“Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?“ 1 Corinthians 3:16
How wonderfully, marvelously, terrifically, superbly powerful is this verse! When we are surrendered to God, the contents of its statement are true of us. At the moment of salvation, God enters by His Spirit to dwell in you. That is the awesome power of the grace of God.
Alas, though, this is where many get confused and go astray. As with every verse in the Bible, this one cannot be fully understood without reading it within the context that it is written. The wonderful positive message of this verse could be mightily misconstrued if applied out of context.
How often we have seen this verse used to confuse people into thinking that it means they have arrived. No more worries, no more pain. Just bask in the glory of riches and honor. Nothing is better than you. Everything is going your way from now on.
The real message of the verse is that we belong to God. In spite of worries. In spite of pain. In spite of the many difficulties that will come our way in this world. “You are a temple of God.” He dwells in us, and therefore we dwell in Him. In the midst of the devastation and disappointments that come with living life, the Lord is with us.
Because we are His temple, God continually showers His blessings upon us. Not necessarily the “blessings” this world understands, but definitely blessings that transcend the confines of this world. While we may or may not possess the things of value here on earth, God heaps on us heavenly riches as we abide in Him and He abides in us.
Reading the entire chapter 1 Corinthians 3 with this understanding can cause it to be an entirely different experience. For example, verse 15 speaks of a man’s work being burned-up by fire. All works will be tested by fire, so this can surely happen. When it does, there will be suffering due to loss. God never guarantees we won’t suffer. What He does promise is to bring us through the fire. Why would He do this? 1 Corinthians 3:16.
One last thought about this stop on our tour. It is important to always remember that when we belong to God we are holy. The scripture says so in 1 Corinthians 3:17. It is even more critical to remember what it means to be holy. This is not a title of elevation or bragging rights for this world. It is instead a call to not ever forget that we belong to God, and we no longer have the worldly rights of self. When we surrendered to God we gave up the rights to self-doubt, self-loathing, self-destruction, self-pity, self-promotion, self-centeredness…and the list goes on. We are the temple of the Living God and as we travel our road of life He goes with us. May our Lord and the world always see and know this truth in us by how we live life.