Introduction – Everything is Permissible

Everything is Permissible

‘Everything is permissible’ – but not everything is beneficial.  ‘Everything is permissible’ – but not everything is constructive.  Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.  I Cor. 10:23

Jesus’ message to the Jews was; “If you hold to my teachings you are really my disciples.  Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  John 8:31.  “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”  John 8:36.  God created mankind to be children in His eternal kingdom (Luke 6:35; II Cor. 6:18).  Christians now enjoy God’s sonship program with full rights; therefore, we are heirs of God’s kingdom and the eternal life in His kingdom (Gal. 4:4-7).  We look for the return of Jesus so we may receive our new bodies and our inheritance (I Cor. 1:7; 15:42, 43; Rev. 21:7).

Freedom from sin is a favorite topic of preachers and it should be, but what then?  What is the next favorite topic?  What are the topics of the lessons with which the overseers (elders) feed (pastor) the flock?

So he who was a slave when he was called by the Lord is the Lord’s freedman; similarly, he who was a freedman when he was called is Christ’s slave.  You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.  I Cor. 7:22, 23

In the foregoing scripture Paul was referring to a Christian who had been a slave in the Roman Empire.  In his letter to the saints in Rome, he wrote, “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.”  Rom. 6:22.  This is the next most needed continuum series of lessons for the church.  This is what the Hebrew writer encouraged when he said, “Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death and of faith in God.”  Heb. 6:1.  The aim of each church member is to continually “put off the old man and put on the new;” to move from “glory to glory;” to reinvent ourselves; to conform to the image of Jesus Christ in character and personality (Eph. 4:22, 23; II Cor. 3:18; 5:17; Col. 1:27).

We need the graces of the cross to become, and remain free from guilt about the sin and death weaknesses we are maturing from within ourselves.  “We cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth.”  II Cor. 13:8.  One truth that sets us free is the description of how we are made to mature up to the quality of life of Jesus (II Cor. 3:3).  By the grace of God in Christ and the truth about our lives, Christians are free to develop as sons and daughters of God (John 1:17; II Cor. 6:18).

While seeking the principles of life for contemporary members of the church that have been embedded in I Corinthians chapters seven through sixteen, we will want to remember our exegetical work in the Parts I and II.

  1. Even though the topics Paul announced at the beginning of each chapter may be studied as individual units, we must not forget their historical and literary context.  This controls our hermeneutics; it determines how we define “what the meaning is” of what has been embedded for us.  For instance, we must not forget that someone was continually trying to discredit Paul as an apostle (I Cor. 4:3, 15-19).  Please review Part I, Lesson Two, item five.  Also review the “We, You, They” chart in Part I, Lesson Three.  Paul did not expose the “They” people in I Corinthians but these false apostles were there from the beginning.
  2. Since our four capabilities are the context of all scripture, we will want to review Part II, Lesson One.  The learning of scriptures comes first to our minds.  Simultaneously our conscience will be checking out what we are learning.  The conscience ask, “Does it synchronize with what we believe is good or evil?  If we have faith in the content of these scriptures we have understood in our minds, the information will then become a passion in our hearts.  Faith develops in our hearts.  Stronger faith fuels our zeal to do God’s will (John 2:17).  We use our bodies to do what has been internalized in our hearts and minds.  A lot has been said about these four capacities of a human being in the Corinthians Letters.  Please review Part II, Lesson One.  Christians pay attention because consciously or subconsciously, we are always seeking a way to satisfy one of our needs.  We learn the truth about ourselves so we can attain satisfaction for the God given needs within us.  God created mankind and He provides the truth about why and how He created us. 
  3. There are urges that have been moving us into our physical reality for their satisfaction.  Did Paul know about them at the time he wrote these letters?  Surely he did.  He warned the church to avoid Satan’s lies about sexual relationships in I Corinthians chapters five and six.  The proper way to attain satisfaction of this very strong need will be the subject of our first lesson in Part IV.
    Why did Paul say; “Food is for the stomach, and the stomach is for food” while discussing our innate sexual needs?  He also understood that the seeking of food is another very strong inherent need for our physical bodies.  And what about those men who were boasting about their own achievements?  They had learned and had been blessed with a higher life, but they wanted to claim it was by their own talents.  See I Cor. 4:6-8.  They had been born with a need to achieve.  They wanted social acceptance based on their achievements because this is the way they would satisfy their need for glory.  In this situation the members of the church were not being honest with themselves.  The point is they, like all people, had a need to achieve.  God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit know about the inherent needs God instilled in us.  If we are not aware of our innate urges, we will not appreciate the information in these letters.  It has been written to help us find satisfaction for our needs.  Satan knows about the needs God put in us but he will tell us lies.  This is how he deceived Eve (II Cor. 11:3).    

Freedom for each member of the body of Christ to grow by the wisdom of God in relation to specific topics is what the lessons in Part IV are dedicated.  We will follow Paul’s structure by studying the topics he introduced with the phrase, “but concerning” and other similar pronouncements. The following are the topics:

Lesson One:             Sexual Passion of Humanity

Lesson Two:             The Function of the Mature Conscience

Lesson Three:         Freedom in Christ

Lesson Four:            Jesus Christ, the Rock of Ages

Lesson Five:             The Lord’s Supper

Lesson Six:                Life “in Christ” in the World

Lesson Seven:         God’s People

Lesson Eight:           The More Excellent Way

Lesson Nine:            The Resurrection of the Dead


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