Today according to the traditions of our fathers, many seek out a “church” or “temple” to go to on a weekly basis. This is something that has been passed down for centuries. Christianity today claims that their buildings are the “temples of God,” or “God’s house” here on the earth. These buildings in some cases are only used as a gathering place for fellowship and teaching, and in other places are identified as holy places of worship. There are even teachings today that insist that God’s blessing can only be received by coming to these assigned buildings. Is this biblical? These doctrines along with so many others, though they are widely accepted, are not rooted in the Word/Rock/Bible. According to the Word, YOU are the Temple, the Kingdom of God is within YOU, YOU have the Holy Spirit, and Jesus lives within YOU. The original temple of God was built as a place where the one and only Holy God could dwell among the people. The intention was that God’s chosen people would obey His commandments in their daily life (without sinning/disobeying God), and would worship their Holy God in the temple at the times HE appointed. We can tell from the book of Jeremiah, that God’s chosen people missed the point:
“The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, Stand in the gate of the Lord’s house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the Lord, all ye of Judah, that enter in at these gates to worship the Lord. Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place. Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord, are these. For if ye throughly amend your ways and your doings; if ye throughly execute judgment between a man and his neighbour; If ye oppress not the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and shed not innocent blood in this place, neither walk after other gods to your hurt: Then will I cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers, for ever and ever. Behold, ye trust in lying words, that cannot profit. Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other gods whom ye know not; And come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, We are delivered to do all these abominations? Is this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, even I have seen it, saith the Lord. But go ye now unto my place which was in Shiloh, where I set my name at the first, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of my people Israel. And now, because ye have done all these works, saith the Lord, and I spake unto you, rising up early and speaking, but ye heard not; and I called you, but ye answered not; Therefore will I do unto this house, which is called by my name, wherein ye trust, and unto the place which I gave to you and to your fathers, as I have done to Shiloh. And I will cast you out of my sight, as I have cast out all your brethren, even the whole seed of Ephraim.” ~ Jeremiah 7:1-15
You can see here that God was disgusted with the behavior of His people. They continued in daily sin, only to gather at the temple bearing His name as if God was protecting them so they could continue to commit abominations before Him. You can see Jeremiah says they put their trust in the temple (which was made with man’s hands). He even says that his house has “become a den of robbers” as these were exceedingly sinful people gathering there, only to go out and continue in sin. He warns them that God is about to cause their destruction because of their sin. How closely does this resemble many of the churches and temples of today, filled with people that are slaves to sin, walking in bondage and constantly seeking forgiveness so that they can be cleaned to go out and sin again. Several hundred years after Jeremiah, Jesus quoted from this prophecy of Jeremiah when he cleaned out the temple:
“And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.” ~ Matthew 21:13
Here Jesus is indicating that these people that were in the temple were full of sin. They disregarded the commandments of God, and were even money changing within the temple walls. You could call it a “den of sinners.” God through Jeremiah mentioned that if they would just AMEND THEIR WAYS and THEIR DOINGS, he would cause them to dwell in this place called “the temple” in the land promised to their fathers. They would not repent and because of this, God destroyed the man-made temple in which they placed their trust and cast them out of the promised land. The temple was to be a holy place, a place where God dwells- and wherever God dwells, sin cannot dwell. So the temple was destroyed in the time of Jeremiah by the Babylonians, and then was rebuilt in the time of Ezra and Nehemiah, only to come to the same wicked condition hundreds of years later when Jesus came onto the scene and cleaned out the temple. Jesus prophesied a judgment that the ‘earthly’ temple would again be completely destroyed:
“And as he went out of the temple, one of his disciples saith unto him, Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here! And Jesus answering said unto him, Seest thou these great buildings? there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” ~ Mark 13:1-2
This prophecy was fulfilled in 70AD, one generation after the birth of Christ. The Romans destroyed Jerusalem, and completely destroyed the temple so that one stone was not left upon another. Isaiah warned how foolish men were, to think that they could build God a building and believe that they are sanctified and protected by it:
“Thus saith the Lord, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest? For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the Lord: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.” ~ Isaiah 66:1-2
The prophet reveals that a man-made temple is nothing to God, while a poor man of contrite spirit that trembles at His word is valuable in the eyes of God. This was reiterated in the NT by Stephen and the Apostles:
“Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet, Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest? Hath not my hand made all these things? Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.” ~ Acts 7:48-51
“God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;” ~ Acts 17:24-25
So we’ve established that the idea of the man-made temple hasn’t worked, because men tend to worship their own creations, while continuing in their sins. They build things thinking God needs their craftsmanship, rather than realizing God doesn’t need anything from us, rather we need everything from Him. Jesus later brought a new understanding of “The Temple.”:
“Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? But he spake of the temple of his body.” ~ John 2:19-21
Here, Jesus let us know that HIS BODY WAS THE TEMPLE! In other words- God dwelt in Him, just as God dwelt in the OT temple. The temple was His body! Wherever Jesus went, the temple went with Him. The Holy Spirit of God lived within Him. Jesus walked with God, and talked with God constantly. He healed the sick, cast out demons, performed many miracles, walked on water, and creation obeyed Him upon command. No man in the flesh could ever walk with this kind of authority, unless God was in Him. God and the Holy Spirit dwelt in Jesus because Jesus walked without sin. Remember God will not dwell with sin. This is amazing! Not only was Jesus the temple of God walking from town to town, but He was also our teacher, master, and our example of how we would walk one day, once we would be reborn receiving the Holy Spirit!
