Extreme Soul Makeover
1 Corinthians 3:16-17 / Ephesians 5:18
James C. Denison
Occasionally we wonder if the human race will survive another generation. These “idiot sightings” are unfortunately all true:
My family is originally from Kingman, Kansas, a small town outside of Wichita. Now I’m not so sure that’s a good thing. A man in the area called the local police to request the removal of the Deer Crossing sign on the road. He gave his reason: “Too many deer are being hit by cars out here. I don’t think this is a good place for them to be crossing anymore.”
In Birmingham, Alabama, a man was checking his luggage at the airport. An employee asked, “Has anyone put anything in your baggage without your knowledge?” The man replied, “If it was without my knowledge, how would I know?” The employee smiled knowingly and nodded, “That’s why we ask.”
At a Ford dealership in Canton, Mississippi, a couple arrived to pick up their vehicle but were told the keys had been locked inside. They found a mechanic working feverishly to open the driver’s side door. As the woman watched from the passenger side, she instinctively tried the door and discovered it was unlocked. “Hey,” she said to the technician, “it’s open!” He replied, “I know–I already got that side.”
Self-esteem is a major issue these days. Depression rates are at all time highs. Downsizing is a fact of corporate life. There is more stress on our time, finances, and families than many of us can remember. We’re not sure we’re up to the times. That’s because we’re not. But the God who lives in us is. “Greater is he who is in us than he who is in the world,” the Bible promises (1 John 4:4). How can God’s power be yours wherever you need it most today?
Why the Spirit lives in us
“You yourselves,” the phrase begins. Paul addresses all the Corinthians, no matter their past, present, or future. This church was divided, condoned sexual immorality, were suing each other, and committed every sin of their culture. And yet they were individually and collectively “God’s temple.” If they were, so are we.
We are God’s “temple.” Not heiron, the temple enclosure, but naos, the Most Holy Place, the most sacred place in all the world. That place which housed the ark of the covenant and the Ten Commandments. That place which was so holy that the High Priest could enter only one day a year, on the Day of Atonement. A rope was tied to his ankle so that if he was struck dead by the glory of God, his corpse could be dragged out from behind the curtain. Now we are that Most Holy Place where God dwells today.
Why? Because “God’s Spirit lives in you.” He literally “dwells” in us, “makes his home in us,” “pitches his tent in us.” He has taken up residence in our lives. This is in the present tense–he is living in us right now, this moment.
When we “ask Jesus into our heart,” it is actually the Holy Spirit who comes to dwell in us. Jesus is at the right hand of God, praying for us (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25) while the Holy Spirit lives in us today. God does not dwell in temples made with human hands (Acts 7:48; cf. Acts 17:24). Instead, he dwells in us. All of God there is, is in us right now.
Our status as God’s temple is so serious that “if anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him.” “If anyone” is a Greek construction which assumes the reality of the condition–“if and when” would get the sense of it. “Destroys” means “corrupts” or “tears down.” The word is in the present tense: if and when people tear down the temple of God right now.
When people attack the church, dividing our fellowship, slandering or gossiping about our members, seeking to hurt the people of God. “God will destroy him”–God will do to the enemy of his church what that enemy does to his church. If a person attacks or assaults God’s people, that enemy will face the wrath of God Almighty.
This is because “God’s temple is sacred,” holy, set apart for himself, belonging only to him. And “you are that temple,” right now, where and as you are. We are not our own–we were bought with a price and must glorify God in our bodies (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
It is human nature to measure ourselves by our appearance and possessions, our house and car and job and salary. But Scripture says that our chief value is this: we are the temple, the house, the dwelling of the Spirit of God.
A friend recently sent me a story about a group of successful alumni who got together with their favorite college professor. Talk turned into complaints about stress in their work and lives. Offering his guests coffee, the professor went to the kitchen and returned with a large pot of coffee and an assortment of cups–porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal. Some were plain looking while others were expensive, even exquisite.
When all the students had a cup of coffee in hand, the professor said: “If you noticed, all the nice looking, expensive cups were taken first, leaving the plain and cheap ones. It’s normal for you to want the best for yourselves, but that is the source of your problems and stress.
The cup adds no quality to the coffee. Yet you all went for the best cups, then began eyeing each other’s cups. Consider this: life is the coffee; the jobs, money, and position in society are the cups. They are just tools to hold and contain life. The type of cup we have does not define nor change the quality of life. When we concentrate on the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffee.”
We are the cup–the Spirit is the coffee. He is what makes life worth living.