Question: "What does it mean that the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit?"
Answer: Instructing the Christians in Corinth to flee from sexual immorality, the apostle Paul exhorted, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Indeed, God the Father created our bodies, God the Son redeemed them, and God the Holy Spirit indwells them. This makes our body the very temple of the Holy Spirit of God.
Those who do not belong to Christ do not have the Spirit of Christ residing in them (Romans 8:9). Thus, their bodies are not a temple of the Holy Spirit. Clearly, then, the greatest thing we can do for our bodies is to make them into a temple for God’s Spirit. And we do this by placing our trust and faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior. The moment we do this, the indwelling of God’s Spirit takes place (1 Corinthians 12:13). Our salvation is then sealed and guaranteed (Ephesians 1:13-14). The Holy Spirit will then be with us forever (John 14:16), given by God as His pledge of the believer’s future inheritance in glory (2 Corinthians 1:21-22).
As the Holy Spirit resides in us, therefore, we are to honor God with our bodies as they “are not [our] own,” as Paul said. We have indeed been bought with a price. And it was not gold or silver or other perishable things by which we were redeemed; it was with the precious, unblemished blood of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:18-19). Ordained by God before the foundation of the world (Acts 2:23), Christ’s blood purchased us out of the slavery of sin and set us free forever. And as Christian’s bodies are God’s temple, we are to use them to glorify God.
If God meant simply to convey the idea that the Spirit lives within the believer, He could well have used words such as “home,” “house,” or “residence.” But by choosing the word “temple” to describe the Spirit’s dwelling, He conveys the idea that our bodies are the shrine, or the sacred place, in which the Spirit not only lives, but is worshiped, revered, and honored. Therefore, how we behave, think and speak, and what we let into the temple through our eyes and ears becomes critically important as well, for every thought, word and deed is in His view. Even though He will never leave us, it is entirely possible to grieve the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4: 30). Instructing the Ephesians to not grieve the Spirit, Paul told them to “get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:31-32). When we live by the Spirit, we will no longer gratify the desires of the sinful nature (Galatians 5:16).