Permissible context

I enjoy reading articles from the Boundless Website, not saying I 100% endorse everything shared, but it’s generally one of the decent ways to point my mind in various directions at interesting and relevant topics. In the past I’ve refered to the following verse (and those like it) quite regularly particularly in regards to some of the relationship orientated stuff I’ve explored.

“Everything is permissible for me”—but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible for me”—but I will not be mastered by anything.” – 1 Cor 6:12

I don’t know if you have those ‘usefuls’ that you drag up over and over again? Context is a huge issue when reading the Bible and I hope that I usually deal with it and check and double check what I’m trying to glean. I definitely believe that the Holy Spirit can use God’s Word in whatever way to get through to us. I know that I’ve had several ‘out of context’ moments that I’ve actually needed at the time. I’m not recommending this as a regular practice and I far too often just randomly open my Bible and read what I hit first.

With the 1 Corinithians verse, this article on Boundless pointed out something that I was unaware of in it’s completeness.

“Please note that when Paul writes in First Corinthians, “All things are lawful (permissible) for me,” he is not establishing a divine mandate for a free-for-all of entertainment indulgence. He is, instead, quoting a false proverb then common among the Corinthians so that he might refute it.”

I do like the 1 Cor 6:12 version of the everything permissible as it seems to highlight Paul’s personal conviction, “I will not be mastered by anything”.

I am curious as to how much of, “Everything is permissible but not everything is beneficial” is part of this false proverb and how it originated and I’m not exactly sure where to source it, I’d better find a commentary somewhere…. it appears as if the emphasis of the falsity is on the first half, which is exactly why context is important. Too many people do use verses like this to justify what they can do, they clip the ending and run with the first apparent truth they lay hold of.

It’s a bit shoddy of me to grab too much from the articles I’m using as what drama students might call stimulus, but this quote is definitely worthy of repeating.

“Whatever weakens your reason, whatever impairs the tenderness of your conscience, whatever obscures your sense of God, whatever increases the authority of your body over your mind, whatever takes away from your relish for spiritual things, that to you is sin, no matter how innocent it is in itself.” – Susanna Wesley

In the past I’ve explored a fair bit on self-control (and I’ll dredge up a link to an old post when I’ve got a bit more time). Susanna Wesley wrote this in response to her son John’s question of what sins he should avoid, which is a really peculiar thing to ask.

We are called to ‘flee from xyz’ and, ‘do not conform but be renewed’. We class sin as sin regardless, even though we tend in our human minds to weigh one worse than the other. This religion adheres and appears to delight in the ‘thou shalt not’ commands.

I’d like to think that in debunking the myth of ‘everything is permissible’ that we still grab hold of what it means to simply not, ‘thou shalt not’ but that we recognise why we do and should strive to steer clear of the both the non-beneficial things and the easily definiable sins.

As a Christian, I’d like to be living my life to the best that I can to glorify God. I shouldn’t be facing the wrong, maybe taste testing and then hitting it away because I ‘have to’, I should be looking the other way in the first place. I shouldn’t be living according to a code of rules but in response to the one who is greater than everything.

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