What did Paul mean by the phrase “all things are lawful for me”?

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The apostle Paul who wrote, “All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any” (1 Corinthians 6:12); “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify” (1 Corinthians 10:23).

The phrase “all things” must not be understood in its absolute sense. Sins, such as those listed in 1 Corinthians 6: 9, 10, are certainly not included. Here, Paul is referring to things that are not wrong in themselves.

The Christian is at freedom to do everything that comes within the plan of life that is designed by God as good to humanity. He may do anything that is in harmony with God’s Word. God does not contradict Himself. What He commands in one verse He does not cancel in another.

Within the framework of all that is in harmony with the will of God, the believer has the liberty to do what he desires, but there is one condition that must be kept: a believer is not to do anything that would make another person stumble. Nothing should be done that will offend one who is looking for the truth, even though the act may be perfectly innocent in itself (Rom. 14:13; 1 Cor. 8:9).

Jesus summarized all that is lawful for His followers to do, in His reply to the question asked by the lawyer (Matt. 22:36–40). The Lord stated that love to God and love to man are the major laws that rule the life of the true Christian. The believer is at complete freedom to do anything he wishes that will not in any way conflict with these two guiding principles. And he should not engage in any activity that will deter the progress of God’s work and the proclamation of the good news.

In His service,

BibleAsk Team

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