Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you? 1 Corinthians 3:16 ESV
A sanctuary is a place of refuge—a place where people who are being hunted feel safe. Spiritually speaking, a sanctuary is a sacred place for worshipping Almighty God. Any place can become a sanctuary by dedicating it to the Lord. A sanctuary can be without physical walls, a house, a church building, a colosseum, or a gymnasium. Even a place of incarceration can be a sanctuary. My office has always been my sanctuary because it gives me the privacy and the security to worship God without distraction.
In today’s text, Paul is reminding believers in the Corinthian church that they are the temple of God because the Spirit of God dwells in them. Thus, we learn the first characteristic of a sanctuary is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in that space. The Holy Spirit can make any space sacred. When the Holy Spirit inhabits a space, it sanctifies it for the worship of Almighty God. The Holy Spirit can even turn a cemetery into a sanctuary. I have been to many homegoing services for believers where God’s name is worshipped effectually because of the presence of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit transforms different spaces into sanctuaries by indwelling the people who are in that space. He does not occupy empty space. The Holy Spirit is the living and breathing manifestation of the Triune God on earth. He enables believers’ physical bodies to become God’s temples.
The second characteristic of a temple is divine ownership. In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, Paul expounded upon this theme by saying, “do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So, glorify God in your body.” God purchased our salvation through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. We are not our own, for we belong to God. The Lord owns the deed to our physical and spiritual lives. Therefore, our bodies are His temple and the sanctuary for His holy worship.
One must desire to become a sanctuary to become one. It does not happen automatically. This is an act of surrender whereby the person gives himself away to the Holy Spirit for the manifestation of God’s glorious worship. A person can claim to be a Christian, attend church regularly, and still not be a sanctuary. By contrast, a believer can turn a hospital or nursing home into a sanctuary. Toward the last months of my mother’s life, the nursing facility where she stayed was turned into a sanctuary because the Holy Spirit lived in her and she turned her sickly physical body into a temple of God.
The daily prayer of every believer should be to become a living sanctuary of Almighty God. That is indeed my fervent desire and prayer. I want to be a sanctuary to the Lord. Thus, I pray for the Holy Spirit to saturate my heart and indwell in me so my body can be a temple of God.
The first step to becoming a sanctuary is to have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. The second step is to live a gospel-saturated life. Thirdly, we must make room for the Holy Spirit in our hearts. We also must surrender to God's will and prioritize spiritual worship for our spiritual growth and maturity.
Questions for Personal Reflection
What are the benefits of becoming a sanctuary?
What is the evidence of you being a sanctuary?
Prayer- Blessed Lord, I thank you for being the God that I worship. Lord, please make me a sanctuary today. Please saturate my heart with your Holy Spirit as I surrender my whole being to you. Remind me always that I’ve been bought with a price and that I belong to you. Circumcise my heart, mouth, and spirit so I praise your Holy name and worship you in spirit and truth.