Anything is Permissible?

Way back in the mid-50’s (not 1950’s) when Paul wrote his first letter to Corinth, there was a common phrase among some followers of Jesus that they used to explain away their sinful activities. They adopted a perspective that “everything is permissible” and would use that as justification for their actions. I compare this perspective to that of a young adult who grew up in a strict home, but then goes wild doing anything they want during their early college years because they are no longer subject to the rules of their parents. Some early believers, who had the revelation that they were free from the law, began to believe that they could do anything they wanted because anything was permissible.

In his first letter to the believers in Corinth, Paul challenges this way of thinking, but even to this day, some believers continue to live from the same perspective of the Corinthians and misinterpret 1 Cor. 6:12 and 1 Cor 10:23 to mean that they have the freedom to do anything that they want. When read by itself, out of context, this verse appears to say that followers of Jesus are permitted to do anything, but that is not what the passage actually means. So, let’s dig a little deeper and get to the truth of what Holy Spirit was revealing through Paul’s letter.

Paul starts out chapter six admonishing the Corinthian believers to stop taking each other to court and to instead lean on the wisdom of other believers to solve their disputes. He continues by providing a list of other sinful activities (idolatry, theft, greed, etc.), which were likely other issues the Corinthian believers were involved in, that will keep a person from inheriting the Kingdom of God, and later hits on the specific topic of sexual immorality. Sandwiched in the middle of this conversation is the phrase in question. Some translations render this verse in a way that makes it appear that Paul is simply making a statement. Other translations more accurately render it in a way to show that Paul is quoting this common Corinthian phrase and then following it up with his own challenge that “everything is not beneficial.”

When read in the context of the entire chapter, we can clearly see that Paul is actually challenging the perspective of the believers who have fallen into the trap of thinking that their freedom in Christ gives them the permission to participate in these types of activities. Paul discusses a few other topics in the following chapters and then brings up this same phrase again in chapter 10, challenging this way of thinking a second time. As it turns out, anything is not actually permissible. If it was, Paul would be contradicting himself since he listed nine things a believer shouldn’t do a few verses earlier.

When we allow the Holy Spirit to reveal truth to us while we study the word of God, we will often find revelation for things we did not previously consider. Paul touches on issues that commonly entrapped believers in Corinth, and since the same “do anything you want” mindset still exists in today’s culture, we have to consider what common things believers are being entrapped by, and find ways to eliminate that activity. As followers of Jesus, our first allegiance is to our King. Jesus is truth! Anything that disagrees with his perspective is automatically a lie and needs to be eliminated from our lives. This isn’t legalism, it’s obedience. Legalism says you have to follow a certain set of rules in order to receive salvation. Obedience says you follow the commands of your King because you love Him, just as Jesus stated in John 14:15.

As followers of Jesus, we need to be cognizant of what we participate in, and what we allow into our lives, because certain activities can give the enemy an influence over us that affects our ability to fully live out our purpose on the earth. What we see today is that many believers are getting involved in ungodly activities that come from popular culture and other religious belief systems, and then inaccurately use these same scriptures to justify their actions when someone points out the dangers in what they are doing. We have watched demons flee from people after renouncing these types of activities, and we have seen people continue to live in bondage when they refuse to listen to the truth.

There are commonly two different reactions when I teach on this topic. Some people recognize that they need to change their perspective and others are offended that I would even mention the possibility that a change is needed. Honestly, it’s usually the leaders who are the most offended. I imagine Paul encountered similar responses in Corinth.

Regardless of your reaction, who you are, or the position you hold, my challenge to you today is to ask Holy Spirit if there is anything you need to stop doing and follow his direction.

Follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook
Sign up for monthly updates
Pick up a copy of Gene’s latest book here!


Comments are closed.