“TEMPLE OF THE LIVING GOD”
(A Sermon Series from 2 Corinthians)
Westgate Chapel 08-19-07 2 Corinthians 6:14-18
Proposition: The believer is the temple of the living God and as such must not be mismatched with unbelievers, must come out of the world and be separate, and must not touch what is unclean.
- IN Isaiah 66:1 God speaks through the prophet and says,
“Heaven is My throne….”
* And to help you understand the vastness and majesty of what heaven might be like, I want to show you the beauty of the heavens.
* These are some of the galaxies of God’s creative genius, millions of light years from our galaxy, called the milky way.
* These galaxies are filled with stars far bigger and brighter than our own sun.
* And these are just the galaxies that the Hubble space telescope has been able to photograph.
- GOD goes on to say through Isaiah,
“Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool…”
* Here is a photograph of the earth taken from space, but in context of the galaxies that the Hubble telescope is discovering, the earth is tell than the size of a pin prick in the universe….and we as humans are of course infinitesimally smaller than that.
- LET’S follow what God says through Isaiah,
“Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool. Where then is a house that you could build for Me? And where is a place that I may rest?” (Isaiah 66:1)
* At the time God said this to Isaiah, Israel was in open rebellion and worshipping the gods of the nations surrounding them.
* But they mistakenly believed that as long as they had the Temple in Jerusalem and attended the worship there and offered sacrifices…that God was somehow beholden to keep blessing and protecting them.
* They were convinced that building a magnificent temple in Jerusalem out of stone and cedar and gold would satisfy God’s desire for a residence among them.
- THAT is the context for this passage in Isaiah,
“’Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool. Where then is a house that you could build for Me? And where is a place that I may rest? 2 For My hand made all these things, thus all these things came into being,’ declares the Lord.” (Isaiah 66:1-2a)
* The galaxies of the universe cannot contain Him.
* The earth is His footstool.
* No temple or building made by human hands can contain Him. He made all of the building materials in the first place…
“All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.” (John 1:3 ESV)
- SO, back to God’s original question through Isaiah in verse 1. “Where is the house you could build for Me?”
- FORTUNATELY God answers His own question…and what we learn from Him becomes a foundation stone of New Testament theology and the heart of His message to us from 2 Corinthians this morning.
- GOD says through Isaiah concerning where He dwells…that it is not in temples or fine buildings…
“But to this one I will look [dwell], to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.” (Isaiah 66:2b)
- THERE is a mind-boggling truth concealed in this verse and then fully revealed in the New Testament concerning those who are born again.
- WE are the temple of the Holy Spirit.
- You find this language describing this aspect of our relationship with God all through the New Testament.
- THE God who spoke the Milky Way and the Antennae Galaxy into existence, who has the heavens as His throne and the earth as His foot stool….lives in you and me.
- THIS is the heart of the message of the last five verses of 2 Corinthians 6, and this morning we find it in verse 16b,
“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 6:16b)
- AND everything we learn about the temple in the Old Testament, now applies to our relationship to God as His temple on August 19, 2007…
* That He puts His name on us. We are the geography He has chosen for an address just like He chose Zion for His earthly temple in the Old Testament.
* That “this temple” is bought with a price, just like David bought the building site for the temple on Mount Moriah.
* That we approach God through the blood of Jesus’ atonement, just like the worshippers of the Old Testament temple with their sacrifices.
* That as temple, we come before Him only when we are clean….washed with the washing of the water with the Word.
* That as temple, God Himself is the light of this holy place.
* That we don’t live by bread alone but instead are surrounded and filled by every word spoken by the Father.
* That as temple the incense and aroma of our worship rises as a sweet savor before God…just like the smoke off the altar of incense
* That as the temple of God there is an inner court called the Holy of Holies where we meet God Himself and prostrate ourselves before Him in awe…in the Old Testament called the Ark of the Covenant or Ark of Presence.
- PAUL tells the Corinthian believers that they are the temple of the living God. It is the reason for salvation, the reason we are reconciled to God…to be the place where the living God dwells.
- NOW, in light of this incredible truth, there are three things that have no place in the life of a temple of the living God.
ii. DON’T BE MISMATCHED WITH UNBELIEVERS
- THE first is found in verse 14a,
“Do not be bound together with unbelievers…” (2 Corinthians 6:14a)
- WHAT does “bound together” mean?
* It doesn’t mean that we cannot associate with unbelievers. Paul was clear about that in 1 Corinthians 5.
* It doesn’t mean that we cannot have any business dealings with unbelievers. Paul assumes that Christians were buying meat from the market vendors who were not Christians in 1 Corinthians 10.
* It doesn’t mean that we cannot have social contact with unbelievers. 1 Corinthians 10 has Christians eating dinner in the homes of unbelievers.
* And according to 1 Corinthians 7, if a husband or wife comes to Christ, they are not permitted to divorce their unbelieving spouse except for desertion.
- SO, what does Paul mean, to not be “bound together” with unbelievers?
