God’s ultimate plan, “I will be your God, and you will be my people” is ultimately fulfilled when he dwells not outside and around us, but within us.
But in order for God to fulfill his promise, he had to cleanse us. We are “jars of clay” but more so, in that we are filthy and unfit for him to dwell in.
This is why Christ died – so that he might cleanse us with the washing of his blood so that God could fulfill his promise to dwell in us.
That is how filthy we are. That only the pure, perfect blood of the Son of God could cleanse us.
This is what it means to be sanctified – we, dirty jars of clay, have been cleansed, so that God can dwell in us. This was pictured vividly and repetitively to Israel in their sacrificial system. They had to literally wash everything in the temple – it all had to be sanctified.
God has done the same thing with us. Except that instead of dwelling in a purified temple “made with hands”, he dwells now in us – we ourselves are a “temple of the Holy Spirit.”
Christ’s forgiveness of sins is not simply to pacify our consciences concerning our sin. It was working towards a greater goal – namely, to purify us in order to make us a fit vessel for God to indwell. Our bodies, the vessels in which we live, were purchased with the precious blood of Christ. We are now owned by God – we are his “possession” – we are vessels fit for him to dwell in.
And that we are.
The glory of God in the face of his Son Jesus Christ is shining not simply on our faces – like Moses (2 Corinthians 3:7) – but in our hearts (2 Corinthians 4:6). We are now jars, vessels that bear not on the outside, but within, the glory of God.
And there is no other motivating factor in our lives towards holiness and righteousness than this one fact – that God himself has made his dwelling-place in our very hearts. Our bodies are now vessels made to carry the holy, infinite God and to be conducted as such.
“So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.”
“Present your bodies as a living sacrifice”
“You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”
Our hope does not end here though. God has not seen fit to dwell in mortal, perishable bodies. Our hope is even greater.
God has seen fit that our experience of his glorious indwelling presence does not end at death – the destruction of the jar of clay, but that he will renew and “clothe” us with a “heavenly”, imperishable, immortal, powerful, honorable, spiritual body.
No longer will we have bodies unfit for God to dwell in – but we will have indestructible bodies that we will forever bear the glory of God in.
This has been God’s aim since we fell. It began with his promise to Abraham, and was fulfilled in Christ, and will be finally consummated when Christ returns to clothe us.
It will be in that day that the promise, “I will be your God, and you will be my people” will be completely fulfilled.