“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? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
At the special request of sister Permelia Cameron, of Texas, we will give such views as we have on the text written above. There were many points on which the faithful apostle had occasion to admonish the church of God which was at Corinth, who, though recognized by him as the church of God, were located among pagan idolaters and other enemies of the truth. In the enforcement of his admonitions he was inspired to use the most potent arguments and incentives to impress on them the importance of their solemn consecration to Christ as their Redeemer, who had bought them in a redemption purchase with his most precious blood. Whether the apostle, in speaking of their body in the singular number, applies the term to them as a church, or to each individual member severally, in either application his argument is appropriate; but as his address is to the whole church, we think he is speaking of the church as an organized body, and whatever would defile the body of an individual member of the church, would desecrate the church in her organic capacity. The plural form of the pronoun, ye, makes the admonition applicable to all the church. Ye are not your own; ye are bought with a price. A temple is a consecrated place, solemnly set apart from a common to a sacred use, and as such it was applied to the body in which God our Savior in his incarnation appeared, and of which he said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up,” when he spake of the temple of his body. The sacredness of the body in which Christ was put to death and arose from the dead most vividly appears from the testimony, that in it all the fullness of the Godhead dwelt bodily, and all his members were and are complete in him. The temple in Jerusalem was a consecrated house of prayer, the sacred place where the children of Israel were to assemble to worship God, and through their high priest to make their offerings to God; and in all their devotions they were to turn their faces towards it when they called on the name of the Lord, thus signifying that the new and living way, and the only way of access to the throne of grace, is through the vail, that is, through the flesh of our Immanuel, for no man can come unto the Father but by him. This is the consecrated way, in which God’s chosen people can find grace to help them in time of need.
“Is he a temple? I adore
Th’ indwelling majesty and power;
And still to this most holy place
Whene’er I pray I’ll turn my face.”
The church also, as the body of Christ, is of lively stones built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. – 1 Peter ii. 5. “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, growth unto an holy temple in the Lord: in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” – Eph. ii. 20-22. In the third chapter of this same epistle to the Corinthians, Paul makes this appeal, “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy [consecrated], which temple are ye.”
As our Lord Jesus Christ, in his Mediatorial relation to and identity with the eternal Father, and also with the church, which is his body and fullness, is the only consecrated place in which redeemed and quickened sinners can approach unto God, so is he the sacred temple in which alone they can worship God acceptably, with reverence and godly fear. God has made his chosen people accepted in the Beloved. God is in Christ in all the refulgent fullness of the members of the body of Christ are in him, according as God has chosen them in him before the foundation of the world, so they in their vital union, or union of life, are sanctified by God the Father, preserved in Christ Jesus, and called; saved and called with a holy calling, not according to their works, but according to God’s own purpose and grace, which was given them in Christ Jesus before the world began. As the light of the knowledge of the glory of God shines in the face of Christ, who is the brightness of the Father’s glory, and the express image of his person, the image of the invisible God, so the Shekinah of his presence covers and fills the church as the temple and dwelling place of the Most High God. God is in the midst of her: she shall not be moved; God shall help her, and that right early. “For the Lord hath chosen Zion; he hath desired it for his habitation. This is my rest forever: here will I dwell; for I have desired it. I will abundantly bless her provision: I will satisfy her poor with bread. I will also clothe her priests with salvation: and her saints shall should aloud for joy. There will I make the horn of David to bud: I have ordained a lamp for mine anointed. His enemies will I clothe with shame: but upon himself shall his crown flourish.” – Psa. cxxxii. 13-18. As the place where God has graciously recorded his name, and where he dwells, is his temple, so the saints also in whom he by his spirit dwells are temples of the Holy Ghost; and in this sense we understand the apostle to speak of the body or bodies of the saints, as temples chosen, redeemed, called, consecrated, sealed and prepared for the indwelling of his spirit. So that in him who is born of God is a spiritual offspring of God, a child of God, a son or daughter of the Lord Almighty, begotten of the Father, born of the Spirit, and is manifestly an heir of God, and joint heir with Christ; for it is born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, nor of a corruptible or perishable seed, but of incorruptible seed, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth forever, and therefore is a new-born child of God, a spiritual and heavenly treasure committed to an earthen vessel. “For God, who commanded the light [or life, for the life that was in Christ was and is the light of men, John i. 4] to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God [which is life, John xvii. 3] in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” 2 Cor. iv. 6,7. These earthen vessels are our mortal bodies, descended from the earthy Adam, formed of the dust of the ground, which sinned and fell in Adam, were redeemed by Christ, before prepared unto glory, washed and sealed with the holy spirit of promise, which dwells in us as a divine treasure, and is an earnest of our spiritual inheritance, which is reserved in heaven for us who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation, ready to be revealed at the last time. These bodies we cannot call our own: they were sold under sin; but they are bought with a price, and are called a purchased possession, to be hereafter delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the sons or children of God. Though now they are mortal, corruptible and vile, they are sealed to the day of deliverance, when they shall be changed from mortal to immortal, from corruptible to incorruptible, from natural to spiritual, and from vile to glorious, and be fashioned like the glorious body of our risen Redeemer. And we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for God has predestinated all whom he foreknew to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the first born among many brethren. It is strange that any of the children of God should fail to perceive a difference between the vessel and the treasure which it contains: the casket and the precious jewel committed to it. The vessel is the outer man, the treasure is the inner or new man; and these are contrary one to the other, causing a continual conflict as long as we continue in our militant state.
