If this is isolated from the rest of Scripture one could assume that Paul was willing to do anything to reach the lost, including adopting their lifestyle. This is a doctrine that is popular among the “rock & roll Christian” crowd today.
However, when one examines the context and compares Scripture with Scripture, we find that Paul did not mean this.
In 1 Cor. 9:21, for example, he says, “To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law.”
Thus, he explains that he is always under the law to Christ and he is never free to do things that would be contrary to the Scripture. For example, Paul would not adopt long hair in order to reach the heathen, because Christ’s law says long hair is a shame (1 Cor. 11:14).
And in 1 Cor. 9:27 he says, “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”
Thus, Paul was always strict and he did not allow anything that would result in spiritual carelessness and the possibility of becoming spiritually shipwreck. He always kept his body in subjection.
In Galatians 5:13 he says, “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.”
Thus, Paul’s liberty was not the liberty to serve the flesh in any sense. One of the first fleshly things that God dealt with me about after I was saved in the summer of 1973 was rock & roll. In my estimation, it is one of the most powerful fleshly things in society today. Steven Tyler of Aerosmith testified that rock music “is the strongest drug in the world” Rock Beat, Spring 1987, p. 23), and LSD guru Timothy Leary added his amen to that, admitting, “I’ve been STONED ON THE MUSIC many times.” My own experience with rock & roll prior to conversion agrees with these testimonies, and I am confident that those who believe rock & roll can be used properly in the service of a holy God are deceived.
Paul also taught that believers are to “abstain from all appearance of evil” (1 Thess. 5:22). This is the strictest form of separation, and Paul would not have done anything contrary to this in his own life and ministry.
Paul is definitely not providing a defense for the contemporary Christian rock & roll philosophy and there is no possibility that he would have adopted such a lifestyle. Jeremiah warned, “Learn not the way of the heathen” (Jer. 10:2), and Paul would certainly not have tattooed himself and grown his hair long and adopted pagan music and dress and posture in order to reach the pagans.
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