My Body is a Temple of the Holy Spirit
And as he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” – Mark 13:1-2
Growing up, we used to *sing:
“My body is a temple of the Holy Spirit”
“My body is a temple of the Holy Spirit”
“Keep it tidy keep it clean”
“Comb your hair, Hooo lala!”
“Make it sparkle make it clean”
“Brush your teeth, Shhhh. Shhh… shhhh!”
“My Body is a temple of the Holy Spirit”
It’s a fun tune, but do I often ponder what it really means that my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit?
In Mark 13:1-2, Jesus leaves the Temple for a third time, having been heralded as Messiah and King (Mark 11:1-11) and rejected/questioned each time by the religious elites inside the Temple’s stone walls (Mark 11:18, 28; 12:12). The Messiah came to His own, and His own people did not receive Him (John 1:11). It was God’s plan all along that Jesus would suffer rejection (Mark 2:22, 8:31, 10:45), and yet we are filled with sorrow each time we read of His rejection.
It is after these things Jesus in essence says of the “wonderful stones” of the Temple, “This Temple will be utterly destroyed.
How could Jesus say this of the one place where Israel came to worship her God?
Why would Jesus say such a thing?
The New Covenant Temple
The prophet Zechariah longed for a day when the Messiah would return and everything (even cooking pots and horses) would be holy in God’s sight (Zechariah 14:20-21). Jeremiah too saw a day coming when God would forever forget the sins of His people (Jer 31:31-34). Both of these prophets envisioned futures where the things the Temple represented (access to God’s holiness, payment of sins, etc.) would be drastically changed. In Zechariah, the common things (horses, pots) OUTSIDE the Temple would be treated like the things INSIDE the Temple (holy to the Lord). In Jeremiah, the sins for which the Temple meant access and atonement would be wiped away!
It is in Jesus, then, we see a New Covenant enacted. The Temple will be destroyed (indeed it is to this day). Something greater is in its place.
The Sacrifices and Priests in the Temple were transformed into one Great Priest/Sacrifice combo (Jesus), who enters God’s presence as both Offerer and Offering for my sin (Hebrews 9:11-15).
The Temple is composed of the human bodies of each person who trusts in Christ (1 Cor 6:19).
So, when Jesus says the Temple will be destroyed, He means something eternally good for every tribe, tongue, and nation.
What does Scripture make of this reality?
As God’s Temple I am NOT MY OWN
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. – 1 Corinthians 6:19–20
When I realized that Christ died for me and it really meant something, I gave something to God, my body and being. Now my body is for the Lord, and the Lord is for my body (1 Corinthians 6:13). I now live as the dwelling for the Spirit, purchased by Christ’s death and resurrection now coursing in me. In Christ, I have given up rights to my body. I am no longer my own. This is the costliness of grace. I exchange myself for the gift of everything.
Now my body is the place where God can be glorified. Ponder that statement. My body, broken and feeble, is now a place where the Lord of the universe can receive glory! Running after idols looks hideous when the place those idols will find a home is not my own body but God’s temple (2 Corinthians 6:16). If I chase after what God loathes, I am filling His dwelling with filth. I become like the lunatic who would use his living room as a garbage dump.
As God’s Temple I am NOT ALONE
In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. – Ephesians 2:22
As a follower of Jesus I made part of a community of faith that is worldwide. This community is now the dwelling place for God on earth. Christ is the cornerstone of this dwelling (Ephesians 2:20). It matters then, how I treat the body, for the body of Christ is where the Spirit is. To neglect or reject the body of Christ is to live contrary to where the Spirit dwells. To fight and abuse in the body is to tear at the very walls where God’s name is. We truly are all in this together. Our corporate unity makes a happy dwelling for the Spirit.
As God’s Temple, One Day I Will Not Be
And I saw no temple in the city [the new Jerusalem], for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. – Revelation 21:22
Am I still bored at the thought of being the Temple of the Spirit? Consider this. Right now, In Christ I am the Temple of the Spirit. One day God will right every wrong. Every knee will bow and tongue confess God’s wisdom in King Jesus. When God rights each wrong, we who are temples of the Spirit will one day be with God in a new city, a new Jerusalem. That place will need no temple, for God Himself and Jesus will be presently in that city. God Himself will be the Temple.
Here is the wondrous truth. Until that day, I am God’s temple on earth. I am the place where God is dwelling. I am that which will one day not be needed, a place in which the holy God dwells.
*Song by Rob Evans, 2002.