The Father's Temple Worship System Today
The scriptures clearly show that the apostles and the early church understood and taught the deep spiritual meanings and relationships between the Levitical priesthood, the temple worship system of national Israel, and the holy nation of kings, ambassadors, and priests that serve the Father and Jesus Christ through temples of flesh during the gospel age of salvation.
One reason the early church understood the comparison between the temple worship system of national Israel and the Father's worship system during the gospel age is that the apostles were all Israelites who were taught how to worship God through the temple worship system from childhood. Another reason is that, until 70 A.D. there was an existing temple for the worship of God in Jerusalem from which to draw analogies between the physical temple and spiritual temple.
Being a temple of God during the gospel age is not some abstract thought or mystical concept; it is a reality for those who are the Father's elect children on earth. Therefore, in order to more clearly understand how the Father's temple functions within his elect children today, we need to have some understanding of the temple system of ancient Israel, the temple system after the return of Christ, and the heavenly temple system.
This study explains some of the more important allegorical and literal meanings and relationships between the temple worship system of ancient Israel and the temple worship system during the gospel age of salvation, which began on the day of Pentecost when the holy spirit was sent to dwell in temples of flesh.
Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit
Before and after his death and resurrection Jesus promised that the holy spirit would come to dwell within his Father's elect children:
"If you love me keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he shall give you another comforter that it may abide with you forever; it is the spirit of truth that the world cannot receive, because the world cannot see it or know it, but you know it; for it dwells with you and shall be in you" (Jn.14:15-17 Para.). See also 2.Tim.1:14.
The spirit of truth is the Father's holy spirit. One of the functions of this spirit-power is to communicate spiritual truth to those who are authorized to receive and understand God's truth concerning things of the spirit-realm of existence:
"But when the Father sends the Comforter instead of me—and by the Comforter I mean the holy spirit—he [it] will teach you much, as well as remind you of everything I myself have told you" (Jn.14: 26 LBP).
"And he said, Yes, it was written long ago that the Messiah must suffer and die and rise again from the dead on the third day; and that this message of salvation should be taken from Jerusalem to all the nations: There is forgiveness of sins for all who turn to me. You have seen these prophecies come true. And now I will send the holy spirit upon you, just as my Father promised. Don't begin telling others yet—stay here in the city until the holy spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven" (Lk.24:46-49 LBP).
Here, we see Jesus preparing his disciples for the moment when the Father would place his holy spirit within them and they would become the dwelling place of his presence. This is the hour Jesus spoke of when he told the woman of Samaria that the hour would come when the Father's place of worship would be changed. The prophecy spoken to the woman and the promise of the holy spirit given to the disciples was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost in 30 A.D.:
"And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a mighty rushing wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them" (Acts 2:1-3 KJV). See also Acts 2:4-18.
Here, we have the physical manifestation of God moving the dwelling place of his spirit-presence to temples of flesh. Thus, the Father made it possible for all those whom he calls to salvation who accept that call to worship him wherever they are on earth. See 1.Cor.3:16; 6:19-20.
WHAT IS A TEMPLE?
Hebrew and Greek Words
The Hebrew word most often translated into the English word temple is hekal, which can mean several different types of buildings. However, when the word hekal is used in reference to a dwelling-place belonging to God, it always incorporates the sphere of the sacred into its meaning.
Although the Hebrew word bethel, which means house of El (i.e., God's house or a place where God's presence dwells), appears almost the same number of times as the Hebrew word hekal in the biblical record, the word bethel is left untranslated in most English translations of the Bible, which obscures many important prophetic and spiritual lessons.
The Greek words hieron and naos are translated into the English word temple. Hieron means a sacred place and naos means a shrine or temple. Although both Greek words are used to describe the temple in Jerusalem, there is a difference in their intended meaning. Hieron is primarily used to describe the whole temple complex, but naos is mostly used in reference to the innermost portion of the temple (i.e., the actual building within the temple complex).
Naos is used exclusively in reference to Christ's body as a temple, the elect as temples of God, and the heavenly temple in the Book of Revelation; therefore, it seems that the use of naos in the New Testament is intended to refer to the most important and sacred place in the temple of God.
The Temple is Where God dwells
When the Creator God first formed the nation of Israel, he told them that, if they would live according to his statutes and laws, he would dwell among them, protect and bless them, and walk among them. God wanted to dwell with his chosen people and have personal contact with them in order to commune with them and teach them his ways (Lev.26:3-12). However, the Israelites were rebellious and would not or could not maintain themselves in a state of ceremonial purity so that God could walk among them, and teach them. Therefore, in order to dwell among them, God had to confine himself in his glorified spiritual form to the tabernacle for the protection of his people.
