Prof. Josh Overbay – “Everything Is Permissible”
“Everything is permissible - but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible - but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.” – I Corinthians 10:23-24
This is a dangerous passage in the New Testament. On one end, I’ve seen it used to justify all behavior. And on the other, it becomes a means for promoting a system of legalism and oppression. So, how literal is Paul when he says, “everything is permissible?” Are we truly free to do whatever we would like, or is Paul employing hyperbole?
One thing the law was skilled at was creating a clear system of do’s and don’ts. Here was a list of things to do and not do. But as human history demonstrates, when told to not do something, it only fuels our desire for the thing forbidden.
So, what if, instead of giving us a new list of do’s and don’ts, Paul is giving us something else? What if he is reminding us that the old, broken system of the law, the one that creates a desire for the thing it bans, has been put to an end? In other words, you are no longer bound to a broken system. Repeat: You are no longer bound to a set of do’s and don'ts.
There is no middle ground. No mixture of grace and law. No Pharisaical space to justify legalism. Instead, we are absolutely, unequivocally free. But this freedom is not only for ourselves, it is for one another. It must be shared.
“Everything is permissible - but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.”
- Prof. Josh Overbay, Assistant Professor of Communication Arts