November 22, 2021
Scripture: “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 ESV
Observation: Having urged the Corinthian church to suffer wrongdoing rather than pursue litigation against other believers, Paul then transitions to matters of offense toward self or others that will hinder entry into the kingdom of God: sexual immorality, greed, swindling, drug abuse, or reviling others. He then reminds the church that they stand justified before God through their faith in Christ—no longer condemned but set free from sins domination.
Takeaway: In verse 12 (above), Paul seemingly contradicts himself. He just shortlisted certain sins that will distance us from God, yet he says everything is lawful for him. He then continues to address self-indulgent and greedy behavior that is self-destructive. So what is permitted for him without limit? Anything that draws Paul closer to his Savior and glorifies the One who set Paul free. Still, other elements of our liberties will steer us away from God or impede our sanctification (his preceding list of reckless behavior). Such licentious living will end up controlling us.
Indeed, sin is addictive. It leads us to fleeting pleasures that always disappoint. And, incrementally, the objects of our habitual sins (drugs, illicit sex, obsessions with others) demand more of our time and resources to sustain the same level of euphoria and pain relief. For this reason, Paul says that he “will not be dominated by anything.” Anything? Well, except for his love of Christ. The deeper we grow in our love of our beautiful Savior, the more freedom we gain from those things that seek to dominate us. And, like Paul, we discover that all that is holy and edifying (that is lawful) is ours for the taking.
Prayer: Thank you, Father, for the gift of your beautiful Son who has set us free from sin’s domination. Would you please help us to embrace the liberties of righteous living—cooperating with the sanctifying work of your Holy Spirit? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling