1 Corinthians 6:12, 19-20 - "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. ... Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
Paul is dealing with a common problem, where people mistake license for liberty. License is the idea that you can do whatever you want—gratify every urge—"go wild," as some people put it. But liberty is true freedom—which always involves a certain amount of control, whether that's self-control or control by someone else. And that is what God is offering us.
You can see this truth in every area of our lives. If you're teaching a kid to cook, you give him rules and instructions. You don't just set him loose with a knife and a stovetop. Without those rules, he will never be free to make tacos, prime rib, or Thanksgiving dinner—he will only be free to make a mess (and maybe a visit to the hospital!).
In the same way, you see this difference between license and liberty: for example, if you're learning to drive, you memorize the rules of the road and then you pass a test. Only then can you be free to drive—to the beach, to a friend's house, or even to the grocery store. The control is what makes the real freedom—liberty—possible.
When it comes to our personal lives, trying to live completely free from all control is a guaranteed disaster. We see it all around us—lives ruined by addictions, broken relationships, brushes with the law, lost opportunities. Paul calls that being a slave to sin and a rebel against God. Yes, there's a kind of "freedom" there, but it's a freedom no one in their right minds would want. It's a freedom to be unhappy and heartsick—to try pleasure after pleasure, never being satisfied—to spend our lives seeking we-know-not-what, until we die and all is lost. Who wants that freedom?
Against that, Jesus offers us true freedom. Through His suffering, death, and resurrection, He has broken the bonds that kept us as slaves to evil. He has ransomed us with His own life, and He offers us the opportunity to return to God, no longer as slaves but free, beloved children. It is the freedom to become everything God dreamed of when He made you—to be who you were meant to be, to live with the strength and the joy and the deep, deep peace of the children of God. It is the freedom to do good, not because someone's forcing you to do it, but because you yourself want to do it—because it makes God happy, and you love Him, and so it makes you happy, too. It is the freedom to be truly human, and truly alive. Jesus' offer is open—all we have to do is receive it.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, I want to live as Your free child. Please give me Your Holy Spirit's help. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.
1. When have you been tempted to grab for what you want in some little way, only to discover that your so-called freedom was just another trap?
2. Do you have any experiences with addiction—either your own or someone else's?
3. How can belonging to God be the same thing as real freedom?
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