What Does ‘Your Body Is a Temple’ Really Mean?

This means that our bodies are not our own but of God, and that is why it should be clear and pure of unnecessary impurities. Paul encourages us to remember that our bodies do not belong to us but to God in this letter.

  • Glory Dy Christianity.com Contributing Writer
  • 2021 2 Sep
Older woman holding a toy heart after working out

The phrase “your body is a temple” is widely used by both Christians and non-Christians. It has been used in both Christian and secular music in the past and in merchandising as well. So, what does it mean to say that our bodies are temples? As Christians, how should we honor that?

We can find the verse containing this phrase in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20,

Do you not know that your bodies are temples 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 bodies.

This is one of the most well-known verses in the Bible, but it is frequently misunderstood. What does this imply? Why does temple imagery work so well with the bodies that God created for us? And more importantly, how can we consider our bodies as temples?

Our Bodies Are Like Sacred Temples

First of all, to understand the phrase, let us define what a temple is. The temple was a sacred meeting place for the Israelites in the Old Testament. They went there to worship, make sacrifices, and make pleas to God.

Solomon’s tenure as king was the first time the Israelites had a temple, as stated in 1 Kings 3:1, “Solomon made an alliance with Pharaoh king of Egypt and married his daughter. He brought her to the City of David until he finished building his palace and the temple of the Lord, and the wall around Jerusalem.”

The Israelites had a tabernacle before they built a temple as we read in Exodus 25:8, “Then have them create a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them.” The tabernacle, however, was more than just a work of art. It was a holy place.

God struck and killed a man named Uzzah for his irreverence when he reached out to support the ark so it wouldn’t fall due to the animal, who carried the tabernacle, stumbled, as stated in 2 Samuel 6:7, “The Lord’s anger burned against Uzzah because of his irreverent act; therefore, God struck him down, and he died there beside the ark of God.”

When Jesus came, he did away with the need for a single-location temple. Instead, Christians became God’s temple, a dwelling place for the Holy Spirit. We can be regarded as pure and holy enough to have God’s Spirit live in us because of his blood that cleanses us.

Jesus created a bridge between heaven and earth, bringing people in to converse with God. What a blessing! Nothing impure or defiling should enter the presence of this hallowed home, which is now holy ground. To put it another way, no Christian should sin, including sexual immorality.

So, what does it mean when our bodies are compared to temples? The first is to refrain from succumbing to sin and temptations. Don’t let the devil get a stronghold in your life, as noted in Ephesians 4:27, “and do not give the devil a foothold.”

If your right eye is the source of your sins, you should metaphorically pull it out, as explicitly noted in Matthew 5:39, “But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.”

To put it another way, don’t put yourself in a situation where you’re more likely to engage in the area where you’re tempted.

A Healthy Body Both Physically and Spiritually

Another meaning of being a body compared to a temple is that we should be physically and spiritually healthy. Exodus 20:8-11 reveals God’s great concern about our health,

Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it, you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. In six days, the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

This means we should labor, but then we should also take rest, as also stated in Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.”

This being said, spiritual health is emphasized in the verses. We should always give our day of Sabbath to worshipping God and not thinking of anything else that bothers us during this day, and we should always pray so that we can communicate with Him our concerns and praises.

Love What God Has Given

Another meaning of making our bodies like a temple is to always love what God has given us, including what our bodies look like. Society frequently promotes unrealistic beauty and youthful standards.

When we discover that our bodies don’t match a specific template, or that we have wrinkles and grey hairs, or that we don’t have the same muscle volume as a sports star, we may begin to perceive our bodies as lesser than. We must remember that we were created in God’s image and are fearfully and wonderfully crafted.

Satan will use insecurities about weight, beauty, or age to divert us from our mission to share the gospel. However, we can resist this distraction from our calling and purpose on earth if we regard our bodies as the creation of the highest God.

A Body Clear of Sexual Impurity

Lastly, when we are like temples, our bodies should be clear of sexual impurities. In 1 Corinthians 6:19, it is stated, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own.”

This means that our bodies are not our own but of God, and that is why it should be clear and pure of unnecessary impurities. Paul encourages us to remember that our bodies do not belong to us but to God in this letter.

We don’t have the right to abandon them to sin because they were purchased at a price by Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection.

As a result, we should focus our eyes on the things above rather than succumbing to fleshly temptations. We give up our right to do whatever we want with our bodies when we embrace Jesus as our Savior.

So, what does the phrase “your body is a temple” mean? This phrase compares us to a temple, which is holy ground in the past as well as in the present.

That being said, we should refrain from succumbing to temptations, live a healthy life both physically and spiritually, love our bodies for it is God-given, and be clear of sexual impurity.

We should avoid temptations and anything that pollute our bodies because we are like temples, sacred beings made by God.

For further reading:

Should Christians Be Involved in Diet Culture?

Why Is Jesus Called the 'Bread of Life'?

How Haggai Encouraged the Rebuilding of the Second Temple

What Is the Meaning of the Body of Christ?

Is My Purity Important to God?

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/AaronAmat


Glory Dy has been a content creator for more than 10 years. She lives in a quiet suburb with her family and four cats.