Posted by: SandreS | October 21, 2010

Important Principles in the Details of Life Principle #4 – Edification (or Up-Building)

All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not (I Corinthians 10:23).

Today we will look at Paul’s second principle from this verse: edification.

The word edification means to “build up” and is akin to the word “edifice.” This is also the meaning of the Greek word oikodomeō. Thus many translations use the words “build up” in this passage (i.e., “not all things build up” [1]). It has also been translated by some as “constructive” (i.e., “but not all things are constructive” [2]).

Though all things were lawful to Paul, he did not find that all things were constructive to the purpose he sought to accomplish. In other words, Paul sought to live constructively. His actions of liberty and freedom were bold, but not mindless. They were thoughtful and with purpose, “as to the Lord,” “for the use of edifying (i.e., for the purpose of building up.)

Paul also knew that divine edification was only found in faith: godly edifying which is in faith” (I Timothy 1:4); and that faith was to be found only in God’s Word (c.f. Romans 10:17). Therefore, he actively and boldly taught the truth of the believer’s liberty (“all things are lawful,” “there is nothing unclean of itself”) that had been revealed to him by our risen Lord Jesus Christ; to the end that the believer would not be brought “into bondage.”

Paul knew full well that there were “false brothers” who would be “brought in,” secretly to “spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage.” Paul, however, would not “give place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you” (Galatians 2:4).

The truth of the gospel is centered in the believer’s liberty.

For freedom Christ frees us! Stand firm, then (Galatians 5:1, Concordant).

Paul knew that there would be no edification (“Stand!”) without liberty and freedom. Paul would not deny this glorious truth. Paul also knew that it was only the exercising of liberty in love that would ultimately build up, however: “knowledge puffs up, but love edifies” (I Corinthians 8:1). In fact, he revealed to us that the Body of Christ actually “edifies itself in love (Ephesians 4:16); and the use of such edification “ministers grace” (Ephesians 4:29).

So, edification is the divine process of escorting one to their freedom in Christ, through the indispensable means of faith, love and grace. These are the powerfully constructive principles of edification that are brought to bear in the details of daily life.

Let us always remember that we are God’s chosen vessels of up-building, rather than down-tearing. One of my very favorite songs is sung by Ricky Skaggs and is called “The Mind of Christ.” It was written my Michael Puryear and Geoff Thurman, and has in it this wonderful line: “to build up when others tear down.” I am moved to tears every time I listen to this song. Here are its lyrics.

The Mind of Christ

To receive when others reject,
To treat each one with true respect.
To shield when others throw stones,
To be with one who’s all alone.
To think and choose to see the very best,
To live like this is nothing less than to possess
The mind of Christ, my highest goal,
The Lord’s delight, the desire of my soul.
The Father’s heart will always guide my life,
If I will have in me the mind of Christ.

To build up when others tear down,
To seek the lost until their found.
To give grace where it’s needed most,
Rejecting pride when others boast.
To sacrifice my all without regret,
To live like this is nothing less than to possess
The mind of Christ, my highest goal,
The Lord’s delight, the desire of my soul.
The Father’s heart will always guide my life,
If I will have in me the mind of Christ.

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
© Bible Student’s Notebook


1e.g. An Understandable Version, Common Edition New Testament, World English Bible, Worrell New Testament, Young’s Literal Translation, Emphatic Diaglot, Montgomery New Testament.
2e.g. A Conservative Version, Revised King James New Testament. 

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