1st Corinthians – Wayne Barber/Part 26
By: Dr. Wayne Barber
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©1998|
|We are the dwelling of God. Secondly, we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God. Thirdly, Paul says there are those who seek to defile the dwelling of God. Here is when God, through Paul, is going to say, “You had better not mess with my people!”|
- 1 Don’t Mess with God’s People – I Cor. 3: 16-17
- 2 We Are the Dwelling of God
- 3 The Temple Was a Magnificent Structure
- 4 The Temple Was A Place to Worship God
- 5 We Are Indwelt By God the Holy Spirit
- 6 There Are Those Who Seek To Defile the Dwelling Of God
- 7 The Man Who Destroys Is Not a Believer
- 8 The Man Who Destroys Is Bent On Corrupting the Church
Don’t Mess with God’s People – I Cor. 3: 16-17
I could have come up with a better title, I am sure. But to me it is more culturally understood. Here is my title, “Don’t Mess with God’s People.” Now there are other ways I could have said that, “Don’t tread on God’s people,” or whatever. But you know, we are in the south, so let’s just go on and talk like we talk. Don’t mess with God’s people.
In verse 16 we do not have a builder. We have somebody who is destroying that which is being built. One who doesn’t build. Paul is warning those who come against the people who are busy about building upon the foundation of Christ. They are in the church and outside the church.
Some people say (I think it is erroneous) that in Paul’s day the people would come to church, meet to worship and then when they would go out, Satan would persecute them and attack them. But today, Satan has joined the church and there is as much persecution inside the church as there is outside of the church. I think that is a wrong statement. I believe in Paul’s day it was the same way as it is today. If you will read the letters, there was as many wicked people inside the church as there were outside the church.
So Paul gives a warning. God really is giving the warning through Paul to those people who would seek to destroy the building being built by God’s own, by those who have been saved. We are going to learn a lot about these folks.
Look in verses 16 and 17. Let’s read the passage and then we will get into it. It will take a while because it is not an easy passage. Verse 16 says, “Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are.” Now, that may seem easy, but it is not. Let’s just dig in.
We Are the Dwelling of God
There are three things that I want you to see. Perhaps they will help us better understand what is being said here in 1 Corinthians 3. First of all, Paul tells us that we are the dwelling of God. Verse 16 reads, “Do you not know that you are a temple of God.” He uses this same terminology over in chapter 6. There he speaks of each individual being a temple of God, the body being the temple of God, the Holy of Holies, that place where God resides on this earth. Yes, that is included here in chapter 3, but I think he looks more at the broader picture of the whole church being a temple of God. We won’t argue either way, but from the context I think you will see as we go along he is talking about the whole church, wherever they are, not just at Corinth.
Let’s look over in 1 Corinthians 6:19 so you will know what I am talking about. He says, “Or do you not know that your body [he is talking about the individual] is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?” It appears there that he is talking about the individual person being a temple. Back in chapter 3, not only is that taken into consideration, but it looks at the whole picture of all of us being the residents of God on this earth.
God has chosen to dwell with His people on this earth. Go back to the Old Testament when God chose to tabernacle among His people. He had them build a tabernacle. Oh, what an exciting day that was when the fire came down from heaven, giving the people the understanding that God’s presence was with them in the Holy of Holies of the tabernacle that they had built. A little later on it moves from a temporary dwelling, the tabernacle, to a more permanent dwelling, which would be the temple that Solomon built. What a day that was when the temple was dedicated. God was dwelling with His people in the place called the Holy of Holies. In the Greek it would be that same word we are looking at here as the temple, naos. It is the idea of the place where God dwells. But you know that Israel rejected God. They continued to sin against Him. And out of His righteous anger, He withdrew His presence, and from the book of Malachi to the book of Matthew, there is 400 years called the Period of Darkness. Nothing was spoken from heaven. God was not dwelling among His people until the gospels were written.
