“ ‘All things are lawful for me,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful for me,’ but I will not be enslaved by anything.” – 1 Corinthians 6:12 (ESV).
“ ‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.” – 1 Corinthians 10:23-24 (ESV).
Grace frees us from the Law, but that doesn’t mean we are free to sin. Grace frees us by changing our view from feeling compelled to follow the letter of the Law to wanting to love others and naturally following the Law thusly. We are no longer motivated to simply avoid punishment. Love now guides us to grace, because our minds and hearts are set on Jesus Christ and following the entirely selfless model He presented us. The Law (as laid out in the Old Testament) is a set of precepts designed to guide and teach us right from wrong. Grace (as presented throughout the New Testament) is more a natural law – God’s non-legalistic way of doing things.
Not only that, but when we follow God’s precepts in love, we walk in wisdom. Living a wisely-guided life benefits not only us, but others in our lives. Wisdom and love equip us in our walk with Christ, enabling us to set a Godly example for others.
Look at it like this. By law, pedestrians have the right-of-way. However, one would not want to intentionally step out in front of a moving vehicle. Why? Even though it was permissible, walking into the path of a speeding car is definitely not “helpful” – to the pedestrian or the motorist. The “natural law” of physics trumps the traffic regulations.
By acting in wisdom and love, we put the betterment of others before ourselves. It is important that we set the right example – for others and ourselves. We never want to lead someone astray by our actions. For example: you’re going out to eat with a friend. You order a beer with your dinner. Did you just sin by drinking one beer? Not necessarily. However, what effect is that one beverage having on your witness? What if your friend interprets your actions as a green-light to overindulge? It is far better to do without the indulgence that to risk leading someone to harm or offense. Your witness as a Christian and your love walk are far more important.
“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.” – 1 Corinthians 10:31-33 (ESV).