1 Corinthians 6:12-13 – “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.” NKJV
I grew up in a rural country church that was affiliated with the United Methodist Church and then after I returned from Vietnam I truly found Christ or He found me in a church in Palestine, Texas that was an Assembly of God Church. The church I grew up in would be considered liberal with regard to personal conduct and the one in Palestine strict. My pastor in Palestine was not a “clothesline” preacher but he held some very strict views and many that I associated with were incredibly intolerant on many fronts and the restrictions were often more than the liberties afforded.
I became quite a Pharisee and do not blame anyone but myself for that. I was judgmental without realizing it and later realized that I looked down my nose at those I considered less Holy than I because of what they did, how they dressed, the music they played, etc. I would have argued that I did not keep a list but in my heart and head it was there. Over a period of time the Holy Spirit convicted me of my attitude and passages such as the one above were some that I could not answer with my Pharisee mentality. They were problematic and the more I studied and prayed the more I heard the Spirit of God speak to my heart that I was a Pharisee and that broke my heart.
The problem often, in transitioning from a very strict position to a more open one is when the pendulum begins to swing it does not stop in the center but swings far to the opposite side. Although that happened to me, at least in a small measure, I have witnessed it on a large scale in much of the Church world. It has been almost like a child raised in a very strict environment going off to college and all restraints are gone. Tragically some go “hog wild” and become avid prayers for “crop failure” as they sow their wild oats.
There is vast difference of opinion on many things or activities and some have extensive prohibitions and some border on licentiousness. I have been challenged over my appreciation for a good cup of coffee as somehow I was drinking the devil’s elixir and those same people would drink Dr. Pepper like it was going out of style as well as incredibly sweet iced tea. Some who would never drink a glass of wine with a meal or on any occasion will smoke tobacco and are totally convinced that the wine drinker is a rank sinner and tell them so proudly. I know some who will only eat meats that are kosher according to the Old Testament prohibitions and decry anyone who has bacon or sausage with their morning eggs.
I do not believe the Bible bans all consumption of alcohol but teaches moderation and speaks clearly about drunkenness. I do not believe the Bible (New Testament) forbids any foods but some are, without question, harmful to our physical health. In fact some of the very people who are super critical of anyone having a glass of wine are 50-100 pounds overweight. Can you see a problem there? As Paul declared, “ALL THINGS are lawful for me, BUT all things are not helpful…” Just because I can does not mean I should.
I was trying to communicate this to a young invincible once. His problem was his judgmental attitude and liked to say, “Well I just tell it like it is and let the chips fall where they may.” I agreed that he most assuredly could say whatever he wanted to anyone at any time but that it might not always be the right thing to do. We went through several scenarios and none of them resonated with him. Finally, I called another young person over who was a body builder and martial arts black belt. I drew his attention to the fact that although he could say anything to the young Mr. Atlas could he see where it might not always be wise to do so. He thought about it for a moment and the light came on and he said, “Well just because I could does not mean I should because doing so might be hazardous to my health.” We all laughed but that is the case on so many things in life. The Bible gives us tremendous liberty but just because we can does not mean that it is the right thing or the wise thing to do. I have a friend who says, “I drink all I want and cuss all I want…” Then as puzzled looks come over the faces he says, “I just don’t want to anymore…” He was not arguing for the liberty to sin without penalty but that God had changed his want to and although we can do some things it does not mean we should. I am not advocating drinking or profanity so please know that.
May the Lord free your heart, mind and soul and allow you to walk in total liberty. Blessings as you go through this wonderful day!