“Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?” 1 Corinthians 3:16
While in seminary I worked as a bellman in a luxury hotel in Dallas. On most days it was a ho-hum job, except for the time when the Vice President of the United States came to town and chose to stay at the hotel. He reserved an entire floor. Secret Service agents and other security swarmed the hotel to guard him. The whole city knew where he was staying, and those of us who worked there felt proud. I must admit, I worked a little harder, looked a little sharper, and operated more efficiently than ever.
Our response ought to be just like that when we wake up to the fact that God dwells in us. His choice to set up residency in our lives should stimulate us to behave and respond differently than we used to before we welcomed Him in. And, by the way, it’s not just a temporary residence. Once He’s in, He’s there to stay! So getting serious about what His dwelling place looks like is a big deal. And, since it’s a big deal, preparing the place for Him means that we need to get it appropriately clean, which means that issues like purity and holiness become really important.
The tabernacle of the Old Testament provides the most graphic picture of the purity that God’s residency requires. Many chapters of Exodus and Leviticus are devoted to the regulations regarding the building of the tabernacle and its use among God’s people. Why all the regulations? To guard and facilitate the presence of a holy God. To make a place fit for God to dwell. It’s important to note that after Moses and the Israelites obeyed all that God had commanded, “The glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle” (Exodus 40:35). The reality of God’s presence within is meant to motivate us to happily pursue a life of personal holiness and purity. It’s no surprise that when Paul talks about God dwelling in us in 1 Corinthians 6:19, it’s in the context of moral purity. Peter recognized this when he urged the early Christians: “As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do” (1 Peter 1:14-15). And just as the Old Testament saints cleansed themselves at the temple, so it is our privilege and responsibility to regularly cleanse ourselves to keep His place clean (1 John 1:7-9)!
Before the Vice President arrived at our hotel, there were long lists of requirements that we had to check off in preparation. Housekeeping was responsible for making sure that everything was white-glove clean! How’s the housekeeping department doing in your life? If it was important for the Vice President, count on it—it’s really important for the King who dwells in you!
- Think of someone you greatly admire and respect coming to visit your house. What would you do to prepare for that visit? Ask the Lord to give you the same sense of diligence and urgency regarding His residency in your heart.
- How does knowing that the Spirit lives within you motivate you toward greater purity? Are there things you don’t want Him to see?
- Take the white-glove challenge. Let the Spirit walk through specific areas of your life to see if some dust has settled there. Then follow the advice from James 4:8-10: “Wash your hands… and purify your hearts… humble yourselves before the Lord.”