- THE Greek language in the original text is actually talking about prohibiting two different kinds of animals, yoked together and pulling on the same load.
- DOES that help with the sense of what Paul is saying?
- LET’S take a look at what the load stands for that the two are pulling:
* Marriage is the first to come to mind. That certainly is two people in close proximity pulling on the same load.
* But the context doesn’t limit the meaning just to marriage.
* Paul is talking about anything contractual that requires protracted close intimate relationship, fellowship and contact in the pulling of the same load.
- Washington Mutual and I are in a contractual agreement for the mortgage on our house, but it is not an intimate relationship requiring a great deal of time and mutual contact.
- Being a silent partner or investor would not qualify.
- Being employed by an unbeliever or working for or with unbelievers is not what Paul is talking about here.
- Paul is talking about being joined together relationally and intimately such over a protracted period of time and in such a way that the values, standards, and priorities of the unbeliever get in the way of being the temple of the living God.
- IT would be like yoking a bull and a donkey together to pull the same load.
- IT might be alright for the first few miles, but eventually the gate of the one animal would affect the other. The strength of the one animal would affect the other. The size of the one would affect the other.
- PAUL saw it happen first hand with his friend and colleague Demas.
* In Philemon 24, Paul calls Demas his “fellow worker” in the kingdom of God.
* In Colossians 4 Demas is yoked together with Luke in the work of the kingdom.
* Then, somewhere along the way, Demas starts looking over his shoulder at how exciting things looked in the world and lifestyle that he had left behind.
* And we are not told where and how Demas got bound together with unbelievers, but 2 Timothy 4:10 tells us about the results with the chilling words,
“Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica.” (2 Timothy 4:10)
- PAUL pushes the analogy a little further so that you and I get the point in verse 14b-16,
“…for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? 16 Or 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 6:14b-16)
- PARTNERSHIP is active participation…
…between righteousness and lawlessness.
- FELLOWSHIP is close communion….
…between light and darkness.
- HARMONY is close and complementary agreement.
…between Christ and Satan.
- IN COMMON are those things held mutually….
…between believers and unbelievers.
- AND agreement is just that…agreeing with someone.
…between the temple of God and idols.
- YOU can’t be matched, teamed up with, in close harmony with the world AND be the temple of the living God.
- YOUR passionate love for God will be the first to go.
- YOUR love for being with the people of God will be next.
- AND then, like Demas, given time with the world, you will forsake God.
iii. COME OUT AND BE SEPARATE FROM THE WORLD
- PAUL’S second response to being the temple of the living God is found in verse 17a,
“’Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,’ says the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 6:17a)
- THE Old Testament is jammed with all kinds of warnings about things being mixed….from fabric to intermarrying with pagan nations.
- GOD’S whole concern behind the mixture issues in the Old Testament is that mixing with the pagan world will result in the love of the world and the eventual loss of covenant relationship with Him.
- LISTEN to Deuteronomy 7:3-4,
“Furthermore, you shall not intermarry with them; you shall not give your daughters to their sons, nor shall you take their daughters for your sons. 4 “For they will turn your sons away from following Me to serve other gods; then the anger of the Lord will be kindled against you and He will quickly destroy you.” (Deuteronomy 7:3-4)
- IT happened to Israel. It happened to Demas. It can happen to you and me.
- JESUS said that there was a difference between being in the world and of the world.
- SO, Paul says, come out of the world and be separate.
* Come out of what they value and prize.
* Come out of what they de-value and deconstruct.
* Come out of what they identify as the main thing.
* Come out of much of what they take as entertainment.
* Come out of what they take as power.
* Come out of what they take as life.
- THE danger of most TV and the movies we watch as Christians is that they subtly draws us into loving and approving what the world loves and approves…and that is usually the opposite of what it means to be the temple of the living God.
- THE Greek word for “come out” means permanently to remove yourself from the world.
- AND the phrase “be separate” means to mark off boundaries between yourself and the world.
- WHAT boundaries have you established to keep yourself from the values and ways of the world?
iv. DON’T TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN
- FINALLY, Paul says in verse 17b-18,
“’And do not touch what is unclean; and I will welcome you. 18 And I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me,’ says the Lord Almighty.” (2 Corinthians 6:17b-18)
- TOUCH is a form of physical identification through contact.
- AGAIN, the theme of the whole passage is that you are the temple of the living God, and there are some things that are not appropriate for a temple….and contact and identification with what is unclean is not appropriate.
- UNCLEAN means anything immoral, indecent, filthy, or demonic, causing those who touch these things to become unclean.
- DON’T be in contact with these things. That is not who you are. You are temple and temple is pure and holy and righteous.
- THE holy, majestic, powerful God of all creation lives in you!
- YOU are the temple of the living God.
1. Don’t be bound together with unbelievers.
2. Come out from the world and be separate.
3. Don’t touch what is unclean.
- SING with me,
Holy Spirit make me holy (2ce)
From this moment on
Right every wrong
Holy Spirit come
Holy Spirit come
Holy Spirit come and make me holy.
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