The Church Is God’s Temple

2 Corinthians 6:14–7:1 (NLT)  Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness? 15 What harmony can there be between Christ and the devil*? How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever? 16 And what union can there be between God’s temple and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God said:
“I will live in them
and walk among them.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.*
17 Therefore, come out from among unbelievers,
and separate yourselves from them, says the LordLord.
Don’t touch their filthy things,
and I will welcome you.*
18 And I will be your Father,
and you will be my sons and daughters,
says the LordLord Almighty.*”
Chapter 7  Because we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body or spirit. And let us work toward complete holiness because we fear God.
Paul has used this image of the temple of God before.  In 1 Cor. 6:19, 20 “Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God?  You do not belong to yourself, 20 for God bought you with a high price.  So you must honor God with your body.”
In 1 Cor. 6, Paul argues for sexual purity.  The temple of God is metaphor for the body of the believer.  Because Christians are filled with the Holy Spirit, as God’s Spirit filled the Temple.  Paul’s purpose is to help us to understand that we should live in such a way that we honor God in how we use our body.  In this passage, Paul focused on sexual sin.  Sexual sin violates the sacredness of the sanctuary and the presence of God in us.  We can no longer claim our bodies as our own, since God has purchased us with a high price, that is, through the saving work of Jesus Christ upon the cross.  (1 Cor. 7:23)
Paul’s case in 2 Cor. 6:14-7:1 is similar.  He begins with the prohibition in the Law of Moses against mixing different things (Lev. 19:19; Deut. 22:10).  “Do not wear clothing of two different kinds of thread.” (Lev. 19:19)  The concept is symbolic of purity.  The Jews were to be a pure people.  The ritual purity represented the state of purity that God intended for them.
In 2 Cor. 6:14-7:1, Paul portrays the church (the body of Christ) as the temple of the living God.  He is not speaking of buildings.  (There was not such thing as a church building at the time Paul was writing).  The church is the people of God.  The church is to be a people who worship God, whose dedication to God separates us from all that is not like us.  Just as Israel was to be a nation set apart, consecrated for God, so the church, grafted on to the branch of Israel, is to be set apart, consecrated for God.
The Temple of Solomon was dedicated about 1000 BC and then destroyed in 586 BC.  The OT prophets continued to look forward to a day of restoration, a new temple (Ezek. 40-43).  They announced that God would once again live among God’s people.  And so God’s people must be holy, even as God is holy.
All these hopes were fulfilled with the coming of Jesus the Messiah.  Jesus is God’s temple, the place where God’s holiness resides.  Now Jesus calls his people to be join him and be his people.  God’s people are to be a holy temple of God.  (Eph. 2:21; 1 Pet. 2:4; Rev. 3:12)
Paul calls us to realize our identity as God’s holy people – God’s saints.  (2 Cor. 1:1).  How do we do that?  First by separating ourselves from sin.  And secondly, we are to dedicate ourselves to live holy lives.  So Paul concludes, “Because we have these promises, dearly loved ones, out of respect for God we should scour the filth from our flesh and spirit and move toward perfect beauty and holiness.” (The Voice)
Lord, you have called us to move toward the perfecting holiness.  Help us Lord, to be your holy people, the people of God you have called us to be.  Perfect us through the Holy Spirit living in us that we might be the temple of the living God you have called us to be.  Fill us anew with your Holy Spirit, the source of all holiness.  Help us to walk in the Holy Spirit day by day.  Amen.

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