We can see in both the OT and NT where men tried to come to a man-made temple where God dwelt and were filthy and wicked in sin, that this angered God to the point that he destroyed this man-made temple on two separate and significant occasions. Why? Because the people were not sanctified and obedient to His Word and His commandments. God will not keep His name upon a temple where sin dwells. The New Covenant changed everything, in that He gives every repentant and reborn believer in Jesus a NEW SPIRIT and a NEW HEART, and we obey God FROM THE HEART (Jeremiah 31, Hebrews 8). This is a tremendous gift from God, if we are willing to accept it, allowing God to dwell within us.
Over and over again throughout history, man makes the same error of building things and worshiping them as “holy.” They’ve built altars, images, buildings, ornate temples, the list goes on. They’ve dedicated buildings and temples as if God now will dwell there. Does God dwell there? The answer according to the Bible is NO! Where does God dwell then? The answer is IN HIS ‘HOLY’ TEMPLE! Where is His temple today? Where is our place of worship?:
“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” ~ 1 Corinthians 3:16
“What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” ~ 1 Corinthians 6:19
“And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” ~ 2 Corinthians 6:16-18
When we are reborn, we are freed from sin, filled with the Holy Spirit, and we become HOLY/ we become Saints, no longer sinners! We become THE TEMPLE, just as Jesus’ body was the temple. Many ‘religious’ Christians today seek out God at man-made buildings and altars week after week, hoping to come closer to Him in some way, and to receive encouragement in some way. The problem is, that many continue in a life of slavery to sin (branded by religion as sinners), and they seek a quick weekly fix of light or encouragement because their entire week is filled with darkness and defeat. On the contrary- the truly reborn Saints walk from place to place as the Holy Temple filled with God- His love, encouragement, walking in righteousness, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, meekness, faith, self control, healing, words of knowledge and wisdom, speaking in heavenly languages, and bringing the testimony of Jesus and the ministry of reconciliation to everyone in their path. They are a bright shining light for God and the truth in this fallen world. They are like salt with full flaver, seasoning the earth with truth and light. You may ask- “Where is the Kingdom of God?” “When will we see it come?” Again we are told in scripture:
“And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” ~ Luke 17:20-21
The kingdom isn’t something that we have to wait to see. It is already here, within us! Ask yourself, “Am I walking in the Kingdom of God today?” And what about Jesus- where is Jesus?
“Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his 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:” ~ Colossians 1:26-27
“But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” ~ Romans 8:9-14
Jesus lives on in us. We become the extension of His body on this earth. We no longer walk as a prisoner to sin, we are free! We walk according to the Spirit free from sin (no longer sinning). Jesus dwells in us and He is ALIVE, active and moving in the Holy Spirit. We now are Sons and Daughters of God! Now where is the “Church?”:
“Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” ~ Matthew 18:18-20
“Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens 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 corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” ~ Ephesians 2:19-22
The church is wherever we are gathered together in Jesus’ name! It could be a building, a field, a home, a shed, a tent, a picnic table, a garden, a park, a mall- you get the picture. Know today, that YOU are the temple, YOU are the church, Jesus lives in YOU, the Holy Spirit lives in YOU, the Kingdom of God is within YOU and you are fully equipped with everything you need to walk this walk once you’ve believed in Jesus and have been reborn through Baptism. Once you’ve been truly reborn you no longer walk as a slave to sin, rather you walk in the Holy Spirit in obedience to God. Wherever you go, the temple, church, Jesus, Holy Spirit, and the Kingdom of God goes with you, just as it went with Jesus our master! These things begin as a small seed that is planted within you at your rebirth, and as you water them with the Word, they grow up in you until they are overflowing. When you are able to learn who YOU are, and what YOUR identity is, you will begin to walk in the power of the Holy Spirit to reconcile souls to God! This is a great calling and a wonderful work. God is not bound to man-made things, he never was. He created all things, and only the foolishness of man will try to box him up into their own foolish creations. All of this being said, do not neglect coming together with other believers for fellowship, edification, discipleship, love and friendship. Also know, that if you continue to walk in sin as a slave to sin, God will not dwell with sin. Just as in the OT when God would not stand for sinful men to be in the temple, the same is true today. If we want to become the temple of God with the Holy Spirit, Jesus, the Kingdom of God and the Church dwelling within us- we have to repent for sin and be reborn. We encourage you to believe in Jesus and be reborn so that you can receive all of these amazing gifts today!