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Lawful, But Not ...
A Sermon by Rod Ross
Texts: 1 Corinthians 10:23; 6:12


How do you determine whether something is lawful, or not? How do you determine
whether something is expedient, or not? How do you determine whether something
edifies, or not? How do you determine whether you are brought under the power of
something, or not? These are questions which the right character asks, and must have
an answer for. For, the right character will always seek to do those things that are right
in all things. The scriptures are an all-sufficient guide to answer these questions (2
Timothy 3:16,17).


     a.  THE NEED FOR AUTHORITY (Colossians 3:17).

             i.      God (1 Corinthians 11:3).

             ii.     Christ (1 Corinthians 11:3).

             iii.    Holy Spirit (John 14:26; 15:26)

             iv.    Apostles (John 14:26; 15:26; Ephesians 2:20)

             v.     Prophets (Ephesians 2:20)


             i.        Express terms (Direct Statement)

             ii.        Approved precedent (Approved Apostolic Example).


     a.        DEFINED.

             i.        Greek

                     1.        Thayer – (sumpheroo) “to bear or bring together.

                     2.        With a reference to the subject, bear together or at the same time;
to carry with other; to collect or contribute in order to help, hence to help, be
profitable, be expedient; sumpherei, it is expedient, profitable, …” p. 597.

                     3.        Translated:
                             a.        Be better (Matthew 18:6)
                             b.        Be expedient (John 11:50; 16:7; 18:14; 1 Corinthians 6:12; 10:
23; 2 Corinthians 8:10; 12:1).
                             c.        Be profitable (Matthew 5:29,30; Acts 20:20).
                             d.        Be good (Matthew 19:10)
             ii.        English
                     1.        Funk & Wagnalls Standard Desk Dictionary: “1. Serving to promote
a desired end; suitable, advisable, or proper.” P. 3.
     b.        Thomas Campbell – “13. Lastly, that if any circumstantials indispensably
necessary to the observance of divine ordinances be not found upon the pages of
express revelation, such, and such only, as are absolutely necessary for this purpose
should be adopted under the title of human expedients, without pretense to be more
sacred origin, so that any subsequent alteration or difference in the observation of
these things might produce no contention nor division in the Church.” Address and
     c.        Nothing can be an expedient which is not first authorized. An expedient is a
help, not a license. You must be able to give book, chapter and verse for what is done!
III.        EDIFY NOT.
     a.        DEFINITION
             i.        Greek – Thayer -- oidodomeoo) “to build a house, to
erect a building … b. metaph. … B. Since both a Christian church and individual
Christians are likened to a building or temple in which God or the Holy Spirit dwells (1
Co iii.9,16 sqq.; 2 Co vi.16; Eph. Ii.21), the erection of which temple will not be
completely finished till the return of Christ from heaven, those who, by action,
instruction, exhortation, comfort, promote the Christian wisdom of others and help
them to live a correspondent life are regarded as taking part in the erection of that
building, and hence are said “oikodomein,” i.e. (dropping the fig.) to promote growth in
Christian wisdom, affection, grace, virtue, holiness, blessedness:”

             ii.        Translated –

                     1.        Build (24 times)

                     2.        Build up (1 Peter 2:5)

                     3.        Edify (Acts 9:31; 1 Corinthians 8:1; 10:23; 14:4 {twice}, 17; 1
Thessalonians 5:11).

                     4.        Embolden (1 Corinthians 8:10)

             iii.        English – Funk & Wagnall’s Standard Desk Dictionary: “To enlighten
and benefit, esp. morally or spiritually” (p. 202)

     b.        A need for judgment (Hebrews 5:14)

     c.        A need for wisdom (James 1:5)

     d.        Thomas Campbell – “9. That all who are able through grace to make sure a
profession, and to manifest the reality of it in their tempers and conduct, should
consider each other as the precious saints of God, should love each other as brethren,
children of the same family and Father, temples of the same Spirit, members of the
same body, subjects of the same grace, objects of the same divine love, bought with the
same price, and joint-heirs of the same inheritance. Whom God hath joined together no
man should dare put asunder.
     10. That divisions among the Christians is a horrid evil, fraught with many evils. It is
anti-Christian, as it destroys the visible unity of the body of Christ; as if he were divided
among himself. It is anti-scriptural as being strictly prohibited by his sovereign
authority, a direct violation of his express command. It is anti-natural, as it excites
Christians to condemn, to hate and oppose one another, where bound by the highest
and most endearing obligation to love each other as brethren, even as Christ has loved
them. In a word, it is productive of confusion and every evil work.
     11. That (in some instances) a partial neglect of the expressly revealed will of God,
and (in others) an assumed authority for making the approbation of human opinions
and of human inventions a term of communion, by introducing them into the
constitution, faith, or worship of the Church, are, and have been, the immediate,
obvious and universally acknowledged causes of all corruptions and divisions that ever
have taken place in the Church of God.
     12. That all that is necessary to the highest state of perfection and purity of the
Church upon eart is, first, that none be received as members, but such as, having that
due measure of scriptural self-knowledge described above, do profess their faith in
Christ and obedience to him in all things according to the Scriptures, nor, secondly,
that any be retained in her communion longer than they continue to manifest the
reality of their profession by their temper and conduct. Thirdly, that her ministers, duly
and scripturally qualified, inculcate none other things than those very articles of faith
and holiness expressly revealed and enjoined in the Word of God. Lastly, that in all their
administrations they keep close by the observance of all divine ordinances, after the
example of the primitive Church, exhibited in the New Testment, without any additions
whatever of human opinions or inventions of men.” Address and Declaration

     e.        Anything which tears down, rather than builds up, should not be done.


     a.        DEFINITION –

             i.        Greek –

                     1.        Thayer – (exousiadzoo) “to have power or
authority, use power; … to be brought under the power of any one …” pp. 5,6.
                     2.        Translated –

                             a.        Bring under power (1 Corinthians 6:12)

                             b.        Exercise authority upon (Luke 22:25)

                             c.        Have power of (1 Corinthians 7:4 {twice})

             ii.        English – to be subject to some one else’s will.

             iii.        Here, to be subject to the passion of some habit.

     b.        Application –

             i.        Meats offered to idols (1 Corinthians 6:13)

             ii.        Fornication (1 Corinthians 6:13-20)

             iii.        Things harmful to your body or habit forming

                     1.        Diet (diabetes, hypoglycemia, blood pressure, heart difficulties,
cholesterol, etc.)

                     2.        Caffeine

                     3.        Smoking


Before any action is engaged in by a Christian, they should stop to think:
     1.        Is it lawful?
     2.        Is it expedient?
     3.        Does it edify?
     4.        Does, or will it, bring me under its power?

If it is not lawful, then it should not be done.

If it is lawful, if the answer is NO to any of the other questions, then it should not be
done, and should be stopped.