I have an oven that is self-cleaning. All I have to do is push a button and four or five hours later it is finished ready for the ash residue to be wiped away with a damp cloth and it is clean! Such a great invention and I love it. I also have smoke alarms that are wired into my home security system, also such a great invention. That is until I go to clean the oven and two hours into the cleaning smoke from the oven sets off the smoke alarms! Ugh! Now if the smoke alarms were not wired into my electrical and home alarm system I could simply take out the battery before pushing the oven button for cleaning. Then I would not have to suffer through every smoke alarm in my home beeping at me while my oven is cleaning. Of course I have opened every window in my home and I have even opened the garage door a crack while keeping the house door that leads to the garage open. I have also got fans going to circulate the smoke and get it blown out-of-the-way of the smoke alarms. However, the alarms still go off occasionally and I cringe at the thought of someone actually hearing them and calling the fire department! How will I ever explain this if that happens! As in all things in life I thought of how this is an analogy of a Christian life.
We followers of Christ have been freed from the burden of keeping the Law of Moses. We don’t have to worry that our salvation will depend upon whether we have obeyed the hundreds and hundreds of laws set down in the Old Covenant. We are free from that burden. The New Covenant that Christ made possible for us by His death, burial, and resurrection operates under grace and mercy extended to us by the Father through Jesus, the Son. I am very thankful for that and I can only imagine that you are thankful as well. But this new freedom can cause us some problems as pointed out by the Apostle Paul in his first letter to the Church at Corinth. Check it out!
All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify, 1 Corinthians 10:23, (New American Standard Bible or NASB).
“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, 1 Corinthians 10:23, (New International Version or NIV).
“Everything is permissible,” but not everything is helpful. “Everything is permissible,” but not everything builds up, 1 Corinthians 10:23, (Holman Christian Standard Bible or HCSB).
I wanted us to get the full impact of what this verse really means therefore I have included three translations to compare and study. To get the full impact, though, let’s take a look at the verse before and after in just one translation.
Now I want you to know, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from a spiritual rock that followed them, and that rock was Christ. But God was not pleased with most of them, for they were struck down in the wilderness, 1 Corinthians 10:1-5, (HCSB).
Paul is reminding the believers in Corinth and believers today that not all those who said they loved God actually obeyed and not all lived as God desires us to live even though they had tremendous experiences with God. Just because you say that you believe in God, that you believe in heaven and hell is not enough. Your life has to reflect your words. Let’s dig a little deeper.
Now these things became examples for us, so that we will not desire evil things as they did. Don’t become idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and got up to play. Let us not commit sexual immorality as some of them did, and in a single day 23,000 people fell dead. Let us not test Christ as some of them did and were destroyed by snakes. Nor should we complain as some of them did, and were killed by the destroyer. Now these things happened to them as examples, and they were written as a warning to us, on whom the ends of the ages have come. So, whoever thinks he stands must be careful not to fall. No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity. God is faithful, and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape so that you are able to bear it. Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry. I am speaking as to wise people. Judge for yourselves what I say. The cup of blessing that we give thanks for, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for all of us share that one bread. Look at the people of Israel. Do not those who eat the sacrifices participate in what is offered on the altar? What am I saying then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, but I do say that what they sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God. I do not want you to participate with demons! You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot share in the Lord’s table and the table of demons. Or are we provoking the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than He? 1 Corinthians 10:6-22, (HCSB).
The warning is pretty persuasive, wouldn’t you say? I mean who could have been more wanted and cared for than those who were freed from Egypt and were to be given a new life in a new land? Yet not all got to participate in God’s plan for His people. Why? Because the people took too much for granted and they were unwise. We are warned by Paul not to test Christ, not to push the boundaries of a Christian walk into unsafe territory. In other words, don’t take our freedom in Christ for granted. And now for the ending to this devotional thought.
“Everything is permissible,” but not everything is helpful. “Everything is permissible,” but not everything builds up. No one should seek his own good, but the good of the other person, 1 Corinthians 10:23-24, (HCSB).
Just like my situation with my oven and smoke alarms, I can burn the grease off my oven but there is a price to pay with the smoke alarms. In life we also have alarms that go off when we begin to stretch our freedom in Christ into areas we should not go. Alcohol is good for the stomach, (1 Timothy 5:23) but too much alcohol can destroy marriages and families. Television and movies can be good entertainment but we need to be careful what we watch. Porn is an example of something readily available on television and in movies but dangerous to marriage and families. A little of something such as sugar may be fine but a lot of something may not be good for us. I hope you are seeing my point!
Whatever we do in our lives affects someone else. Our life is not lived in a vacuum; rather we are like the ripples of a water drop into a pool of water. If we are serious about living a life for Jesus then we need to think of how our actions will affect those around us. That is the point of verses 23 and 24. We are to build up others and we do this by using our freedom in Christ for that purpose and not for selfish gain.
Until next time…Katherine