“One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple.”–Psalm 27: 4
Jesus said, “I tell you that one greater than the temple is here.–Matthew 12: 6
“Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple.” -1 Corinthians 3: 16-17
“What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God.” –2 Corinthians 6: 16A
THE OLD COVENANT
The dimensions and composition of the Old Testament Jewish temple were precise and symbolic. Each carefully designed object there had clearly stated purposes and functions. The temple, specifically the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies, was the dwelling place for the presence of God.
The high priest of the Old Testament was the only one allowed through the veil into the Holy of Holies, also called the Most Holy Place, after ritually cleansing himself. Once a year he entered, to sprinkle on the altar the blood of the sacrificial lamb, by that act making atonement for the people’s sins.
THE NEW COVENANT
Jesus’ death and resurrection established the New Covenant in His blood, and from that day forward the temple resided in each individual believer. Today during church services the Roman Catholic priest or Protestant pastor may in some customs perform functions of the Old Testament priest. However, the New Testament calls us a “kingdom and priests” (Revelation 1: 6), and a “royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2: 9). The temple of God is now the heart of every single Christian.
Any compartmentalization of the physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental in a person must be arbitrary by its very nature. That said, if we were to transpose the Old Testament structure onto the individual believer, we might roughly conceptualize it in the following way.
The Outer Court of the believer’s temple can be called the human physical nature in all its aspects. Here we experience bodily sensations of pleasure and pain; this is the place where behavioral choices manifest. Healthy eating, resting, and exercise nurture and care for the outward temple of God, our body.
Inside the physical and corresponding to the Holy Place can be thought of as the soul, the seat of volition and reasoning. The soul realm is expressed in the language of ideas and logic. Within the soul, we make changes in our approaches to behavior, we analyze and gain knowledge, and we mentally reinforce Biblical principles.
Deeper within is the Holy of Holies of our New Covenant temple, the sacred spot we call the heart. The Lord Jesus Christ resides in the heart of a person. This is also where we find our emotions; feelings point the way to the heart. It is the home for our identity–our deepest sense of who we are. Here are sensations and images beyond words, deep revelations, intuitive awareness, and the gifts of faith. In the heart our primal feelings live in memories, and sometimes they are frozen there, where we have hidden them. (Childhood pain causes hiding behind defensive walls built to conceal wounds.) Heart change goes to the foundations of our personality and is beyond our conscious control. It is a work of the Holy Spirit alone.
In a battle between the soul and the heart (the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies), between reason and emotion, emotion invariably wins. That’s why the Apostle Paul said, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do” (Romans 7: 15).
The closer we move toward the center of the heart temple model, the more unconscious our motivations become. Therefore, we are often unaware of wounds we have long ago covered. Moreover, the heart is like a computer with a recurring “virus”, that brings up “diseased” feelings first, whenever something in the present accesses the unforgiven or unhealed. As with a computer, a whole field of data and programs in the heart can be infected by one error caused by a buried memory.
Primordial emotions live in root memories, held in place by distorted belief systems. Where the demonic is present, it has built nests in the dark places of concealed hurt and is lurking in the defenses used to cover festering wounds. There the enemy tries to block these traumas from being exposed to the healing light of Christ’s presence.
The veil separating the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies in the Old Covenant temple was torn in two by the Lord’s death, and ever after we are all priests with access to the presence of God through the cross of Jesus. Likewise, we are able with Christ to find God in the deepest hidden parts of our hearts.
Sin results from our attempt to meet love deficit needs created by relational injury. Heart healing is the process of cooperating with the Lord as He brings awareness of root memories and pain, exposes lies and distorted beliefs lodged there, and heals as only He can. This “removes the veil in the temple” and reconnects the mind or soul (The Holy Place) with the heart (The Holy of Holies).
Until we can trust God enough to expose hidden parts to Him, allowing Him free entry by the blood of Jesus into our “Holy of Holies”, we will continue to act in self-protection. By facing the pain, experiencing the emotions, finding what we’re protecting, confronting the lies, and bringing it all to Jesus, He progressively heals us. This is sanctification, the communion of His body and blood at the Holy of Holies, in the temple of the heart.