to remind the believers they are God’s temple. Whether collectively as the Church (Ephesians 2:21) or as individuals (1 Corinthians 6:19), they’ve been set apart by Christ from profane uses and works of the flesh to be consecrated for God’s divine service through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Paul exhorts the Church of its dissensions by reminding the Corinthians of their identity. In Christ, they’re all set apart to advance Christ’s kingdom. False doctrines which promoted unholiness and division and added lies to the gospel were considered materials not fit to build any edifice, much less the glorious temple of God. Doctrines that produced Christ-like character and unity and consisted of the gospel alone were the proper materials to build up the temple of God.
In a city that contained numerous temples to pagan deities, Paul expressed that believers were to be the grand and magnificent place where God Himself would dwell. Paul warns that anyone who in false teachings or deeds brings detriment to the people of God, God Himself will destroy. This is a sober warning that shows how deeply God cares for the holiness and intimacy of His people.
The Greek word here for holy is hagios, which means “different from.” A temple was considered holy because it was different from other buildings. Likewise, God’s people are called to holiness because they ought to be different from the world.
In days like ours, where people worship countless idols, propagate division, and give into all forms of sensuality and pleasure, our DNA (our identity) as God’s people is that we belong to and emulate our Father. God desires to reside inside of us by His Holy Spirit—He wants every area of our lives to be His precious possession. We’re not of this world, but “[we] are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that [we] may declare the praises of him who called [us] out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9 NIV).
Pause: What connotation does the word holiness have to you? Does it bring up fear, shame, awe, or something else?
Practice: Read Exodus 19:4–6. Reflect on how God’s love and holiness are at work in this passage.
Pray: God, You alone are holy, and there is none like You in all the Earth. Yet, You desire to dwell in me. I can’t grasp Your love and desire to be in relationship with me, but thank You for making it possible because of Jesus. Father, empower me through Your Spirit to live a life devoted to You. Set me apart to love and follow You all my days. Amen.
Gabriella Bemis serves as a volunteer for Calvary’s communications and worship teams. She holds an M.A. in psychology from Fuller Theological Seminary and is passionate about integrating her knowledge of human behavior with the truth of God’s word. When she is not writing resources or singing at church, Gabi loves to paint, cook, and enjoy time outdoors with her family and friends.