Here’s an Eternal Promise that should get you excited and very curious to know more: “You are the Temple of the Living God”. In this Eternal Promises Radio Show broadcast, Jeff Tobler walks us through an in-depth exposition behind this true concept, as well as the conditional nature of this promise, and what it means for YOU!Listen to ALL broadcasts!
Radio Show Transcript
Thank you, Scott. Welcome to Eternal Promises Radio Show. I’m your host, Jeff Tobler.
I want to personally thank you for joining the broadcast today and remind you of THE eternal promise of Eternal Life for everyone who believes and lives for Jesus Christ.
“And this is the promise God has promised us, even Eternal Life!” (1 John 2:25)
“All of the promises of God in Christ are “YES” and in Him, “AMEN”. (2 Cor 1:20)
Today, we are going to focus on the amazing, but sometimes misunderstood Eternal Promise that says:
“For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: ‘I will dwell in them, and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.’ ” (2 Cor 6:16b)
And by the end of the broadcast you will discover clear insights and understanding on:
- The role of God’s Old Covenant Temple
- Where God ultimately dwells
- And, what it means when we read that We are “the Temple of the Living God” in the New Testament.
Now, to be clear, this is a conditional promise, which is to be a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ! If you are not currently a whole-hearted Christian, walking in an obedient love-faith relationship with Jesus Christ, I encourage you to lay hold of eternal life by laying hold of Jesus, by faith, and holding fast to Jesus and His teachings the remainder of your days on this earth.
Now, if you are currently a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, the sent Messiah for the Jews and the Savior of the whole world, this is the Promise: “You are the temple of the living God”.
The primary verse we chose is 2 Cor 6:16, but this eternal promise is repeated throughout the New Testament, and promised and alluded to throughout the Old Testament.
For instance, Paul writes to the believers in Corinth reminding them and encouraging them of this Truth.
For instance, in his first letter, early on he writes:
“Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16)
And a few chapters later, he again writes:
“Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” (1 Corinthians 6:19)
Well, why is Paul writing this? What is he driving at? Thankfully, he gives us the answer by saying:
“For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (1 Corinthians 6:20)
In other words, since we are God’s Temple, meaning He dwells inside of us – in our bodies, we should now be using our bodies (heart, mind, soul, and strength) to do those things which please and honor God. We are His, and He is ours. Therefore, we should make every effort to live a life that pleases God rather than grieving the Holy Spirit.
Well, before we get too far into this amazing eternal promise that believers actually are the Temple of the Living God, let’s step back to examine the origins of this concept, directed by God for the good of His people.
What was the role of the Temple found in the Old Covenant?
Anyone remotely familiar with the Old Testament or the Jews has some understanding of Solomon’’s Temple, or later Herod’s Temple.
Now, to be accurate, this notion of God’s Temple, goes back even further to the instructions given Moses to build a Tabernacle in the Wilderness.
This Tabernacle was portable, made of poles and animal skins, along with other materials, whereas the Temple we read about later was a fixed building made primarily of stone and covered in gold and other precious commodities.
But the result was the same. These “dwelling places of God” were instituted as a place where God would meet with the people, notably the priests on behalf of God’s people, and where ritual cleansing would take place, as well as sacrifice and offering for past sins committed.
At the time, God instituted the sacrificial Law to be carried out in the Tabernacle, and later, the Temple. These laws showed the people that their sins needed to atoned for by the shedding of blood – that is, the sacrifice (or ritual killing) of an animal so that the guilty party how had repented could be free from the penalty of death.
The writer of Hebrews says it this way in Hebrews 9:22:
“According to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.”
The VOICE translation says:
“Under the law, it’s almost the case that everything is purified in connection with blood; without the shedding of blood, sin cannot be forgiven.”
The tabernacle provides a rich study into the empty types and shadows that ultimately pointed to the rich and meaningful substance found in their fulfillment, Jesus Christ. You see, we tabernacle with God when we enter into an abiding relationship with Jesus, and we have our sins forgiven because of the sacrifice of sins that Jesus paid for by His blood being shed in our place!
The Temple and Laws pointed His people and future generations to the coming Christ, Jesus of Nazareth. The Temple served to teach about the atoning blood of Jesus Christ as the only sacrifice for all sin. The Temple taught the people that God wanted to “be their God” and that He was looking for a people who would gratefully and lovingly serve in the greatest Temple there ever was – one not made on this earth, but made without hands.
Which leads us to the second point.
Where Does God Dwell?
Well, there is no denying that there was once a physical Tabernacle and Temple under the Old Covenant, instituted by God. But after Jesus’ resurrection, Jesus revealed the heavenly tabernacle and temple not made with hands, and inaugurated earthly worship in this heavenly tabernacle by focusing on relationship rather than on real estate; on love rather than location.
Jesus alludes to it in John 2, starting at verse 19
Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” Then the Jews said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” But He was speaking of the temple of His body. Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said.
You see the old worship patterns were based off of many physical patterns and earthly examples that were meant to lead us into a worship of God in Spirit and in Truth.
Empty repetition or rituals have never been the goal. God has used these in the past to teach us about spiritual truths and heavenly realities, but God has always wanted us to worship Him in Spirit. He has always wanted us to serve Him at all times and in all places, out a pure, tender heart of love toward Him and others.
David reveals the heart of God in Psalm 51:
Psalm 51:16 –Psalm 51:17 (NKJV)
For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it;
You do not delight in burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
A broken and a contrite heart—
These, O God, You will not despise.
This was in part Jesus’ mission. He helps us to clearly see this as He talked with the Woman at the Well, where He said:
John 4:23-24 (NKJV)
“The hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
In other words, Jesus’ whole ministry is about opening our eyes to who God is, what His will is for us, and what TRUE worship looks like.
In Hebrews 8:1 we are told this in plain words:
Hebrews 8:1-2 (NKJV)
Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man.
Did you here that? Our High Priest, Jesus, is the final and only high priest now ministering over the true tabernacle which the Lord built, not man. He goes onto say that the earthly priests “…serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things.” So all that was done on the earth were copies, types, shadows… but NOT of any substance. Jesus is the substance, to Whom all the copies, types, and shadows pointed, but of themselves where nothing.
Stephen, a man filled with the Holy Spirit in the beginnings of the Chuch, expounds on the tabernacle, the temple, and the TRUE dwelling place of God:
Acts 7:44-50 (NKJV)
“Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as He appointed, instructing Moses to make it according to the pattern that he had seen, which our fathers, having received it in turn, also brought with Joshua into the land possessed by the Gentiles, whom God drove out before the face of our fathers until the days of David, who found favor before God and asked to find a dwelling for the God of Jacob. But Solomon built Him a house.
“However, the Most High does not dwell in temples made with hands, as the prophet says: ‘Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool. What house will you build for Me? says the Lord, or what is the place of My rest? Has My hand not made all these things?’ “
There you have it. The Most High does NOT dwell in temples made with hands, but rather in people who confess their sinfulness and start loving and obeying Jesus.
Look at what the OT prophet Isaiah declares:
Isaiah 57:15 (NKJV)
For thus says the High and Lofty One
Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
“I dwell in the high and holy place,
With him who has a contrite and humble spirit,
To revive the spirit of the humble,
And to revive the heart of the contrite ones.
You see, God has never truly dwelt with the Tabernacle nor in the earthly Temple, even though He used it to meet with and instruct His people. No, we can’t build any tabernacle or temple on this earth now or in the future that God will accept as His true temple, because He has already made one in Jesus’ death and resurrection and in His Church, individually and corporately.
Which leads us to the third point, which we will cover in a moment:
Believers are the legitimate and eternal Temple of the Living God
So then, all believers and worldwide Church make up the temple of the Living God! As His Body on this earth, wherever we go we have God in us and He is our God. We don’t have to travel over hill and dale, over land and sea, to go to some distant so-called “holy temple” or “holy place”. Wherever we are, we are in His holy place. We have instant access to God because He is in us – the temple of His choosing.
In fact, Jesus made sure of this by prophesying the end of Old Covenant worship in the Jerusalem Temple by destroying it in 70 AD, thereby destroying the old sacrificial system along with it.
1 Corinthians 3:16-17 (NKJV)
Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NKJV)
Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.
In his letter to Ephesus, Paul writes of a Temple still in process on this earth, but of Heavenly origin:
Ephesians 2:19-22 (NKJV)
Now, therefore, you are… members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
And Peter agrees saying, in Christ we are“living stones” that God is using to “build up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood” and that we now “offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 2:5)
When we give up our own desires so that others would know the Lord, that is an acceptable sacrifice. And when we offer up prayers for others, this is now the offering that is compared to as spiritual incense before the Lord.
The only way to please God, and to worship in Spirit and in Truth
The only way to please God, and to worship in Spirit and in Truth is to believe in Jesus, to repent of your sins, and begin to serve and follow Jesus. The Spirit of Christ will lead you into Truth. He is the foundation of this life of worship. Remember, you no longer need to go to a temple or building to worship and serve God.
Instead, as believers in Jesus Christ we are free to worship Him at all times with a life filled with gratitude, and a tender heart of love toward Him!
Before we leave this topic, it’s important to understand why Paul kept pressing this point to the Corinthians. They were not living properly and he was reminding them and warning them. Listen to what he says:
2 Corinthians 6:11-18 (NKJV)
“What fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? … And what agreement has the temple of God with idols?
For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said:
“I will dwell in them
And walk among them.
I will be their God,
And they shall be My people.”
“Come out from among them
And be separate, says the Lord.
Do not touch what is unclean,
And I will receive you.”
“I will be a Father to you,
And you shall be My sons and daughters,
Says the Lord Almighty.”
It is out of a great love for them that Paul is rebuking them for their wicked heart of unbelief. But what is the remedy? Well, in the very next verse, Paul plainly states what they must do. Let’s read it together:
2 Corinthians 7:1 (NKJV)
Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.