Charles Hodge, the great theologian who wrote what I consider to be the best commentary on 1 Corinthians, comes to today's passage with unusual humility and says, "This is certainly a puzzling matter upon which theologians are not entirely agreed." In the first paragraph of chapter 11, Paul talks about women covering their heads and says if they fail do so, especially in worship, they dishonor their head. Then he talks in the second paragraph about the length of men's and women's hair. Both passages are puzzling.

Following up on the first two points that Paul makes in 1 Corinthians 10:23-33, he next repeats a point he made in chapter 8, verse 9: Not everything is constructive. Here, he has in mind the other person. Not everything is beneficial for me, and neither is everything constructive for the people around me. It is very clear that that's what he's talking about because he follows by saying, "Nobody should seek his own good but the good of others." In other words, there are many things you can do that God does not condemn and many of those things would not necessarily hurt you. However, some of those things that you are otherwise free to do could hurt another person. At that point you have to ask yourself, "What am I here for?"

In yesterday’s lesson we looked at Roger Nicole’s definition of freedom and two examples of how "freedom" is misinterpreted. His point was that as creatures made in the image of God, we will not find freedom in doing whatever we may like to do, particularly in our sinful state. When we do that, we produce in ourselves something that is similar to the derailment of the locomotive or the death of the fish. Our freedom is to be found in fulfilling the destiny for which God has created us, which is the answer to the first question in the Westminster Shorter Catechism - "the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever."

The word "freedom" strikes a responsive note in the human heart. In many countries freedom is celebrated nationally. Most nations that, through the course of history, have come to the point where they have been able to declare themselves free from whatever oppressive power may have been over them in the past, commemorate that day. The difficulty with freedom, of course, is that when we try to define it, we discover it is not such an easy thing to do.

Finally, there are those sins that come to us from the devil. In the fourth chapter of James, verse 7, James gives instructions as to what we are to do. He says, "Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." In this case fleeing the sin is not enough because if it comes to you from the devil, he is not going to flee from you by himself. He is stronger than you are. But James says, first of all, to submit yourself to God, and then resist the devil, and then the devil will flee from you.