Temple of the Holy Spirit
Pastor Steve Ellison
1 Corinthians 6:19 tells me that my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. How should that fact impact my daily living? 1 Corinthians is Paul’s response to direct questions from the church at Corinth sent to him. He was also taking the opportunity to address other sin and disagreements in the church. The verse in question, 6:19 falls in a paragraph which begins at verse 12 and ends at verse 20. Paul’s specific topic here was sexual immorality. Paul was qualifying his teaching of the Christian life being one of freedom and liberty. Paul was teaching that there are limits to Christian liberty. In this paragraph Paul uses a very specific and practical illustration of this limited liberty. This example has tremendous implications in today’s society because we are very much like first century Corinthians. Sexual immorality in 2012 in the U.S. is the norm. It is more than accepted. Sexual purity is ridiculed and not just in backrooms, but in living rooms, in music, television, and in the workplace.
Paul argues here that a Christian has been placed into union with Christ. Because the Holy Spirit lives in my body, it is wrong for me to sin. God cannot tolerate sin, any type of sin. Paul is using the most graphic of all examples to illustrate this. Because marriage was created to illustrate our union with Christ and sexual intimacy between marriage partners illustrates that intimate fellowship with Christ, sexual sin is the perfect example here. Carrying the argument forward logically, it is obvious that every sin, every disobedient act, is offensive to the Holy Spirit living within me. Paul clinches the argument by reminding me that I do not own my own body. God bought it with a terrible and a wonderful price. This verse gives me tremendous incentive, motivation, and enthusiasm for living as righteously as humanly possible.
In verse 19, “your” is plural while “body” and “temple” are both singular. While I am not absolutely sure what the Holy Spirit was trying to get across with that change in number, I do believe it has something to do with my individual relationship to the “body of Christ”, the church. Thus, it causes me to wonder if we as Protestants have gone a bit beyond the plan of God in our emphasis on individual liberty, the priesthood of the believer, and local church autonomy. Please do not misunderstand; I do believe that those are legitimate and Biblical stances with which I am in full agreement. I just sometimes worry that we have misused those doctrines to justify our desire to “not be told what to do” and to not be held accountable for our sin by other believers. Certainly, sexual sin is the illustration here, but it seems to me that all other sin is included as well.
My sin is a sin against myself. It is also a sin against a holy God. The American ideal of liberty seems to fight against the idea that my sin is also a sin against the church. My sin, be it sexual immorality, or any other sin, surely hurts the church. Not only does my sin hurt the reputation of every other member of that local church, but it also puts pressure on those church members who are aware of my ongoing sin. They have to make a tough decision whether to ignore my sin, thus disobeying God’s command toward holding each other accountable or they have to do the dirty and stressful work of confronting me. This is yet one more great reason for me to avoid sin. ……email@example.com