Then God broke the silence and chose once again to dwell with us. He came and tabernacled in His Son, Jesus Christ. He was born of a virgin and took upon Himself flesh and blood. He actually didn’t take a body, but He was born from a virgin, born flesh and blood. He had no earthly father, but He was conceived of the Heavenly Father. He became the unique Godman. God now dwelt in a fleshly body with His people on this earth, in Jesus Christ. Jesus was the actual temple of God on this earth.
Of course, man crucified Him and then He resurrected the third day, ascended, was glorified and then on the Day of Pentecost, He sent His Spirit back to this earth to dwell in the hearts of believers, to take up permanent residence within us. So the church becomes the Temple of God upon the earth. God dwells in us.
The apostle Paul says, “Do you not know.” The word “know” there is a form of the word eido. In other words, “Do you not have this perception? Do you not have this understanding?” Sometimes you want to remind Christians, “Do you not know?”, especially in counseling, when a husband and wife are having difficulty. One of them says, “I just can’t love him. I just can’t put up with him.” You could say back to that person, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God upon this earth, where God dwells? Nobody ever says you could, but He can and He lives in you. You are the dwelling of God upon this earth.”
Paul has just told them how important it is to build upon the foundation of Christ with precious stones, making sure that it stands the test of God’s judgment. Now, as if to further explain that, he points out that they are the temple of God on this earth. In other words, it is not their reputation that is at stake, it is His reputation that is at stake. And if anything becomes a motivating factor in our life, it ought to be that Christ lives in us. That is why we should live lives by faith to build upon this foundation a building that will stand God’s test one day.
So many people just do not realize that they are the dwelling of God on this earth. How many people come to church every week and don’t know they bring God with them, that God lives in them. We have got to grasp this.
This is what Paul is trying to bring out. Why would you attach yourself to a man? Attach yourself to Christ. He lives in you. Let Him work through you so that people can see that you are His temple here on this earth. Some people say, “Well, God is omnipresent. Isn’t He everywhere? Why would you say He lives in us if He is not everywhere?” Have you ever asked that question? Well, there is a very simple answer. Yes, He is everywhere, but everybody doesn’t recognize that. He is everywhere. He is in creation. Some of the greatest poets have written beautiful things about creation and then signed beside their name, atheist. They don’t believe in God. God is all around them and they can’t see Him. But God has uniquely chosen human beings who He would come to live in, those who put their faith into Jesus Christ. And when they do, they can not only be aware of His omnipresence but they can understand Him.
We can walk with Him. We can talk with Him. We can hear Him. It is an intimate relationship He chose to have with you and me. He chose to take up permanent residence in the hearts and lives of believers.
This was the burden that Paul had for the church at Ephesus. I guess he had the same burden for every other epistle that He wrote, but particularly the Corinthians and the Ephesians. Look over to Ephesians 3:14. He really wanted these Gentiles to know that Christ lived in them, that they were the temple of God on this earth, that God actually dwelled in their hearts and in their lives. Ephesians 3:14 begins a prayer that I think is the hinge of the whole book of Ephesians. It sums up everything in chapters 1, 2 and 3 and sets up everything in chapters 4, 5 and 6.
Look what he says here in verse 14. He says, “For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father.” What reason? Observation, interpretation. Normally when you want to find out the reason, you read a few verses back and you will find the reason. Well, here it is more difficult. Look at verse 1 of chapter 3. He starts that verse the same way he starts verse 14, the very same Greek word. He says, “For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles.” Now, I could be wrong but I think he starts his prayer in verse 1 and for 13 verses he just gets overwhelmed with what he is praying for them. Here he is in prison, loving Jesus, overwhelmed that Christ lives in him and he has such a high view of Christ, a high view of salvation, he is just continuously overwhelmed at the revelation and the mystery that God has shown to him. Then he comes back to his prayer in verse 14. If I am correct, you have to go back to 2:1922 to find out why he bows his knees before the Father.
