“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.” (1 Corinthians 6:19, NLT)
When I was seventeen years old I visited the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican. I had seen Michelangelo’s paintings of Creation and The Last Judgment in books, but to actually see it in person was breathtaking. Some 50 million tourists visit this exhibit every month! But there is a place of worship much closer to home…where you need no airline or admission ticket!
When Jesus came to earth it was to make atonement for our sins. He reconciled us to God through His sacrifice on the cross. But His ministry did not end when He ascended into heaven forty days after His resurrection. He promised to be with His disciples always–even till the end of the age (Matt. 28.20). But where would He reside? About forty years later, the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed, leaving no God-ordained physical sanctuary on the planet. But prior to this Paul wrote to the Corinthians telling them that their bodies were the temple of the Holy Spirit. This was one of Christ’s chief purposes in coming to earth. The cleansing that we have through His blood makes us sacred and worthy habitations for His Spirit. After our redemption, this is the greatest gift God could give to us. Have we really understood this? As we live our lives in this flesh, subject to its weaknesses, do we realize that if we have received Jesus Christ then the Holy Spirit has set up permanent residency in our hearts? Have we considered the implications of the temple of God being wherever we go? Have we bowed in humility and reverence to this indwelling Spirit? And have we realized that we are no longer master of the house?
A change of ownership has occurred. If you have ever purchased your own home, what a blessed day it is to sign the papers, close escrow and receive the keys! It is now your home to do with as you please. Your name is on the title, and the former owner has no more rights to it. Likewise, when we give our lives to Jesus Christ there is a change of ownership. Now His name is on the title, and He has taken possession by His Spirit. We are welcome to cohabit the space, but not as the owner. The beautiful advantage to this is that He pays the bills, and whatever happens to this house is His responsibility–provided that I am willing to let Him rule. The Holy Spirit is such a gentle Manager. He will never force His way into this role as Head of household. We must willingly relinquish our claims and give Him the rule of the roost.
This is the way that our temple becomes a true worship center. It is one thing to believe in Jesus Christ and be saved; it is another to know that we no longer belong to ourselves but that another has purchased us. Yet this indwelling Owner is the greatest gift the Father could give to His beloved children.
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