They had all the spiritual gifts yet they were the most carnal of believers. They had a heart for God (so they would say) but distaste for many of His disciples. They used their tongue to slay, wound or slander and at the same time sing praises to God. It didn’t seem to enter their minds that their professed spirituality was soulish and not of God. Why was their claim to being spiritual an insult to God? Because of the effect their attitude and actions were having upon the Church and witnessed by the community! Paul explained to them that in actual fact they were defiling Christ and His Church. ‘Don’t 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. NIV). The Corinthian church’s carnality is running hot and strong in Western Christendom today. It is inviting God’s retributive justice to fall. When? That is His decision.Temple = the inner sanctuary. This is a picture of the Holy of Holies in Solomon’s temple being transferred to a believer’s inner being. When the Holy Spirit comes into a person he/she becomes the ‘naos’, the inner sanctuary of the temple. It also applies to the Body of Christ on earth, His Church. Therefore those who seek to corrupt one of God’s people actually touch the whole body. This in turn means that it is Jesus Christ who feels the effects of such action. (Remember Acts 9:3-6) We all should keep this in the forefront of our minds when we interact, or react to people in worship, dispute, have business meetings or exercise rebuke.
Destroy = to corrupt or defile. The New Testament gives some very definitive examples of what this means. It also warns about Christ’s wrath and judgement upon such perpetrators. Acts 5 has the account of Ananais and Sapphira who tried to deceive the apostles and lie to God. Both were struck down. (If God continued this policy I wonder how many funerals would take place, daily).
There are numerous Scriptures which warn people about assailing, defiling, undermining the Church and its book. Such opposition arises after the local congregation, or an individual has had some wonderful expressions of God’s grace. These could be people saved, baptised, rescued from degenerative life styles. It may be after a new building has been dedicated and Christ is honoured. After God’s glory and grace is shared and witnessed too, the wrath of the kingdom of Darkness rises up.
Reading the New Testament letters it is apparent they were written to protect the Temple of God (the body of Christ) from defilement. The letters of Peter and Jude focus on false preachers and their greed, heresy and immorality. Six of the seven churches in Revelation chapters 2 and 3 define the infiltrating purveyors of corruption. Also listed is their judgements. James warns against the runaway defiling power of the tongue plus the damaging power of lies, slander and coveting. Galatians unmasks those who degrade God’s grace through outward laws and regulations. Their words are as valid today as when written
The perpetrators ultimate experience is, they are defiled! The defiler ends up as a defiled, degraded and disallowed person in the Kingdom of God? Those who corrupt God’s people end up losing their own soul (Matthew 16:26). Why is the Lord so adamant in His opposition to such deceivers? I think it is because they belong to, or flirt with Babylon. Revelation 19:2 uses the same word as 1 Corinthians 3:17. It is translated corrupted. ‘He has condemned the great prostitute (Babylon) who corrupted (defiled) the earth by her adulteries. He has avenged on her the blood of his servants.’ Those who play by Babylon’s ethos or game plan share in ‘Her’ judgement. This is why the Lord God of Hosts word is ‘Come out of her before it is too late.’
The Body of Christ is being assailed by Babylon. The plan is to reject Biblical morality, the saving work of Christ on the cross, His deity, the inspiration and uniqueness of Scripture, the meaning and purpose of marriage, the sanctity of life, to name a few issues. How can we safeguard ourselves from being seduced or crushed by the Babylonian spirit?
'His (Christ Jesus) divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.' (2 Peter 1:3-4)
You realise that the place where we find the knowledge of Christ is His word. He and his word are our escape route, our protection and our refuge.
©Ray Hawkins August 17th 2015.