As the tabernacle in the wilderness and the temples in Jerusalem were the consecrated dwellings of the Shekinah or the presence of the Lord, sanctified as his abode, so the indwelling Godhead of Christ’s own supreme deity was manifest in the body of his flesh, as the temple of the living God, and the consecrated sanctuary of his people. And as the vital union of Christ, in his Mediatorial Sonship, with his mystical body the church, identifies them with him, even as he is identified with the Father, so he by his spirit dwells in the church as his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all. The head of the church is Christ, and the head of Christ is God. Christ is in the Father, and the Father is in Christ, and Christ and the Father are one; even so also the church is in Christ, and Christ is in the church, and Christ and the church are one. As therefore Christ dwells in his church, and all the fullness of the Godhead dwells in Christ, therefore the church is his consecrated temple. And as Christ by his spirit dwells experimentally in each quickened member of his body, and has redeemed their persons with his own precious blood, their bodies were sealed, as we have already shown, with the holy spirit of promise, which makes their bodies consecrated temples, in which his spirit dwells; for they are sanctified by God the Father, and chosen to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience, and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ. To sanctify is to set apart by solemn consecration to a sacred purpose or calling; so by the redemption in which Christ gave himself for them they are individually and personally, as well as collectively, bought with a price, and are by sacred right the property of him who purchased them with his own blood; and are therefore not their own, nor have they a right to withhold their service from him whose they are, and whom they are commanded to glorify in their body and in their spirit, which are God’s.
How solemn the obligation by which the children of God are bound to honor, obey and glorify God, devoting all the ability he has given them in that direction. To them it is said, All things are yours, and ye are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s. “Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid. What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh. But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.” Our bodies are members of Christ, for he took on him the seed of Abraham; and if we be Christ’s, then are we the seed of Abraham, and heirs according to promise. The children being partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same. His taking part of the flesh and blood of which his children are partakers, did not make him the Son of God, for his relation and identity with the Father were from everlasting; neither did his children partaking of flesh and blood make them the children of God, but only developed them as children of the flesh, even as the incarnation of the Son of God, for his relation and identity with the Father were from everlasting; neither did his children partaking of flesh and blood make them the children of God, but only developed them as children of the flesh, even as the incarnation of the Son of God manifested him as the Son of man. Hence, in the body of his flesh he claims his disciples as the bone of his bones and the flesh of his flesh. The bodies of his redeemed people are the members of his body, of which he saith by the mouth of the inspired psalmist, “My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned [or as in the margin, what days there should be fashioned], when as yet there was none of them.” – Psa. cxxxix. 15,16. The bodies of the saints were all comprehended in the body of the flesh in which Christ came to do the will of the Father, when he took on him the seed of Abraham, and was manifested in our flesh under the law, to redeem us from under the law, that we might receive the adoption for which we are now waiting, and must wait, to wit, the redemption of our body. – Heb. ii. 14,16; Gal. iii. 29; Rom. viii. 23.
By all these considerations the solemn admonitions of the apostle come home to us as the redeemed members of the body of Christ, showing the enormity of sinfulness justly chargeable on those who desecrate the body of which they are members, by asserting an independence or free agency, or by any unhallowed association religiously with idols, or with any other religious body than that of the Lord Jesus. “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body; so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body; whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many.” – 1 Cor. xii. 12-14. May we be divinely preserved from sinning against the body of which the grace of God has made us members, or of defiling the temple which God has consecrated, and in which he dwells by his spirit. “If any man defile [or destroy, as in the margin] the temple of God, him shall God destroy; which temple are ye.” How fearful the judgment! and how vigilantly and constantly should we watch and pray, lest we be tempted to bring reproach or dishonor upon the consecrated temple in which the Holy Ghost dwells. The destruction of which the apostle warns us to beware is not the interminable perdition of the ungodly, but that destruction which is parabolically compared to salt that has lost its savor, and is thenceforth good for nothing but to be case out and trodden under foot of men. Paul says, “I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection; lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” It is in this sense Christians may be destroyed as to their usefulness in the church, their communion and sweet fellowship with the saints, and enjoyment of the approving smiles of their God. This is indeed a much sorer punishment than Moses ever inflicted on those who despised his precepts, though they died or were put to death without mercy, under two or three witnesses. None but the chastened sons of God can know how sore a plague is sin, and how terrible the strokes of God’s chastising rod.
“To-day, let us hearken to-day
To the voice that now speaks from above,
And all his commandments obey,
For all his commandments are love.
His wrath let us fear to provoke,
To dwell in his favor unite;
His service is freedom, his yoke
Is easy, his burden is light.
But O! of rebellion beware,
Rebellion that hardens the breast,
Lest God in his anger should swear
That we shall not enter his rest.”
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Middletown, N. Y.
SIGNS OF THE TIMES
Volume 48, No. 6
March 15, 1880