What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” 2 Corinthians 6:16
I started thinking about this. What does it mean to be a temple? According to the bible dictionaries I read, when Paul says temple, he is meaning the inner sanctuary of the temple. The place where the Holy of Holies was. The place where God resided. The last part of verse 16 continues that thought. God will dwell in us like He did in the Holy of Holies. Except now, He doesn’t confine himself to one location on Earth. God walks among us as He walks in each and every believer.
As I thought about this idea, I realized I saw myself more as God’s trophy. A trophy is something that might be shiny and pretty to look at, but it sits on a shelf and gathers dust. There is not that intimate connection that there is with God and His temple. A trophy is placed on a shelf and is admired at arm’s length. Then the newness fades, and the trophy is forgotten or packed into a box to make room for other things.
“Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” 2 Corinthians 7:1
My motivation to perfect my holiness is not so that God would have a clean temple in which to reside. My motivation is to make a shinier trophy that people will stop and take notice of. This line of thinking really messes with your theology. One problem with this theology is that it is borderline deism. If I don’t see God as living within me but looking at me from afar then how personal of a God do I believe in. He does His thing and I do mine and hope He is proud of me.
This also places me in a performance and reward situation. If I’m good enough and impress God with how shiny I am, then He will love me more and not take me off the shelf. That is exactly what Jesus came to destroy through the cross. My good works are as filthy rags to the Lord. Nothing I can do will make God love me anymore. He just loves me. That is why He sacrificed His Son. That is why He called me to repent of my life of sin at the age of 16. That is why He has taken up residence in my heart as His temple.
I have to fight everyday to keep my frame of mind in line with Christ. The world is all about performance and what you can do to get ahead. Christ just stands in disbelief that I would continue to work for what He has already paid for. Christ does not desire to stand back and admire me. He dwells within me and desires to use me. 2 Corinthians 4 has the familiar passage speaking of all the things Paul had endured and the reason behind it. “We have this treasure in clay jars, so that this extraordinary power may be from God and not from us.”(4:1) Later in the passage Paul continues, “For all this is because of you, so that grace, extended through more and more people, may cause thanksgiving to overflow to God’s glory”(2 Cor 4:15).
God uses His temples, clothed in flesh, to complete His work of extending grace to the world. As those without Christ place their faith and trust in Him, then the saints of God give thanks to God. All of this glorifies God. All that God is about, is for His glory. When I think of myself as a trophy and not His temple then I attempt to keep the glory that is rightly His.