The temple was the most important place in ancient Israel because it was the point of contact between God and his people. It was where the spirit-presence of God dwelt and the only place on earth where God's people were allowed to formally present themselves before him in order to give offerings, make sacrifices, atone for sins, and perform other rites that were required to correctly worship him. Without the temple, there could be no formal worship or interaction between the Creator God and his people. The temple was not just a physical structure where people went to perform their religious duty, it was also the place where God's presence dwelt.
The Agreement Before and After Christ
Before the advent of Christ, the Creator God gave the holy spirit to some individuals in order to give them knowledge, talents, and various other attributes and powers so that they could perform certain tasks for him. Although some of these people were called to a special calling, they did not have the Father's or Christ's spirit placed in them, because the Father had not been revealed (See Matt.11:27; Lk.10:22; Jn.8:19), and the Creator God had not become the Messiah. Moreover, these people did not receive the spirit of sonship (Rom.8:14-15) nor did they have the law of God placed within their minds and spirits (See Jer.31:33; Heb.8: 8-10).
After the Creator God who came as Jesus Christ the Messiah had revealed God the Father, preached the Father's good news message, and become the firstborn Son of the Father's new creation, a new agreement for salvation was instituted. Under the terms and conditions of the Father's agreement with his elect children during the gospel age, each of his elect children become a sacred temple on earth where he places his holy spirit, his personal spirit, and the spirit of Christ to dwell.
The Temples of Flesh
The writings of the apostles Paul and John leave no doubt that the physical body of a child of God is a temple of God where the presence of God dwells:
"Don't you know that you are God's temple [naos[ and that God's spirit lives in you? If anyone defiles God's temple [naos], God will destroy him; for God's temple [naos] is sacred, and you are that temple [naos]" (1.Cor.3:16-17 Para.).
"Haven't you yet learned that your body is the home [naos] of the holy spirit God gave you (Acts 5:32), and that he [it] lives within you? Your own body does not belong to you. For God has bought you with a great price. So use every part of your body to give glory back to God, because he owns it" (1.Cor.6:19-20 LBP).
The apostle Paul's use of the Greek word naos, which defines the most sacred place in God's temple in 1.Corinthians, chapters 3 and 6 clearly shows the body of a child of God as the focal point of God's spirit-presence on earth and a place of great importance to the Father and Christ that should be kept in a state of spiritual purity.
The apostle John says that the Father's personal spirit resides within the elect:
"No one has seen God [God the Father] at any time. If we love one another, God [the Father] abides in us, and his love having been perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in him, and he in us, because of his spirit he has given to us" (Jn.4:12-13 Para.). See also Lk.24:46-49; Acts 5:32; 1.Jn.4:12-16.
The apostle Paul says that Jesus Christ's personal spirit resides in the elect:
"Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God; Even the mystery which has been hid from ages and from generations, but is now made manifest to the saints; To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Col.1:25-27 KJV).
The mystery of how the Father's holy spirit, his personal spirit, and Christ's spirit resides within the flesh of every child of God was understood by those of the first age of the church and this important knowledge can also be understood today by those who have the Father's holy spirit residing within them. See 1.Jn.4:1-17.
Paul explains that a child of God does not have the same thought processes as a normal human because a child of God has the Father's spirit, the holy spirit, and the spirit of Christ residing within them:
"To have a carnal mind is death; but to have a spiritual mind is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is against God: for is not subject to the Law of God, and indeed cannot be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh, you are in the spirit, that is if the spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the spirit of Christ, that person does not belong to him. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead to sin; but the spirit is life because of righteousness. But the spirit of God the Father that raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he that raised Christ will also make your mortal bodies alive by his spirit that dwells in you. Therefore brethren, we are not in debt to the flesh, to live after the flesh" (Rom.8:6-12 Para).
The Collective Temple
The apostle Paul speaks of the elect of God as being a collective body brought together to form a holy temple for God to inhabit:
"Now therefore you are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone; In whom all the building [the collective church] fitly framed together grows into a holy temple [naos] in the Lord: In whom you are also built together for an habitation of God through the spirit" (Eph.2:19-22). See also Zech.6:12 which shows God's people as being a collective temple just before Christ returns.
The temples of flesh are unique among all of God's temples that are mentioned in the Bible. The scriptures indicate that these temples only exist during the gospel age of salvation and that the only people on earth who have access to them are the children of the Father's royal household.
Today, the Father's name rests upon his children and his presence dwells within the innermost parts of the flesh through the power of his holy spirit. All who have the name and presence of the Father dwelling within them are the Father's temples on earth.
