Living Temples

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?  (1 Corinthians 6:19)

Many Christians today are indistinguishable from nonbelievers. They go to the same places as nonbelievers. They behave in many ways like unbelievers. Most of my Facebook friends are Christians, and frequently I find pictures of them in what appear to be bars holding what appears to be wine or mixed drinks. Granted, the picture does not tell the whole story. The drinks in their hands could be non-alcoholic; the “evidence” is inconclusive, and one should not judge on appearances. However, the Bible does instruct Christians to “Abstain from all appearance of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:22, emphasis mine), and what is presented bears the “appearance” of evil.

Instantly I hear the protest now. “Drinking[1] alcohol is not a sin; drunkenness is. Besides, we are under “grace”[2] not under the “law.”[3] Both claims are true, but Satan has twisted both statements to render Christians ineffective witnesses, and many gullible Christians have fallen for Satan’s deception.  As far as the drinking goes, I have written on that topic in the past (see the notes below), so I will not belabor the point here. However, God calls His people to a higher standard – holiness, and sainthood.

To be holy merely means to be “set apart,” to “consecrated or dedicated, sanctified.” How does one do that? Well, examining the Old Testament law is a good starting place. Many of the laws given through Moses seem ridiculous to us modern westerners, like, “Ye shall not round the corners of your heads, neither shalt thou mar the corners of thy beard” (Leviticus 19:27). Or, how about the one that follows? I see many Christians violating this one: “Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks [i.e., tattoos] upon you: I am the LORD” (Leviticus 19:28, emphasis mine). Whenever God tacks on “I am the LORD” to a commandment, He is being emphatic. (By the way, have you noticed the increase in teenagers cutting themselves? The Florida high school shooter was known to do that. He also heard “voices” telling him to carry out that horrific deed. Friends, that is demonic! The same goes for marking of our skin, and gullible Christians do it as if it is just another fashion statement.)

Well, why did God make such laws? The reason is simple. Israel was going to possess a land inhabited by demon worshipping pagans, and that is what the pagans did. God began His instruction with this “greater” commandment, “Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be holy: for I the LORD your God am holy” (Leviticus 19:2, emphasis mine). Allow me to translate for those who have trouble with King James English: “All y’all will be set apart, i.e., distinct from all others, because I, Yahweh, your God AM set apart, distinct from all other gods and completely transcendent.” God wanted His people to distinguish themselves from the pagan nations among whom they would be living.

I hear the protest again. “Yes, but that was the ‘old covenant;’ we are living under the ‘new covenant’ – the New Testament – we are not bound by Old Testament laws.” That is absolutely true. As New Testament saints (Don’t let that term bother you. It only means “holy” or “set apart ones.”), we are under a higher law. God has not abrogated the call to holiness. “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation [i.e., “life conduct’]; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:15-16, emphasis mine). Christians are not to look or act like the non-believing world around them. Christians must distinguish themselves from the world around them. If the Christian does that, then get ready for the backlash. Jesus said, “Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake” (Luke 6:22, emphasis mine). Of course, that cannot happen if you are indistinguishable from the world. Jesus also said, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you” (John 15:18). So, if you experience “persecution” for your Christianity, you are in good company, and obviously, you have distinguished yourself otherwise you would not have drawn fire.

I said we are under a higher law. How is that? Our leading verse presents a question. “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” (1 Corinthians 6:19, emphasis mine). In Old Testament times, the Spirit of God resided in the tabernacle/temple in the Holy of Holies. There He was unapproachable. Only the High Priest could enter into the presence of God with a blood offering, and that, only once a year on the Day of Atonement.  So serious was the task that assistant priests would tie a rope around the ankle of the High Priest in case he was to die or be slain by God while performing his duty. If that happened, the other priests could not go in and retrieve him, so the rope enabled them to drag him out without offending God. It was an awesome thing to enter into the presence of God! However, now God has placed His Spirit within the heart of believers. Our bodies, according to Paul, are His temple – His dwelling place. If the Holy of Holies was such an awful (as in “full of awe) place demanding such high reverence, what does that say about our present bodies!

The context in which Paul made that declaration was that involving fornication. “Fornication” includes any sort of illicit sexual activity outside the bounds of marriage (and I must specify) between a man and a woman. Because the Spirit of God dwells within every believer, wherever we go, He goes. Whatever we do, we involve Him. Paul makes the point clear. “Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid” (1 Corinthians 6:15, emphasis mine). Therefore, if a Christian gets involved in an illicit sex act, they drag Jesus into the same act. Is that not disgusting! Paul goes on to explain, “What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh” (1 Corinthians 6:16, emphasis mine). Ew! Imagine taking Jesus along on your sexual escapades!

However, as a Christian, regardless of what sin we practice, we involve Jesus – the Holy Spirit – in all we do. If God would kill His High Priest for improperly entering His Holy of Holies, what makes us think it is acceptable to abuse His present temple – our bodies? Thank God for Grace! Grace is God’s free gift to us. It is an unmerited gift. There is nothing we can do to earn it or deserve it (Ephesians 2:8-9). Nothing we do can “earn” our salvation. Nothing we do can maintain our salvation, or cause is to lose it (Romans 8:38-39). However, that does not excuse our abuse of the Grace given to us. “What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid” (Romans 6:15).

As Christians, we are “living temples,” a holy habitation for our God. Are we right to defile His temple with our sin, and worse, to drag Him into our sin? By “sin” I mean “willful sin;” the kind of sin where we ought to know better, but do it anyway using “Grace” as an excuse. We will never be completely free from sin in this life, but that does not relieve us from the obligation to make an effort. Otherwise, why give us the exhortation to live holy lives? Paul describes the Christian struggle to live a sinless life (Romans 7:14-23). Then he concludes, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin” (Romans 7:24-25).  The beloved Apostle reminds us, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). We cannot rid ourselves (in this life) of the sin nature. However, we do not get a pass to sin. John says, “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God” (1 John 3:9, emphasis mine). The key is “born of God.” “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17, emphasis mine). That new creation includes the residence of the Holy Spirit within us.

How do we keep our living temples holy? God gives us the wherewithal through the Holy Spirit residing in us. By submitting ourselves to His direction, we “know” what is acceptable and what is not. His Word, both Old, and New Testaments are His owner’s manual for us to follow. The Old Testament laws are not voided. They still apply. They provide a guide as to what pleases and displeases God. We are freed from the bondage of the Law through the blood of Christ, but the Law still serves as our tutor. Is it okay for Christians to get tattoos? No! Tattoos[4] associate us with pagans. God wants us to be distinct from pagans – “be ye holy.” Well, what if you, as a Christian, got a tattoo? Here is where Grace comes into play. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). We need not agonize over past sins we have confessed. “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12). That, however, does not permit us to continue in our sin. So you got a tattoo; do not get any more. God gives us the ability to resist sin and to live holy lives. We are His living temples. We ought to behave like it.

Notes:


[1]  “Drinking” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2017/10/01/drinking/

[2]  “Be Ye Holy” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2014/05/18/be-ye-holy/

[3]  “God’s Laws” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2016/01/10/gods-laws/

[4]  I picked on tattoos because they are just one of the glaring problems I observe among many Christians today. There are many others, but it would take a book to cover every problem. The greater issue is that Christians today are not living the holy lives God requires of us. I am guilty, but I continue to work on it.

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