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The Purity Imperative

“If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy.”

The above quotation from 1 Corinthians 3:17 is one of the sobering declarations from the God of purity. Proper interpretation would seem to identify this temple as the church – the corporate body of believers, in whom the Spirit of God dwells. A parallel thought is found in Ephesians 2:21, 22 where the Church is called “an holy temple of the Lord” and it is “builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.”

In this third chapter of 1 Corinthians we read of builders laboring together with God in the building up of the Church temple. Christ is declared to be the foundation and builders are to take heed how they build on such a holy and sure foundation. We are warned against using the kind of materials or being the kind of materials that would defile the temple. Two different kinds of materials are referred to. The gold, silver, and precious stones – materials that are pure and abiding are to be used. The wood, hay, stubble – materials that burn easily are not to be used. That these different types of materials represents worthy and worthless individuals is clear and in keeping with many other Scripture teachings, such as the good and bad fish in the kingdom that where the good are preserved and the bad are cast “into the furnace of fire,” Matthew 13:50, and the good and bad branches of John 15 which either remain in the vine or are cut off and “cast into the fire and… burned.”

The purity imperative is first seen in the dateless past when Satan was cast out of heaven. God saved the purity of heaven by separating the corrupters from glory and He further prepared for them a destruction of everlasting fire.

The purity imperative is seen again when Eve was beguiled by the serpent and she with her partner in disobedience were driven from the presence of a holy and pure God.

Our Lord continuously provides for and calls his creatures to purity of experience and expression. When the children of Israel failed to express purity according to God’s pure laws they were to be destroyed by the sword, stoning, or burned in the fire, etc. “So shalt thou put away evil from among you,” said God.

In the early church Ananias and Sapphira were destroyed by God and fell dead at the apostle’s feet because they brought the defilement of lying and hypocrisy into the temple.

The purity imperative come sharply into focus in our Lord’s last message to the church in Revelation.

Ephesus was defiled and decaying through a decline in holy love for Christ. If repentance was not immediately forthcoming destruction was inevitable. Their light would become extinct.

Pergamos was defiled by Balaamism, an intermingling with corrupt and immoral religious groups. See Numbers 25: Christ would fight against them unless they repent.

Thyratira with her sensual, seductive woman leadership must repent or have her children destroyed with death.

The defiled garments of Sardis threatened sudden destruction to this church.

Lukewarm, self – satisfied, materialistic, nauseating Laodicea was to be spewed out of the mouth of our Lord except she repents.

Today as evil men and seducers wax worse and worse the temple is being increasingly defiled by materialism, social impurities, worldly courtship indulgences, sensual wedding practices, pride – stimulating and lust – provoking immodest dress, divorce and remarriage (respectable[?] adultery), roots of bitterness, disobedience, rebellion, etc., etc. The wood, hay and stubble continues to pile up but the ultimatum remains unaltered. “If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy.”

Let us rise up and build with gold, silver, and precious stones – an holy temple for the habitation of God through the Spirit.

Aaron M Shank