Look back in 2:19. It is beautiful what he is saying to them here. He is a converted Jew writing to converted Gentiles, but he wants them to understand something. He says in verse 19, “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together is growing into a holy temple in the Lord.” Then in verse 22 he just tops it off. He says, “In whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.”
He wants them to understand that for this reason I bow my knees before the Father. “You Gentiles need to understand who lives in you. You need to understand who you are and whose you are in light of that truth and live out of that. If you don’t, the foundation of the building that we are building upon is not going to stand the test of God’s judgment one day, and our works will be destroyed instead of remaining which will bring forth a reward.”
Understand what Paul is saying here. God is not there because there is building. He came and put up permanent residence in you and in me. He chose to do that. So we bring Him in the church with us, in that one respect. Even though He is omnipresent, we knowingly bring Him here. He is wherever we are. He is with us when nobody else can see us but just us. He lives in us. He is always there.
Now if this is not understood, there is going to be some serious problems in the building that we are building that is going to be tested one day. That is so clear from God’s Word that there is going to be an accounting one day for what we are doing now. God has given us everything for life and godliness. He is going to test it one day just to see what we have done with it, not to approve us but to approve those works. So we must realize that we are the dwelling of God on this earth.
Now notice what Paul says back in 1 Corinthians 3:16. He says, “Do you not know that you are a temple of God.” Now, let me show you something here that perhaps you wouldn’t see in the English. In the Greek there is no definite article here. You say, “What does that mean?” Well, when the definite article is there, it identifies. When it is not there, it qualifies. What does that mean? In other words, he is talking about God in the Godhead, the Trinity, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, the three in one. I want to be honest with you, I can’t understand it. If we could understand this in all of its totality, then God would be no bigger than our brain and you certainly wouldn’t want a God who is no bigger than our brain. Why would we go to church? I mean, it is much bigger than that. You can’t even illustrate it. However, we can show you some scriptures to show you that all of God comes to live in you, all that God decides to give to us.
Look in John 14:16. This is very important. This is Jesus speaking here in John 14:16. He says, “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever.” The word “another,” is allos, which means another of exactly the same kind, not the word heteros, which means another of a different kind.
Then in verse 17 we read, “that is the Spirit of truth [the Holy Spirit of God] whom the world cannot receive, because it does not behold Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you, and will be in you.”
Look at verse 19. “After a while the world will behold Me no more [Jesus was saying, “It will neither see nor understand Me] but you will behold Me; because I live, you shall live also.” There is going to be someone in you to give manifestation to Me.
Then in verse 20 of chapter 14 Jesus says, “In that day you shall know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.” Then a little later in verse 23 it says, “Jesus answered and said to him, ‘If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and make Our abode with him.’”
What I am trying to show you is, if the Holy Spirit of God lives in us, then that is God, very God. When you have the Holy Spirit, you have the Father and the Son wrapped up into one. When you have Jesus, you have the Father and the Spirit. When you have the Father you have the Son and the Spirit. They are all one. They are not three Gods. There is only one God in three persons. So if the Holy Spirit lives in you, God lives in you.
The word for “temple” in 1 Corinthians 3:16 is the word naos. In most instances it refers to the whole temple, but not here. In specific instances it refers to the Holy of Holies. There is another word that is synonymous with it and it means the sacred place, the Holy place, that place that God Himself dwells. Now, that ought to make you think the next time you make a choice. God Himself dwells in you. You are, in a sense, the Holy of Holies on this earth. Now the Holy of Holies is where God is in heaven. However, He is on earth and He has chosen to reside within the hearts of man. God dwells within us. We are His temples on this earth.