Because the elect of the early church knew that they were the Father's temples, and a holy nation of kings, ambassadors, and priests, they understood what their goals and responsibilities were. Therefore, they were able to do great works through the power of the holy spirit that dwelt within them.
THE TABERNACLE AND THE TEMPLES
Moses was given detailed instructions about the construction of the tabernacle, its furnishings, the rituals, sacrifices, and offerings that were to be made there. Moreover, God instructed him about the priest's functions, garments, and behavior as they served in the tabernacle. These instructions given to Moses were the basis for the temple that King David designed and that his son Solomon built in Jerusalem for the worship and service of God. These instructions will also be the basis for much of the temple worship system that will be performed after Christ returns.
Because much about the tabernacle, the ancient and millennial temples in Jerusalem, and the practice of the worship system in them have allegorical and literal spiritual meaning for the Father's elect today, it is important to know something about the importance of the physical buildings and the responsibilities and functions of the priests' service in them in order to make comparisons and draw analogies between them and the Father's temple worship system that is represented within his elect children today.
THE WORSHIP SYSTEM IN ANCIENT ISRAEL
The Physical Buildings
Everything within the tabernacle/temple was totally dedicated to the worship of the Creator God.
The tabernacle/temple was the only place where God's presence continually resided on earth.The tabernacle/temple was the only place on earth where God could be worshiped in a formal way.
The tabernacle/temple was the only place on earth where people could receive atonement for their sins.
The tabernacle/temple was the only place on earth where people could give gifts and make offerings to God.
The priesthood was responsible for administering and teaching God's worship system.
The priesthood functioned as a bridge between God and his people, and the priests were the only ones authorized to enter the tabernacle/temple to present offerings and sacrifices to God.
The high priest was God's representative and the chief administrator of his worship system on earth.
The high priest was national Israel's and the priesthood's representative to the Creator God.
The high priest was the only priest who was allowed to directly communicate with God and receive instructions from him at the tabernacle/temple.
The high priest was the only person authorized to enter the holiest place within the tabernacle/temple in order to maintain a harmonious relationship between God, national Israel, the priesthood, and himself.
All formal worship of God by the people at the tabernacle/temple, whether offerings, sacrifices, or rituals, were performed for the people by the priesthood.
Anyone who wanted to formally worship God and receive atonement for their sins through offerings and sacrifices had to perform rites of purification before they could present themselves, their offerings, or their sacrifices to God at the tabernacle/temple.
The people could not enter into the sacred portions of the tabernacle/temple where the priests officiated; they could only come to its main entrance where the priest would accept their offering or sacrifice and offer it to God on their behalf within the tabernacle/temple.
The Millennial Temple
After Christ returns and establishes the Kingdom of God on earth and the tribes of Israel are established as a nation in the land of their inheritance, a new temple will be built at Jerusalem for the formal worship of God and the teaching of his ways:
"And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain [government] of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it. And many people shall go and say, Come you, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house [temple] of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem" (Isa.2:2-3 KJV).
The following are a few facts about the millennial temple and the system of worship that will be practiced at Jerusalem:
The prophecies about the millennial temple worship system show that it will be essentially the same as the worship system that existed under God's first covenant with national Israel, except for the changes that were promised in order to make salvation easier to obtain.
The prophecies of Ezekiel (chapters 40-48) reveal many details about the millennial temple, its officiating priesthood and the sacrifices that will be offered there.
The prophecies of both Ezekiel and Jeremiah show that God's presence will reside in the millennial temple at Jerusalem where people will be taught the ways of God.
The prophet Zechariah tells us that all nations on earth must present themselves in Jerusalem (where the millennial temple will be located) to worship the Lord of Hosts during the seven day feast of the seventh month, and that Jerusalem will be the place where all who offer sacrifices to God will come (Zech.14:16-19).
The Heavenly Temple
The books of Hebrews and Revelation tell us the following things about the Father's heavenly temple:
The tabernacle and the things Moses had to make to put in it, such as the altar of incense, the incense censer, the lamp-stand, the table for the show bread, the ark of the covenant, and the altar of sacrifice outside the sanctuary were all symbolic representations of things in heaven (Heb.8:1-5).
Jesus Christ is the high priest of the order of Melchizedec (Heb.7:14-28) in the heavenly temple and acts as the intercessor and mediator for the elect before God the Father (Rom.8:34; 1.Tim.2:5).
The heavenly temple is where the heavenly host presently worship and serve the Sovereign Father and his Son.
After Christ returns, the elect of God will serve the Father as kings and priests in his temple city (Rev.3:12; 5:10; 7:14-17).
