If any man defile the temple of God

Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are (1 Corinthians 3:16-17).

This simple little statement of the Apostle is often misunderstood. What he is not saying here is that we should not defile our own physical body. That is not a good idea and is dealt with in other places. In this particular passage he is warning against defiling the church of God. The old fashioned “ye” is the second person plural subject pronoun. He is not addressing one person but the whole church at Corinth, and by extension all members of the church in all ages. Thus we have a plural subject and a singular object: “the temple of God.” This is the church and the Apostle is plainly saying that if any person will defile the church, God will not take it lightly.

Remember the story of Achan? He took a little of the forbidden booty from the destruction of Jericho and hid it in his tent. This was just his little personal misdeed, wasn’t it? No one else need know. The result was that thirty-six Israelites died when they tried to take the next city. Achan’s sin affected the whole camp of Israel and he and his family had to die for Achan’s “little” sin.

How much does the church suffer today because of careless Christians who think that it doesn’t matter what they do when no one is looking? We are playing into Satan’s trap when we think like that and leaving an opening for him to attack the whole church. Do we expect God to take such a thing lightly?

(First posted March 8, 2014)

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