There a few passages of scriptures written by Paul that describe our freedom in Christ and the unfathomable love of God. 1 Corinthians 6:11-12 states, “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. ‘All things are lawful for me’, but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful for me’ but I will not be dominated by anything.” A few chapters later in 1 Corinthians 10:23 he continues on to say, “‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things build up.” This is the power of Christ’s sacrifice. We have received the grace of God that covers all sin. It has purified us and removed the penalty of eternal separation from God.
To grab hold of that truth and stop there would be a distortion of a true relationship. We were created not just to receive that magnificent love of God, but to love Him in return. Deuteronomy 6:5 gives us the following commandment, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” It is echoed by Christ as recorded in Matthew 23:7, Mark 12:30, and Luke 10:27. Given and kept out of love, the commandment is not an obligation. It is a natural reciprocal response in a healthy relationship. We wouldn’t deliberately hurt a friend or family member to test their affection or commitment. Similarly, our aim shouldn’t be to test the safety net of God’s love for us. He wants good for us. He doesn’t want us to be ruled by the multiplicity of false ideals that steal our joy. It is because of His care for us that we should love Him and obediently follow His ways.
I am going to be honest. I am not always nailing this reciprocal love we are meant to have with Christ. I wouldn’t even give myself a passing grade sometimes. In my rebellion, I often want to do things my own way simply to prove I can. The words of Paul in Romans 7:22-24 reveal my conflict all too well. “For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am!” I feel that last exclamation deeply. I don’t choose His ways over my wants even knowing His way is better. Understanding God desires my permanent joy over the temporary feelings of accomplishment I want, should be enough to persuade me. It isn’t always the case. I still give credence to my own faulty plans. God has ever been moved by my rebellious ways. He doesn’t flinch as I obsess over self-created fixations and pursuits. At times I have allowed fear to embed itself into my heart by justifying my weaknesses and overestimating my own strength. But God’s love is never revoked. His promises are never redistributed a more deserving candidate. He remains faithful even when I fail to pursue Him. Continually, He places small stepping stones along my path. As I take those small steps He does what only He can do. His love burns like fire illuminating my sin. It hurts. It is uncomfortable. It is healing.
In Ezekiel 36: 25, God says, “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you.” That is the perfect love of God. In our disobedience, He is still willing to cleanse us. We don’t have to suffer a while to learn a lesson, though some of us choose to. Through Christ’s sacrifice, all things have been declared lawful. We don’t lose our salvation because of imperfection. All things are lawful. We aren’t abandoned because of struggles with sin and pride. All things are lawful. We don’t lose our access to God because we have idols in our life. All things are lawful, but because of the love God has for us, He offers something better than unrighteousness, sin, and the distress they cause.
If you are feeling stuck or overwhelmed, just keep coming to God. Even when it feels like He has turned away, know that He hasn’t. Hebrews 13:5 references an Old Testament promise from Deuteronomy 31:6 when it says, “He has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Allow yourself to be secure in that truth. If you feel like you chose your problems, know that God doesn’t point fingers and isn’t looking to place blame. “The righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ [is] for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Romans 3:22-23 states. If you think you are less worthy of receiving help to overcoming hindrances in your life, remember that Christ came and ministered to healing to those who acknowledged their brokenness and reached out for help. The biblical accounts of Christ’s life are testaments that He was called to the hurting, struggling, imperfect, and needy. By beckoning us to receive God’s grace by drawing near to Him in humility, James 4:6 reminds us that that calling hasn’t changed.
“But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6
Who you are and what you do will never change His love. Let that depth of love permeate through your heart and be a catalyst for a deeper and greater love of who God is. All things are indeed lawful, but let’s seek out those things that draw us near to an unfailing love that purifies, strengthens, and fulfills our deepest desire for purpose. Let’s put our security in God.