The Apostle Paul spent a considerable amount of time discussing Christian liberty in the 1st Corinthian letter. Of course this isn’t the only place he talks about this but as we have been studying lately I think I came across a pretty good rule of thumb when it comes to this topic.
In 1 Corinthians 6:12 Paul said, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.” So the first question to ask ourselves then would be is this thing of which I am partaking profitable? For instance does this food, drink or behavior do me, or anyone else for that matter, any good? Then we have to know if it is something that might control me. I for one come from a background in which I lived very addicted to drugs and alcohol so I know what it means to be mastered by something. In fact even now I am very mindful of overindulgence’s in my life. Either way this issue of freedom is important to us all.
The next verse is found in 1 Corinthians 10:23 where we read “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify.” Obviously the beginning of this is identical to the first verse about the action or behavior being profitable but look at the last part. Whereas the first verse warned against being mastered by something this one asks us if the action in question is good for edification. I think the point here is does the way in which I am using my freedom build up others? Actually that is exactly what he’s asking because if you read the next verse, verse 10:24 it says, “Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor.” The effect the use of our freedom on others has to be taken into consideration.
Finally, Paul’s last rule concerning our freedom in Christ is found in 1 Corinthians 10:31 “Whether, then you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” So there you have it. Ultimately this is the big one isn’t it? Will my use of the freedom I have in Christ bring glory to God? There may be one more way of seeing this one. Whatever it is I’m doing the question is can I thank God for it? For instance if I’m doing drugs can I, from a clear conscience, say, thank you Lord for this? This is always a great barometer to let us know when it comes to some of the gray areas in life.
Just as Paul told the Galatians “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” So while Christians are not under the Law and we are free in Christ there are still a few things that are to regulate our choices when it comes to how we live. We are to ask ourselves four questions.
1. Is what I’m doing profitable?
2. Can what I’m doing master me (become addiction or bondage to me?)
3. Is what I’m doing edifying in anyway to others?
4. Does what I’m doing glorify God?