The Spiritual Temple
The Spirit of God dwelled in the temple until Israel was too far gone. Ezekiel watched it leave and go out to the east. It would not come again to that same temple. The Spirit and presence of God did not enter again into the temple until Christ entered in John 2 when Jesus was there. Jesus then said that if “this” temple was destroyed that it would be rebuilt in 3 days. The religious leaders thought He was talking about the physical temple, but Jesus, like the context declares, was speaking of His body. We are the spiritual continuation of Christ’s body (1 Cor. 12).
The physical temple would be destroyed in year 70, but the spiritual temple would live forever. It was the house from David that God promised. Jesus would be the perfect example of one being led by the Spirit to do the will of God.
Like Jesus, the Christian’s body is a temple (2 Corinthians). Not just a temple, but it is the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians; Joel 2; Acts 2). The promised Holy Spirit dwelling in the Christian is the seal of adoption (Eph. 1:13). This Spirit is how outsiders and Christians know that one is a child of God (Galatians 5). It allows the Christian to conform to the image of Jesus (Rom. 8:1-29). Through Christ, the Christian is always in the presence of God. This was the entire point of the temple. It shows our need for the Messiah to make us holy as God is holy.
The physical temple was destroyed. “The temple was destroyed on the 10th day of the 5th month, according to Jewish tradition — ironically, the same day of the year upon which Nebuchadnezzar had burned down the first temple, some 656 years earlier” (Wayne Jackson, Christian Courier). Both temples were destroyed. The point, however, is that the temple was a temporary thing for a temporary purpose. All Christians are the temple of the presence of God now. All Christians are built upon the perfect cornerstone that is Christ Jesus (1 Cor. 3:9-16; Eph. 2:19-22). He perfects those who need perfecting. He is the stone by which all are to conform to. Through His foundation, the world has opportunity to have relationship with the Holy Father, creator, and God of all human kind. God had a plan from the foundation of the world to make a way for the creation he loved to enter into His loving presence again. This thread is one of the most encouraging and beautiful pictures that one can find when studying the Bible. The temple of God was and is truly significant.
Some claim that there is no actual indwelling of the Holy Spirit of God within the Christian today. They claim that the “Gift of the Spirit” in Acts 2 is salvation and that the Spirit only works through the word.
This view cannot be true for many reasons. A few are as follows: First, the Spirit is promised to everyone who calls on Jesus for all generations. Second, anyone can have the word (the Bible), even if they are not a Christian. Their are several atheists who know the Bible more so than a lot of Christians. Does that mean they are sealed with sonship? Third, the Spirit is a perfect part of the God-head. The English Bible is not translated perfectly, therefore it is not the perfect Spirit of God. Fourth, there are simply no Scriptures that even hint that “word only” is an option. Any Scripture being used to support “word only” can be used to argue that the word can only works through the Spirit, not the Spirit through the word. Lastly, Romans 8, Galatians 4, and Ephesians 2 argue truths about the Spirit within Christians that would not be possible if He only dwelled in the word. 1 John 4:12-13 allows the Christian to know that we know that we remain in him and he in us because He has given us His Spirit.”
Norman L. Geisler in his book A Popular Survey of the New Testament, informs the reader that Romans 8 takes the Christian from understanding “Salvation from the present power of sin, labeled as sanctification,” to “. . . salvation from the future presence of sin, referred to as glorification” (149). In the Old Covenant God sanctified the dwelling place which glorified Him in His holiness. In chapter 8 of Romans the Christian learns that God sanctifies him. This not only glorifies God and Jesus, but it glorifies the Christian in his holiness. One is truly made holy as God is holy because the Spirit of God now dwells within him.
Those who are alive are only alive through the living Spirit dwelling in their temple. Those who are not alive are carnal and dead through sin. Karl Kertelge says in The Epistle to the Romans, “In the Spirit we experience the life produced by the Spirit” (91). In other words, God is Spirit (John 4), and God’s presence is the only true source of life. How can one enjoy a relationship with God if he is not in His presence?
There are those who abuse the Spirit. They take this gift from Christ and pretend that the Spirit does things that He does not do. They claim that He gives them authority outside of the perfectly revealed will of God. They suggest that He cleanses them even of sins that are done out of a rebellious heart. They say He gives them gifts that no longer exist. One should never abuse such a gift in this way.
As was said earlier, there are also those who take this gift from Christ and speak against it as if it does not exist. They claim that the Spirit is not active anymore. They claim that the Spirit is not the gift. They deny Him in certain ways. They suggest that He does not cleanse the Christian at all. They suggest that He only works through imperfect translations of the Bible. They say He cannot comfort the Christian. One should most certainly not ignore such a gift in this way either.
The 2 previous views are both wrong. They should both be avoided. However, one of these views seem to be more depraving and sad than the other. Sadly, said view is carried among many believers. They take this view and rob themselves of one of the most beautiful promises ever made to man.
This series was an attempt to show that not only can the indwelling of the Spirit be proven through the New Testament, but one can also see a thread, from the beginning of time until now, that shows how it was always God’s intention to make the believer the dwelling place of His children. Not only is it incorrect to say that there is no indwelling in the Christian, but it is also sinful (i.e. not God’s will). Not only is it sinful for there to be no indwelling in the Christian, but it is impossible. Let the Christian rejoice that he is the dwelling place of God!- Jesse
Suggested Reading Before This Article: The Significance of the Dwelling Place of God’s Spirit (Romans 8:9-11) Part 2