Cleansing The Temple

By Paul Smithson

Jesus came from Galilee to Jerusalem and it was Passover. The streets of Jerusalem would have been buzzing with people from everywhere in the world. It was as good opportunity for business and making money. People would be in need of having money exchanged and looking to buy animals for the sacrifices that were to be offered. Some men had set up shop at the temple, but Jesus came in and drove them out (Jn. 2:13-21). Jesus appreciated the significance of the temple. It was a sanctuary, a place through which God was to dwell among men and His glory manifested. These people however, had made a bazaar out of it. They had made it “a house of merchandise.” They had no appreciation for what the temple was, nor did the Jewish leaders who allowed these things to go on in the temple. When Jesus drove out the merchants the Jewish leaders ask Him, “What sign do You show to us, seeing that You do these things?” (v.18). This shows their attitude, as they wanted to know by what authority He did these things. They wanted a sign for something that was right in and of itself. They wanted a sign for something that they themselves should have already done– cleaning up the temple and restoring it to its proper purpose! These men should have never allowed such things to have taken place in the temple, or questioned the One who restored it to its proper purpose.

If we are not careful we can be guilty of the same sinful attitude as those who defiled the temple in Jesus day. The New Testament teaches that God dwells among men today and manifest His glory through those who are Christians. Christians are His temple today (1Cor.6:19). Our bodies, our lives, are God’s temple today. It is through us that He dwells among men and His glory is manifest. But what kind of appreciation do we have for the temple? Do we have the attitude of Jesus, or do we have the attitude of the Jewish leaders? When we let sin and wickedness ‘set up shop’ in our lives we show no appreciation for the temple of God. It is then that we are no better than those who allowed the merchants and money-changers to set up shop in God’s temple in Jerusalem. If we do understand that we are God’s temple today and that through us God dwells among men and glorified, then we will have the attitude and zeal that Jesus had and drive out anything from our lives that ought not be there.

The problem with some of the Christians in Corinth was that they did not have an appreciation for the temple of God. Some were involved in the sin of fornication. Their bodies were not their own to be used in wickedness. Their bodies were the temple of God’s Spirit. To allow sin to dwell in their life was to defile that temple. Paul said, “Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body” (1Cor. 6:18-20). What Paul was saying to these people was, ‘Drive out the money-changers! Drive out that which defiles and makes a mockery of the temple of God, and that is what you are. Drive out the sin of fornication, for you are the temple of God and the temple is a means for God to dwell among men and manifest His glory.’

To allow sin to remain in your life is to make the temple a house of merchandise. When Jesus dwelt among men He said “I am the light of the world.” Through Jesus men could see God and through Him God was glorified. Jesus says to us, “You are the light of the world…Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:14-16). Is that the way you are living? Are you living as a light of the world. Are you living as a temple of God, a place where God might dwell among men; a means by which God can be glorified?

As a temple of God the Christian cannot have any ties with sin. He cannot allow sin to dwell in the temple of His body if God is to dwell in Him (2Cor. 6:14-18). Just as Jesus cleansed the temple in Jerusalem, we must cleanse ourselves from sin and wickedness.