3:16 Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17 If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.
Boy that sounds harsh. Step out of line and God will zap you...
The Bible says "Our God is a consuming fire." Moses went up into the fire on Mount Sinai and he wasn't consumed. In fact he asked to get closer to God, to see His glory. Meanwhile everyone else was terrified to even be near the mountain much less on it.
So if God is a consuming fire and the Spirit of God will destroy anyone who is defiled why or how did Moses survive.
Better yet how are the squabbling members of the church in Corinth still alive? Clearly we don't have a God who zaps us when we step out of line.
Yesterday Paul talked about fire. The context of the entire letter to the church in Corinth so far is addressing the infighting in the church over which of their pastors has been the best and has the most accurate teaching. Paul wrote to them that the fire of the great Day would expose what each teacher taught but that all had the same foundation and whatever wasn't necessarily accurate or ideal would be exposed and burned away.
The prophet Malachi wrote about the coming of Jesus in fiery terms but the fire was positive. It purified and refined.
"Behold, He is coming,” Says the Lord of hosts. “But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire And like launderers’ soap. He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi, And purge them as gold and silver, That they may offer to the Lord An offering in righteousness.
A few weeks ago a large shop next to our house burned to the ground in the night. Very little remained. However when the debris was cleared away the foundation remained intact and unharmed. Jesus is the Foundation of every true child of God. Satan will do anything to move us from our Foundation. He will entice us with attractive but empty promises. He will lie. He will manipulate. He will divert our attention or get us to cling to bitterness. He will frighten us if he can.
One verse describes him as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. Lions don't roar when they are hunting. At least not most of the time. Generally they use stealth. Roaring would be a warning and their prey would run away. But there is one circumstance when lions will roar while hunting. If they find a potential victim who is in a safe place they will roar. The purpose of that roar is to frighten them enough to get them to panic and run creating an opportunity to catch them.
Satan can't touch you in any meaningful way if you remain on the Foundation. He can harass you and distract you and even hurt you but if you remain under the shadow of the Almighty and find refuge in Him you are safe.
Now follow the context of what Paul is addressing in Corinth. These people came to Jesus and put their trust in Him. Over the years they have been growing but some of the growth has been confusing. Should I be a long skirt Christian? Should I shave my beard or let it grow? Should I keep the Jewish feasts? Circumcision or not? What about the food I eat? Doubts started to creep in. Am I really a Christian? Should I be a better one? Could I be a better one? Insecurity leads to fear. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to fighting. The fighting lead to Paul writing this letter. Satan was successfully drawing them away from their Foundation. Suddenly their confidence and hope was not in Jesus but in performance and preference.
Now let's consider our verses again. "Do you not know that you are the temple of God and the Spirit of God lives in you? Anyone who defiles the temple God will destroy..."
Our God is a consuming fire...
What is He consuming? Sin. What will remain when the fire is done it's work? Silver. Or in other terms, anything that was part of the Foundation. Anything that is in harmony with Him.
In Corinth they were moving toward a different foundation. A foundation of man's wisdom, man's rules, designs, and ideas. Jesus was being replaced by religion. When God's Spirit goes through His temple removing everything that is not rooted in Jesus and finds nothing that is rooted in Jesus that man will be destroyed.
Moses was rooted. He climbed the mountain unscathed. The people were not rooted. They called God "your God" instead of "our God". Their religion was "tell us what to do and we'll do it."
To defile our temple is to put our confidence in anyone or anything but Christ. We are to let Him reign supreme and put all our trust in Him. Everything else will be burned away.