One of the most amazing revelations ever made is given by Paul in his word to Corinth.  A temple is the residence of God on earth: “Know ye not that your body” - the body of every [obedient]* believer – “is a temple of the Holy Ghost?” (1 Cor. 6: 19).** Twice the question is asked: already the Apostle had said, “Know ye not that ye are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” (1 Cor. 3: 16).  Dr. Timothy Richard once asked a thoughtful heathen, a Chinese philanthropist, if he had read the New Testament.  “Three times,” the Chinaman answered. “And what impressed you most?” the Doctor asked.  Pausing, the Chinaman relied:- “I think the most wonderful thing to me in the whole book is this, that it is possible for men to become temples of the Holy Ghost


[* Acts 5: 32.]  ** “‘Your body’, i.e., the body of each man among you: the temple, not a temple” (Dean Alford).]


The Body


It is indeed an amazing revelation - that we are “a habitation of God through the Spirit” (Eph. 2: 22).  We should expect the Holy Ghost to dwell in our spirit - the part of us that contacts us with God, or our soul - our intellect, in both of which we were made in the image of God; but that Deity should dwell in our body, literally dwell in it, is an extraordinary revelation.  The Temple was a purely physical structure, liable to decay and corruption; but within it was the Shekinah Glory, God Himself present: so “know ye not that your body is a temple of the Holy Ghost, which is in you, which ye have from God  Of the ancient Temple Jehovah said, - “Mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually” (1 Kings 9: 3): the body of the believer is as sacred to God as the Temple was, and “the glory of the Lord filled the house” (1 Kings 8: 11).  An aged saint was being borne to his burial.  He had been very poor, and with indecent haste his coffin was being shuffled out of the way, when a minister, who saw it, said:- “Tread softly, for you are carrying a temple of the Holy Ghost




But the very immensity of the blessing carries with it a counterbalancing truth.  “The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are contrary the one to the other” (Gal. 5: 17).  In the words of Spurgeon:- “Our greatest danger is from within.  All the devils in Hell and tempters on earth could do no injury if there were no corruption in us.  Alas, our heart is our chief enemy: Lord, save me from that evil man, myself  But the battle can be won.  “Choose between the worst and the better that is within thee.  Thou hast it in thy power to become the slave of passion, the slave of luxury, the slave of sensual power, the slave of corruption.  Thou hast it also in thy power to become the free master of thyself, to become the unfailing champion of God” (Dean Stanley).  No one was allowed across the threshold of the Temple except the People of God: so we are to keep our door closed and locked to the world.  “What agreement hath a temple of God with idols? for we are a temple of the living God” (2 Cor. 6: 16).




But the battle between the flesh and the Spirit can be lost as well as won; and the Apostle suddenly flashes out a terrible red-light warning corresponding to the enormous privilege.  Any defilement of the Temple in Jerusalem carried the death-sentence.  So here: “if any man defileth the temple of God, him will God destroy”; and to prove that it is not an unbeliever whom God thus destroys, Paul immediately adds, - “for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are  The unsaved are not temples but tombs, “full of dead men’s bones” (Matt. 23: 27).  The death-sentence was exactly fulfilled in the sentence passed on the Corinthian believer guilty of fornication, the defilement of the temple - the body - which Paul has specially in mind.  “Deliver such a one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh” - the destroyed temple; but destroyed with a blessed object; the mortal chastisement is to ensure eternal life:- “that” - in order that – “the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus” (1 Cor. 5: 5).*  So therefore the temple will be re-erected when “all that are in the tombs shall come forth” (John 5: 28).


[* All the sins of the flesh, if persisted in, forfeit the Millennial Reign: “of the which I forewarn you, even as I did forewarn you, that they which practise such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal. 5 :21).]




So then we see what enormous powers are ours if we co-operate fully with the Holy Spirit.  Paul prayed for the Ephesian believers “that they might be filled unto all the fulness of God” (Eph. 3: 19).  The indwelling [Holy] Spirit can control our eyes, where they look; our tongue, what it says; our ears, what they hear; our hands, what they do; our feet, where they go; our brain, what it thinks.  He can cure any bodily disease.  He can restrain, or even annihilate, appetite: it is extraordinary how a drunkard, when converted, can lose all appetite for drink.  The passage which most stresses the fearful conflict between the flesh and the Spirit reveals the victory that can be achieved.  “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, temperance”: such “have crucified the flesh with the passions and the lusts thereof” (Gal. 5: 22).


A Bought Temple


The Apostle then reveals that this unique wonder is reserved for this generation alone.  “Ye are not your own; for ye were bought with a price  Not until the price was paid, and the body was bought, could the temple be created: therefore it is only in the Church, following Calvary, that a human body can become “a temple of the living God  So our Lord said:‑ “The Spirit of truth abideth with you, and shall be in you” (John 14: 17).  “Wouldst thou pray in a temple?” says Augustine: “then pray within thyself; but first become a temple.”  The purchase was on Calvary.  “The church of God, which he purchased with his own blood” (Acts 20: 28).  The body is infinitely more wonderful than we realize, for we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps. 139: 14); but immeasurably more wonderful was the price paid by which it becomes God’s own possession - the price was Christ Himself.


Glorify God


So then we arrive at the golden conclusion.  “Glorify God therefore in your body.”* “There is not a part of our frame which may not be the embodiment of spiritual things or the means of religious service.  When I comb my hair, the very hairs remind me that they are all numbered.  And the eyes, are they not inlets wherewith I may first take into my heart all the beautiful works of God in nature, and providence, and grace; and then by bright and loving looks spread peace and happiness?  How much of Satan, and how much of Christ, there may be in the look of the eye!  And the mouth: what action the mouth has for sin and self-indulgence, or self-denial and careful moderation for Christ’s sake.  Glorify God with your mouth!  And the tongue; what a curse or blessing it may be!  Learn when to shut it and when to open it.  And your nerves; they are very good servants, but very bad masters.  Pray constantly for more calmness.  And all the senses - consecrate them.  They are the Lord’s.  And all your members!  Those hands - let them be busy, useful hands.  And those knees: let them fulfil the great design for which God gave you knees.  And the feet ‘shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace  And your whole body!  ‘Keep every part of it for God’” (J. Vaughan, M.A.).


“So also Christ shall be magnified IN MY BODY, whether by life, or by death” (Phil. 1: 20).


[* The added sentence “and in your spirit” - is omitted by all the best manuscripts, by nearly all commentators, and by the Revised Version: it is the body alone which is emphasised throughout.]