Cleansing the Temple

9/5/13, by Clement Pulaski

And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.
-Matthew 21:12-13

The episode of Jesus cleansing the temple of the moneychangers has often been used to exhort Christians to combat the corrupting power of mammon, especially when this power is wielded by the Jews. This is an important message for Christians today, when Jewish financiers and vice-peddlers increasingly dominate the political and moral life of our people. But in our efforts to imitate Christ and drive out the moneychangers, we must not mistakenly think that a purely external purging of society is our only goal. A spiritual rebirth and regaining of inner dignity must precede any outer victory. The need for this inner renewal becomes evident when one considers how "the temple" is understood in the New Testament.

In chapter 4 of the Gospel of John, Jesus speaks with a Samaritan woman on the question of whether it is proper to worship God at Jerusalem or mount Gezirim, the holy site of the Samaritans. While affirming that Jerusalem is the historically correct location for worship, Jesus adds that:

the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father...the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
-John 4:21,23-24

With Christ's Passion and the institution of the New Covenant, services at the temple were no longer necessary, and the old external worship was transfered to the new spiritual worship. When the Jerusalem temple was destroyed by the Romans, it was seen by Christians not as a cause of mourning, but as a providential sign that the old era had passed away.

But despite this lack of concern for the old physical worship, the concept and imagery of the temple remained important. In the writings of the Apostle Paul, we see the Christian's body referred to as a temple, because this spiritual worship of which Jesus spoke in John 4 takes place within each individual believer:

Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
-1 Corinthians 3:16
Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.
-1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Christian's have received the Holy Spirit, and thus our bodies are temples of that Spirit. But that does not guarantee that the temple will remain pure. The Spirit of God dwelled in the Jerusalem temple, but the Jews polluted this temple through the carnal business they conducted within it. In the same way we pollute the inner temple when we give in to wicked desires, making our bodies participate in gluttony, sloth, greed, vanity and fornication. Each one of us must become "a house of prayer" rather than "a den of thieves" by waging war against the worldly lusts in our own souls.

These two different levels of understanding Christ's example of "cleansing the temple" perfectly complement each other, for the very sins which pollute our inner temple are also the principal means by which the Jews control us. The Jews exploit our sexual desires by means of pornography and the false doctrine of sexual "liberation", destroying our mental health and our ability to have stable families. Our greed allows us to be pacified by empty consumerism, our sloth causes us to welcome millions of low-wage immigrants to work as servants, while our concern for worldly approval prevents many of us from speaking out lest we be labeled "bigots". After the West abandoned Christ, the only physician who can free us from enslavement to the world, it was easy for the Jews to gain dominion. If we were to repent and allow ourselves to be cleansed by Christ, the Jewish means of control would simply melt away. The Jews are lacking in numerical and physical strength. Their power is thus largely an illusion, an illusion that gains reality only because of the depraved inner life of our people. Once the Christian virtues are embraced, the Satanic tempters and deceivers are shut out and can no longer bribe us with carnal gratification.

That Christ will aid us in cleansing the temple, we pray to the Lord.

Recent Posts>