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News and views from the German-language region of Europe

May 29, 2015

The state of the temple

Filed under Sabbath Thoughts

During the Old Covenant period, God "dwelled" symbolically among the Israelites in the temple, in the rear room of the two rooms of the temple. It is interesting to note that the physical condition of the temple as God's dwelling place reflected the health of Israel's relationship to God. If the temple was in a state of disrepair, then Israel's relationship to God was not in the best condition, either.

King Josiah's reign in Judah is a good example. When he decided to repair the temple, a scroll of the law was found in the temple. The Jews had distanced themselves from God to the extent that they were no longer aware of the Torah (2 Kings 22:1-8).

Today God does not dwell in a physical temple. Instead, He lives in His church. And the church is not a legal corporation, but the sum of all those people in whom the holy spirit dwells. Each of us is also, individually, a "temple" of the holy spirit: "Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?" (1 Corinthians 3:16).

Paul warns us not to defile this temple of our body: "If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are" (verse 17).

Paul served in the Greek world which emphasized a healthy body as a complement to a healthy mind, a concept that does not contradict the Bible. There are sins that harm our body. In chapter 6 of his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul mentions sins that harm our body physically: "Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?" (1 Corinthians 6:18-19). Another example would be alcohol abuse or drug usage, both of which harm the body and inhibit clear thinking.

God doesn't expect us to join a fitness studio or train to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger. We also cannot stop the aging process. But to live a healthy lifestyle by proper nutrition, sufficient exercise and rest, etc. is part of our Christian responsibility to care for the temple of God's spirit, which we are. God will also not compensate our lack of proper care by simply giving us good health despite our unhealthy habits.

Paul exhorts us: "For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's" (1 Corinthians 6:20). Those who fail to heed this exhortation are acting in an unwise manner and will harm not only their body, but also their relationship to God.

With these thoughts I wish everyone a rewarding Sabbath!

Paul Kieffer's blog with personal insights and news from the German-language region in Europe.


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