(OPINION)  “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are” – 1 Corinthians 3:15-17

Now, If you’re like me, being in the Church years ago, I actually heard saints interpret this passage as “God himself will kill or destroy anyone who is defiling their bodies.

And when they said “defile” they meant anyone who was declaring themselves as “Christians” and partaking of things that was “destroying their temples” such as smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, doing drugs and even getting tattoos.


The problem here is that there is some element of truth here but it’s not what many of us have been traditionally taught. Let’s break this passage down and bring out the true revelation here.

First of all the term ” Temple” here is correct in the interpretation of liking it unto the physical body and the Holy Spirit indeed dwells in this temple (our bodies).

Now let’s look at the word here for “Defile”. This word means to make “unclean or impure”. Some definitions use the term “desecrated”. So how can a believer “make their bodies “unclean, impure, or desecrated?

In order to answer this we must look at the true meaning of another Greek word used here and that is the term “Destroy”.

This word in the New Testament Greek is used 33 times and typically it means “to destroy”, die, or perish. However, in this one verse, it is a different Greek word meaning to “wither away”, shrivel, or “spoil”

This one Greek word has just changed everything for the traditional interpretation of this passage. Paul is not telling us here that smoking habits, drugs, and alcohol are going to enrage God to the point that he strikes you dead! (Destroys you).

What this passage is revealing to us is that God will not stop you from doing things that are causing your body to wither, spoil and deteriorate.  He gives you free will

When we closely examine this from the original language and understanding of this passage, we see that Paul is actually warning believers that certain lifestyles, habits, and addictions will lead to their (temples) physical bodies withering away and decaying. He’s not saying that God is striking down people dead who put a cigarette in their mouth or get a tattoo.

With the exception of drinking alcohol and living a lifestyle of being a drunkard, smoking cigarettes, chewing tobacco, doing drugs, and even eating certain foods that are all harmful to our physical bodies may not necessarily keep you out of heaven per say, but they will definitely take you into eternity quicker.

Many believers don’t realize that they can actually “die before their time”. This is what Solomon warned about in his writings, “Do not be overly wicked, Nor be foolish: Why should you die before your time”? – Ecclesiastes 7:17

Solomon is revealing to us that we can actually cut our own lives short by foolishness and wickedness. Now, being that we are equipping saints here I truly hope that you aren’t in the category of “overly wicked”. However, Paul did warn that sexual immorality was one of those sins that affect the physical body and cause disease and death.

“Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For “the two,” He says, “shall become one flesh.” But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him”.

“Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s”. – 1 Corinthians 6:15-20

Where most will be guilty here is the category of “Overly Foolish”. I can’t fathom how many believers have gone from altar call to altar call to get prayed for in order to get healed of infirmities, sicknesses, and diseases that have all been rooted in these lifestyles that we have willfully partaken of over many years.

My own mother died in her early sixties from a combination of excessive sun tanning and smoking which is filled with deadly carcinogens that with the combination of the sun tanning fueled cancer cells that ultimately ended her life early.

We all likely have family members that fall into this same scenario in one form or fashion. There are countless people in the Body of Christ, that love the Lord but struggle with fleshly strongholds, habits, and addictions that are cutting their lives short and were not the will of God for their lives.

It’s not just the more obvious substances that are snuffing out many early but also more subtle things like excessive sugar, diets filled with sodium, and processed foods to name a few that are also contributing to this tragedy as well.

I hope that perhaps this was a reality check for you while reading this that you have a family that needs you to stick around for many years. Maybe you have children or grandchildren that need you here? Perhaps, you have a ministry that people need to hear and be equipped with and if you check out early it would be a great loss to many in your community.

Let’s seek the Lord and get victory over these habits and strongholds that are slowly “withering away”, shriveling up, or “spoiling” our temples and risking us of punching the clock of eternity before the time.