The Temple of the Holy Spirit
1Cor. 6:12 “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are beneficial. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. 13 “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food,” and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is meant not for fornication but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 And God raised the Lord and will also raise us by his power. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Should I therefore take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! 16 Do you not know that whoever is united to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For it is said, “The two shall be one flesh.” 17 But anyone united to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. 18 Shun fornication! Every sin that a person commits is outside the body; but the fornicator sins against the body itself. 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? 20 For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.
The people of Corinth were accustomed to very pagan forms of worship and lifestyle. The pagan festivals surrounding worship were accompanied by gluttony, followed by sexual promiscuity with temple prostitutes. It was an entire lifestyle which a community had come to accept as normal.
The influence of Plato meant that people had conveniently divided humans into two parts — their body and their soul. Therefore it was okay to do things “in the flesh” because it wouldn’t necessarily affect what happened “in the soul.” They could be a good person in relation to a higher being while being engaged in all kinds of activities with their bodies. This concept continued to influence the thinking of Christians (both then -- and today!).
Jesus changed all of that! His resurrection was a bodily resurrection. He was not just raised as a Spirit — but as a resurrected human being. The life in the flesh is directly connected to life in the Spirit — there is no way to take the two and disconnect them.
And this is what brings us to sexual activity for it is a very intimate and physical act done in the flesh — and not without the presence of the Spirit. When a believer is filled with God’s Holy Spirit then the Spirit of God dwells in us, so when we unite ourselves outside of the bounds of marriage, we drag God to that very place.
God was not to be dragged to pagan festivals of gluttony and prostitution. Followers of Jesus Christ were challenged to be radically different from the world and self-discipline and purity were to define their lives as they lived for Christ. The Spirit-filled Christ-followers became radically different from the world around them; not condemning but simply living as people entirely indwelled by the Holy Spirit.
When I was a child my parents would quote this Scripture — about being the temple of the Holy Spirit — as the reasoning for some of the “rules” that we had at church. We didn’t smoke or drink alcoholic beverages or dance and that was because of the presence of the Holy Spirit. If we back up and see what Paul is referring to here, it’s something much deeper than even these issues — it’s about sexual purity.
Just as the people of Paul’s day were still trying to live “in the world” and be engaged in the pagan practices and yet call themselves Christians, so we find ourselves today. The goal should not be to see how much we can get away with “in the flesh,” but living the entirely Spirit-filled life on a daily basis. The focus must be on becoming like Christ and not on being like the world.
Sexual immorality of Paul’s day was rampant and a part of the culture. Christians were to lead lives of sexual purity in marriage. There was to be no sexual practice outside of that relationship for marriage itself was to be a holy place of intimacy.
I still hear the voice of my mom, “Remember, your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.” Might we remember that our body and soul, knitted together are saved and infilled with God’s Holy Spirit and that as God’s people we are genuinely his temple. The standard is a high standard — sexual purity is called upon for God’s holy people.
Lord, you guide and strengthen us as your people to lead lives pleasing to you. Amen.