'But you're a sinner; how can YOU be the the Temple of the Holy Spirit?'
Yeah, how DOES that work? Does the Holy Spirit leave me momentarily whenever I fail to uphold His Law? Is that why we're supposed to confess our sins every Sunday ( I John 1:9 )? When the apostle Paul wrote 'Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?' ( I Corinthians 6:19 ), was he telling them that their individual, biological bodies were temples of the Holy Spirit of God?
We might ask ourselves these questions quite often, because this has to be a genuine concern, especially to those who have an unhealthy focus on the individual aspect of the Body of Christ! If we, personally, are temples, as we have been told from our youth ( after we were 'saved', of course ), then why do we still knowingly transgress the Law of God? Are we not truly Children of our Heavenly Father; are we not really 'saved', after all?
When these questions pop up in our minds, like they are wont to do, it's easy to get depressed and let them lead us down into the depths of despair! When we remember the Story, though, in both its covenant and corporate aspects, we should realize that the apostle was speaking in a most familiar way. He was not speaking here of individual, biological bodies, but of the corporate ( covenantal ) spiritual Body of Christ!
This Body is made up of individual, biological bodies, yes; the apostle also wrote, 'Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually'. ( I Corinthians 12:27 )! I'm not saying that individuals are not vessels of the Holy Spirit, just that those individuals, by themselves, are not the Temple of which Scripture speaks! This kind of individualistic thinking has caused much necessary pain ( in labor ) to the Body of Christ!
The Story of Israel is the Story of the Marriage of Heaven & Earth! It is a History in Metaphor of how God chose a special People out of all His good Creation and ordained them to be His Priest to the Nations, or the rest of His good Creation! Because we are too often wont to separate the Hebrew Scriptures from the Greek Scriptures, even to the point of ignoring the Hebrew, sometimes, the Temple Imagery from Old is often forgotten and so, when we come to the New, the Reality is instead individualized & personalized!
The clearest passage from the Hebrew Scriptures on the Nature of the Resurrection is Ezekiel 37. I mention this passage quite often, but it, like most of the Hebrew Scriptures, has fallen victim to this individualization & personalization! This passage, if even taken more than a passing notice of, is so divorced from the Story that it has become just one of those stories from the Old Testament that, even though at least one song has been written about it, just doesn't quite make sense, and certainly has no relevance to the Church today!
The Temple Imagery of Scripture begins in Genesis, winds its way throughout, and comes to fruition in the Revelation! The writer to the Hebrews put it this way; 'But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to
the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.' ( Hebrews 12:22-24 ) although not precisely stated here as in other places, maybe, it is clear enough with this complimentary passage that it is the People of God who constitute the Temple of God!
It is we, corporately, not individually, that make up the Body of Christ, or Temple! As individuals, it may be said truthfully that we partake of the Divine Nature, and bear somewhat of His Eternal Essence within us, but Scripturally speaking, it is the Corporate Body of Israel, that of the Son of God, which is the True Temple ( Revelation 21:22 )! Although the individual bears his or her part within the Body, it is as a whole that we are most effective! As we Commune together, we strengthen & build each other up, but as individuals, we have that 'lone wolf' tendency, as human beings, to try to make it on our own and to boast our self-sufficiency!
The fact that we, personally & individually are not The Temple of the Holy Spirit is not License to Sin; quite the contrary ( God Forbid! ), but since we, as a Corporate Body do constitute The Temple, our determination to act as the Priests of that Temple should be the stronger, and bolstered by His Strength, both within & without, we are enabled to shoulder the responsibility & to be the Leaves of the Tree that are for the Healing of the Nations!
By His Grace & through His Mercy,
Charles Haddon Shank