When Paul acknowledges in his 1st letter to the Corinthians that “All things are lawful” (1Cor 6:12), he uses a word that occurs about 40 times in the New Testament regarding whether a behavior is legally permissible.
Since Paul adds in another letter that we are under grace, not law (Rom 6:14-15), how do we celebrate and live out our freedom without ruining ourselves and one another with all kinds of self-indulging behaviors?
Seems to me that there are two sides to this coin. On one hand, when it comes to our eternal relationship to Christ, the law didn’t give it to us, and the law can’t take it away. God’s favor is found not by complying with his laws, but by believing in his Son (John 3:14-21).
The other side of the coin is that Paul acknowledges that “all things are lawful” while urging us to avoid any kind of behavior that is unloving, unhelpful, and unbecoming to our liberty in Christ.
So where do we get this spiritual freedom that is more helpful than trying to comply with moral law? And what does such liberty look like? Paul gives us the answer. In his letter to the Galatians he describes a freedom from the law that is marked by “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control.” All of these, according to Paul, are “fruit of the Spirit” and, “against such things,” he adds, “there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23).
In short, we affirm that “all things are lawful” and experience something better than moral compliance by cultivating a daily and life-long relationship with the Spirit and life-changing grace of Christ.