In continuing the series discussing the holiness that produces Christian zeal, I want to take a look at following passage from Paul to the church in Corinth.
What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God,and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.” Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God. (2 Corinthians 6:16-18. 2 Corinthians 7:1 ESV)
I struggled for many years with the question of how the Christian can promote a true spiritual zeal, the kind of zeal that is marked by an overwhelming sense of passion and affection for the Lord–the kind of zeal that engulfs one’s heart and mind with desire for spiritual food while finding everything else to be like unseasoned tofu. And the whole time during my struggle, verses like these stared me right in the face. Here is God telling us exactly what we must do to be close to Him, and even beyond these prerequisite actions, more importantly this closeness occurs in a very real supernatural sense. You see, those that profess to know Him are much more than followers of a religion. Christians are much more than adherents to a philosophical or religious worldview. Christianity is much more than an occupation or a set of beliefs that guide our lives, but in fact we are temples of a living God Who is mighty and has redeemed us and bought us and is spiritually transforming us into the image of his Son, and He means to dwell in the tent of our hearts, enlarging and drawing and holding our consciences close to Him, using us for every good work that He has prepared before the very foundation of the world. We are a temple–a temple of holiness and purity. God cannot dwell in a filthy defiled temple, and if we would have God dwell closely in our hearts and fill us with the Spirit, we must not touch unclean things. If we want to be passionate and zealous for God and abound in our love for Him, we must prepare a place for Him to dwell. We must pursue holiness with all of our heart and all of our minds. Every defilement of body and spirit must be cut off. If anything holds and entangles our consciences in bondage, we must cut it off. It must die. If we desire to be perfected in the Spirit, we must pursue holiness. We must set ourselves apart so that the Lord might make his dwelling within us. Do we want zeal? Do we want to be close to God? Then let us pursue holiness with all our might, and let us not think about doing it, but let us DO it and never turn back. When we are discouraged about our lack of passion but are still beset by lingering sins, we should not wonder about our state and feelings of separation from God. Then let us cast aside our sin at all costs, refuse to be controlled by it, and flee to Christ. Prepare your temple for the LORD and He will dwell closely with you.