Summary: Men became the temple of God. This was a basic fact and essential truth of Christianity, but it was one that was difficult to grasp, and it still is today one of the most difficult concepts for Christians to make real in their lives.
In the Old Testament the emphasis is on Jehovah, the God who is above us. In the Gospels the
emphasis is on Jesus, the God who is with us. In the book of Acts and the Epistles the emphasis is
on the Holy Spirit, the God within us. There can be doubt that this is the age of God’s indwelling.
Pentecost began a new relationship between God and man. Jesus pointed to it when He taught His
disciples in the upper room that the Holy Spirit, the Father and Himself would all abide in them. No
longer would God be one afar off, and one to whom you had to go. He will be nearer than your
hands and feet, for He will be within.
In the Old Testament this relationship was a promise, but at Pentecost it became a possession.
In Ezek. 36:26-27 we read, “A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and
I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit
within you...” The promise is of a two fold change. A man’s own spirit is to be renewed, and then
God’s own spirit will dwell within. Man’s old spirit in incompatible with the spirit of God, and so
there has to be a radical renewal of it before God’s Spirit can dwell within it. The disciples of Jesus
were prepared, and their spirit was renewed, and they waited then for the promise of the Father.
Pentecost fulfilled that promise.
There was fire and a demonstration of power at Sinai also, but it was a fire that stirred up fear
rather than joy. Men were compelled by external power to bow and obey God. At Pentecost the
picture is radically different, for God no longer stands above and apart from man. He comes within
and demonstrates His power, and He gives His message through man. Keble wrote,
The fires that rushed from Sinai down,
In trembling torrents dread,
Now gently light, a golden crown
On every sainted head.
Men became the temple of God. This was a basic fact and essential truth of Christianity, but it
was one that was difficult to grasp, and it still is today one of the most difficult concepts for
Christians to make real in their lives. The Corinthians had an especially hard time understanding
this truth of the indwelling Spirit. Paul tries hard to get it across to them. They were very poor
Christians, and they were ignorant and immature, and some of them were even immoral, they were
still Christians. Paul begins this chapter by writing, “But I, brethren, could not address you as
spiritual men, but as men of the flesh...” He goes on to tell them how they are just like ordinary men
yet. They are jealous, envious, and they fight over which man to follow. They are like children
arguing over whose father is the strongest, and how many people their big brother can beat up. Then
he comes to verse 16 and asks this question: “Do you not know you are God’s temple and that
God’s Spirit dwells in you?”
It is obvious they did not know, or at least never gave it much consideration. If they had, they
would not have been such miserable specimens of the Christian life. In chapter 6 Paul repeats this
question again after pointing out that if they realized the Holy Spirit dwelt within them, they would
not continue to be immoral, and they would stop visiting prostitutes. Our bodies are to be used for
the glory of God, for they are temples of the Holy Spirit, says Paul. Only very ignorant and
immature Christians could be doing the things the Corinthians were doing with their bodies. Paul
knew that the key to their being lifted to a higher level was in the truth of the indwelling Spirit. The
more Christians are aware that they are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, the more they will become like
The tragedy is not just that the Corinthians did not emphasize this truth, but that it is still not
emphasized today. It is a revolutionary truth, and yet it is seldom heard or practiced. Christians do
not deny the doctrine of the indwelling Spirit, but they do ignore it. One of the reasons for this is the
fact that it is such a radical truth that even Christians fear to take it literally. It seems almost
presumptuous to claim that you are a temple of God. It would be construed as pride for me to say
that the trinity abides in me. People would either laugh or be disgusted. Can we take this truth
seriously? Can the infinite indwell the finite? It may be hard to believe it, but it is basic to New