“The church of Christ, enfeebled and defective as it may be, is the only object on earth on which He bestows His supreme regard.”-Ellen G. White, In Heavenly Places, p. 284.
Nowhere is this classic Ellen G. White statement better illustrated than in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. In 1 Corinthians 3:1-23, Paul likens the church to a crop that different people work on: one person plants the seed, another waters it, but God Himself is responsible for its growth and maturity (1 Cor. 3:4-9).
Paul continues his point, now by describing the church as a building. Someone sets the foundation and then various others build upon it (1 Cor. 3:10). Because the foundation is none other than Christ (1 Cor. 3:11), then those who follow must be careful about what sort of material they use. The coming judgment will distinguish between inferior and suitable “building materials” (1 Cor. 3:12-15).
Now look at what follows: “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple” (1 Cor. 3:16-17, ESV).
We need to notice two things. The first is that the context is speaking about the church and how it is built up. It is not talking primarily about health. God does not destroy people who abuse their bodies with bad lifestyle choices; they destroy themselves. (Later, Paul does talk about our bodies being the temple of the Holy Spirit in connection with our moral choices in 1 Corinthians 6:15-20).
The second thing is that each time the word you is mentioned in these two verses, it is plural in the Greek. An individual is not being addressed, but a group. So, if anyone does anything to destroy the church, he or she is in serious trouble. God warns that He will destroy the person who tries to destroy the church.
How can we be certain that, in all that we say and do, we are building up, not tearing down, the church?