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Living as the Temple of God

1 Corinthians 6:12-20

Questions:

  • Where is somewhere you find safe? Basement (stable), grocery store (lot of food to live on)
  • Where is somewhere that is beautiful? Garden, mountain top.
  • Where is somewhere that gives you purpose? Work, church? 

One of the most significant places in the Old testament is the Temple of God. It was a big massive stone structure. 90 feet long, 30 feet wide, and 45 feet high. It had stability and protection. It was also beautiful. It was made of gold and other precious stones. Beautiful wood. It also reminded the people of God’s purpose for them. He was making himself known in the world. Light in the temple reminding you of the light of God. You see trees and fruit reminding of his provision. Holy water reminding that God could make us clean. Sacrifice. House of God. God’s spirit dwelt there. God lived there. 

This temple was a powerful reminder to the people of who their God is. It was also a powerful reminder of how they were to live. Cherubim guarding the temple. 

  • A couple priests offered unauthorized fire and the Lord struck them down (Lev 10:1). 
  • The ark of the Lord went in the temple and there was one time the ox carrying it stumbled and Uzzah reached to steady it and the Lord struck him down (2 Sam 6). If in God’s sanctuary you need to be pure. 

The sanctuary was a special place. It was where God dwelt with his people. But something amazing happens with Jesus. In Jesus we are made the temple of God. His spirit dwells in us, and that means people look at us and see who God is. Being God’s temple also means that we have to live in a holy manner to God. In 1 Corinthians 6:12ff Paul is once again correcting the Corinthians and challenging them to live for the Lord because they are the temple of God.  

Big Idea: 

The holy spirit dwells in us, so we ought to live like we are his temple. 

If I told you that you are a great singer would that change what you do? God tells. If I told you that you were super strong would that change the way you live? If I told you that you are a leader and people are going to see you and want to follow God, that might change how you live. 

God tells us something special about ourselves and it should make us live differently. 

We are not going to read this whole passage today. We have mixed ages in here and there are some things that I just won't have time to explain. I had actually hoped we would be quarantined until after this passage! I am going to read portions so we get the gist of it. Kids, you may hear some things you don’t understand and I want to encourage you to ask your parents about it later. Parents, if you don’t know how to answer their questions talk to your friends. Learning is a community project. I want us to be a place that people are comfortable coming in as they are. If you have questions, that's OK.  

  • V12 "All things are lawful for me," but not all things are helpful. "All things are lawful for me," but I will not be enslaved by anything. 

Can I tell you one of the amazing things of the Christian faith? It is that God saves us regardless of our actions. You can do anything you want! 

What I mean by that is our sin has separated us from God. If someone has ever done something to cause you to get mad at them, then you know how the actions of others can end your friendship. Well, our sins separated us from God. It made us guilty before him. But God continued to love us and make a way for us to come back to him. He sent Jesus to die for us, so that all our sins could be taken away. As we trust in Jesus we are not held liable to the law. We are set free. Jesus is greater than obeying a list of commands. Our walk is not just do this and don’t do that. It is about loving Jesus. We could never do enough to cause God to love us or forgive us.

Well, the Corinthian church took this, and probably blended some of Paul’s teaching on this with the current practices of their day. All things permissible is repeated twice. It is repeated later in chapter 10. It was probably a popular saying of the Corinthians. We hear it and think it's negative. It may have been a saying of Paul’s that he used to talk about freedom in Christ. Obviously now being misused. Just a reminder that our catch phrases, even when good, have significant limitations. 

To "Corinthianize" was a term synonymous among the ancients with licentiousness. It was common at Corinth. It was the prevalent vice there. Living however you wanted. They would go to temples of other Gods and do things they should not do. 

Paul is telling them that all things are permissible or possible, but that doesn't mean everything is beneficial or helpful. 

Follow your heart. Do whatever you want. What if I feel like taking all your toys? What if I want to eat all your candy when you are not watching. Hit you in the face. Following your heart is only good when your heart is set on following God. 

It's permissible to do anything. But it is not beneficial. It doesn't help others. It does not help your standing before the Lord. 

  • V13. “The body is not meant for... (sexual) immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.”

They were saying the Lord gave them parts of the body that were for doing things and they could use it for that. The Lord gave me a hand, hands can hit people, and so I can hit you when I  want. Does that seem right? No, the Lord gave you a body and the body is for the Lord.

Don’t let your freedom in Christ cause you to do things that do not honor the Lord!

  • 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ

We are united to Christ in such a way that our bodies are members with him. This changes how we do things. 

