Your Body Is A Holy Temple

January 31, 2010
日本キリスト教団 頌栄教会牧師 清弘剛生 Pastor Takao Kiyohiro, Shoei Church, Church of Christ, Japan
Translator M.A.F., Indiana, USA
First Corinthians 6:12-20

1. In the passage of scripture that I read to you today, Paul repeatedly says, "Don't you know?" He does it repeatedly. There was something that the people at the church in Corinth did not know. Or else there was something that they had heard but had unfortunately forgotten. What might that be? Paul says, "Don't you know that you are a part of the body of Christ?," (verse fifteen). "Don't you know? Your body is the temple in which the Holy Spirit dwells, whom you have received from God, and you no longer belong to yourselves," (verse nineteen). "Don't you know?" -- There is something we must know. It is how God sees us and how Christ sees us.

2. We worry too much about how others see us, [and] about how others speak about us and evaluate us. We put a lot of value on it. We often determine our own value by the words of others. We decide how we see ourselves by how we are treated by others. If we're treated roughly by others and we're spoken to like we're worthless, then we simply go along with it, agreeing, "Oh, I'm the kind of person who is treated roughly. I'm worthless. I'm a person with no value alive."

3. We determine how we live based on how we see ourselves. When we see our existence as insignificant and not worth anything, then we start to live as that kind of person. Often times we evaluate our own worth in accordance with other people's words and treatment [of us]. And as a result of that, we end up determining our way of living in accordance with other people's words and treatment [of us]. To that extent, we live always responding [much too] seriously to what is said by others and how we're treated by them.

4. But it is not what people say that truly matters. It is not how people treat [you that really matters]. It is how God sees [you], it is the way Christ sees [you]. The followers at the church in Corinth surely must have known this; because they determined their way of living based on it.

You Are A Part Of The Body Of Christ

5. [There is something that] we must know at any cost. The first thing we must know is that our bodies are a part of the body of Christ.

6. We had it in the scripture reading two weeks ago, [that] the Paul who wrote this was once a persecutor of the church. He not only persecuted the church in Jerusalem, but was ready to reach his hand of persecution even in Damascus. The situation at that time is written as "Then, threatening the disciples of the Lord more and more, and zealous in his willingness to kill, Saul went to the high priest and asked for a letter addressed to the various synagogues in Damascus. [The letter's purpose] was [to authorize him] if he should find a person following the Way, to bind the men and the women without questioning them and to bring them to Jerusalem," (Acts 9:1-2). However, along the way to Damascus he encounters Christ. A light from heaven shone around him and he was knocked down to the ground. Then, he heard a voice calling out to him as follows. "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" Paul directs a question to the owner of the voice. "Lord, who are you?" Whereupon there was the answer, "I am Jesus whom you are persecuting." This is the event of Paul's conversion which is written in The Acts Of The Apostles.

7. It was the church which Paul had been persecuting. It was individual Christians. But, Christ said, it was "Jesus whom you are persecuting." It was a persecution that was against Jesus himself. The suffering and the pain of each person being persecuted was to Jesus personally and not some stranger. -- Because the church is the body of Christ. The one whom Paul had encountered was the crucified and the resurrected Christ. But, if I could sum it up in a word, it was the Christ who has risen from the dead and lives with the church as his own body.

8. It's been about a year ago more or less, but I cut off about three millimeters from the tip of my left thumb with an axe. I need to omit [how it happened], because it would take too long to tell you why I was using an axe in the first place; but any way, I injured myself using something I was not in use to using. I'm glad I didn't lose the blessed thumb itself. The part I lost was only a piece of the tip. But, at the time it happened I wondered what did I do to myself? Did I calmly say, "Oh well, it's not that important because it happened at the very tip of the finger which is at the outermost extreme of the body?" Far from it! The incident that happened at the tip of [my] thumb was a major incident for "me." "I" was in pain and "I" made a bunch of noise. [Paul called it] "a part of the body" and I know what he meant by it. [I said it was] three millimeters of [my] thumb tip, but it is a part of [my] body. When [something bodily like that] is cut off, it is a major incident. When it says, it is "a part of the body of Christ," it means that we are important beings to Christ, as important as being a part of his own body.

9. Taking it the next step, when it says [we're] "a part of the body of Christ" it means that "Christ" has need of us. We need Christ as savior. That goes without saying. But, we not only need Christ, but Christ needs us as "the body." When [I] say that, there will be some who say, "Since I can't do anything, neither the church nor Christ needs me." But later on in this epistle, Paul puts it like this. "The eye doesn't turn to the hand and say,'You're not needed,' and the head doesn't turn to the foot and say, 'I don't need you.' On the contrary, the parts that seem to be weaker than the other parts in the body are needed all the more," (12:21-22). This is the word "indispensable, essential." [They] are indispensable. Who is thinking this way? Christ is. Christ has need for [each part, weak as each one may be]. We wonder if we're useful or not. It matters not [what we think]. Christ does need us. And Christ does use us. That's what it means that [we're] "a part of the body of Christ."