The Father's temple city will come to earth, after his plan for the salvation of humanity is complete (Rev.21:1-27).
Nations of spirit-beings (people who obtain salvation) will come and bring their glory and honor to the Father's heavenly temple city (Rev.21:24-27).
Things In Common
The tabernacle/temple of ancient Israel, the millennial temple, and the heavenly temple have the following things in common:
Each is a holy place where the presence of God resides.
Each is dedicated to the service and worship of God.
Each has an attending priesthood to officiate and administer God's worship system.
Each has a priesthood that functions as a bridge between God and his people.
Each has a high priest.
Each is a place where God communicates with his people.
Each is a place where God's people come to praise, serve, and worship him.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE THE FATHER'S TEMPLE?
In order to understand what it means to be the Father's earthly temple, it is necessary to clearly understand that all the temples of the true God—past, present, and future—share the following things in common.
God's temple is a place dedicated to serve his purpose.
The presence of God dwells in his temple.
God's temple has a high priest.
God's temple has a priesthood.
God's temple is a place of Atonement.
God's temple is a place to communicate with him.
God's temple is a place to worship and praise him.
A Place dedicated to God
The baptismal ceremony with its various steps is the process by which a person makes and ratifies an eternal agreement between themselves, God the Father, and Jesus Christ. At baptism, one makes a commitment to live a righteous life and worship and serve the Father and his Son forever. Upon completion of the final ritual of the baptismal ceremony, a person becomes God the Father's son, a brother of Jesus Christ, and a member of the Father's household and his holy nation of firstborn sons. Upon receiving the Father's holy spirit, one also becomes the Father's earthly temple dedicated to his worship and service.
"Don't you know that you are the temple of God, and that the spirit of God dwells in you?" (1.Cor.3:16 Para.).
"Don't you know that your body is the temple of the holy spirit that God gave you, and you do not belong to yourself? For you have been purchased with a price; therefore; glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which belong to God" (1.Cor 6:19-20 Para.).
A Place Where the Presence of God Dwells
Many scriptures in the biblical record show that the temple of ancient Israel and the temple of the future millennial reign of Christ is where the spirit-presence of God dwells and many scriptures show that the presence of the Father's holy spirit, the Father's personal spirit, and Jesus Christ's personal spirit dwell within the Father's elect children; therefore, the Father's individual children fulfill the first requirement of being his temple; they are a place where the presence of God dwells:
"Don't you know that you are the temple of God, and that the spirit of God dwells in you?" (1.Cor.3:16 Para.). See also Rom.8:9-14.
A Place with a High Priest
Ancient Israel's high priest presided over the priesthood who served at the tabernacle/temple, he communicated directly with God, and he made intercession to the Creator God on behalf of Israel's priesthood, himself, and the people of Israel.
Today, during the gospel age of salvation, Jesus Christ is the high priest who presides over his Father's earthly temples and priesthood. Although Jesus Christ is not on earth, he is the administrator of his Father's worship system, priesthood, household, and holy nation on earth. And he also makes intercession for the Father's children from his heavenly throne through his office as high priest.
"Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? Will God? No! He is the one who has forgiven us and given us right-standing with himself. Who then will condemn us? Will Christ? No! For he is the one who died for us and came back to life again for us and is sitting at the place of highest honor next to God, pleading for us there in heaven" (Rom.8:33-34 LBP).
"Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come to God by him, seeing he ever lives to make intercession for them" (Heb.7:25 KJV). See also 1.Jn.1:7-9; 2:1-2; 1.Tim.2:5; Eph.2:18.
A Place with a Priesthood
In ancient Israel, the priesthood's primary function and reason for being was to serve the Creator God in his temple, act as his representatives to national Israel, and help maintain a harmonious relationship between him and his people.
During the gospel age of salvation, the Father's priesthood is not his representative to national Israel nor do they act as a bridge between him and Israel in order to maintain a harmonious relationship between them. Today, the Father's children are his earthly temples whose primary function is to serve him through personal sacrifice, intercession on behalf of their fellow priests, and personal growth toward spiritual maturity as the Father's individual and collective spiritual house on earth:
"Lay aside all malice, guile, hypocrisy, envy, and evil speech, and as newborn babes, desire the pure life-nourishing milk, so that you may grow by it. If you have tasted that the Lord is good. Having drawn near to him, the living Stone who was rejected by men, but chosen and precious to God; you also as living stones are being built into a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God through Jesus Christ" (1.Pet.2:1-5 Para.).
A Place of Atonement
Under the old covenant between Israel and the Creator God, the tabernacle/temple was the only place on earth where people could receive atonement for their sins and reestablish a harmonious relationship between themselves and their God.
