Monday, April 25, 2011

You Are A Walking Temple

Do you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you?  If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him; for God's temple is sacred and you are that temple.
1 Corinthians 3:16-17

Lately, there has been an enormous amount of press coverage sarcastically saying that bipolar is Hollywood's latest trend - the truly trendy have some kind of mental illness (i.e. Catherine Zeta-Jones and Charlie Sheen). This may seem funny, but for the millions of Americans (5.7 million are diagnosed with bipolar alone) who struggle with these afflictions, it is no laughing matter.

Catherine Zeta-Jones is praised for going public with her illness in hopes of erasing the stigma associated with mental illness.  Even the rich, the beautiful and the famous can struggle with unstable and troubling mental patterns.

So what is the fate of those with a diagnosis?  Can we ever understand mental illness and is there healing? Will life ever be normal? Or must one be resigned to a cocktail of medications for the rest of his life?  And even then, not find life to be full and abundant.

In my quest for answers about depression, I discovered that all mental illnesses have a similar pattern - they start in the very center of our being, they affect our patterns of thought, our will and our emotions and eventually symptoms manifest in our physical bodies.

In order to understand any mental illness, we must first understand who we are, not individually, but as a race, the human race.  What is a human being anyway?

The Bible tells us that we are made in the image of God (Gen 1:27).   What does it mean to be created in the image of God?

Of all God's creations, only humans were created as tripartite beings:
body, soul and spirit. 

I Corinthians 3:16 says that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit.  Interestingly, the temple or tabernacle of ancient Israel was constructed with 3 sacred courts and chambers:  the outer court, the inner court and the holy of holies.  God gave extremely strict instructions regarding the construction, maintenance and purity of this temple and if anyone violated the purity of the temple, they could be afflicted with disease as in the case of King Uzziah (2 Chronicles 26:19) or they could loose their life as some of the priests did who did not follow the complete rituals of cleansing before entering the holy of holies.

The outer court of the temple was a place were individuals would bring their sacrifices and offerings.  This court was out in broad daylight and anyone could see the activities performed there.

The inner court was hidden behind the temple veil and only the priests were to enter there.  Any priest entering the inner court must strictly follow the ceremonial cleansings before entering.

Once a year the high priest was allowed to enter the holy of holies.  He performed numerous cleansings and sanctifications before entering the holy of holies.  It was well known that if the priest failed to adhere to all the ceremonial cleansings, he would be struck dead.  Thus, the tradition of sewing bells to the hem of his robes and tying a rope around his ankle.  If the bells stopped tinkling he was assumed dead and the other priests would pull him out of the holy of holies by the rope.

Have you ever wondered what all of these Old Testament rituals have to do with our lives today?

How grateful I am that we no longer have to bring a lamb or animal to the temple, watch the priest slaughter it and sprinkle the blood on the alter for my sins!  The amazing thing is that Jesus Christ was "the lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world!" (John 1:29).  At the time of Christ's crucifixion, the earth shook and the temple veil was ripped by God from top to bottom exposing the holy of holies to the common man.

Jesus is also called our high priest and 1 Peter 1:9 says all believers in Christ are, "a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light".

Perry Stone, in his book Purging Your House, Pruning Your Family Tree, has a wonderful description of us as walking temples.

"Christ knew that the temple in Jerusalem would be destroyed within a generation (Matt 24:1-2). He also realized that the divine presence of God would be transferred from a man-made building in Jerusalem to the physical bodies and spirits of believers who walked in the New Covenant.  Each believer is a walking temple. Instead of meeting God in one designated location, we take Him with us everywhere we go.  Just as the ancient tabernacle of Moses and the temples of Solomon and Herod were sacred structures with a distinct design consisting of three sacred courts and chambers, so too the human body is a tripartite temple.  The Bible reveals that we consist of body, soul and spirit (1 Thess. 5:23).  The physical body is a reflection of the temple's outer court, the soul reflects the temple's inner court, and the human spirit represents the sacred chamber called the holy holies."
"In the earthly temple, men could see the outer court, just as the human body is visible to all human eyes.  The soul is housed within the body and cannot be seen by the natural eye, just as the temple's inner court was hidden behind the temple veil or two large doors in the early Jewish temples.  The soul is the seat of our thinking, reasoning and illumination and is a reflection of the seven-branched candlestick whose light illuminated the inner court.  The holy of holies was hidden from public view and was the most sacred and holy part of the temple.  Just so, the human spirit is a reflection of the holy of holies, the place where God's presence dwelt.  All spiritual blessings begin in the spirit and work their way outward into our lives."

When we understand who we are, it is much easier to see how healing takes place.  It starts with the most sacred place - the spirit.  Just as the high priest ceremonially cleansed and sanctified himself, we must also cleanse and purge our spirit of anything that is not in sync with the Holy Spirit.

Secondly,  is the renewing of the mind, will and emotions.  This starts with spending time in the presence of God - coming to the throne of God in the holy of holies (read how here).  It is in the holy of holies that God transforms us and teaches us to forgive (read How to Forgive Someone Who Has Hurt Me), to submit (read The Liberating Truth About Submission) and to be holy as He is holy.

Lastly, is the healing of the body.  Our physical body plays an important part in our temple as a whole.  We must do everything we can to present our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God which is our reasonable service.  This includes everything from diet and excercise to keeping our bodies pure from sinful acts.

In 1 Peter 1:3-9 we are told that times of suffering come in order to refine us and perfect our faith.  In other words, to drive us closer to God so that we will purge out all the impurities from our temple/ His temple.  This process of purging and pruning can be painful, but when we see the results we will be filled with inexpressible and glorious joy for we are achieving the goal - the healing of our soul (mind, will and emotions), right here on earth!

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  In His great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade - kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.  
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that your faith - of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire - may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
1 Peter 1:3-9

Grace and peace be yours in abundance today~


Pam said...

Great post, Nena! It is so easy to get busy in life's activities and forget that we are God's temple. When I am reminded of God's holiness, it stirs me to keep my eyes on God and be more like Him. Sadly, I know too often my temple is far less that what a holy God deserves. Thanks for this great reminder and encouragment to come before God with a pure heart and live a pure life before God. Pam L.

Crystal Mary said...

Yes we are to care for our body as it is a living temple. "Surely you know that you are Gods temple and Gods spirit dwells in you....
1 Corinthians 3:16-17
You wrote this beautifully..God Bless.

Anonymous said...

Really helpful post! Greetings from Germany