SCRIPTURES – Lev.
19:1-2, 9-18; 1 Cor. 3:10-23 Matthew 5:38-48
you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?
God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.” 1 Cor. 3
wife loves to watch the Home and Garden channel on TV. She especially loves
programs featuring the buying and selling of homes, as well as the fixing up of
homes. And, you know, whenever I mention this to someone I find that she is not
alone. Many people – many of you – also enjoy such programs.
would your ideal home be like? Our ideal homes might differ in certain ways –
in the number of rooms and the color schemes, for instance – but I’ll bet
they’d all be the same in one way: they wouldn’t be bare and empty, neither
inside nor outside. No, the ideal home is beautifully landscaped outside and
has great curb appeal. Inside it is tastefully furnished; painted with
appealing colors (or perhaps wallpapered); and maybe even filled with nice
music from a good sound system. White-washed walls and bare, empty rooms? No
way! You would never be pleased with such a house.
would God. Do you think His home in heaven is bare and ugly, empty of beauty
and joy? Of course not! A wonder of beauty for the eyes; of joyous music for
the ears; of fabulous scents; of exquisite things to feast upon; of comforting
and stimulating things to touch and hold – surely such things fill God’s house
in heaven. Joy and beauty fills it, for the Triune God, who is joy and beauty,
are to fill you, for God’s house is not only in heaven. He also has homes on
this earth. “You are God’s temple,” Holy Scripture declares. God’s
Holy Spirit dwells within you who believe in Jesus! The beauty of His holiness
is also to be seen in you.
gladdening; beautifying – this is how we must think of our God, the holy God
who has revealed Himself and come to us in Christ Jesus. This is what we must
think of when we hear His command, “You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God
am holy.” Jesus puts it this way: “You must be perfect, as your heavenly
Father is perfect.” These are no mere words. They are the stern and
clear command of God, His requirement of us, His people. What does God expect
think of holiness as emptying – turning away from and cleansing yourself of
selfish and sinful thoughts, desires, and actions – then you have grasped the
beginning. Sin corrupts. You cannot be holy if sinful thoughts and desires
dwell within, as a beautiful home is not good if its foundation is cracked and
its pipes leak and its wiring and insulation are poor. And so, God explains
holiness by saying such things as: “You shall not hate your brother in your
heart… You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge.” People may look
upon you as good and praise you if your actions are good, but God sees your
heart. It must be good in order for your actions to be good. Yes, holiness involves
emptying, turning away from and striving to rid yourself of selfish and sinful
thoughts, desires, and actions. This is the beginning.
holiness is far more than emptying. It is filling. God is goodness and love and
mercy. And so, just as a beautiful home not only has a good foundation and
plumbing and wiring but is also attractively decorated and filled with beautiful
furnishings; God expects the beauty of His goodness and mercy to fill us and
flow forth from us. For, we are His temples, His homes. But, oh, how difficult
it is in this sinful and fallen world to shine forth with God’s love and mercy!
any of you make New Year’s resolutions? If so, are you still keeping them? How
quickly do we break our promises! And, how quickly and constantly do we let our
selfish desires, and not God’s holiness, shine forth. It’s a constant battle.
You try to cut
down on your swearing, and then somebody rudely cuts you off on the highway and
out it comes!
You determine to
forgive and forget, and then get angry again when something stupid is said.
like owning a home. There’s always something breaking, always something else to
are the struggles we have with the sin that fills us. How easily it flows
is why we must continually be filled with God. “Do you not know that you are God’s temple
and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” God Himself did not only come to us in Jesus
Christ 2,000 years ago; He continually comes, to dwell within you, make you His
home, and make you beautiful within and without! But, beware: Christ doesn’t
come merely to renovate and improve. He comes to demolish and rebuild.
comes to holiness, man’s wisdom says: Ok, let me know what I have to change;
what I have to improve; what I need to get rid of or add. Give me the right
information and I’ll plug it in and move forward. Many view Christianity in
this way. “Give me the rules and let me
know what I have to do. I know I’ll fail at times and will need to keep working
at it, but as long as I’m trying that’s what matters.”
doesn’t want improvement. He wants perfection. God is not content with effort.
He wants the finished product. He wants a home that is beautiful within and
without. He wants the perfect holiness of Christ.
we come to God’s house, week after week. We come to confess the truth, that we
are utterly sinful and unclean, wrecked homes deserving only to be condemned
and torn down. But, God does not condemn us. He fills us. He forgives us in
Christ, joins us to Him and fills us with His Holy Spirit, so that we are
beautiful in His sight, within and without. “God’s temple is holy; and you
are that temple.” These are not just words that the apostle Paul wrote
to make the Christians in Corinth feel good. Under the inspiration of the Holy
Spirit He wrote God’s truth. You are holy in Christ, for He gave His life to
forgive your sins. “All things are yours, for you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.” In
Jesus you are holy. You are
God’s beautiful house. God says so.
this! Rejoice in this! Live this. Let the beauty of God’s holiness, His
goodness and mercy and love in His Son, flow forth from your life. Let the
goodness and undeserved love and mercy you show to others be the curb appeal
that draws people to Jesus through you, to their eternal blessing and to the
glory of His name!