You are God’s temple.
We know this because 2 Cor 6:16-7:1 tell us so.
I’ll read that now.
And what agreement has the temple of God with idols?
For you are the temple of the living God.
As God has said:
- I will dwell in them and walk among them.
- I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
- Come out from among them, and be separate, says the Lord.
- Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.
- I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord God Almighty.
Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
Consider three things mentioned in this passage.
One, YOU are the temple of God.
Two, that temple needs to be cleaned out.
Three, God promises to live there.
In a nutshell, these three topics describe our purpose, our life, and our destiny.
Let’s look at this using an analogy of an incomplete building – at temple if you will.
This temple was intended to be magnificent, designed by the greatest architect the world has ever known; meant to reflect the glory of its owner and to be his home.
The construction began, the building started to take shape, but the project was put on hold before the temple was complete.
The basic form was there; it had an exterior, and its interior was sub-divided into various rooms and passages, but the final elements were yet to be added.
Upon suspension of construction, the building fell into neglect and disrepair.
Litter and debris blew in from the open windows and doors.
Vermin moved in, taking advantage of this new habitat.
And finally, vagrants took over, unsavory characters, led by the rudest, crudest, most evil of them all.
This rascal set about to deface the building with graffiti and soot from smoldering fires, intent on hiding the magnificence of this beautiful building.
These interlopers filled the rooms with vulgar idols and brought in worn and broken furniture to mock the original intent of the master architect.
On top of all this, these vagabonds chipped away at the stones and mortar and dug under the foundation, hoping to destroy the building with slow agonizing decay.
You see, the chief scoundrel had a grudge against the owner of the building and out of spite, wanted to destroy His prized work before it could be completed.
So it is, that each person born into this world is intended to be a magnificent temple of the living God;
But is incomplete and subject to decay and destruction.
By our own sins, false idols and clutter take root and prevent us from fulfilling our purpose of communion with God;
and instead we become doomed to eternal separation from the very Love that we were created to know.
Returning to our analogy, we find that the owner of the temple, upon seeing his creation in such a sad condition, sets out to restore and finish the building.
First, he sends in workers to evict the squatters, remove the vermin, haul off the litter and debris, and sweep and wash the building clean.
And then the construction resumes, the final elements are installed, and the building finished to the original specifications.
Finally, to make sure those vagrants don’t return and spoil the building again, he moves in and makes the building his home.
Now it is a proper temple, just like it was intended to be from the very beginning.
In like manner, God in His Love for us, has a plan for us to be cleansed, repaired, and finished so that we can be a proper dwelling place for Himself.
The Orthodox Church defines 3 steps to this process; PURIFICATION / ILLUMINATION /DEIFICATION.
The first step is Purification.
In Greek it is called PRAXIS, which I find helpful because it sounds like PRACTICE.
For by persistently practicing the virtues of Prayer, Fasting, Alms, Poverty, and Patience are we able to overcome our sins and break the attachments to earthly things which clutter our hearts and act as false idols.
Once we have cleaned out a place for Him, God begins to finish His work in us. We begin to see God’s glory in created things and eventually see his glory directly.
That is why this stage is called ILLUMINATION and like in our analogy, this is where God finishes the building project that was previous stalled.
We become that which we were originally designed to be—a dwelling place of God.
The final stage is called DEIFICATION, wherein God dwells in us and we commune with Him as sons and daughters as was promised in the scripture read earlier.
In this way we work together with God for our own restoration.
Let us diligently work towards our PURIFICATON by practicing the virtues of Prayer, Fasting, Alms, Poverty, and Patience.
And then by asking God to come and dwell in us.