“All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient:
all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.” ~ 1 Corinthians 6:12
“All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient:
all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.” ~ 1 Corinthians 10:23
Understanding what was sin was a major issue in the early church. The Mosaic Law had for hundreds of years defined sin for the Jewish people. However, Christians, born-again through the blood of Jesus Christ, were not under the Mosaic Law.
For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.” ~ Romans 6:14-15
And, although Jesus’ teachings were available, He had not given any “laws”. How then would Believers know what sin was? With no law, how can sin be defined?
In reality, this issue had already addressed and resolved in both the Old (e.g., Micah 6:6-8) and the New Testaments (e.g., Matthew 22:35-40). However, our texts (the verses above) are particularly useful in illustrating the change from the old paradigm of the Law to the new paradigm of Grace.
All things are not expedient
As we can see in the verses above, in the epistle to the Corinthians, sin is defined sin as doing whatever is “not expedient”. Instead of a list of do-nots as in the Mosaic law, we are instructed to focus on a single concept: expedience.
Our focus, then, is to be on doing what is most suitable to achieving God’s goals in every circumstance, anything else is sin.
God has a plan and purpose for us in every moment and at every step of our lives. Our job is to make choices that “expedite”, that facilitate, God’s plans/purposes. Any choice that frustrates/hinders God’s plans/purposes is sin.
Consequently, sin cannot be pinned down to any list of do’s and don’ts. The emphasis has been shifted from a list of laws to the love of The Lord. In each situation that faces us, we ask not what’s on a list, but what best demonstrates the love of God.
This means that we must constantly be concerned with God’s Will in any and every circumstance. And it reveals the central importance of our one-on-one relationship with God.
Living under grace, instead of under The Law, is dynamic and personal rather than static and general.
“He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” ~ Micah 6:8
But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord. ~ Jeremiah 9:24
Because the emphasis is on the relationship between Believer and God (The Lawgiver!) instead of on the law, our relationship is then fundamental to making the right decisions. We focus on God and depend on Him to get us to the right result/choice/outcome.
“In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.” ~ Proverbs 3:6
Consider the Pharisees of Jesus’ day: Despite their knowledge of (the letter of) The Law, they were unable to ‘see’ the Lawgiver when He came to them in flesh. They were unable to understand His ministry and His death and Resurrection. They knew The Law, but knew not the Lawgiver. They had knowledge without relationship; but in God’s Kingdom, there is no knowledge without relationship.
Not under the power of any thing
According to our text, 1 Corinthians 6:12, sin tries to enslave us: to bring us under its power. Therefore, we can determine whether an action is wrong or right, whether it hinders God’s will or expedites God’s will, by examining if it will rule over us. Apart from God, whatever/whoever controls our behavior is sinful. The possibilities are many but include addictions, relationships, and even our egos. We should eliminate or subdue everything in our lives that would challenge God’s authority.
All things edify not
Another sign of sin is whether it edifies or destroys. Things of God always build us up, making us stronger spiritually so that we can better do the will of God. Conversely, anything that damages us spiritually also hinders our ability to do God’s will. Believers must always consider carefully what they consume. Psalm 1:1 tells us not to consume the counsel of the ungodly, the lifestyle of sinners or the company of scoffers (those who mock God). It is hard to walk with God if the things we are involved in undermine our relationship with Him. Our spiritual growth is often stunted by the weeds that we allow into our lives.
Both righteousness and sinfulness are results of our posture to God, our attitude to the Almighty. The depth of our desire to serve God determines whether we walk in righteousness or stumble in sinfulness. If we are constantly seeking to do God’s will, to expedite His plans, we will walk righteously. But if we are busy living for ourselves, executing our own plans, we will be mired in sin.
It is easy to impress others with our piety by performing a list of laws: going to church frequently, giving regularly, and so on. However, God demands much more than that. He requires that His children are always going about their Father’s business.