The Temple Was a Magnificent Structure
Now what is the purpose of the temple? There are two things I want you to see, and I think it all fits with what we are looking at in the context of 1 Corinthians 3. First of all, the temple was a magnificent structure. It was made of all the things that were precious (precious stones, gold and silver) where God would manifest Himself. Now, everything was done to keep the temple from decaying or from corrupting. The problem was, the people who were in it were wicked and lived without faith. When Christ came on the scene, He made it possible for us to be that temple of God. We are to be that magnificent structure which people look at and see us pointing to Him. They see the righteous deeds that we do and these become the precious stones; not a cold stone or a cold piece of metal, but something that is living and fleshed out. When we are willing to walk by faith, people see that and that becomes the beauty that surrounds the One who dwells within us. People everywhere realize that there is a fragrance about us, the aroma of Christ is in our life. We now become the temple. The beauty again is those righteous stones, those righteous deeds that we do by faith.
The Temple Was A Place to Worship God
The temple was also a place of worshiping God. Aren’t you glad that we don’t have to go to Jerusalem to worship God? We don’t even have to go to church to worship God. What we do at church we do as a body. But wherever you are, you can worship God in spirit and in truth. Worship is a verb. Worship is not something you feel. Worship is something you do in response to what God has done in your own life. It may be in a restaurant when you have ordered something, and the waitress brought the wrong thing and it was cold. But you chose to die to the flesh and you let the spirit of God reach out to her. Then you have worshiped God by your response to His Spirit in your life. That is what it is all about. We worship Him by falling down before Him, by our willingness to serve Him, by our willingness to live lives that point to Him and not to us. So we are the temples of God on this earth.
People who see you at work won’t see you at church, but they see you as the residence of God. They see you as that person in which God resides. That is our whole purpose. It is His reputation that is at stake, not ours.
We Are Indwelt By God the Holy Spirit
To take it a step further in our motivation to build upon the foundation with the correct materials, Paul tells us that we are the dwelling of God on this earth. But the second thing I want you to look at here, by being the dwelling of God on this earth, he says we are indwelt by God the Holy Spirit. Now I have said a little bit about that. I am not going to go back and try to prove He is God. You know He is God. He came to live in us. I want to take it a step further.
It says in verse 16, “Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” The word for “dwells” is the word oikeo. It comes from oikos, which means house or residence. In other words, He has taken up residence within our life. It is in the present active indicative. Continuously He dwells in our life, of His own accord (active voice) and write it down, it is a fact (indicative) you see. In other words, this is something that you just take home and understand. God says He has taken up residence in your life. The Holy Spirit taking up residence in your life is proof of your holiness before God. Understand that.
Look in the last part verse 17. He says, “for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are.” The word “holy” is hagios. We saw that in chapter 1. Holiness does not mean perfection when it comes to us. When it comes to Him, yes, but not to us. His is inherent. Ours is imputed. But the word “holy” means we have been set apart, we have been put into a class all by ourselves. Amongst all humanity, we are in a class all by ourselves. Why? Because the Spirit of God has taken up residence in our heart. He has separated us unto Himself and for His purposes, therefore, we have been made holy. His living in our life is prove of that fact.
Paul says, “and that is what you are.” You are holy because God is holy and lives in you and has separated you unto Himself and made you holy. We as believers are the very temple of God. He sent His own Spirit to take up residence in our life.
Now what does the Spirit do? Boy, if you think along the context here, it just excites you. The Holy Spirit is the Building Project Coordinator. Last time we saw that we are building a building. It is going to be tested one day. Well, now who is the one who is running this project? The Holy Spirit of God.
Look over in Ephesians 3:16. The same prayer and the same chapter, but a different verse. I want you to see what Paul says. What is the Holy Spirit in our life to do? He says in verse 16 of Ephesians 3, “that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man.” It is the Spirit of God who enables the righteous bricks to be put upon the foundation of Christ in my life. If I am living in obedience to Him, if I am living surrendered to Him, the result is going to be a house that will withstand the test that God is going to give to it one day, the test of fire. We are to be as he says over in Ephesians 5:18, we are to be filled with the Spirit of God.
It says in verse 18 of Ephesians 5, “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation [that is waste], but be filled with the Spirit.” Now, what does it mean to be filled with the Spirit of God? Well, it is understood by the first part of the verse. We are to be totally affected by the Holy Spirit, not by stuff that is outside coming in like wine or that which makes us drunk.
