Summary: We are not only OF God’s household, but are the Dwelling of God in the Spirit! (#24 in the Every Spiritual Blessing series) This study will continue as "The Unfathomable Love of Christ" series, covering chapters 3 & 4. Sermon #1, "I, Paul, Prisoner"
Although, as we have already established, Paul is writing primarily to the Gentiles in this letter, it is apparent that the Temple of the Jews is prominent in his thinking as he makes his illustrations.
In verse 14 he tells them that Christ has made peace between the two groups, Jew and Gentile, by breaking down the barrier of the dividing wall. This is more than a simple analogy.
In the Jerusalem temple, the God-fearing gentiles were allowed to worship in the court of the gentiles. This was the place the merchandisers had taken over to change money and sell animals, and that is what made Jesus so angry. This place had been designated a place of prayer for the ‘nations’, meaning non-Jews, and by His own declaration, they had turned it into a den of thieves. They had effectively squeezed the gentiles out of the place of prayer God had reserved for them.
In any case, even when they could worship there, they were not allowed to go further. As I mentioned in a previous sermon, there was a sign over the door going into the inner court where the Jews worshiped, warning that any gentile passing through would be put to death.
There was a dividing wall. Two groups, worshiping one God, the same God, separated by a real, physical wall; but also a wall of prejudice and despising; a wall of national segregation and loathing.
How would you feel, if you moved to a new town and went to a large church there, and the first Sunday you visited you walked through the front door into the first room, and a sign over the door to the next room said, “If you were not born in this town, you must stay in this room and pray. If you pass through this door ushers will carry you out to the parking lot and see you to your car”
Would you go back? No, you wouldn’t even stay...I hope.
But Christ Himself, through His blood, broke down that dividing wall, and abolished in His flesh the hostility of the Law and ordinances which was also against the gentiles, because not having the Law and ordinances, those things only represented an enmity...a hostility between them and the Jews, between them and God.
He took all that out of the way.
Continuing with this line of thought, Paul tells us that we are now fellow citizens and belonging to God’s house. Then he goes further to say that we, the church, which is now comprised of believers from both groups and therefore actually now only one group, are ourselves, being built into a holy temple in the Lord, a dwelling of God in the Spirit.
Not only are you now a member of God’s house, says Paul, you have become God’s house. A place where He now dwells. He was with you in the Person of His Son, now He is in you in the Person of His Spirit.
This is the point on which we will settle and meditate today.
The first thing we must be sure to observe and understand clearly, is that
GOD DOES NOT NEED A PLACE TO LIVE
By that, I mean He is not dependant on us. He is not homeless without us. We have not provided something for Him.
In his address to the Athenian philosophers on Mars Hill, Paul said,
“The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands, neither is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all life and breath and all things...”
Let us be sure to establish in our minds early on, that God is not contained in any way. He contains.
One writer has said that just as the bucket sitting at the bottom of the ocean is filled with the ocean, at the same time it is surrounded and engulfed by the ocean entirely.
The believer is thus filled with the Holy Spirit of God, but always remember that “...in Him we live and move and exist...”
Now having established that and being aware that God is not in need of anything, and knowing that He is all-sufficient in Himself, we have to believe that His coming to dwell in us is for the sake of fellowship with Him, and for our benefit in every way.
So we need to spend some time here, looking at how God sees us as His dwelling place, and we must look at it with all humility and reverence because it is a topic often over-looked, and seldom in our conscious thoughts as we go about our day to day living.
THE TEMPLE OF GOD