August 12, 2015
I Corinthians 6:12; 10:23
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
Gray Areas: those areas of life in which God’s direction is not clearly and precisely given in the Bible. A Gray Area is “…an ill-defined situation or field not readily conforming to a category or to an existing set of rules….ambiguous, unclear, uncertain, doubtful, indefinite, indistinct, indeterminate, debatable, open to question.”
We are looking at I Corinthians 6:12 and 10:23, two verses which give us instruction to apply the principles therein to the Gray Areas of life.
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….All things
are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful; all things are lawful for
me, but all things do not edify.
Paul starts out by saying, “All things are lawful for me….” And if you stop there, you have permission as a Christian to do anything – even that which is sinful! But, as we saw in our last blog, he gives three restrictions to that first statement, the first of which is, “…but all things are not helpful.” And that exact statement is found in both of our Corinthian verses, so we should take extra heed to this twice-repeated restriction! Helpful means “to bear together or conduce to the advantage of all.” (Strong’s). So it means that whatever is not helpful – whatever is not to the advantage of all so together we may bear up under whatever trial we are facing – Do not do or say what you might be considering!
Let’s go on to the second restriction, found in I Corinthians 6:12: “All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.” I have a very addictive/compulsive personality, so this admonition is very applicable and important to me! I do not want anything to gain supremacy in my life except the Lord Jesus Christ!
• “…I will not be brought under the power of any…” can include a lot of things. I have been addicted to drugs, alcohol, nicotine, food, gambling, and pornography (probably a couple of other things too, that I cannot call to mind right now). Let me just pick the last one mentioned for an example – pornography. It is written in Genesis 1:28 that – after creating man and woman – “…God blessed them, and…said to them, ‘Be fruitful, and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over [all creation]….’ ” God invented sex, and made humans sexual beings! And when He finished all creation, it says, “Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good.” So sex, as God intended it, is very good! It is further recorded in Hebrews 13:4: “Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled….” So sex within the confines of the institution of God-defined marriage is both honorable and undefiled. By the way, God defined marriage as between a man and a woman! And in I Timothy 6:17 it is stated: “…the living God…gives us richly all things to enjoy.” So sex is for our enjoyment as well as for procreation!
But when I was 14 years old – and exploding with hormones! – the assistant scoutmaster of our troop introduced me to pornography. I can still remember the rush I felt as I saw that explicit drawing in a book he showed me and two other older boys! For the next many years – yes, even as a pastor – I struggled with the overpowering pull of that damned perversion! God delivered me when I finally got it though my thick skull that I could rest in His victory over sin! The urge to participate in that sin just left and has not returned – praise His name!
The point is this: although sex is allowed and encouraged by the Lord in its proper context, that which God intended for good became an overpowering addiction upon misuse!
Alcohol consumption is another Gray Area. Some say Christians should totally abstain. Others, myself included, point to Ephesians 5:18 which says, “…do not be drunk….” This view allows for moderate intake of alcohol. But a danger lies in this view. My father-in-law told of a man – a co-worker of his father – who retired from Pittsburgh Plate Glass. He had never taken a drink in his life. But shortly after retirement, a friend convinced him to “…just take one drink, just to see what it tastes like.” The retiree died about a year later, a drunkard who’s life and health was totally ruined by alcohol!
Of course, addictive substances are not the only things covered by this restriction – “…I will not be brought under the power of any [thing].” Any activity that a person puts before God and that seems to control his or her life applies here! Take hobbies for example. How many people are controlled by the desire to be out on the golf course? Our church is right across the street from the 17th hole of a popular course. On nice Sunday mornings, there are more people on that course than there are in church! What about antique automobiles – of which I have had great interest for years. I jokingly tell people, “My wife has allowed me to currently own two!” But I know a couple members of our antique auto club who own twenty or more! It seems like their whole life revolves around antique automobiles!
And what about jobs and careers? Some people are so focused on their work that they neglect a lot of important things in life – like faith and family. Someone once said, “I have never met anyone who, at the end of their life, has said, ‘I wish I had spent more time at work!’”
“…I will not be brought under the power of any [thing].” Let this restriction be a major guiding rule of how you live your life!