“”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
If you’ve been in church for any number of years, you’ve heard these words or some other words of Paul quoted. Before the verse, in the context of a conversation about right doctrine for the believer, the Christian will often say, “well, you know what Paul says….”
What does Paul say, dear Christian?
Here, Paul very clearly declares that he will not be dominated by anything. Sure, he has the freedom to do whatever he wants. But if the situation in front of him could lead to addiction, or could compromise his self control, he doesn’t do it. He refuses to be dominated.
Here’s the scary thing:
We quote this scripture. We can explain this scripture. We even agree and believe in the truth of this scripture.
But we don’t actually live it.
I believe the epistles (Paul’s writings) are often regarded as an authority of sound biblical doctrine – and this is not untrue. However, we must not lose sight of the continual inclusivity of Paul’s writings. His writings do not merely lay out doctrines of the Christian Faith – they are invitations into the experience of the Christian life.
There is nothing that Paul had that we don’t have. If you believe that Jesus is the savior of the world, the same spirit that raised Him from the dead and lived within Paul lives within you and me.
Do we believe this? Do we read the convicting and challenging book of 1 Corinthians and actually believe that Paul’s expectations of that ancient church apply to us today? Do we believe we can live like that?
I don’t. But I’m learning how to.
I’m learning the meaning of the verse, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I may not sin against you.” (Psalm 119:11)
The Lord has gifted me with a spirit that soaks up the word of God like a supernatural sponge. I will read scripture and receive revelation soon after. My songwriting colleagues reference me as a concordance; as I can very quickly find a scripture to match the melody. It’s a gift. I’ve never really thought about it much – or asked Him why He gave it to me in the first place.
He is gently showing me that the purpose of this gift is not to become puffed up in pride...it is to grow in humility and holiness.
As I read this convicting passage in 1 Corinthians Chapter 6 over and over again, I pray that my spirit man would swallow its truth – not to grant me an admiration of Paul’s discipline, not to boast of my intimate knowledge of the text…
but that I might not sin against Him.