THE TEMPLE OF GOD
"You are the temple of God." 1 Cor. 3:16
A temple is a building devoted to worship. There sacrifices and offerings are presented to God. Such was the ancient Temple at Jerusalem. There God was pleased to manifest his presence. Although he is everywhere present, he was pleased to promise his peculiar presence in the sanctuary which he had thus selected. But now God dwells not in temples made with hands. He selects for his abode the lowly and the contrite heart. The High and Lofty One who inhabited eternity delights to dwell with those who love him, and who reverence his word. As I am a branch of Christ, I dwell by love and faith in God. As I am a temple of God, he dwells by his Holy Spirit in me. It is this indwelling Holy Spirit who teaches me and leads me, who gives me a consciousness of my need, and shows me the glory and sufficiency of the Savior who supplies it. This title is to me of the utmost importance and worth. If I am a temple of God, and God dwells in me,
1. Then I should labor to keep this temple clean. If any man defiles the temple of God; him will God destroy. But unholy imaginations, impure thoughts, selfish tempers, all defile the temple of God. Unprofitable books, injurious society, unsuitable dress, improper recreations, all defile the temple of God. No, the introduction of lawful things at unlawful times, defiles this temple. The Father's house must not be made a house of merchandise, He will not give his glory to another. He will not allow the intrusion there of what belongs not in it. Alas! how often have I thus defiled his temple! Will he thus destroy me? Not if I turn from my folly, and strive to honor and obey him hereafter. He is ready to forgive the sins which I penitently confess. But I must examine the state of this living temple. I must understand its real condition. I must strive constantly to make it a proper habitation for the Spirit of God. It must be my great object and effort to be holy in all my communion with him, and in all my aspects before him.
2. Then I ought to maintain his constant worship there. My praises and prayers should ever be in my mind and heart. God should be worshiped within with a spiritual worship, in what I feel, and what I think, and what I desire. What acceptable incense is a truly grateful heart--a praying and confiding spirit! More than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices. Oh let me remember his presence. Let me think of it. Let me desire it. Wherever I am, he is with me. In whatever I am engaged, he is observing me. I must not forget him nor grieve him. I must lift up my heart to him, and give him my affectionate and earnest homage. I may thus always have a temple for worship. I may always retire within and maintain there an inward communion with the High and Lofty One. How precious is the privilege! No man can deprive me of it. No man can shut me out of it. No circumstances of life can prevent my use of it. Then let me not voluntarily neglect it.
3. Then I ought to listen to his voice within me. In his own temple, God utters his gracious voice. He speaks within me. There is a voice of his Spirit which utters itself to my conscience within. My safety and my happiness consist in my humble and faithful attention to it. I must listen and obey. He urges me to duty. He arrests me in sin. He would awaken conviction. He would elevate my thoughts and hopes to things above. He would sanctify me wholly. Let me ever hear what God is ready to speak. He will never speak in vain. He will lead me into all truth. If I seek him and follow him, he will never allow me to go astray. But I must be quick to hear, and instant in obedience. I must remember that he is always ready to be found by me. I must always earnestly seek him.
4. Then from this temple there ought to go forth instructions for others. If I am a living temple of God, how many dwell around this temple, who have no part in the blessings which are thus bestowed! The word of God must go out from his temple. I must therefore be an instrument for teaching others. Why do they dwell around me? Why have I been connected with them but for this? I ought to be constantly teaching and guiding some. There are always some that I may teach. Have I nothing to say or to do for the Lord who has made me his temple? This guilty world must be blessed and saved by Christians who dwell in it. God has placed his people here for that single end. Otherwise he would take them home to himself. If they do not bless the world, who will? Am I then one of his living temples? Oh let no ignorant and guilty mind come in vain to me, or be allowed to dwell without profit near me.
5. This is surely the proper employment of a temple. It must be kept holy. The worship of God must be there maintained. The word of God must be there heard. Instruction in the things of God must go out thence. Oh that it might be so with me! What a heavenly state is this! to have the Savior constantly exalted within me, and his light and influence constantly proceeding from me! The Lord God and the Lamb are the light of the heavenly temple. Oh let them be the light of mine. Then shall I walk in the light, and my earthly state will be a constant readiness for my glorious heavenly state hereafter. Thus shall I become prepared for the worship and the glory of his abode. Thus shall I attain the mind and habits which will fit me to unite in the praises of his redeemed.