The Temple of God

2 Chronicles 7:12-16 ESV

Then the Lord appeared to Solomon in the night and said to him: “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a house of sacrifice. When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place. For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that my name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will be there for all time.”

In Old Testament times, up to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the temple of God was a physical building built by human hands. Inside that building was the Holy of Holies where the Ark of the Covenant was housed, and where only the high priest could enter into the presence of God. The Ark of the Covenant housed the ten commandments, the law of God. A very thick veil hung in front of the Holy of Holies so that no one could see inside. It was there that, once a year, only the high priest would enter and would atone for his sins and those of God’s people.

But, when Jesus Christ, God the Son, died on a cross to put our sins to death, once for all, that veil that stood between humans and God was torn in two so that now, through faith in Jesus Christ, we can enter into God’s holy presence. In his death on the cross, Jesus not only became our sacrifice for sin, once for all, but he served as our high priest in offering that sacrifice for sin, too. He became our mediator between us and God via his blood which was shed on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins, that we might be reconciled (reunited, restored) to God. So now, by faith, we can go directly to God in prayer and we need no other mediator other than Jesus Christ.

Now the temple of God is no longer a physical building, but a spiritual building, and it is made up of those of us who have trusted in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives. For, when we died with Christ to sin, and we were resurrected with Christ to newness of life in him, by faith in Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit of God came to live within us, so that the Holy of Holies now dwells within us. God’s laws are now written on our hearts. And, collectively we are called the church, which is not a physical building or an organization or a denomination, but the people of God in whom God dwells.

Yet, (we) the temple of God is still a house of sacrifice. The sacrifice, though, is no longer that of the blood of animals, or that of Jesus Christ, who shed his blood on that cross once for all for our sin. But, it is that of us, God’s people, giving our lives to God as living sacrifices to him, holy and acceptable to him. This is our spiritual worship of him, that we surrender our lives to God to be his forever to walk in obedience to his commands, and to follow him wherever he leads us, and to no longer be conformed to the ways of this sinful world (See: Rom. 12:1-2; Rom. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24).

Yet, although we are now God’s temple, in whom God dwells by his Spirit, we still live in flesh bodies. We are mere clay in the Potter’s hands, and he is still molding us and conforming us to his likeness. We are still a work in progress. So, we also still have the propensity to sin against God and to wander from his ways and from his truth. We can fall back into sin, and we can become rebellious, at times, and we can return to idolatrous ways, for a time, and need to be brought back into fellowship with our Lord.

But, if we become stubborn, and we close our eyes and ears to his pleading with us to return to him as our only Lord, he may have to exercise some divine judgment (discipline, correction) with us in order to get us to return to him as our only Lord (See: Rev. 2-3; Heb. 12; 1 Co. 11:32). But, the purpose of that judgment is to move us to repentance (turning away from sin) and to renewed faith in Jesus Christ as our only Lord (God) and master, so that we now walk in his ways and in his truth for the rest of our days.

2 Chronicles 7:19-22 ESV

“But if you turn aside and forsake my statutes and my commandments that I have set before you, and go and serve other gods and worship them, then I will pluck you up from my land that I have given you, and this house that I have consecrated for my name, I will cast out of my sight, and I will make it a proverb and a byword among all peoples. And at this house, which was exalted, everyone passing by will be astonished and say, ‘Why has the Lord done thus to this land and to this house?’ Then they will say, ‘Because they abandoned the Lord, the God of their fathers who brought them out of the land of Egypt, and laid hold on other gods and worshiped them and served them. Therefore he has brought all this disaster on them.’”

Faith in Jesus Christ, though, does not give us license to live however we want. Yes, as followers of Jesus Christ we are imperfect people, for if we could be perfect in and of ourselves, Jesus Christ would not have had to die on that cross for our sins. But, lack of perfection is never to be used as an excuse for continued and willful sin against Almighty God.

For, even under the New Covenant with God, our Lord demands obedience to his commands and that we forsake our sinful ways and our idols. For, this is why Jesus gave his life up for us, that we might die with him to sin and live with him to righteousness; that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us (Tit. 2:11-14; 1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15, 21; Rom. 6:1-23; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; 1 Jn. 2:3-6; Eph. 4:17-24; etc.).

And, again, if we, the temple of God, his body, his church, wander off from the commands of the Lord to follow after other gods, and the gods of man, and we go our own way, instead of the ways of the Lord, he will discipline us, if we are truly his, in order to bring us to repentance so that he may restore us back to fellowship with him (Rev. 2-3; Heb. 12; 1 Co. 11:32).

But, let me add a word of caution here. Some people think that faith in Jesus Christ requires no repentance or obedience to Christ and that they can now live however they want, free from guilt, and still claim heaven as their eternal destiny. Or, they think that repentance is only necessary one time and that obedience to Christ is optional, for once they are in, they are in, and it can never be taken away from them, or so they believe.

Scripture is real clear on that subject. Faith in Jesus Christ means death to sin and living to righteousness, not a one-time belief that now guarantees us heaven as our home while we continue to live in sin without regard for God and his commands. Faith in Jesus Christ means walking according to the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh, so faith is proved genuine by our actions, by our lifestyle (our practices).

If we, thus, make a profession of faith in Jesus Christ, but we continue to walk (in lifestyle) in sin, the Bible says we are liars who do not live by the truth, and that we will not inherit heaven as our eternal destiny, nor are we truly saved from our sins (1 Jn. 1:5-9; Gal. 5:19-21; Rom. 8:1-17).

So, although it is possible for true followers of Christ to still sin, from time to time, and to even wander off from their pure devotion to Christ, for a time, and will need to be brought back into fellowship with God, it is not true that faith in Jesus Christ means we can continue living in sin and that our sin no longer matters to God. For, we are all going to reap what we sow. If we sow to please the flesh, from the flesh we will reap destruction, but if we sow to please the Spirit, from the Spirit we will reap eternal life (Gal. 6:7-8).

Living Sacrifices

An Original Work / September 14, 2012
Based off Romans 12:1-2; 6:11-14 NIV

Oh, holy ones, I counsel you,
In view of God’s mercy,
To give yourselves to God in love
As living offerings,
Pleasing to God, holy in love.
This is your true worship.
Do not conform to worldly lives.
Let God transform you today.
Then you’ll be able to
Test and approve of what
God’s will is – His pleasing
And perfect will. Oh, holy ones,
I counsel you – Offer yourselves unto God.

Oh, holy ones, I counsel you –
Do not be conceited.
Humble yourselves before your God.
Do not be self-righteous.
The strength you have to live in love
Comes from your Lord God, so
Live your new lives in pow’r of God.
Be changed in heart, mind and will.
Do this because of what
Christ did for you when
He died on the cross to save
The world from sin. Oh, holy ones,
I counsel you – Humble yourselves before God.

Oh, holy ones, I counsel you –
Count yourselves dead to sin,
But be alive to God in Christ.
Do not let sin reign in
Your earthly lives so you
Obey its evil desires.
Offer yourselves unto your God
As those who’ve been born again.
For sin shall no longer be
Your lord and master.
Give of yourselves to God
For righteousness. Oh, holy ones,
I counsel you – Be alive to God in Christ.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

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