10. In today's reading of the gospel, we read the story of Jesus healing a person who suffered with a serious skin disorder, (Mark 1:40-45). At the time, Jesus reached out for his hand and touched him. The hand did not heal that man. What healed him was Jesus. But had he not had a body in this world, more specifically, had he not had a hand, he could not have reached his hand out to that man and touched him. Jesus, at that moment, needed a hand. We are that "hand." In order for Jesus to touch and bring deliverance to the people in this world, he has need of the hands that are in this world now.

11. That's us. [He needs to use] our bodies. [He needs to use] these lives of ours, in which we live with these bodies. Therefore, we must be very careful. We must not treat [people] like worthless folks. In this text, Paul specifically says, "Avoid lewd behavior!" [He is speaking] of sexual conduct. Paul is not saying stop that because it is immoral. He doesn't state that but rather he states that our bodies are a part of the body of Christ, and to God, to Jesus, we are such important beings. He says, "You're the body of Jesus. You're an important and necessary body. Should you be doing something like this?" "Don't you know that your bodies are a part of the body of Christ?" We, too, must know this fact. How we see ourselves will determine the way we live.

Your Bodies Are Temples

12. Then Paul also adds, "Don't you know? Your bodies are temples in which the Holy Spirit dwells, whom you have received from God, and you no longer belong to yourselves," (verse nineteen). He not only says, we are bodies necessary to Christ but even says, "Your bodies are temples."

13. At the point in time when this epistle had been written, Jerusalem still had a temple. It was before it was destroyed by the Roman army. When Jesus and his disciples had once gone up to Jerusalem, one of the disciples saw the temple and exclaimed, "Teacher, please look! What splendid stones, what a splendid structure it is!," (Mark 13:1). The temple in Jerusalem had repairs and annexes started on it by Herod the Great in the year 20 B.C.E., and he had one thousand vehicles prepared to move the stone materials and it is said that it took ten thousand skilled workers for the construction work. The magnificent building was dedicated to God as the dwelling place of God, as a place of public worship. That is "the temple" that Paul knew.

14. When [I] think about this, I feel amazed that Paul says, "Your bodies are the temple of God." There seems to me to be a gap somewhere. Considering that it had people in it falling into sexual misconduct, as I touched upon earlier, the church at Corinth which is the destination of this epistle had divisions, was fighting itself, and was saying, on the other extreme, things like, "I follow Paul," "I follow Apollo." It was that kind of church. They were followers with such a nature. [Could] they be "temples?" Every way I consider them though, they were [more like] dilapidated shacks full of holes and full of broken parts! And no, we can't claim to be much different. Because we don't know [and truly understand] the temple, we carelessly say things like, "We are temples of the Holy Spirit." If we really knew [the original temple], we would certainly be hesitant in speaking. -- Because the gap is way too big.

15. But what really matters is not how people see it. It is how God sees it. No matter how much of a dilapidated shack [one may be], when God lays down the big bucks for it and buys it and says, I will dwell in it, then it is a temple. The price God paid to make us his own was the life of his only son. We are redeemed with the blood split from Christ. We're purchased [by God with Jesus' blood]. Put another way, he looks at the value in those shacks as worth that much, and having gone as far as he did, he makes [these shacks that we are] his own. Therefore, Paul says, "You are no longer your own."

16. When we think along these lines, we should be able to make the case that when we put ourselves down and speak ill of ourselves and treat ourselves as having no value, then it is a ridiculous contempt for the God who purchased us! When you own it, if you put it down, well, it doesn't matter. But after it is not yours anymore, [it's another story]. It is rude when you speak badly and contemptuously of what someone has laid out big bucks for and bought. It is the same way with God's stuff, what belongs to Him.

17. Let's be careful with God's stuff. Let's be careful with these bodies, which God has made his own, these lives [of ours] whose business is conducted by these bodies [we're in]. The scripture says, "You are purchased with the price [God] paid. Therefore, with your body reveal the glory of God!" [We are] purchased bodies. [We are] bodies with the price [tag] of Christ's life affixed to them. Thus, we have become bodies for the purpose of revealing the glory of God. We really ought to live constantly with this in our thoughts. Our bodies are a part of Christ's body. Our bodies are temples in which the Spirit of God dwells. God sees us in this way. We too must see ourselves in this way. How do we see our self? -- Because how we do will determine how we live.