“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. – 1Cor. 6:12 NIV
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Freedom is defined as the power or right to act, think or speak as one desires. It is assumed that the one who wishes to exercise freedom would have considered all possible fallouts from exercising such rights, and would have assured him/her self that they are all desirable or are those that can be coped with. Freedom is also desired in all areas of life, although the right to express Freedom may not be available in all situations, as there will always be different prevailing conditions, that will determine the extent of the rights that any individual can have.
This latter point also applies to the freedom obtained in the Lord, despite the fact that such freedom has its foundation in the Sovereign nature of Jehovah. He has control over everything since He is the Beginning, the End and the all in-between of every thing in the world, living or non-living, and this same Grace is what is available to all who are in Him – Rev. 1:8; 22:13-21. This is the freedom that was made available to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, where they had control of everything, but as earlier stated, that every Freedom will always have a limit, the Almighty God also set a limit for their Freedom. This limit is probably God’s way of testing them, with regards to their claims that they will worship Him alone, after all, it will be expected that strict adherence to instructions would characterize their relationship with the one they claim to worship exclusively. In a move that can be deemed to be a denial of their claim to worshipping Him exclusively, they both violated the limit of their Freedom and so lost it – Gen. 2:8-17; 3:24. The limit violation committed then, put them and their descendants into bondage, which is a consequence of the withdrawal of their Freedom but the Almighty God in His mercy, decided to restore that Freedom to man using several ordinances that He gave to Moses. Rather than the ordinances bringing Freedom, they introduced instead, a fresh set of limitations, restrictions and pain which made it almost impossible for man to observe them strictly, and so were not effective in restoring the lost Freedom that man enjoyed in the Garden of Eden. The ordinances did not only limit man in terms of its implementation, but also achieved limited success, in relation to the intention of Jehovah for instituting them, hence the need to institute a new Covenant through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, that will achieve this divine intention, and grant total Freedom to man, not only from the wages of sin, which is physical and spiritual death, but also from the burden of the processes outlined in the Old Covenant, that failed to restore man into total Freedom from all challenges of life, as intended by Jehovah – Heb. 8:5-7. The latter Covenant was going to ensure peace in this world and assurance of eternal life for all those who accept and believe in it – Isa. 9:6-7; Jn. 3:16; .
This is the freedom that the Corinthians were enjoying, and which the Apostle Paul observed, that they were exercising in a manner that could make them lose the advantage inherent in accepting the gospel of salvation and which facilitated the reconciliation of man with Jehovah – 2Cor. 5:18-20. They were exercising that Freedom in a manner that could easily make them fall from the heights that Grace had taken them to – 1Cor. 10:12. Not only were they carelessly eating every food not minding the association of such foods with idols and demons, and the sacrifices made to them (1Cor. 10:14-22), but were also getting involved in sexual immorality, claiming that all things were permissible for them because of their new found Freedom in Christ – 1Cor. 6:12-20; 10:23.
Nothing can be farther from the truth than this belief, as it is been made clear in the scripture that is the foundation of today’s Devotional, that, indeed all things may be permissible for them, but not all of such things are beneficial – 1Cor. 6:12. They may, by virtue of having accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, have received total freedom that could be expressed in all situations and at all times, yet, they will need to apply caution, by exercising such Freedom within the limits set by Jehovah. They will not be able to retain the unity that they established with the Lord, when they dedicated their lives to Him, and affirmed their acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, if they include acts of disobedience to His instructions, such as sexual immorality, in the expression of their new found Freedom. He drew their attention to the fact that the one dedicated to the Lord through Christ, is so, both in body and soul, and should no longer be associated with prostitution and prostitutes. Anyone who is still involved in such immorality, after dedicating his/her soul to God, has actually separated from Jehovah at that point, and is already united with the prostitute, with the two of them eventually becoming one in flesh – 1Cor. 6:13-16. Such will automatically lose the spiritual connection with Jehovah, as He will deem such an act as one of dis-honour to Him. This is because the act of dedicating oneself to Him turned the Body of the individual into a residence of His Holy Spirit, similar to what happens in the dedication of buildings as temples for His worship, a body which he purchased with the Blood of Jesus Christ – 1Cor. 6:17-20.
The Christian may indeed have Freedom, but this Freedom also has limits in the Lord, that must be recognised in order to retain the advantages that comes with accepting the gospel of Salvation. It must always be a Freedom exercised in the Lord. To exercise Freedom in the Lord is to ensure that all the believer does in the course of the exercise of such rights are as directed by, or under the guidance of Jehovah. Going out of His Will can never be a proper manner of expressing the Christian Freedom, but simply an act of disrespect, dis-honour and disregard for His person.
In order to ensure that such rights are not wrongly exercised, the Apostle Paul provided the following questions, which if answered honestly and without being egocentric, will serve as a proper guide for the believer:
- Is the action beneficial? – 1Cor. 6:12; 10:23a. Beneficial in this instance, will not be, only to the individual, as the effect of that exercised Freedom on relationship with God and fellow men must also be considered. It should not be deemed beneficial simply because it favours the one exercising such Freedom – 1Cor.8:1-13
- Is the action constructive? – 1Cor. 10:23b. The one expressing such rights should ensure that the exercise of such rights would enhance the physical and spiritual growth of not only him/her self, but all that may be affected by such actions, both in the short and long term. There is nothing to gain in the expression of a Freedom that will produce regrets in the future.
Using this guidelines to exercise the Freedom that became available to the believer, will no doubt help in ensuring that the available Freedom does not turn it into a curse rather than the blessing that it is supposed to be. You may indeed have accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and thus have access to Freedom in him, but you really need to be aware of the limits of that Freedom so that it does not become the cause of your down fall – 1Cor. 10:12. May God grant us all the wisdom to use our Freedom positively to our advantage in Jesus name. Amen.