Paul's words can be interpreted in two ways. First of all, they can be interpreted to refer to the individual believer--your body, your mind, your heart--is the temple of God. Our call is to take good care of God's temple.
I Read An Introduction To A Speech Once. The Speech Was By A Canadian, Peter Hanson. In The Introduction He Wrote Of What A Moving Experience It Was Even For Him, A Canadian, To Visit The Vietnam Memorial In Washington, D.C. He Described Watching Crowds Of People Of All Ages Reach Up To Touch The Cold Wall Of Granite Rising Out Of The Ground, Containing The Names Of Every American Soldier Known To Have Died In That Conflict--Approximately 50,000 Of Them. Some People Who Came Just Stood And Stared; Others Broke Down And Wept. "Why?" They All Seemed To Be Asking. Young Boys Taken From Loving Families To Fight A War That Basically Had No Meaning. Fifty Thousand American Soldiers Died, And For No Good Reason. Fifty Thousand Brave Young Men Slain In That Terrible Conflict. Then Hanson Adds, "Fifty Thousand--That Is Also The Number Of Americans Who Are Killed By Cigarettes Every Eight Weeks." That Will Make You Think. "Do You Not Know That You Are God'S Temple...?"
There Is Another Way Of Interpreting This Text That Is More In Keeping With The Context. Paul Is Writing To The Corinthian Church--A Church In Conflict. Some Are Claiming To Be Followers Of Paul, Others Are Claiming To Be Followers Of Apollos, A Skilled Preacher Much Admired In The Early Church. In Other Words, Some Are Still Linked To One Former Pastor, Some Are Still Linked To Another. Paul Counsels Them To Grow Up. "Who Is Paul?" He Asks. "Who Is Apollos?" Paul Plants, Apollos Waters, But It Is God Who Gives The Growth.
Then Paul Compares The Church To A Building. He Himself Laid The Foundation At Corinth, Now Another Is Building On That Foundation. The Foundation, Of Course, Is Christ, And That Is All That Matters. Then Paul Adds, "Do You Not Know That You Are God'S Temple And That God'S Spirit Dwells In You? If Any One Destroys God'S Temple, God Will Destroy Him." In This Context, We Can See That God'S Temple Is The Church. We Are The Temple Of The Living God. What Does That Say To You?