Today, the Father's children do not need to travel to a central temple to gain an audience with him in order to ask him for forgiveness, because each of his children are his temple and have Jesus Christ as their heavenly high priest:
"Seeing that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched by our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need" (Heb.4:14-16 KJV). See also Heb.2:14-18; 9:7-25.
A Place to Communicate with God
Only the high priest of ancient Israel was permitted to communicate directly with the Creator God within the tabernacle/temple and, then, only once a year on the Day of Atonement. Today, because each of the Father's children is a temple where his spirit dwells, each of his children is authorized by his Son who is their high priest in heaven to communicate with him through his earthly temple. Today, when the Father's children want an audience with him, all they have to do is request to be heard through the authority of Jesus Christ and proceed to speak with him as a child speaks to their father:
"For through him (Jesus Christ) we both have access by one spirit (the holy spirit) to the Father. Now therefore you are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God" (Eph.2:18-19 KJV). See also Heb.4:14-16.
A Place to Worship, and Praise God
The only place in ancient Israel where God could be worshiped in a formal way was at the tabernacle/temple where the presence of God dwelt. When Jesus spoke of a time when people would no longer worship God in a specific place, he was speaking of the gospel age of salvation when the Father's children would worship him within themselves through the holy spirit:
"But the hour comes, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeks such to worship him. God is a spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth" (Jn.4:23-24 KJV).
The apostle Paul also confirms that the Father's elect children worship him in spirit, "For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus" (Phil.3:3 KJV).
When Jesus said, "It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but you have made it a den of thieves" (Matt.21:13) after he had condemned the spiritual leaders of his day for defiling God's temple at Jerusalem, he was quoting Isaiah's prophecy for the future concerning how people would worship the Father after his death and resurrection within a temple of flesh (Isa.56:1-7). Although this prophecy will have its major fulfillment after Jesus returns, it has a fulfillment today in the elect because the Father's children are his temples through which they can praise him.
THE CONSEQUENCES FOR DEFILING THE TEMPLE
The consequences for defiling the tabernacle were clearly detailed in the covenant that the Creator God made with national Israel and the consequences for defiling the Father's earthly temples are also clearly detailed in the agreement that the Father has made with his elect children today. In order to understand these consequences it is necessary to review some of the instructions that the Creator God gave to national Israel concerning their relationship to him and the tabernacle:
"You [Moses and Aaron] must keep the Israelites separate from things that make them unclean, so that they will not die in their uncleanness for defiling my dwelling place, which is among them" (Lev.15:31 Para.).
God is a holy righteous being whose very nature and being requires that all things that come into close contact with him be of the same quality of existence. The very nature of God's spiritual existence prevents him from dwelling where there is physical and spiritual sin or impurity; therefore, in order for the presence God to be able to dwell among his people and to commune with them, the temple, the priesthood, the people, and all things that came into close contact with him had to become holy and be kept in a condition of physical and spiritual purity. (See Lev.19:2; 1.Pet.1:15-16; Ex.29:36-46; Deut.23:14; 1.Cor.3:17.
"For I am the Lord your God: you shall set yourselves apart for a holy purpose. You shall be holy; for I am holy: neither shall you defile yourselves with any kind of thing that creeps upon the earth. For I am the Lord that brought you out of Egypt, to be your God; therefore, you shall be holy, for I am holy" (Lev.11:44-45 KJV).
"And you shall be holy to me: for I the Lord am holy, and have severed you from other people, that you should be mine" (Lev.20:26 KJV). See also Lev.19:1-2; 1.Pet.2:1-10.
Moses was given many instructions concerning the procedures that were necessary in order to purify the temple, the temple contents, and the priesthood from defilement and maintain them in a state of purity, so God could dwell in the temple and the priesthood could come inside the temple to perform their duties.
The Creator continually warned the Israelites about the sacredness of his temple and the punishment that they would bring on themselves if they did not keep from polluting it. The death of Aaron's sons Nadab and Abihu is an example of what happens to those whom God has set apart for a holy purpose when they fail to remain holy and maintain the purity of his temple (Lev.10:1-3).
The Father's Earthly Temples are Holy
The many scriptures that speak of God's earthly temples clearly show that these temples must be respected as the most sacred places on earth. Because the bodies of the elect are the Father's holy temples on earth in which his spirit presence dwells during the gospel age of salvation, the Father will not allow the power of his holy spirit, his personal spirit, or Christ's spirit to inhabit a person that is not holy. All things that come into close contact with God's holy place must be free from all sin and impurity; therefore, a child of God must be holy in order to be God's temple.
