The Dignity and Service of the Body
1 Corinthians 6:19-20
What? know you not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which you have of God, and you are not your own?…

I. THE DIGNITY OF THE BODY. The apostle speaks in the accents of surprise, as if to imply that they ought to know.

1. Many considerations may commend the sanctification of the flesh to God, e.g.

(1) The natural care for our bodies.

(2) The possibility that the angels may have bodies resembling our own, since every angelic appearance in Scripture has been in human shape.

(3) The fact that Christ ascended to heaven in a body of "flesh and bones."(4) The fact that the flesh is included in His redeeming work so that in heaven there will be glory and happiness for the body.

2. But the apostle takes higher ground. The body of a Christian man is claimed and taken possession of by the God who has redeemed it — and therefore to be treated with the same respect with which a heathen would regard the temple of his idol, or a Jew the holy of holies.

3. Of course this is not true of all men. It is true that the body is fearfully and wonderfully made in all, that there dwells within it an immortal soul full of noble gifts, that body and soul are actuated by a supernatural power. But in natural men that power is the power of God's enemy. It is to Christians alone that the text applies.

4. Now the idea of temple implies —

(1) Presence. In the temples of idolatry there was a visible shape to represent the spirit supposed to be there. In the Temple at Jerusalem there was indeed no figure, but there the visible Shekinah dwelt above the mercy-seat. Thus if the body be the temple of the Holy Ghost it must be because He is actually there. What a solemn thought that is!

(2) Presence, not by permission, but by right. Thus it is not that we ought from reverence or courtesy to render to God the use of a body which is our own, but it is that God assumes the use of a body which is His — bought with a price. We were God's by creation, and the right of property thus derived still exists. But we have given to Satan what is really God's; and the Spirit of God will not come back into a body where Satan's seat is, nor by force take the flesh, while the affections are bestowed elsewhere. But when His grace has won the heart back again, then God comes back to His own and takes full possession of the entire man. Try to realise the force of motive which this fact supplies for holiness.

II. THE SERVICE OF THE BODY. The Christian who thus thinks of his flesh as the temple of God cannot fail to acquire a higher respect for it, and it is evident that this higher respect will show itself in small things as well as in great. Follow the drunkard or the profligate, who abuse their natural health by sin, and see if the result be not neglect of the body, and misery and suffering in the very flesh they pamper. But let the grace of God change that man's heart, and what a difference is seen! Now he holds his head erect and takes his place among his fellow-men.

1. We should jealously watch our bodies lest they be polluted with sin.

2. Respect for the body, as the temple of the Holy Ghost, should teach propriety of dress and manner, and even of bodily appearance. A saved body, destined for heaven, is neither to be neglected nor to be made into an idle gewgaw, but is to be treated with the serious propriety which becomes a house of God and the God who fills it.

3. We need to watch over all our habits, so as to keep the body in the fittest state possible to do God's will. This is the highest object of health, that the members may be instruments of righteousness unto holiness.

4. Learn the due use and place of the body in our worship of God. The real seat of worship is in the heart, but when the heart is right, the body must share the service. Hence arises the propriety of outward forms of worship, of the bended knees, &c.

(Canon Garbett.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

WEB: Or don't you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which you have from God? You are not your own,

The Christian's Obligation to a Holy Life
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