How to Treat Our Bodies Like a Temple

What does it mean for us practically to have our bodies as a temple of the Holy Spirit? Simply avoiding seemingly bad behaviors feels like a “No skateboarding, bicycle riding, rollerblading, or loitering” sign tacked to the outside of our “temple,” defining who we aren’t in place of who we are. The temple was the cultural, religious, and social center of community life, a place to go with questions, needs, struggles, and uncertainties. Jesus demonstrated the role and intent of the temple when He shifted its location from Jerusalem to Himself in John 2:21. Instead of evaluating what we shouldn’t do or be as the temple of the Holy Spirit, we must shift our focus to whom we should be, conforming to the person of Christ by imitating Him (1 Cor. 11:1; Eph. 5:1). Paul responded to questions of legalistic allowances by suggesting a higher standard and purpose, pursuing only those things that build up (1 Cor. 10:23), benefit others over yourself (1 Cor. 10:24; Phil. 2:4), and ultimately bring glory to God (1 Cor. 10:31).

To steward our body as a temple requires a reprioritization from our normal perspective. Asking whether something is allowable for us places the focus and perspective on us and our needs. We must shift our focus from ourselves to loving God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind (Lk. 10:27) to bring Him glory as we represent Him to the world with the Holy Spirit overflowing His love to our neighbors through us (Mk. 12:31). This reprioritization means we pursue discipline in the use of our bodies, so we have margin and capacity to be used by God for His glory. We eat healthy and get sufficient sleep, so we have the energy to be God’s hands and feet to the world. We abstain from things both bad and maybe good to pursue the best.


External behaviors like smoking or drinking don’t defile the presence of the Holy Spirit within us, but these choices to gratify our mortal desires can distract us from our purpose in glorifying God and reduce our capacity in time and ability through their consequences. Caring for your body requires a comprehensive, holistic lens, recognizing the inextricable connection between physical, emotional, spiritual, psychological, and relational health. We don’t need to be careful to protect God from defilement or the contagion of sin. Our corruptible and sinful body will be replaced with an incorruptible and immortal body through the resurrection of Christ (1 Cor. 15:53).

Let us pursue holiness and use our bodies and lives to bring God glory, loving Him completely so through Him we can also love others. This pursuit comes as we refine and retrain our desires, looking to Jesus as our model and method to “lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Heb. 12:1).

Photo Credit: © Getty Images/Jacob Ammentorp Lund