Have you ever joined a group? Sports team. You become part of something bigger than yourself. What you do affects others. There are privileges that come with that. But there is also responsibility. You have to train, and if you don't your training will affect the team. 

Big kids, let me encourage you with something. The main issue he is talking about here in this passage is immorality. We have a younger audience so we are not talking about that directly. But let me encourage you to read these words and heed the warnings. There are things that our society runs after like it is no big deal. Paul says they are a big deal and you are to flee from those. 

  • 18 Flee from… immorality. 

To flee is to run for your life. It is all out turn around, run and start screaming. It is like you are walking down the street and you look up and you see a lion. Don’t make excuses for sin. Don’t make concessions that allow you to get around it or closer to it. If you know it is going to hurt to touch a burner are you going to get as close as you can to it?

  • 19 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. 

God wants us to act differently because we are his temple. He calls this group of people gathering as a church his temple. He tells them that each of their bodies is the temple of God. 

Temple ought to be treated as a holy place. You don’t just do anything you like in a temple. You don’t throw the football in the house. You wouldn’t do it in a temple. Don’t color on the walls. We treat ourselves as though they endowed with a holy purpose. 

Temples point to something beyond themselves. Significance of them is only as great as the thing it points to. This temple will be destroyed, it points to something greater. 

You look at a temple and you see gold, it is bright. It reminds you of the holiness of God. The temples were made of big stone blocks that reminded the strength, stability of God. It conveyed a purpose to your life. 

Changes the way you view yourself and others. If you ever get down on yourself and feel worthless, remember you are God’s temple. God has you as the place that people look to and see that there is purpose to the world. You look to people and are reminded of the brilliance of God. People gather and he manifests his spirit in their presence. 

Sometimes we don’t live up to the calling we have and we feel bad. I have talked to people who are really sad. And often times they have come to a place that they see no value in themselves. 

Guys: do you treat ladies and talk about them like they are the temple of God. Do you see there is more to them that just the surface. Temples are cared for and nurtured. Not to be plundered and left. The men in this church in Corinth were not respecting themselves or others. 

Treat other boys and girls in a way that honors the Lord. Treat them as brothers and sisters in Christ. If you start to like another boy or girl. Would you do that with your brother or your sister. That is a good test. Remember, until she is your wife, she is your sister. 

Do you speak to others as though they are God’s temple? It means that when you talk about another person you view them how God marvelously dwells in all of them, as a person who is spiritual, emotional and physical. Do you treat them with the dignity and respect that they deserve. Don’t say things about them that you would not say in church. It means seeing that in people of other races. Do you honor them? Don’t say things about them that you would not want said in your Sunday school. 

Do you think this teaching on the temple of God has anything to do with race? It baffles me how professing Christians could see the biblical teaching on people created in the image of God, the call to love your neighbor as yourself, and then enslave a race of people. It is grievous but it happened. And yes, it was a long time ago but there are repercussions for actions. And, truthfully, it has not really been that long. Let me also say this. 

Can I just say right now many of our black brothers and sisters are hurting. They feel the centuries of racism that has been against them. They feel  the weight of history of marginalization and overlooking justice. Don’t slander God’s temple with hateful words, with defiling names. Don’t fly banners that advocate the institutions that enslaved them. And you may not do this. Are you willing to say something to others who do this? The light of Christ shines as we stick up for the dignity of others created in the image of God. Go let your light shine! 

  • 19 You are not your own, for you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body. (1Co 6:19-20 CSB)

Do you realize that once again, God is trying to get his church’s attention to see how great his work is. They are falling into sin because they don’t realize the significance of their union with Christ. They don’t see the significance of who they are in Christ. 

You have been bought. Another is moving in. You need to make room for the Spirit of God to move into your life and turn you into what he wants you to become.

This passage ends saying that we have been bought with a price. Jesus bought us. And he is changing us into what he wants us to be. It's like a person who buys a house and fixes it up. Finally get it to be what it is. Bought an old shack and is making it into a temple that will remind everyone how good, how great, how awesome, how gracious our God is. 

Discussion Questions

  1. What are the problems with the Corinthian church that is being addressed here? Are you surprised to find these issues in a church?
  2. What does the phrase “all things are lawful for me” mean? How did Paul use it? How did the Corinthians use it? What phrases do people use today with similar intent?
  3. What is the significance of the body being the temple of God? Why would Paul point that out in relation to immorality? What other issues are corrected by understanding our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit?
  4. How has Jesus made it possible for us to be indwelt by the Spirit of God? How will this passage encourage and guide you this week at work?