As Believers, we can get caught up in what we ought to do or ought not to do.
All of this, in order to achieve some sort of higher holiness through self-imposed regulations. Any behaviour based in self-denial and self-mortification are outcomes of false humility, guilt and pride. They will achieve nothing other than a loss of experience within this wonderful earth that God has created.
“Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules: “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.” (Col. 2:20-23)
Instead, we should wholly focus on falling deeper in love with Christ. In turn, enjoying permissible pleasures and allowing the Spirit to convict us and change us when necessary.
This being said, as I think about our culture today, I see and have felt the temptation to take this passage and swing the pendulum completely in the other direction. If we’re not careful, we may read Paul’s challenge to let go of religious regulations that attempt to achieve holiness, and inwardly state “see, I can do what I want, when I want“!
During my college years, I struggled with this self-righteous attitude in order to obtain rebellious pleasure. For a time, I had decided to take part in some of the border-line activities of this world, explaining my actions away within this concept.
My defence was simple: “I’m not under the rules and regulations of the law or this world, and I am free in Christ. Therefore, I will do what I want, when I want.” What an abuse of the freedom I have in Christ?
This continues to happen each and every day within the church. Some of the typical border-line actions are inappropriate media, drunkenness, gambling, drug use and let’s not forget smoking (because C.S. Lewis smoked a pipe, if you didn’t already know).
It’s at this point where Paul’s Corinthian letter rebukes our desire for self-gratification. In 1 Corinthians 10, we read ““I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.“
We are free to do what we want, when we want. Our actions are not going to save us, nor condemn us. However, for the good of others and more importantly flowing out of our love for Christ, we should let each action and behavior be ruled be the Spirit’s leading.
When guilt and pride cause us to impose too many rules or no rules at all, we should seek the kind of balanced freedom that can only come from our deep love for Christ.
When’s the last time you found yourself saying “I can do what I want, when I want“?