“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. 2 Corinthians 6:12
Freedom of rights is something that everyone wants. They want the freedom to do whatever they want, when they want, and how they want. Very few people like to be told that they cannot do something. It goes against their freedom.
In many countries this freedom has been allowed to some point. As time has gone along, more freedoms are given. With some of these freedoms, there has been allowance for the freedom to sin and promote sinful habits.
God has given people the perfect level of freedom. Every person has the freedom to choose to follow Jesus or reject Jesus. They have the freedom to choose to sin, and they have the freedom to turn from sin. Since Adam and Eve people have started out with the choice to sin. They are given the chance to choose to follow Jesus and turn away from sin.
In Jesus there is a freedom that is allowed. No longer are people bound by the Mosaic Law, but are bound to Jesus. They are no longer bound to a set of rules of what they can and cannot do.
However, that does not give freedom to sin. Paul says that not everything is beneficial. The most important things in life are not the temporary things of this world, but the eternal things of God’s kingdom.
Jesus came to this earth with the focus of building God’s kingdom. Each and every believer is supposed to become just like Jesus. This means that the believers focus is building God’s kingdom.
For anything to have any real benefit, it must be of a benefit to God’s kingdom. Is it bringing or pointing people to Jesus? Or is it keeping them from Him?
Jesus was so heavenly minded that He was of great earthly good. He brought the best benefits to this world by focusing on heaven.
As a believer focus your eyes on God and His kingdom. As you do so, take a look at the things you do. Yes, you have a right to do them, but are they benefiting the kingdom of God?
Do not allow the things of this world to be your master. Let God be your master. Follow Him with everything that is in you.
I pray today that you will know God as your Master; that you will only do what is of eternal benefit; that your life will be like that of Jesus; and you will exercise your rights to benefit God’s kingdom.
Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak. 1 Corinthians 8:9
During the biblical times, there were many rules on foods that a person could or could not eat as a believer in God. Food was often used as a sacrifice to idols, thus people were not to eat any food that had been sacrificed.
Paul just pointed out that food sacrificed to a false idol was no different from any other food. As a believer in Jesus the people could eat any food as long as they gave thanks to God for it.
Now he states that people should be careful in this knowledge and their freedom to not cause anyone else to stumble.
Newer believers often struggle with knowing what their freedom is in Christ. They are still working on removing themselves from the ways of the world. Doing the things that they have freedom to do, can cause them to fall back into sinful ways, or they may still see them as sinful.
Freedom to do what a person wants to do, regardless of what others think, is a common thought in this world. Believers are not to live like that. They are to be concerned first with God’s thoughts, then for the other person.
In Jesus there is a lot of freedom in doing things. However, they must be done with the proper motivation. They should not be done with the mindset of that it is the person’s right to do it. Rights need to be put aside to build others up.
It is all about love of the other person. That is what God did in sending Jesus and what Jesus did in going to the cross, it was about love. Love builds up, rather than demands personal rights.
In your own personal life there may be things that God has helped break the bondage to. This allows you to work with those things, without sinning or being pulled away from God. One example is drinking alcohol. You may see it as allowable, while another still sees it as sinful or dangerous.
However, there may be others that still struggle with it. Put those things aside to keep them from struggling and stumbling before God.
Be willing to put your own rights aside, so that you may build someone else up. Do not allow yourself, on purpose, or on accident to cause anyone to stumble in any way.
I pray today that you will know the freedom that you have in Jesus; that you will know the love God has for people; that God will guide you in the proper use of your freedom; and that you will not be a stumbling block to anyone.
Watching television and movies is a favorite pastime of many people. People love to watch something. It allows them to escape into a different world for a short time. It allows them to step out of reality into a fantasy world.
The things that people watch cover an extremely broad band of categories. Many of those categories overlap each other, creating new categories. Fantasy, drama, horror, and comedy are the base line of movies. Then they broaden out to fantasy/drama, or comedy/horror, or some other combination.
It is very interesting to watch what most movies are about. If you really look at them closely, most of them tell the same story that has been told a dozen times before. The only real difference is in how it is told. One time it is live action, next time it is with fantasy, next time it is with anime, the next is with puppets, the next is with music, and the variations of the same story keep going.
