The house of my soul is too narrow for you to come in to me; let it be enlarged by you. It is in ruins; restore it. There is much about it which must offend your eyes; I confess and know it. But who will cleanse it? Or, to whom shall I cry but to you? Cleanse me from my secret faults, Lord, and keep back your servant from strange sins. I believe, and therefore I speak. But you know, Lord. Have I not confessed my transgressions to you, my God; and have you not put away the iniquity of my heart? I do not contend in judgment with you, who are the truth itself; and I wouyld not deceive myself, lest my iniquity lie even to itself. I do not, therefore, contend in judgment with you, for “if you, Lord, should mark iniquities, who shall stand?”
– Augustine, Confessions, I.5.6
The soul of him who is in Christ is, as Augustine discusses, the house of God. The people of God are the body of his Christ. In this New Covenant, God makes his dwelling in and among his people. Paul makes this clear in Ephesians 5,
In him the whole building [God’s household] is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
As God builds this household, He must make it into a fit and holy temple. He enlarges the walls, restores the ruins, and cleanses from sin. This is true on both a corporate as well as an individual level. As God regenerates, restores, and cleanses the individual, the people of God corporately are built up- the healing of a broken appendage results in the well being of the whole body, and the restoring of one damaged brick strenthens the whole building. The two are so connected that to distinguish between individual growth of a Christian and the overall strengthening of the Church lacks good sense- one does not happen without the other.
God saves people individual as he saves a people: a New Humanity, a Body, and Temple of the Lord. When you are saved, you are not only saved from sin, you are saved to Christ, and therefore saved to the body of Christ.
Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. (I Corinthians 12.12-14)
By grace, God builds up his people, a sinful people who have been cleansed by the blood of the Christ. He has cleansed us, and continues to cleanse us by his means of grace. We are saved, and continually being saved. United to Christ, and nourished by his body and blood.
Holy Father, we are your people, and are becoming your holy temple. By your grace you make your dwelling in us, the Holy One living among sinful men. And we see and know our sinfulness, and yet you see and know even deeper into our hearts than we do. Make us a holy people for you, O Lord. Enlarge us, restore us, purify us, for without your working in us, we can do nothing. Thank you for you means of grace that strengthen and uphold us. Continue your work in us and uphold your promises to us, that your Name may be glorified in our hearts and among the nations. In the name of Jesus, who lives and reigns with you and your Holy Spirit. Amen.