Destroying the Church

Destroying the Church

Robert Wurtz II


“If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.” (1 Corinthians 3:17 NKJV)


The context of our passage relates to building up the churches. Together the churches make up the Church, the temple of God (the dwelling place of God). The churches are made up of individual saints in whom God’s presence rests. So when Paul writes these sobering words in 1 Corinthians 3:17, “If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him,” he is referring to the destruction of the saints and ultimately the temple of God. He’s referring to destroying the very thing for which Christ died.


There are two pictures used to describe how the temple of God (the Church) grows or is built. In 1 Corinthians 3:8, Paul uses the metaphor of planting and watering. A farmer plants a field, another waters it, and produces a crop. In 1 Corinthians 3:10-15, we have the metaphor of building a magnificent temple with gold, silver, and precious stones. Both the farmer’s field and the temple can be damaged or destroyed by recklessness or maliciousness. Bad behavior stunts the growth of churches when the lost are repulsed by it. Bad behavior destroys churches when the people are offended and disillusioned.  


There are many ways to destroy a crop or a building, such as a temple. Since the metaphors symbolize people growing in a field or people as living stones in a temple, it’s easy to see what Paul is saying. Don’t do things that harm the crop (so to speak) or damage the churches. Don’t cause problems that will tear the people apart and leave them scattered everywhere as if a tornado went through the church. As the late Greek scholar, A.T. Robertsonson once said, “It is a gross sin to be a church-wrecker.” It’s a sin that carries a severe penalty. 




Paul warned the Corinthians in the strongest of terms, “If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him.” Understand that people can be blinded by bitter envy, pride, and strife of all kinds, so they think their actions are right and even spiritual. They are oblivious to the outcome because they are under the enemy’s influence (James 3:14). It’s not uncommon for professing Christians and even leaders to destroy the work of God thinking they are doing Him a service. Others behave in repulsive and offensive ways without caring in the least. 


Bad behavior in the Church amounts to the proverbial “drunken bull in a China shop.” There is no limit to how far-reaching and permanent the destruction can be. You don’t “un-break” fine China, and you don’t “un-break” the lives of people who are offended by careless and reckless acts. Therefore, before we take any action within the Church, we should ask ourselves, “How will this impact the Church? How will it help or harm the people impacted by this action? Will this action strengthen the faith of the saints, or will it cause someone to quit the Church? Perhaps most importantly, personally, “Will this action I’m about to perform lead to my indictment for destroying the temple?”  


Temporal or Eternal?


The world is concerned with things that don’t amount to a hill of beans in light of eternity. They make decisions based on temporal concerns. The risk in modern times is the worldly thinking that often prevails among leaders. Men build their own earthly kingdoms (within the eternal Kingdom of God) without realizing that their eternal soul is at stake. God’s program suffers because of their program. People may focus on all kinds of temporal issues, but God’s concerned about building His Church.    


“If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.” (1 Corinthians 3:17 NKJV)

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