Other times it is the same type of story, such as boy meets girl, falls in love and after a time of rejection from her they get married. This story has been told hundreds of different times in different ways. Or the hero saves a person, city, nation, or the world. Or the flip side the bad guy does not get caught or die in the end, and they come back with a sequel.
Billions of dollars are spent every year watching movies, whether in the theater, pay-per-view, paid channels, television, or online rentals. People love to watch movies.
Now you may be asking why did I say all of this. Where am I going with all of this?
During this past week the movie, “It,” came out as a remake of this classic movie. Many of the students I teach in 6-8th grade had went to see it. Several had seen it several times. Along with those in my public, non-Christian school, I know of several in the church that also went to see it or want to see the movie.
During one of my classes, one of my students asked me if I was going to see the movie. I had told the student that there is no way I would go and see it. The question was then raised as to why. The answer to that is what led me to write this post.
People who study movies and plays will always try to point out the good in a movie. They want to point out how the bad guy loses in the end. How good always triumphs over evil. They point out the good moral points of the story. It is true that in every movie there is usually some good moral point in it, no matter how bad it appears as a whole.
Christians will be very quick to point out that the bible does not say that a person should not watch movies. Many will be also quick to point out all the immoral stuff that is written in the bible. With both these arguments they want to say that it is acceptable to watch anything that they want to watch.
The first thing I would like to say is look at what Paul had said:
1 Corinthians 10:23 New International Version (NIV)
23 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive.
Paul says that you may do whatever you want, but not everything is beneficial. There are things that do not benefit you at all. It does not help you in any way.
Romans 8:28 New International Version (NIV)
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose.
God does not work that way. Everything that God does has a purpose. Everything that God allows has a purpose.
Many people think that God is just a great big ogre out to make life miserable for them. That He will not allow them to have any fun in life and is always out to get them or punish them.
God has given you the right to do whatever you want to do. However, what many people do not like to hear is that there are consequences to the choices made. If you want to make a choice to sin, God will allow that, but the consequence is death. God allowed Adam and Eve to make that choice, and He still allows people to make that choice.
Ezekiel 36:26 New International Version (NIV)
26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
God wants to give you a new, living heart of flesh. He wants you to live life to the fullest.
John 10:10 New International Version (NIV)
10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
With God giving you a new heart and a new life, you should live the way He planned for you to live.
Going back to watching movies.
Philippians 4:8 New International Version (NIV)
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Paul says that you are to think about certain things. These things are what are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy.
When watching a movie, the movie may be excellent in the way it was made. It may have excellent acting and excellent filming, but that does not finish out what Paul said to think about. Does it fit the pure? Is it admirable? Is it praiseworthy? Is it lovely?
Watching someone or something just go around and kill does not fit the description of what Paul said to think about. Watching a couple or a person be unfaithful in their marriage is not pure. Watching the thief or crook be honored as good, is not praiseworthy.
And of each of these few examples, how do any of them really benefit you? Do any of them bring you closer to God? Or make you more like God? If not, why watch them?
What you take into you will eventually come out. If you fill your life with garbage, that garbage will come out in the end.
Everything that you say, do, watch, or listen to should be done for the benefit of God and to bring you closer to God, or to bring others closer to God. Yes, you are allowed to do whatever you want, but there is a price to do it. If you choose things that bring about death, then it will be death that you will receive.
Take a moment and think about the movies or shows that you watch. What benefit is there in watching those movies or shows?
If Jesus were standing right next to you, would He choose to watch them with you? Would you be comfortable with watching them with Him next to you?
Ask God what He wants you to see or watch before you watch something. See what He has to say about it.
“Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak.” 1 Corinthians 8:9
One of the challenges that was being faced in the church of Corinth was whether to eat meat sacrificed to idols or not. The pagan belief was that eating meat that was sacrificed would give you blessings from that god. Paul pointed out that eating the meat was just that and nothing more. Meat is just meat regardless of where it came from.
Some believers had come to understand that and was willing to eat the meat, while others still would not. Those who would eat the meat, ate it for the sake of food, not that it was sacrificed meat. Others could not get past the idea that it had been sacrificed and refused to eat it.