The apostle Paul said, “No, be ye filled by the same way you get drunk with wine, be ye filled with the Spirit of God. Let the Holy Spirit through His Word control your mind. Let the Holy Spirit give you understanding and perception through your spiritual eyes. Let the Holy Spirit help you to hear what God is saying to you. Let the Holy Spirit teach you how to walk. Let the Holy Spirit control you.” It is in the present tense. It means it is a lifestyle, be being filled. It is in the passive voice. Let Him do the filling, let Him do the controlling. It is imperative. There is no option to the believer.
The Holy Spirit lives in us to do exactly that. And if I live filled with the Spirit of God, controlled by the Spirit of God, surrendered to Him, then the building that is being built on the foundation of Christ one day will be tested by fire, will withstand the fire and there will be a reward in the end. Be filled with the Holy Spirit of God. That is what He is in our life to do, to rule and to reign and to enable us to build with the precious stones and the gold and the silver, the righteous deeds that will stand the test of God one day. It is the Holy Spirit of God who proves that we are holy. He lives in us and has separated us unto Himself. He enables us now to live separate unto Him and for the building to be built correctly.
There Are Those Who Seek To Defile the Dwelling Of God
Well, there is one more thing. We are the dwelling of God. Secondly, we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God. But here comes the main thought of what Paul is saying. Thirdly, Paul says there are those who seek to defile the dwelling of God. Here is when God, through Paul, is going to say, “You had better not mess with my people!”
Look at verse 17: “If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him.” Many people think that means suicide. It’s crazy how you can interpret something. Be real careful. That is not at all what he is talking about here. He is not saying if you go out and kill yourself, which is destroying the temple, that God is going to destroy you. That has nothing to do with it. If a Christian is a Christian, even suicide is not an unpardonable sin, because we are kept blameless, not sinless, in Christ until that day. No matter what sin we commit, it may have excruciating consequences, but once you put your faith into Christ, nothing can throw you out of the kingdom of God. You are His forever. So it is not talking about somebody committing suicide in this particular verse. It has nothing to do with it.
As a matter of fact, the word “destroy” could have been translated a little bit better. The King James translates it “defile.” That is a much better translation. Let me show you. The word normally translated as “destroy” is apollumi. That is not the word used here. The word that is used here is phtheiro. It comes from the word that means to waste away, to pine away, to corrupt. It refers to something that goes from this state to a much worsened state. That is what the idea means, to corrupt. To go from this state to this state which makes you worse off. The word “destroy,” apollumi, like I said, is a different word altogether. This word means to corrupt and defile.
The Man Who Destroys Is Not a Believer
Paul says, “If any man destroys the temple of God.” Now who is this man? Let’s make some observations about him. First of all, he cannot be a believer, because verse 17 says if you destroy the temple of God, God says he will destroy you. There is no way that the believer is ever going to be destroyed by God. But there is something about the believer that is going to be destroyed. What is it? His fleshly works. That is right. Not the believer, but his works. So we already have an observation here. This cannot be a believer.
The Man Who Destroys Is Bent On Corrupting the Church
Secondly, he must be a person bent on corrupting the church, somebody who is out to get the church, to keep them from walking by faith and to walk after the world and the ways of the world. The verb there is in the present active indicative. Present tense is an ongoing thing. Active voice is of his own volition and then again, the indicative, you had better write this down, this is what these people are doing. The tense of it then is in that area. This is not a one time thing. It is an ongoing bent that somebody has to corrupt, to defile the pure walk of faith that the church is supposed to be living.
This should not surprise us that there are people like that even among us today. It should not surprise us. There are a lot of people who still have not gotten it in their theology of how bad we were before we got saved. Try to convince some people they are sinners and ungodly, etc. “Not me!” Look over in Romans 5:6 and I will show you what every one of us were before God found us. None of us found Him, He found us. It should not surprise us that there are people even among us today who hate the things of God, who are enemies of the walk of faith and would seek to corrupt and defile the people who are His temples on this earth.
