From eternal ages it was God’s purpose that every created being should be a temple for the indwelling of the Creator. Because of sin, humanity ceased to be a temple for God. Darkened and defiled by evil, the heart of man no longer revealed the glory of the divine One.
God designed that the temple at Jerusalem should be a continual witness to the high destiny open to every soul. But the Jews had not understood the significance of the building. They did not yield themselves as temples for the divine Spirit. In cleansing the temple from the world’s buyers and sellers, Jesus announced His mission to cleanse the heart from the defilement of sin—from the earthly desires, the selfish lusts, the evil habits that corrupt the soul.
No man can of himself cast out the evil throng that have taken possession of the heart. Only Christ can cleanse the soul-temple. But He will not force an entrance. He says, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him” (Revelation 3:20). He will come, not for one day merely; for He says, “I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and … they shall be My people” (II Corinthians 6:16). His presence will cleanse and sanctify the soul, so that it may be a holy temple unto the Lord, and “an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:22).
We ourselves must suffer the ills of violated law. We must answer to God for our habits and practices [sic]. Therefore the question for us is, how shall I, claiming to be a Christian, treat the habitation God has given me?
It is not he who merely enjoys righteousness, that is righteous, but he who does righteousness. Holiness is not rapture; it is the result of surrendering all to God; it is doing the will of our Heavenly Father. Religion consists in doing the words of Christ; not doing to earn God’s favor, but because, all undeserving, we have received the gift of His love. Christ places the salvation of man, not upon profession merely, but upon faith that is made manifest in works of righteousness.
To live by the word of God means the surrender to Him of the whole life. There will be felt a continual sense of need and dependence, a drawing out of the heart after God. Prayer is a necessity; for it is the life of the soul. It is secret communion with God that sustains the soul-life.
(Excerpts from A Habitation for the Spirit, The Review and Herald, December 31, 1908.)
Bible texts are from the New King James Version.