Much has been written in Scripture about the precise specifications and proper uses of God's tabernacle and temple. Several times the temple was defiled or destroyed before the final destruction in A.D. 70. So far no temple building has been built to the God of Israel since that destruction.
A Spiritual Temple
However, since the time of Christ, the Bible tell us that the people making up the Body of Christ have become the Temple in God's sight. Ephesians 2:19-22 says: "Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit."
Paul was concerned about how a member of the Body of Christ conducted himself or herself. He wrote in 1 Timothy 3:15: "But if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
Each converted person has a responsibility to act properly in the Temple. The Scriptures are filled with many admonitions that tell us how God expects us to act. Paul mentioned some of them to Timothy in the preceding verses, and gave such instructions in all the congregations he served.
The Straight and Narrow
The people of Israel did not learn the lessons God intended, and their excuse could be that they were not led by God's Holy Spirit. We have no such excuse, and therefore the judgment is more serious. It is human to let things slip at times. We can get tired and it does take energy to keep "walking the strait and narrow." But the result of drifting can be deadly. It is much like falling asleep while you are steering your car down a freeway at 100 miles an hour. That can lead to death—in our case, eternal death. We cannot and must not let that happen.
God inspired Paul to write some very strong and powerful words that we ought to heed. We cannot just take things lightly when it comes to our action as the children of the Creator of this great universe. The precious blood of Christ has been shed for us and we have accepted that sacrifice. It behooves us to show our respect and thankfulness in our conduct.
The benefits of conduct that pleases God are enormous. The result of rebellion or carelessness can cost us dearly. In 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 Paul wrote: "Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are."
Remembering this admonition is vital. When I was teaching people to drive safely, I would give similar warnings about falling asleep at the wheel. I only wanted people to live and enjoy the freedom of travel safely. God only has loving, good intentions for His children.
God has called His children together in a group that we call a church. We are to benefit and learn from attending with the people God has called. Our every action ought to be for the edification and improvement of that body.
Ephesians 4:1-3 admonishes us: "I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." Our Temple experience is to be one of finding a haven of rest and peace. We ought to be meeting friends who are reliable, kind, loving and devoted to God.
We come to the Church for comfort, edification and encouragement.
Removing Rough Edges
The stone blocks used to construct the physical temple of Solomon's time were shaped in a quarry and then brought and set in place (1 Kings 6:7). There was to be no "hammer, chisel or any iron tool" heard used at the actual temple site. The stones had to be carefully and perfectly cut and prepared before they were brought to the site.
Christians learn many lessons on the first six days of the week. Spiritual battles are waged and rough edges are removed. When we come together on the Sabbath day to honor God, there ought not to be the noise of construction. It ought to be a peaceful and happy time. Strife and ungodly behavior ought not to be seen. The Sabbath is a time for learning and fellowship, as well as the worship of our Creator and Savior.
Ephesians 4:11-12 explains: "And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry for the edifying of the body of Christ." In the Body God has placed various ones in responsible positions. The intention of God is to teach and equip the saints for service to Him and to mankind. Church, then, is a learning experience.
In every congregation there are some who are more mature and stronger than others. There are new people coming into the group. The stronger and more mature members have a responsibility to give the newcomers a positive experience (Romans 15:1-2). In time Christians grow and mature until they, too, are strong and able to help others who are just beginning to learn this way of life. God's plan is mirrored in the way parents nurture and help children until the children grow to adulthood.
Removing Stumbling Blocks
Romans 14 has much to say about the responsibility we have one to another. Control of our comments, suggestions and criticisms is paramount. We need to practice in order to speak with wisdom and a kind tongue. Verse 13 says: "Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother's way." I cannot stress enough how vital it is for us to understand and live by this simple and yet eternally important concept.
We are commanded to come together as brothers and sisters of Christ, and of one another, in our local congregations. If we can examine our own conduct at services, we would be doing a good thing—good for ourselves and a blessing for others, which is pleasing to God.
When we study the Scriptures with this concept in mind (that we are entering the Temple —a holy place), great truths will literally jump out at us. It is not easy to hold up a mirror to oneself.
James emphasizes the need to control the tongue. Paul says a lot about our interaction with one another. The book of 1 Timothy tells us what leaders of the Church are to be like.
Peter states things very simply: "And above all things have fervent love for one another, for 'love will cover a multitude of sins'" (1 Peter 4:8). John said: "Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another" (1 John 4:11). Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13:13: "And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love."
The word love is agape in Greek. It is the special outgoing concern that God shows for mankind and all His Creation. We are to learn that agape and reflect it in our actions one with another.
Converted people are members of the Body of Christ every minute of every hour of every day—not just the Sabbath. Our conduct ought to reflect that. God is glorified or disgraced by our conduct.
It is a little sobering, but we had better realize how large the stakes are and how important it is to get busy and work on ourselves. Walking in Christ's footsteps and worshiping God is part of our life every day—not only on the Sabbath. God is looking for those who cherish His purpose of life and who search for Him. If we love Him and if we love Christ, John says we will keep His commandments and His Word (1 John 2:3-6).
Let us take the admonition seriously to learn how to conduct ourselves in the house of God—which is the Church. UN