The translation to English is a little lacking but the message is clear enough. All Paul is saying is that indeed we can and he could do whatever he wanted - food, sex, whatever. However there were two interesting criteria he used to filter his choices. The first was positive benefit. Why do something that has no positive impact on your life? If the food we eat isn't contributing to the health, maintenance, and growth of our body why eat it? When Jesus returns we are getting new bodies and we'll be eating much better food. The sin tarnished food and bodies we have here will be destroyed along with everything else sin has marred. All that we will keep is our character. Does the food we eat impact character development? Ironically just yesterday someone I know was prescribed medicine for an issue they are having in their body and the doctor told them one of the side effects is irritability. You better believe our food choices affect us not only physically but mentally too.
Paul had a simple rule for himself. Nothing passes through my lips that won't contribute to my positive development as a human being.
The second rule or criteria was an addiction/freedom issue. He allowed nothing in his life that could become his master. Imagine if everyone followed this rule? I remember when I was in grade 6 a friend of mine started smoking. He had not been smoking that long when he tried to quit and couldn't. I remember thinking "I don't ever want to be in such a position." Unfortunately I can't say I have never battled addictions but God has released me from them and my plan and desire is to live like Paul. To never allow anything in my life that I am not the master of.
Sometimes I hear people say "I can't eat that, it's against my religion" or more commonly "I'm not allowed to have that." It's a lie and a lost opportunity. We are allowed by God to do as we please. That's the reason the world is in such a mess. We have absolute freedom. Some use their freedom to make good choices and are a benefit to the world. Some make choices that lead them into lives of slavery to their warped and messes up desires.
Paul is leading up to something. He came to the realization in his own life that he was created by God and there is a direct link between his care for his body and his relationship with God. We'll explore that more tomorrow. In the mean time ask God to give you the mastery of your choices and use that freedom to follow the two simple rules that Paul followed, not because he had to, but because He loved God and wanted to.