But, how does the body become holy and remain in a condition of physical and spiritual purity so that it can be a temple in which the spirit presence of God can dwell? The answer is that, during the baptismal ceremony, a physical and spiritual change takes place that makes the body an acceptable place in which the spirit-presence of God can dwell. In the baptismal water, God purifies the body and purges the spirit of all sin.
After baptism, the person whom the Father has adopted into his family is a new creature and their physical body becomes a temple in which the presence of the Father's holy spirit (his spirit-power), his personal spirit, and Christ's personal spirit can dwell. See 1.Tim.5:22; Tit.1:15-16; Heb.10:14-22; 1.Pet.1:22; 1.Jn.3:1-3; 4:4.
The Temple Must Remain Holy
While exhorting and instructing the Corinthians how to be righteous and perform their calling as children of God, the apostle Paul drew upon the Creator God's instructions to national Israel to avoid having any interaction between themselves and other religions and to remove all vestiges of false religions from the land he was giving them. Paul tells the Corinthians to avoid being spiritually bound to people who do not truly believe and obey the things of God, because there is no common ground on which to build a spiritual relationship:
"Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers: for what fellowship has righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? And what participation he that believes with the infidel? And what agreement does the temple of God have with idols? For you are the temple of the living God; and God has said, I will walk in them and I will be their God and they shall be my people. Therefore come out from among them, and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch the unclean thing; and I will receive you And will be a Father to you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty" (2.Cor.6:14-18 Para.).
What agreement and what kind of relationship can the Father's children have with this world's religions? The answer is none, if one wants the Father and his Son to walk with them and be within them. The Father's elect cannot be a part of this world's religious systems and a part of the Kingdom of God, because the two are in total opposition to each other:
"And I heard another voice from heaven saying, Come out of her my people, that you be not partakers of her sins, and that you receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her lawlessness" (Rev.18:4 KJV Para.).
Clearly, the elect are to avoid false religions and spiritual relationships with people who practice them, just as ancient Israel and the Corinthians were to avoid them. Because the apostle Paul was speaking the will of God, a child of God who avoids false religions and spiritual relationships with people who practice them can claim the Father's promise of continued sonship and fellowship with him.
A SERIOUS WARNING
The scriptures show that the Father's earthly temples are to remain in a holy condition just as the tabernacle/temple in ancient Israel was to remain holy:
"Don't you know that you are God's temple and that God's spirit lives in you? If anyone who defiles God's temple, God will destroy them; for God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple" (1.Cor. 3:16-17 Para.). See also 1.Cor.6:19-20.
When the apostle Paul said, "you are God's temple" what exactly did he mean by the word you?:
Did he mean that the elect's physical body is God's temple apart from the spirit-being of the new creation that inhabits the body?
Did he mean that the spirit-being of the new creation itself is God's temple apart from the body?
Did he mean that the spirit-being of the new creation and its physical body both comprise God's temple?
Although this may seem like an unimportant point to understand, it is extremely important to know exactly what Paul meant by the word 'you', because this understanding will help a person know what kind of conduct to avoid in order to keep from defiling the Father's temple and what he will destroy if his earthly temple is defiled.
In order to clearly understand what Paul was talking about when he said "You are the Temple of God", one must first understand the following four terms and conditions of both the Old and the New Covenants:
The spirit-presence of God will not dwell in an unholy place.
The spirit-presence of God will leave a place that becomes unholy.
People who are holy must make an effort to remain holy.
When a holy person becomes unholy, access to God's temple is denied.
Under the Old Agreement with Israel
Before the Creator God would allow his presence to dwell in the tabernacle in the wilderness and later in the Jerusalem temple, all physical impurity had to be removed from the tabernacle/temple through the rites of purification. After this initial purification, purity had to be maintained through continual rites of purification in order for God's spirit-presence to remain in the tabernacle/temple.
Under the Father's Agreement with The Elect
There are significant differences between the Creator God's agreement with ancient Israel and the Father's agreement with his elect children concerning how to become purified and remain in a condition of purity.
Under the Father's agreement with his elect children, all physical and spiritual impurity is removed through the baptismal ceremony.
Once one's physical body is purified and one's sins are washed away in the baptismal ceremony through the power of the Father's holy spirit, one's body and spirit is ready to receive the indwelling of his spirit, which transforms a person into one of the Father's children. Once a person has the spirit of God dwelling within them, they are the Father's earthly temple that will be kept in a pure and a sinless condition through the purifying blood of Jesus Christ. This pure and sinless condition will last as long as one remains in obedience to the Father and repents of any infraction of his law when they are made aware of it.
