“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are beneficial.” 1 Cor 6:12 NRSV
The idea that we can do nothing to earn eternal salvation is central to the Gospel of Christ. The Bible teaches that we are spiritually flawed at the core of our being and no amount of ‘good deeds’ can alter that. It takes a spiritual rebirth to accomplish our salvation – being born-again. This takes place in our lives when we acknowledge our sinfulness and put our trust in Christ.
But for a lot of people religion is all about the do’s and the don’ts. And herein lies the genius of the Gospel – whether we ‘do’ or we ‘don’t’ doesn’t change our standing with God. He loves us in our sins and loves us enough not to leave us in our sins. Cleaning up our lives, in other words, is not for God’s benefit, but for our own. And yet cleaning up our lives holds great benefit for us.
I don’t drink alcohol, for example. Haven’t touched a drop in 36 years. Not because I think it would offend God – it wouldn’t. Nor is it because I am afraid I would quickly fall into drunkenness and addiction – I wouldn’t. But because I have lived my 36 years as a Christian surrounded by those who might well take my behaviour as permission, and indulge themselves to excess. I would rather be a good example, then enjoy a sip now and then. Same for any other recreational drug.
I don’t use profanity. Again, not because God would punish me for it. I’m sure he has heard it all! No, I don’t swear because I think it’s just crude and ignorant. As someone once said, “If you can't be interesting without profanity, let's face it: you're just not that interesting.”
I don’t smoke. I’m sure God wouldn’t care if I did. But really, I shouldn’t even have to explain why I don’t go around inhaling toxic fumes all day! The fact is, smoking is a filthy and disgusting habit that thrives in the soil of a prideful and defiant temperament. I don’t want to pollute my person with either the toxins or the attitude.
I don’t mess around. Sexual promiscuity in any of its many forms is the bricks and mortar in a house of lies, insecurities, heartbreak, rejection, abandonment, hate, and loneliness. I prefer to live my life in a monogamous house of love, security, trust, respect, and happiness. God’s sexual blueprints aren’t there to make him happier, after all.
So like the above verse is trying to say, the do’s and don’ts in life aren't about my salvation or my standing with God. But they have everything to do with the quality of life I choose to live and the kind of difference I wish to make in the world. So here's my advice: ‘Do’ serve God with all your heart. ‘Don’t’ mess around with anything that compromises that.