“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything.
1 Corinthians 6:12
The Apostle Paul, in writing to the Church at Corinth, was trying to correct a false teaching around the gospel of God’s grace. Several of the church members wrongly believed, ‘because I’m saved by grace, I can do whatever I want, and God will have to be OK with it. Grace doesn’t make sin safe. God’s laws aren’t prison bars, they are guardrails to protect us from the destruction of sin.
Theologian and philosopher GK Chesterton famously said, ‘Before you tear down a fence, it’s best to ask why it was there in the first place’ (paraphrase). Before we go tearing down all laws and boundaries, it’s best to ask: why did God put them there in the first place? The moral law doesn’t save us, faith in Jesus does, but it is still good and God’s design to lead to human flourishing.
“All things are lawful…but not all things are helpful”
Sometimes, boundaries and restrictions are very, very good. While attending an NHL hockey game in one of the ‘sky boxes,’ my young daughter fell down the stairs. Thankfully, there were guardrails keeping her from falling to the arena floor. You see, boundaries and barriers can be a very good thing.
If you’ve ever driven in a third world country with no laws, no lanes, and no limits, it can be quite terrifying. Boundaries can be very good. God gives His commands not to flex but to give us the guardrails that lead to life.
“All things are lawful, but I will not be dominated by anything”
There are good things that, when used wrongly, quickly become dangerous things. Medicine is good if you follow the instructions on how to use it. 2 Tylenol can relieve pain, but an entire bottle can inflict it. There are certain good gifts from God that, if not used correctly, can become very dangerous. Food is a good gift from God. All the flavors and colors. Praise God for it. But, if not used properly can lead to gluttony, obesity, and even death. Money is a good gift from God. If used properly, it can help people and bless you. But Paul warns us not to love it! It’s the root of all kinds of evil. Certain good gifts are so good they can easily turn into ‘mastery’ and ‘idolatry’. Paul calls it “to be dominated” by something. Probably the most obvious of these good gifts from God is sex. This may surprise some of you, but sex is God’s idea! He created it out of His goodness for His creation. What a great God! Sex is much like fire. It can warm your home or burn it to the ground. For that reason, we put fire in a fireplace, and God puts sex in the context of marriage between a man and a woman. The 1960s gave us the “Sexual Revolution,” and we decided to take sex out of the fireplace. It promised to liberate men and women and bring about utopia. Instead, it has burdened and objectified women and obliterated the family. We continue to feel its effects to this day. Let’s put the fire back into the fireplace and put Jesus in His rightful place….on the throne of our lives.