Let’s read 1st Corinthians 6:12-13: “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. Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods, but God will destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body” (NKJV). We have in these two verses PRINCIPLES to live by. We will break them down and see what we can learn.

“All things are lawful for me” refers to (as another has said) “things are morally indifferent.” It does NOT refer to “things that are morally wrong,” such as stealing and murdering. Rather, it refers to things that we are permitted to do that aren’t sinful. When Paul wrote these words there were converted Jews who still had a conscience about not eating certain foods, but Paul knew he was free to eat foods that the Law of Moses had formerly prohibited.

“…but all things are not helpful.” Though Paul knew he had perfect liberty to do things (like eating pork), he also knew that they weren’t necessarily helpful (or, as the KJV says, “profitable”). Using the example above, if Paul were to eat pork in front of a Christian Jew, he may run the risk of causing him to imitate Paul, even though his conscience is telling him not to eat. That would NOT BE HELPFUL; in fact, it could cause his fellow-believer to stumble. Let’s read what Paul’s says later on this in 1st Corinthians 8:9-13, “But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak. For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will not the conscience of him who is weak be emboldened to eat those things offered to idols? And because of your knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ dies? But when you sin against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.” This clearly teaches us that we should consider our brothers and sisters in Christ before we engage in anything in their presence. Before we engage in any act, we should ask ourselves, “Will this act of mine help my brother or stumble him?”

“…but I will not be brought under the power of any.” Not only are we in danger of stumbling our brother, we may also be in danger of ensnaring ourselves! Using a present-day example, we have liberty to drink wine as long as we do so in moderation. But we also run the risk of becoming addicted to it. The same would hold true with many other things, such as participating in sports (whether on the field/court or as a spectator). I have known Christians who became so involved in sporting events that they have chosen to attend them INSTEAD of attending the regular meetings of the local church. In these cases, they have indeed been “brought under the power” of things that, in and of themselves, are not sinful.

In verse 13 Paul actually refers to “foods” and in doing so he is teaching us that we are permitted to eat all food, for “foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods.” In other words, THEY WERE MADE FOR EACH OTHER! But Paul goes on to say that “God will destroy both it and them.” Why did he say that? To remind us that they are TEMPORARY and that we should NOT LIVE TO EAT. We should not be consumed with food as if it is the most important thing in life.

Paul then goes on to say what the body was NOT created for: SEXUAL IMMORALITY. Our body is “for the Lord, and the Lord for the body,” meaning that our bodies should be used for the Lord’s honor and glory, and that the Lord has a vital interest in them. This is confirmed beautifully in Romans 12:1, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you PRESENT YOUR BODIES A LIVING SACRIFICE, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” (335.5) (DO)