Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your body. (verses 19-20)
Back in chapter three of this letter, Paul told the entire Corinthian church that they together were the temple of God and that the Spirit of God himself dwelt within them (3:16). It was a stunning statement, full of honour and privilege.
Now, Paul looks each of us personally in the eye and tells us the same thing individually. He speaks to me. I am the dwelling place of Almighty God by his Spirit. I am the location in which he makes his presence known.
So are you.
As flabbergasting as this statement seems, it is absolutely true for each one of us who is “in Christ.” If we have received the forgiveness Jesus won for us on the cross, and if we have welcomed him into our lives as Lord, then each of us individually is a temple of his Spirit, a location for his presence on earth. Wow.
How often do I think about this during the day? Or, putting it another way, how many days go by without me reflecting on it at all?
This reality means there is incredibly high value in both my being and my doing. The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is resident within me, choosing to make himself known in my life, living within me. Therefore, my life counts. It’s for his glory. Each of my actions is an occasion for his majesty to shine – each one is filled with opportunity and meaning, simply because the Spirit himself is present.
There are moments in the Old Testament when the very presence of God was tangibly seen and felt in his temple. I think of Isaiah the prophet seeing “the Lord, seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple” (Isaiah 6:1). I think of the newly-built temple being dedicated by Solomon, and at that moment the Lord’s glory so filled the interior – a great cloud of his presence – that “the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled his temple” (1 Kings 8:11).
Those were awe-inspiring, overwhelming moments of the Lord’s presence being apprehended by human eyes. But the weight of the Lord’s glory is equally real even when human eyes can’t perceive it. If the Holy Spirit is present in his temple, as this scripture says, then the glory is undeniable.
So, live the reality. Don’t lose the sense of holy wonder. Honour the Sovereign Lord at every step. Stand in awe.
Paul uses this insight to challenge the Corinthians to live in sexual purity. How can you take your body, he asks, which is the Spirit’s temple, and unite it with a prostitute? It’s a huge wake-up call any time we are tempted with sexual sin. But equally, how can we lightly enter into any sin of thought or word or deed, ignoring the awesome presence of the One who has chosen to make our very bodies his home, a place for this glory?
“Do you not know?” Have you forgotten? Remember. Understand the awesome reality. You have immense value. Your actions are meant for his glory. You belong to Almighty God.
“You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your body”(verses 19-20).
Sovereign Lord, I stand in awe. The glory of your presence filled the temple of old. And now, you tell me, that I myself am your temple. Holy Spirit, welcome. Lord Jesus, you who bought me at a price, be honoured. Holy Father, hallowed be your name, in my life this day. Gripped with the wonder, I dedicate myself to you afresh. Amen.
Reflect: Imagine the awe-filled glory perceived by Isaiah as he saw the train of the Lord’s robe filling the temple. How can you step into that same sense of awe throughout this day, knowing that you yourself are a temple of the Holy Spirit? What might distract you from the wonder? Acknowledge it to the Lord. Ask him to renew your mind, again and again.