The Father's elect children are a spiritual creation which have as a part of their genetic make-up, the Father's holy spirit, the Father's personal spirit, and Jesus Christ's personal spirit, which makes them the Father's earthly temples and provides them with certain spiritual attributes, authorizations, qualities, and powers:
The physical bodies of the Father's children are temples sanctified for sacred use.
The Father's children are a spiritual creation residing within a physical body which is a temple of God.
The Father's holy spirit resides within the physical temples of his children.
The Father's personal spirit-presence resides within the physical temples of his children.
Jesus Christ's personal spirit-presence resides within the physical temples of his Father's children.
The Father's holy spirit, his personal spirit, and Jesus Christ's personal spirit will not reside in a sinful or impure place.
The Human Body and Spirit
The body is not the totality of the human existence. The body is only a physical housing. It is a machine made of flesh; it is the means through which the human that is a spiritual entity can experience this physical dimension of time and space. The human spirit without a physical body cannot exist in this dimension of time and space.
A New Creature
"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (2.Cor.5:17 KJV). See also Rom.6:1-11; Eph.4:21-24; Gal.6:15.
Although the Father's children outwardly appear to be the same as any other human, they are not. During the baptismal ceremony they are transformed into a new creature with the genetic imprint of the God family. Although they are not yet immortal spirit-beings, they are members of the Father's spiritual family as his sons. Moreover, at some time in the future they will shed their bodies of flesh and receive an immortal spirit-body. See 1.Cor.15:51-54; 1.Thes.4:13-17; Rev.20:6.
The scriptures say, "There is a spirit in man" (Job 32:8) and at the death of a human, the human body returns to the elements from which it is made and the human spirit "goes back to God who gave it" (Ecc.12:7). At death, the spirit of those who are of the new creation goes back to God the Father to await the first resurrection at which time they will be given a spirit-body through which they can live and experience life in the spirit-realm of existence "this mortal must put on immortality" (1.Cor. 15:51-54). The spirits of all other humans who die before the first resurrection return to God to await a resurrection to their first opportunity to obtain salvation or the resurrection to the second death.
Because the elect of God are a new creation (a new spirit creation) and a member of the Family of God, they are subject to the laws and standards of behavior which have eternal consequences if violated. The following stern warning shows the punishment of the elect who decide to rebel against God and depart from the faith:
"Don't you know that you are God's temple and that God's spirit lives in you? If anyone defiles God's temple, God will destroy them; for God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple" (1.Cor.3:16-17 Para.).
The English word defiles is translated from the Greek word phtheiro, which means to shrivel or wither, i.e., to spoil (by any process) or (generally) to ruin (especially figuratively, by moral influences, to deprave).
Paul says that, when a person defiles the temple of God, they have committed an offence for which there is no forgiveness and God will destroy them.
But, how does a person defile the Father's temple and what happens to the person during this life after they have defiled his temple, which they are? In order to answer these two questions, it is important to clearly understand that, when one is raised out of the baptismal water, one is raised to a new life, and upon receiving the spirit of God, a person is transformed from the original human creation into a new and different being. The old person with only the spirit of man ceases to exist, and a new person who has the spirit of the new creation dwelling within them is born.
"For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the holy spirit, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again to repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. . .. But that which bears thorns and briers is rejected and is nigh to cursing; whose end is to be burned" (Heb.6:4-6,8 KJV). See also Heb.2:1-3; 2.Pet.2:20-21; Ezk.18: 24,26.
Once a person is a member of the Family of God and fully understands what God requires of them and refuses to accept God's will and rule in their life, that person will suffer the second death which is reserved for the incorrigibly wicked:
"For if we are willfully sinful after receiving the full knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice concerning sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment and zealous fire being about to consume the adversaries. Anyone not regarding the law of Moses dies without pity on the word of two or three witnesses: How much worse punishment do you think he will be thought worthy to receive having trampled on the Son of God, and having counted the blood of the covenant in which he was sanctified common, and having insulted the spirit of grace?" (Heb.10:26-29 Para.).
"It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (Heb.10:31).
Jesus said, "And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell" (Matt.10:28KJV). See Gen.6:1-7; Lk.12:4-5.
The English words body and soul in verse 28 are translated from the Greek words soma and psuche. Soma, means a physical human or animal body, or corps and psuche, means breath, life, or mind. Here, there are two distinct elements of physical and non-physical human life spoken of and both elements can be completely destroyed by God. There is nothing in either of these two words that indicates anything immortal.
