“I have the right to do anything,” you say – but not everything is beneficial. – 1 Corinthians 6:12
Some of the best things about birthdays as you grow up are all the “rights” you start to accumulate. At 13-years old you earn the right to watch certain movies and play certain video games . At 16-years old you earn the right to get your driver’s license. By 17 or 18-years old you can add even more movies and video games to your entertainment list. At 18-years old you earn the right to vote; to sign a contract; to get a tattoo; to make all sorts of decisions without parental consent. At 21-years old you earn the right to drink alcohol.
Sometimes rights can be good things that are beneficial for conducting life. Other times they can be detrimental, and disrupt your life. In any case – more rights comes with bigger choices. More rights means more responsibility.
The Bible says that just because you can do something does not mean you should. In one of Paul’s letters to the Corinthians he makes this very point. After pointing out that wrong-doers will not inherit the kingdom of Heaven he reminds them that they have been washed, sanctified and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of God. (1 Corinthians 6:11) He then points out to them that just because they may have the right to do anything, not everything is beneficial. (v. 12)
This is a very important fact for Christians to remember. How many times do we make the choice to do something that the world has given its stamp of approval on without carefully considering God’s thoughts on it? Sure – it may be legal and even socially acceptable, but if it goes against the Word of God, we should make a better choice.
We may have the right to make certain entertainment choices, but we should seek God’s Word before we choose. Jesus himself warned – good things in, good things out; evil things in, evil things out. (Luke 6:45) The Bible also says we are to put aside deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. (Romans 13:12).
We may have the right to drink alcohol, but it doesn’t take much before it begins to impact our actions. Many bad choices with far reaching consequences have started with a couple of drinks. Alcohol changes us. We become an even easier target for the devil and his schemes. It makes us mockers and brawlers and it leads us astray. (Proverbs 20:1) It causes us to stumble in judgement. (Isaiah 28:7) And even if we have managed to control our consumption level, we should be careful that we’re not encouraging others that may not have control to do something that causes them to stumble. (Romans 14:21) That is why the Bible warns us to be filled with the Spirit, and not to be drunk. (Ephesians 5:18)
Whatever right we may decide to exercise, we must carefully seek God through prayer and His Word before we make our choice. Are we just blending in with the world or our we standing apart for God?
So prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control. Put all your hope in the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world. So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy. – 1 Peter 1:13-16