I used to think that what defiles a temple was what quality of men entered into it. I was surprised to know that the ancients did not feel the same. What I learned about defilement of the temple will surprise most of us. But before I address that, let me set the stage a little by sharing my experience in priesthood quorum today.
Today our priesthood quorum discussed the contrast between being concerned about the things of the world versus being concerned about the things of God. The common concerns arose. They wanted to know how to deal with the beggars, for are we not all beggars, they asked? Then the conversations switched perspectives to the rich people who by boats and big screen tv’s, etc. Some say that those who buy the boats are as the rich man who couldn’t give away all that he had and follow Christ. Others brought up the eye of the needle. We went from one extreme (beggars) to the other extreme (the extravagantly rich). The final conclusion was, …as it always is, we have to follow the spirit.
I agree that we ought to follow the spirit, but the entire lesson concludes with the question we should have started out with, “What does the spirit say should govern our perspective when dealing with the rich and the poor?” Now we would be asking to understand the mind and will of God concerning the matter. Now the words of Christ can tell you all things what you should do. It is about the principles governing, rather than a body of men convincing one another to all look the same, as if being the same meant being correct. We first made suggestions from our understanding, but when we had no satisfying answers, we say to …follow the spirit. That is what we lack in the matter, PERSPECTIVE on the spirit concerning the matter.
I tried to raise my hand six times during class and the teacher “would” not call on me. Other men flinched their two fingers and the teacher called on them. I could have done the wave, and the teacher would not have called on me, so I didn’t say anything. I waited till after class, addressed him ignoring me, told him that it didn’t much matter to me, and went on to explain the following.
We are the body of Christ. If your body received a cut, you would stop the bleeding, get stitches, and nurse the injury to health. Likewise with a broken bone, a stomach ache, a headache, a tumor, etc. We would address the problem, knowing that if the problem went unaddressed, we run the risk of the problem worsening and perhaps it may even cost you your life. That is the very idea of how we deal with the poor and needy. It is as if they (the poor and needy) are a part of our body. Many of us could survive without our pinky finger, but cut it off, and you will surely miss it. When we see the sick and the afflicted as an indicator of the health of our body, then we would address it by either nursing it back to health or cutting it out altogether. Looking at others, we see our own health, and we must obtain their trust, speak the words of Christ and let them fix themselves.
A temple of God is the tabernacle that houses the spirit of God. In that respect our bodies are temples, the church’s are temples, and the temple is a temple. Each houses the spirit of God within them. What I found significant in my recent scripture study is what defiles a temple.
I used to think that what enters into the temple is what defiled it. We learned in the New Testament that the money exchangers defiled the temple by bringing their market into the temple place. But what I learned is that most people weren’t even allowed into the temple. Therefore, it wasn’t what was brought into the temple that defiled it. Then what?
What defiles a temple is the way those within it’s service district lived their lives. That is what either kept the temple clean or defiled it. The quality of Godly lives they lived, both members and nonmembers alike, the purer the temple was kept. What I am saying is that people don’t realize that whether they believe or not, they effect the purity of the temple. If the temple is pure, Christ will enter therein and dwell amongst us. With Enoch, Christ dwelt there for 365 years, before their translation. However, if the temple district is not pure, Christ will not enter therein. It’s all dependent upon purity, our mind and heart.
Now God understood that we would constantly make mistakes, so along with the temple, the ancients were given the year of the Jubilee. The year of the Jubilee occurred every seven years, and was purposed to cleanse the temple by forgiving all debts. It’s interesting to see the Jubilee connecting debt elimination with cleansing the temple. Debt caused men to sin, to covet, to contend with one another, and to hold back our support of the poor and the needy. It still has the same effect in our day. Wiping out the debt was a release of all slaves, so that all men could become independent once again. And in this way the temple was cleansed every seven years.
I find it interesting that we still celebrate a “seven-day” Jubilee (so-to-speak), when we partake of the sacrament on Sunday. That too was to forgive all debts so that our temples can be cleansed. Not only are we to be forgiven, but we are to forgive all who trespass against us so that our temple can be cleansed, so that the Spirit of the Father can dwell within us. This brings us full circle to the lesson in priesthood. We are all the body of Christ. The cleansing of the temple is about seeing the poor and the needy as a part of our own body. Poor and needy can apply to all income levels. All have value. All bodies house spirits that were created by God.
Satan is the only enemy. When we desire to see things God’s way, He will tell you the truth of what is written here. All people house the spirit of God within their tabernacle of clay. “The temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” (1 Corinthians 3:17).