From The Heart

Publish date: 06/22/2003

Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. 12 "Everything is permissible for me"-but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible for me"-but I will not be mastered by anything. 13 "Food for the stomach and the stomach for food"-but God will destroy them both. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! 16 Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, "The two will become one flesh."  17 But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit. 18 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. 19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. 1 Corinthians 6:9-20 NIV

"Everything is permissible for me-but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible for me-but I will not be mastered by anything."  Many of the problems that had arisen in Corinth concerned their behavior and morals. They were saved, but they needed to realize that some of the behaviors that they were accustomed to were physically, morally and spiritually destructive behaviors and therefore unacceptable for God's children. Paul spent a lot of time giving them ethical advice in his correspondence with them.

"Everything is permissible"-but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible"-but not everything is constructive. 24 Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.  1 Corinthians 10:23-24 NIV

The main principle Paul teaches is that "all things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful." Christians ought to use their freedom for the glory of God and the good of their neighbors, not for not for their own self-advantage. It is not about a bunch of "do's and don'ts," but it is a blueprint for a way of life that will produce life, liberty and blessing, not death and destruction.

You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. 14 The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your neighbor as yourself."  15 If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.  Galatians 5:13-15 NIV

Just because you can do something, does not mean you should do it. Our freedom is tempered and shaped by our love. Love leads the way into godliness and a way of life that brings blessing to our liberty. We are free – not free to sin, but free from sin. We are not free to be selfish, but we are free to love each other.

Beloved, I implore you as aliens and strangers and exiles [in this world] to abstain from the sensual urges (the evil desires, the passions of the flesh, your lower nature) that wage war against the soul. 12 Conduct yourselves properly (honorably, righteously) among the Gentiles, so that, although they may slander you as evildoers, [yet] they may by witnessing your good deeds [come to] glorify God in the day of inspection [when God shall look upon you wanderers as a pastor or shepherd looks over his flock]. 13 Be submissive to every human institution and authority for the sake of the Lord, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 Or to governors as sent by him to bring vengeance (punishment, justice) to those who do wrong and to encourage those who do good service. 15 For it is God's will and intention that by doing right [your good and honest lives] should silence (muzzle, gag) the ignorant charges and ill-informed criticisms of foolish persons. 16[Live] as free people, [yet] without employing your freedom as a pretext for wickedness; but [live at all times] as servants of God. 17 Show respect for all men [treat them honorably]. Love the brotherhood (the Christian fraternity of which Christ is the Head). Reverence God. Honor the emperor.  1 Peter 2:11-17 AMP

2 Peter 2:19 NIV says that, "a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him." We are free from sin and free to worship God and serve Him. If we come into the freedom of the gospel and then use our freedom to excuse our wickedness, we are just putting ourselves back into bondage. You are truly free when you have placed your flesh and carnal appetites under the control of the Holy Spirit and when your only Lord and Master is Jesus.