The Bible teaches that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. This is an important concept for Christians to understand, as it has profound implications for how we are to live our lives. In this article, we will explore the meaning, significance, and practical applications of the body being the temple of the Holy Spirit.
The Body as the Temple of the Holy Spirit
There are several key passages in Scripture that establish the concept of the body as the temple of the Holy Spirit:
- 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 – “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, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”
- 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 – “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.”
- 2 Corinthians 6:16 – “For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, ‘I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.'”
These verses clearly state that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in us as believers. Just as God’s presence dwelled in the physical temple in the Old Testament, now His Spirit dwells in us. Our bodies are a holy place, having been cleansed from sin by the blood of Christ.
Indwelling of the Holy Spirit
The fact that the Holy Spirit lives within us as believers is called the “indwelling of the Holy Spirit.” This occurs at the moment of salvation: “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit” (Ephesians 1:13).
The Holy Spirit takes residence within our hearts when we place our faith in Christ. He will never leave us or forsake us. The indwelling Spirit is God living in the believer, serving as a guarantor and seal of our salvation.
Significance of the Body as God’s Temple
Understanding that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit has profound significance for the Christian life:
- Ownership – We belong to God, not to ourselves. Just as the Old Testament temple belonged to God, so now our bodies belong to Him.
- Stewardship – We are stewards of our bodies and should care for them accordingly through rest, nutrition and exercise.
- Worship – We glorify God with our bodies through obedient living and spiritual worship.
- Holiness – Our bodies are sacred space, set apart for God’s purposes. We must live differently than the world.
- Morality – We must keep our bodies pure from sexual sin, drunkenness, gluttony and anything harmful.
- Honor – Our bodies deserve honor, care and respect since the Spirit lives there.
Recognizing that God’s Spirit makes His dwelling within us should lead us to live differently, in holiness and sincere devotion to God.
Here are some key ways we can apply the truth of our bodies as God’s temple on a daily basis:
- Glorify God in your body through obedience – Present your body to God as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1). Submit your body to His will.
- Keep your body pure – Avoid sexual immorality, drunkenness, drugs, and anything else that defiles the temple of God.
- Practice self-control – Properly manage natural desires for food, sex, and other pleasures.
- Get adequate rest – Your body and mind need rest. It is God’s temple.
- Eat nutritious food – Fuel your body with healthy food according to your needs.
- Exercise regularly – Keep the temple strong and energized through fitness.
- Avoid polluting the mind – Be careful about media influences. Guard your eyes and ears.
- Pray for the Holy Spirit’s help – Ask for strength and wisdom to honor God’s temple every day.
Making careful choices about how we live each day is crucial. Our bodies belong to God, not us, so we must glorify Him through stewarding His temple wisely.
Honoring the Body as God’s Dwelling Place
The Christian’s duty to honor the body as God’s sacred dwelling place has many implications:
- We should avoid tattoos, piercings and other activities that intentionally mar the body.
- We must refrain from cutting, eating disorders, drug abuse and other forms of self-harm.
- Suicide is never an option, as it destroys the temple of the Holy Spirit.
- We should not join our bodies sexually with those outside the covenant of marriage.
- Pregnancy is to be honored as a sacred privilege of stewarding new life.
- Healthy disciplines like fasting and exercise should be practiced in moderation.
- God’s design and biological sex for our bodies should be celebrated.
- Medical procedures must be carefully evaluated against God’s purposes.
While there is room for debate among Christians on some issues related to the body, the underlying call to honor our physical bodies as God’s sanctified dwelling place remains constant. Our choices about what we do with our bodies should align with this holy identity.
The Body in Heaven and Resurrection
While our earthly bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit now, they remain subject to disease, decay and death. However, this will not always be the case. God promises believers glorified, resurrected bodies at the return of Christ.
When Jesus comes back, the bodies of departed saints will be resurrected and reunited with their spirits. “The dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).
These immortal bodies will be like Christ’s glorious, resurrected body (1 John 3:2). They will no longer suffer pain, sickness, fatigue or any of the effects of the curse upon the physical realm.
God will one day redeem our lowly bodies, honoring them for eternity as His sacred temple. This amazing promise gives us hope and motivation to honor our bodies even now in our mortal state.
Guarding Against Defilement of God’s Temple
One serious implication of the body being God’s temple is that we are accountable for how we treat it. 1 Corinthians 3:17 warns, “If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.”
Intentionally defiling the body through sexual sin, substance abuse, self-mutilation or other harmful behaviors brings God’s discipline and damages our relationship with Him. This is why taking care of our physical health is so critical.
We must also be careful about associations or activities that could defile us. Bad company corrupts good morals (1 Corinthians 15:33). Certain music, media, or environments can open the door to spiritual pollution of the mind and heart.
As God’s temple, our bodies and souls must be guarded vigilantly against anything that would compromise our sacred status as the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit.
Living as a Community of God’s Temples
Not only are individual Christians the temple of God, but the corporate body of believers is also spoken of in Scripture as God’s temple:
- “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17)
- “In him the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:21-22)
The church community together makes up the temple of God. This adds another layer of meaning. We must be careful to honor our brothers and sisters in Christ, who are also sacred dwelling places of God’s Spirit.
Therefore, sins against the body of believers such as division, slander, neglect of the needy, or leading others into sin are sins against the corporate temple of God. The purity and unity of the church should be zealously guarded.
The Holy Spirit Working Through God’s Temple
One of the greatest purposes of the indwelling Holy Spirit is to work through us to accomplish God’s will on the earth. As God’s temple, the Spirit desires to work through our bodies in many ways:
- Gifts of the Spirit such as prophecy, teaching, encouragement, administration, etc. (1 Corinthians 12:7-11)
- Fruit of the Spirit like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, etc. (Galatians 5:22-23)
- Power and boldness to witness for Christ (Acts 1:8)
- Strength to overcome sin and temptation (Romans 8:13)
- Wisdom and discernment for decision making (1 Corinthians 2:12-13)
As we yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit within us, staying connected to God through prayer and obedience, He will work powerfully in and through us for God’s glory.
Motivation for Honoring Our Bodies
Understanding that our physical bodies are the Spirit’s dwelling place provides compelling motivation for taking care of ourselves and living holy lives. Here are some key motivations:
- Our bodies belong to God, not us, so we are accountable to Him.
- The Holy Spirit within us is grieved and quenched by sin.
- We are joined eternally to Christ; our bodies are part of His bodily temple now.
- We have been bought at a price by the blood of Jesus and must live accordingly.
- Our bodies are sacred space, set apart by God for His glory.
- How we steward our health impacts our ability to serve God.
- Polluting our bodies pollutes a holy sanctuary, incurring God’s discipline.
- We eagerly await our perfect resurrection bodies and should honor them now.
These powerful truths inspire us to honor our bodies well through our choices each day. Our bodies matter greatly to God!
The biblical truth that our physical bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit has vast implications for how we approach health, morality, honor, self-control and service to God. Our bodies belong to the Lord – we are merely stewards caring for a sacred sanctuary where His Spirit resides.
This amazing privilege also comes with weighty responsibility. We must refrain from anything that defiles or harms the body. Instead, we ought to glorify God in our bodies through obedience, worship and walking in the Spirit’s power. Our choices each day should align with our identity as God’s sacred dwelling place.
As God’s temples, called to holy living now, we also eagerly await the future redemption of our bodies. At Christ’s return, these mortal bodies will be resurrected into immortal, glorified, spiritual bodies like our Lord’s. This awesome hope inspires us to honor our physical bodies even now as the Spirit’s dwelling place.