Even though they had the right to eat the meat, Paul says do not do it when around those who would not eat it. They had to give up their rights to strengthen the others.
Today people do not have to deal with sacrificed meat, at least in America, but there are other things that can cause stumbling blocks. There are believers who refuse to dance because dancing is usually associated with night clubs and bad parties. Other believers accept it as just a way to glorify God and enjoy time together.
Some believers refuse to allow women to wear pants, while others accept it. Some accept drinking a little wine, while others none. The list goes on and on. There are many things the Bible is silent on, which allows difference of opinion.
Paul says to be careful about your freedom here. If you are around someone who does not believe in doing something, even though it is not spoken against in the Bible, do not do it at that time. Do not try to force the person to accept your ways and beliefs.
The important things in life is believing in and obeying Jesus. After that, many things are subject to personal interpretation. What may be wrong for one person, may not be wrong for another. Although there are certain things that the Bible directly states are sin and they are wrong for everyone. Anything outside of those sins is matter between you and God.
Be willing to sacrifice your freedom to build someone else up.
I pray today that you will know what God calls sin; that you will know what God allows in freedom; that you will be sensitive to others thoughts; and that you will work to build other believers up.
“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.” 1 Corinthians 6:12
Paul now brings out a statement that the people were saying: “I have the right to do anything.” They were probably looking a little at the freedom they were supposed to have in Christ Jesus. Jesus brought about freedom from bondage to sin, and so they were saying they now had freedom to do what they want, especially since they have been and will be forgiven.
This type of thinking is still extremely common today, especially in America that was birthed for freedom. People love to be free to do what they want. No one likes to be told that they cannot do something.
Yet not everything that a person can do is beneficial. Children are free to touch a hot stove, yet that would not be beneficial since they will get burned. Adult drivers are free to drive recklessly, yet it is not beneficial since they could cause an accident. This is why there are rules to prevent these things from happening.
There is also the point about not being mastered by anything. Many people do illegal drugs and become mastered by them. Being controlled by something that you do is not a good thing. As a believer you are to have only one master and that is God.
Look at everything you do. What are the benefits? Does it build others up? Does it build God’s kingdom up? Does it glorify God?
Or do the things you do just benefit yourself? Are you master over what you do? Or are the things mastering you? Who or what is really in control?
Yes, you are free, but that freedom is to do good things for God and others. When you do something good for someone, you are also doing good for God. Allow God to be your master and do what He wants. It will be more beneficial for you and everyone else in the end.
I pray today that God will guide you in what to do; that you will do things that benefit you and others more; that you will not be mastered by the things of this world; and that you will know what things are useless and avoid them.
“Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and mutual edification.” Romans 14:19
During the time of Paul there was a lot of food being sold as food that had been sacrificed to some god. The devoted Israelites would refuse to eat the food that had been sacrificed since it was not meat offered to God. In the verses prior to this one, he talks about how all meat or anything else can be clean but to not do anything to cause someone to fall. Now he states that one should strive to do what builds others up.
Over time there have been people in the church who stand very strongly against certain things or acts that are in reality neutral with the Bible. One example was in playing cards. For many years, most churches were against cards because of the common place of gambling that was associated with playing them.
Paul is stating here that if someone is against playing cards, then do not do it around that person, even if you do not feel it is a wrong act to do. You are to strive to build the person up, not condemn them or try to change them.
This is not a free license to sin. When there is direct sin in a person’s life, it is another believer’s responsibility to warn them about it.
The best choice to do with every person is to point them to Jesus and show them His love, grace and mercy. It is possible God is still working in their lives to change them, but it will take time and it is one thing at a time. Do not fight against the person, but build them up in Jesus.
Too often, people push their freedom and do it anyways, causing hurt, pain, and confusion. Be the example of love around them. If they do not do something, don’t do it around them, even though you may have the freedom to do so.
It is important that you are living your own life in the way God has revealed to you. Be the light in this world. Be willing to sacrifice your rights to build someone else up.
I pray today that God will guide you in how to live your life; that you will not enforce your freedom on to someone else; that you will build others up; and that you will strive to live at peace with others while living for God.