“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything.
Remember what happened when the teacher left the room? Most often, even back in the day, pandemonium ensued.
Then there was the time you moved away from home. Ah, yes. Freedom from your parents’ rule. Finally, you had new rights and could do whatever you wanted. Why, you didn’t even have to pick up after yourself. Pizza for breakfast, stay up all night, and you could even prop your feet on the furniture (with your shoes on).
Then your mom called, said she was coming over for a visit. Frantically, you shoved your dirty laundry under the bed and stuffed your clutter in a closet.
Imagine how liberating the gospel was for the Jews in Paul’s day. They had been under the law with all its strict rules. They even had rules on the rules in a book called the Talmud.
As Jews surrendered to Christ, others joined them from other religions and beliefs. Among the converts were pagans, with their strange rituals and immoral behavior.
New ideas. Blended cultures. Diversity. Inclusiveness. Any of that sound familiar?
Paul called them down. Even with freedom, rights, and privileges there are boundaries. Everything is not permissible. There is appropriate conduct expected of the forever family. We willingly adhere to a moral code out of respect, honor and love for the Lord who saved us. We are not under the law, but have surrendered to His Lordship. Jesus modeled the behavior we should emulate and taught the way we are to conduct ourselves.
What does Paul mean by “not everything is beneficial?” For something to be beneficial to the Christian it must be favorable, good, or advantageous in the eyes of God. He is the standard.
Did you ever work with or know someone that you desperately wanted to please? You held them in high esteem, never wanted to disappoint, and always gave your best performance. And did you ever ask yourself why it was so important to do your best for that person? They had either earned your respect by something they had done for you, or they had lived their lives as a model of what you want to be.
How about someone who gave his life for you? That’s Paul’s point. We have been freed from the law and now live our lives out of sincere gratitude for Jesus’ sacrificial act of love for us. His extreme generosity delivered us from sin’s penalty which is death. We obey God, not because we have to, but because we want to. That is beneficial for us, our friends and family, and for our Christian witness.
Paul then says, “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything. When we submit to sin, we are under its mastery. We have that right. But rather than submit to the sin which is offensive to God, Paul willingly and gratefully chose submission to the Master.
Don’t abuse and misuse the Christian rights and freedom the Lord has given you. Choose Him, and not sin, to be your Master.
Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 2 (April – June) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.