1 Cor 6:12-13
'All things are lawful for me,' but not all things are helpful. 'All things are lawful for me,' but I will not be enslaved by anything. 'Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food'--and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.
This is often interpreted in the modern church to mean that truly, ALL THINGS, no matter what is referenced, are lawful for the Christian. Proponents of this teaching usually attempt to back it up by saying that since Jesus died for us, there is no law for the Christian, only grace.
I contend, however, that the "all things" means things that are not sinful. Otherwise, this scripture is a license to sin, and we know this cannot be. The New Testament makes it clear time and again that lawlessness is condemned specifically in the New Covenant (Matt 7:23, 13:41, Rom 6:19, 2 Cor 6:14, etc) and is used to describe those who are disobedient to the Word and will of God. Though we are cleansed from sin through the blood of Christ, we must abide in Him (John 15), and we may not live in habitual, unrepentant sin (Heb 10:28-30).
As with any exposition of scripture, it's important to check out the context. Paul just finished warning the Corinthians about sins that lead to death, after chastising them for suing one another before unbelievers:
1 Cor 6:8-11
But you yourselves wrong and defraud--even your own brothers!
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
And such were some of us! Thank the Lord for His blood!
Allow me to share A.T. Robertson's commentary on and exposition of the Greek in this passage. A.T. Robertson was one of the foremost Greek scholars of the last century.
"Lawful (exestin). Apparently this proverb may have been used by Paul in Corinth (repeated in Matthew 10:23), but not in the sense now used by Paul's opponents. The "all things" do not include such matters as those condemned in chapter 1 Corinthians 5; 1 Corinthians 6:1-11. Paul limits the proverb to things not immoral, things not wrong per se. But even here liberty is not license. But not all things are expedient (all ou panta sumperei). Old word sumperei, bears together for good and so worthwhile. Many things, harmless in themselves in the abstract, do harm to others in the concrete. We live in a world of social relations that circumscribe personal rights and liberties. But I will not be brought under the power of any (all ouk egw exousiasqhsomai upo tinoß). Perhaps a conscious play on the verb exestin for exousiazw is from exousia and that from exestin. Verb from Aristotle on, though not common (Dion. of Hal., LXX and inscriptions). In N.T. only here, 1 Corinthians 7:4; Luke 22:25. Paul is determined not to be a slave to anything harmless in itself. He will maintain his self-control. He gives a wholesome hint to those who talk so much about personal liberty."
Note what he says: the "all things" does not include things that are displeasing to God--more specifically, that transgress His law. Paul is actually warning those who participate in sexual immorality, not telling them they have a license to do so because "all things are permissible". This is a gross error in the teaching of the modern church.
1 Cor 6:13-20
'Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food'--and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, "The two will become one flesh." But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
This is not written to discourage anyone. I hope that seeing the truth of what the Word is saying is edifying and encouraging, as it is for me! How wonderful that we serve a Lord who warns and reproves us--a loving Father who desires the best for us!