Romans 5:6 says, “For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” “Brother, I was never ungodly. Why I have believed in Jesus from the time I was born.” Have you heard that? “I wasn’t ungodly. We were good people, We were good people.” Yeah, right. No, you were ungodly. That is what you were. That is what I was. That is what all of us were. We were born into Adam. No matter how you covered it up, that is what we were.
Look at verse 8. It tells you even more. “But God demonstrates His own love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners.” Do you know what that means? Habitual sinners. “Boy, not me. I was a good boy. I helped little old ladies across the street. I was good. I was a good person.” The prophet of the nation of Israel, Isaiah, said, “Take all of our good deeds and stack them up and they are filthy rags in the sight of God.” You see, we don’t understand that sin is anything that proceeds from a person who has not become the dwelling of God on this earth. Sin is sin, whether we want to call it rebellious or whatever. It is still sin. Sinners is what we were.
Then it goes on in verse 10, “For if while we were enemies [Enemy! I wasn’t an enemy of God!” Yes, you were.], we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.”
Now, I want to tell you something. That kind of mindset is a lost person’s mindset. That is what he is. He is ungodly. He is a habitual sinner. And he is an enemy of God. He is an enemy to anything that is of God. Paul has already laid the ground work for us. He says the ungodly think the gospel, the preaching of the cross, is foolish, you see. Romans 1 says professing themselves to become wise, they became fools.
But this is the mindset of the lost. In our day and time there are people who have even joined the church who are lost. And they think because they have joined the church they have joined Jesus. You don’t join Jesus. You have to be born from above. That is entirely different. A lot of people inside the church still have a fleshly mindset. When anything goes wrong, they seek to pull you away from your walk of faith, from the simplicity of trusting God and put you back down on this earth and make you think like the world thinks. They are everywhere, folks. They are inside the church and outside the church. Their very lifestyle seeks to corrupt and defile the people who are the temples of God.
Corinth was absolutely no exception. As a matter of fact, it was the illustration of the day. It was the most wicked city on the face of this earth. All of a sudden you begin to understand the feel of this book. Evidently, some of them had gotten in this church and some of them, enemies of God, were seeking to tear down what these believers wanted to build up. God says, “Buddy, you corrupt my people, you defile my people and I will corrupt and defile you.”
Listen, the word “corrupt” there has the idea of deceiving somebody. Listen to how it is used. Look over in 2 Corinthians 7:2. This word that we are looking at here has the idea of corruption, perhaps by deception. It is not as easily seen as you think it is. 2 Corinthians 7:2 says, “Make room for us in your hearts; we wronged no one [Paul is speaking of his own defense now when he was among them], we corrupted no one [same word], we took advantage of no one.”
In other words, he is saying, “We taught you the Word of God, pure. What we taught you is God’s Word. We didn’t corrupt. We didn’t deceive you. We didn’t defile you in any way.
Look over in 2 Corinthians 11:3. We find it again, this time connected with the idea of deception. He says in verse 3, “But I am afraid, lest as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds should be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.” That term “led astray” is the same word we are looking at. I want you to get the idea here of what it means to corrupt somebody, lead them astray, deceive them.
Look in Revelation 19:2, where it is used again, of the great harlot who is going to seduce the world during that time, that awful time. It says in verse 2, “Because His judgments are true and righteous; for He has judged the great harlot who was corrupting the earth with her immorality, and He has avenged the blood of His bondservants on her.” “Corrupting the earth” is the same word that we are looking at.
So when Paul talks about people who would come in and corrupt or destroy the temple of God, he speaks of nonbelievers who are either inside the church or outside the church, who seek to deceive the people and lead them astray, lead them out of truth and lead them into error. God says, “Any of you who are doing that, I will destroy you the same way.” The word has the meaning of corrupting by the means of deception.
