The Holiest Place in the Whole World

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A sermon idea based on 1 Corinthians 6:12-20 about how the body is a temple in which we can experience God’s presence at all times.

The cultivation of a deep, inner life in relationship with God is vital to our flourishing. You can’t build a box (a temple, church building, or shrine) for God to fit into because you ARE the box.

1 Corinthians 6:12-20 NRSV

“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are beneficial. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. [13] “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food,” and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is meant not for fornication but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. [14] And God raised the Lord and will also raise us by his power. [15] Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Should I therefore take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! [16] Do you not know that whoever is united to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For it is said, “The two shall be one flesh.” [17] But anyone united to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. [18] Shun fornication! Every sin that a person commits is outside the body; but the fornicator sins against the body itself. [19] Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? [20] For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.

There are two errors we commit when it comes to the physical, material world, which includes our bodies.

One is to see our physical bodies as non-important, having little or no effect on who we are or how we relate to God. After all, it’s what is “spiritual” that counts.

The other is to see our bodies as all-important as though the pathway to holiness is found in physical purity and perfection.

Between those extremes is Paul’s idea that the body is 1) a vessel in which we carry out our gospel mission and 2) a meeting place where our spirits and God’s Spirit convene.

Ultimately, Paul is calling us to go deeper than the surface. Living out this passage means honoring three declarations…

Level 1 – The Surface: I reject that which is harmful to my body.

On this first level, Paul is reminding us that what happens on the surface of our bodies – to our flesh, that is – is important. If what I’m eating, drinking, smoking, or doing with my body is having a destructive effect, I need to make changes.

I don’t think Paul wants us to be obsessed with physical health and fitness. It’s a great thing to be into if you’re into it, but essentially, we all need three things to take good care of our bodies.

  1. Eat reasonably
  2. Move regularly.
  3. Rest consistently.

There’s nothing wrong with running a marathon or taking the same physical training the Navy Seals use, but that’s not a biblical issue. What Paul is getting at is that our bodies are instruments – vessels in which we get to carry the good news. So we should take care of them on at least a basic level without making our bodies the object of worship.

Level 2 – The Soul: I refuse to live in slavery to anything that holds me back or hinders my growth.

It’s not just about how I treat my body. It’s also about what I do with my body, which is a vessel that carries around my story of redemption and the good news about God’s love for the world, demonstrated through the life, death, and resurrection of his Son, Jesus.

Paul makes it clear that, once we’ve been set free from slavery to any sinful habit, we get to continue to walk in freedom from that behavior. We never have to get tangled up in it again.

It’s important to begin with identity instead of behavior. In other words, it’s not that “I’ll stop this behavior so that I can be free.” It’s “I am free. Therefore, I can and will avoid this behavior.”

Level 3 – The Spirit: I reserve my body, mind, and soul for experiencing God’s presence at all times.

To say that my body is a temple is not to say that my body, itself, is an object to be worshipped. Rather, it is to say that my body is a meeting place for me and God. My body presents the capacity for the indwelling Spirit to commune with my spirit offering leadership, conviction, and comfort.

It is in the innermost, silent recesses of the human psyche that the Spirit of God chooses to reside. As such, there is this “secret” place of communion, invisible to everyone else on the planet, where God and I get to know each other.

The picture of us entering the throneroom of heaven and the picture of God entering the living room of my heart are ultimately the same picture. That’s why I’m convinced that the cultivation of a deep, inner life in relationship with God is vital to our flourishing.

How do you do that?

Make time for God. Get quiet. Get alone. Pray. Listen. Read scripture. Cultivate your connection with God, not only during dedicated times of prayer but moment-by-moment throughout your day.

Ultimately, you can’t build a box (a temple, church building, or shrine) for God to fit into because you ARE the box.


Photo by Samuel Martins on Unsplash

Father, Son, and the Other One: Experiencing the Holy Spirit as a Transforming, Empowering Reality in Your Life
  • Kennedy, Jeff (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 224 Pages - 02/04/2014 (Publication Date) - Charisma House (Publisher)

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