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Passage: 1 Corinthians 6:12 (and 1 Corinthians 10:23

NKJV – All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.

Living Oracles (Alexander Campbell) – All meats are lawful for me to eat, but all are not proper: all meats are lawful for me to eat; but I will not be enslaved by any meat.

Bible in Basic English I am free to do all things; but not all things are wise. I am free to do all things; but I will not let myself come under the power of any.

Message Bible – Just because something is technically legal doesn't mean that it's spiritually appropriate. If I went around doing whatever I thought I could get by with, I'd be a slave to my whims.

Issues to discuss:

  1. Are ALL things lawful?

  2. Does “all things” include the list of sins in verses 9-10?

  3. What are some things that are lawful but not expedient?


  1. This verse is the beginning of a new topic – new paragraph. It is NOT tied to the preceding section. It is directly linked to the verses that follow. Verses 12-20 are a separate paragraph.

  2. Just because we can – it is allowed in the law (of God or the state) – does not mean it should be done.

    1. Some things are allowed – not required

    2. They are optional – and other circumstances must be considered



The Basic Rules:

  1. No propositional revelation can be exhaustive

    1. This means a rule of God does not include EVERY aspect involved. Some parts are just common sense.

    2. For exampleDrive to the store – includes – get your car keys, put the key in the ignition, start the car, put it in reverse, back out of the driveway, put it in drive, drive to the store, signal your right turn – etc., etc.

    3. The rule can not include all the possible contingencies – if the light is red – stop.

  2. Expediency increases practicality and endurance of revelation

    1. A rule from the first century would be “out of date” today – if all details were included with the command.

    2. Tools, means, methods, transportation, etc. change and we must be free to apply the rule to what tools are available to us.

    3. In Priceville – use church baptistery; In Kirov, Russia – YMCA or bathtub

Some Common Examples:

  1. Song books

  2. Baptistery

  3. Church building

  4. Communion tray

  5. Method of travel to mission field

Define - “Expediency”

  1. That which assists, helps, benefits, or is advantageous in carrying out God's will.

  2. Provided that it is not prohibited.

Criteria in Choosing Expedients

  1. Benefit Authorized Actions (Colossians 3:17)

  2. Must Not Add to Authorized Actions

  3. The Type of Expedient is Optional

  4. Must Truly Be Beneficial (1 Cor. 6:12; 10:23)

  5. Must Not Be Enslaving (1 Cor. 6:12)

  6. Must Be Edifying (1 Cor. 10:23)

  7. Must Be Done in Love (1 Cor. 16:14)

What is An Expedient?

An expedient is that which aids, helps or profits one in keeping God’s instructions. When God requires or authorizes an action, He permits men to use their good judgment to find the most beneficial means of accomplishing that action. Expediency is not a license to perform unauthorized actions; it can only expedite what has already been authorized or required.

Expedients are appropriate in the fulfillment of unspecified or generic commandments. Some examples of expedients include:

  1. Genesis 6:14-16. What tools did Noah use to build the ark or to apply the pitch? Noah did all that God commanded him (7:5).

  2. Exodus 32:1-6. Bezalel and Oholiab were given gifts by God to construct the tabernacle in the pattern that God showed Moses. We are not told what tools they used to work with wood, metal and various other materials, but we know they did exactly what God commanded them to do (Ex. 39:32,43).

  3. Acts 16:9-12. Paul obeyed the Macedonian call by taking a ship across the Aegean Sea. Though a ship is not specifically mentioned, Paul used good judgment and concluded that he should go to Macedonia.

Expedients are not additions. Expedients carry out that which has been commanded or authorized. Expedients carry out that which is lawful. Additions go beyond the law to actions different from that specified in the instruction. Expediency can offer the freedom to use good judgment in doing that, which is specified, but expediency can never authorize new and different instructions.

Expedients are lawful when the command is unspecified or generic. To obey God one must do what God has said, in the way or manner in which He says do it, and for the reason, or reasons, that He gives for doing it. If God has specified what to do and how to do it, it must be done exactly the way He has specified. If God has specified what to do but not how, or when, or where to do it, the “how” or “when” or “where” is left to one’s better judgment. It is wrong to loose where God has bound, i.e., when He has been specific. It is equally wrong to bind where God has not bound, i.e., when He has not been specific.


The Difference between Expedients and Additions

NOTE: Expedients Help Fulfill the Instruction, but Additions Change the Instruction.


Bible Example

Expedient Addition

Lawful and Authorized


Unlawful and Unauthorized

Noah's Ark

Genesis 6:13-22

Tools to cut, join, and spread pitch

Larger size, additional windows


Exodus 25:9, 40; 26:30

Exodus 39:32, 42-43

Tools to work silver,gold and wood in making the tabernacle and its furniture

Making ark of covenant out of pine wood

Lord's Supper

Bread and fruit of the vine

Trays and cups to hold bread and fruit of vine

Roast lamb; Hot dogs and Dr. Pepper

Baptize, Be baptized

Baptistery, pool, river, lake or


Sprinkling or pouring


Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16

Songbook, pitch pipe, to aid singing in unison

Piano, Organ; Different kind of music (not speaking with lips); Different means of praise

Not under power to any

  1. When we begin to tie some expedient to the command – we become its slave. We can't change because we see the expediency as part of the original command.

  2. Our expediency can become our custom.

  3. Our customs become our traditions.

  4. Our traditions become our binding LAW.

  5. Our binding law becomes our master, and we become its slave.


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