The English word destroy in verse 28 is translated from the Greek word apollumi, which means to destroy fully, to kill, to perish, to completely do away with, or to die. The word apollumi is used many times to describe the utter destruction of individuals and places (see Matt.12:14, 21:41; Lk.17:29). In every context where apollumi is found in the New Testament, it means to completely destroy and is used to convey utter and complete destruction.
There is no doubt as to the meaning of the words used in Matthew 10:28. Physical beings only have the power to kill the physical body, but the Father has the power to completely destroy all aspects of his new creation, including its spirit.
Understanding that the human body is only a physical housing through which one can experience this physical dimension of time and space helps one to understand that, when Paul said, "You are God's temple" and "if anyone defiles God's temple, God will destroy him" (1.Cor.3:16-17), he was not speaking of the physical body. He was speaking of the spirit of the new spiritual creation, which can become irrevocably defiled under the terms and conditions of the Father's agreement with his elect children.
The kind of defilement that Paul spoke of in 1.Corinthians 3:16 has little to do with a person making an occasional error in judgment or giving in to the pulls of the flesh in a moment of weakness. Paul is speaking of an action that leads to a permanent condition of defilement, which cannot be reversed through the application of the sacrificial blood of Christ.
Although the apostle Paul is speaking of the defilement of the spirit in verse l7, this does not mean that we can disregard God's precepts, principles, and laws governing the treatment of the physical body.
National Israel was given several laws prohibiting the disfiguring of the body, such as marking the body with tattoos, cutting or tearing the flesh, and making a bald spot between the eyes as a show of mourning or grief. See Lev.19:28, 21:5; Deut.14:1. These laws would also apply to those seeking to have a harmonious relationship their heavenly Father, because we are made in his image (Gen.1:27,9:6); therefore, we must not abuse, disfigure, or misuse our physical body in a manner which would show disrespect for our Father and his creation.
DO NOT EXTINGUISH THE SPIRIT
In Paul's warning and exhortation to the Thessalonians to be alert to the dark forces of the spirit-realm that seek to destroy the elect and to do the things that are expected of them as children of God, he says, "Do not extinguish the spirit" (1.Thes.5:19 Para.). This is a serious warning, because when the spirit of God within a child of God is extinguished, that person has removed themselves from the Family of God and is no longer considered a child of God. But, how does a person extinguish the spirit? Some of the ways to extinguish the spirit are to become self-deceived, self-willed, apathetic toward one's calling, or stubbornly refuse to obey God's will in one's life:
"Now the spirit speaks expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisies; having their conscience seared with a hot iron" (1.Tim.4:1-2 KJV).
Jesus warns that there is an unforgivable sin:
"I say to you, Every sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven men, but blasphemy concerning the spirit shall not be forgiven men. Whoever speaks a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him. But whoever speaks against the holy spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, not in this age or in the age that is coming" (Matt.12:31-32 Para.).
The Father is willing to forgive all kinds of sin; he is even willing to forgive the most vile things that are spoken against his firstborn Son the Savior of humanity. However, he will not forgive the ridicule of the holy spirit, which in actuality is a rejection of the things that the holy spirit represents. Blasphemy of the holy spirit is a conscious rejection of the Father's power, grace, and right to rule in one's life; therefore, it is an attitude and a behavior that is unforgivable.
A child of God who becomes a habitual and unrepentant sinner destroys the ability of the temple (which they are) to house God's spirit. When the Father removes his personal spirit, his holy spirit, and the spirit of Christ from one of his elect children, that person has no more hope of eternal life.
The extinguishing of the holy spirit causes a breach between the Father and his disobedient child that is irreparable. This breach results in the death penalty being passed upon the unrepentant sinner who has defiled God's temple. This person's spirit will go back to the Father in a corrupted state to await the resurrection to the second death, which is destruction in the lake of fire.
The Father's call to salvation is very clear; he will reward obedience and forgive sin, he is patient and merciful; he will not cause the irrevocable termination of a person's life unless there is no hope of redemption. The Father and his Son will never leave or forsake one of the elect; however, one of his children can leave and forsake him and his Son by refusing to resist evil and nurture a relationship with them:
"God sets himself against people filled with pride, but he gives grace to people that are humble; therefore, be subject to God. Resist the Devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and he will draw near to you" (Jms.4:6-8 Para.).
The elect who defile the Father's temple will be punished with the second death. Death is the absence of life; it is not existence in another form. When the second death is administered to a person, that person will cease to exist. The second death is total death; it is an irreversible and total destruction from which there is no return.
"For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom.6:23 KJV). See also Ezk.18: 4, 20.
"But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death" (Rev.21:8 NIV).
By B.L. Cocherell b6w13