There are lost people, both outside and inside the church, who are doing just that. It may be their false doctrine of permissiveness or their false doctrine of worldliness. They say, “Oh, you can do it. Everybody is doing it.” If it pulls you away from your walk in faith and truth and leads you into error, look out whoever that person is because God says, “You are messing with my people and I am going to deal with you.”
Verse 17 goes on to give us the warning right here. “If any man destroys the temple of God [corrupts it, defiles it], God will destroy him.” The tense here is future active. In other words, they are doing it present tense every day. This is some time in the future. At a point some time in the future, God is going to do the same thing to you. That is what he says.
Now, what is spoken of here needs to be looked at. The word “destroy” is the same word we just looked at, so nothing changes. It is translated “destroy,” but remember, it means to corrupt, defile, to bring to a worsened state. Now let’s make some more observations at this point. Observe here again it is the person, not his works, who is going to be corrupted and defiled.
Secondly, the only passage that helps us with this, I think, is Galatians 6:8 where it uses the same word. Look over there just for a second. Man, when this thing starts coming together for you, you are going to shout because it just paints a picture. Galatians 6:8 says, “For the one who sows to his own flesh [and that means a continual sowing] shall from the flesh reap corruption [that is your word right there. Now hang on to that word], but the one who sows to the Spirit shall from the Spirit reap eternal life.”
So you have a difference here. You have corruption, and you have eternal life. Those are two distinctly different things. One is the result of this awful sowing of the flesh. The other is the result of sowing of the Spirit. Again, we are not talking about the believer here.
Now, go with me to the third thing. What is this corruption, this punishment that God is going to bring upon the person who continuously seeks to corrupt the temple of God? Alright. We don’t know. I think 1 Corinthians 15:52 gives us an idea. Watch this. We are the temples of God, and we are promised something that the lost people are not promised. “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.” This is when Jesus comes one day for His church and gives us a glorified body. “At the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead [talking about the righteous dead, their bodies] will be raised imperishable.” That means incorruptible. It is exactly the same word except it means incorruptible here. “And we shall be changed.”
In other words, there is going to come a day when God is going to raise us up, these old corruptible bodies that have been buried, if we die before He comes, and give us a glorified body that will clothe our immortal spirit forever. But what about the lost man? The lost man does not have that promise. He is corrupting, corrupting, corrupting, corrupting, and one day when God raises him, he will have no glorified body. He will stand before God with a corruptible body and in that sense of the word, be cast into hell forever and somehow have to suffer that corruption for all of eternity. God is warning them. He says, “All of you who corrupt and destroy and defile the work of My people, My temples on this earth, look out. One day I will corrupt you. You will have not what they have. They will have a resurrection body, but you will not. You will stand unrighteous before Me and live forever, separated from God in hell forever.”
The idea is payday some day. For the believer who is building, there is going to be a payday. If you are going to build after the flesh, it will be consumed. You will be saved, but you are not going to have much left. If you are building according to the Spirit, there will be a great reward. But there is also a payday some day to the person who is out to destroy the buildings, the temple of God, what God is doing through His people. You know, when God pays you, it is never right away. Have you ever noticed that? To believers we get to enjoy the earnest of His Spirit and we get to enjoy the beauty and the victory of things today. But I am talking about in the sense of reward, that comes later on. That is the mindset.
Talk to a lost person who has really made it well in life. He doesn’t really think he needs God. He doesn’t live by the Word. He is crafty and sly. Everything he does is underhanded, but he comes to church. He thinks, “What are you talking about, man? I am doing better than I have ever done in my life.” That is good, that is real good. Enjoy it while you can, because there is a day coming, folks, and it may not be when you think it is going to be. But you will stand before God one day.
What God is saying to all of us, whether you be a believer building with the right materials or a believer trying to build with the wrong materials, or you may be a unbeliever trying to tear it all down, payday is coming and there is going to be a judgment for all of us. There is integrity in what we are talking about, folks.