As we begin to look at the issue of Christian liberty, the appropriate place to start is at the beginning! In the creation account in Genesis 1 six different times God pronounces what he has made “good.” Then in Genesis 1:31 God, after surveying his entire creation, declares it “very good.”
Genesis 3, of course, goes on to describe the Fall. Notice, however, that although the Fall had a negative impact on the creation, the problem is man’s sin. It is not that the creation, the things around us, have become evil. Rather, mankind, in his rebellion, abuses the creation for his own purposes rather than using it for the glory of God. David celebrates the goodness of God’s creation in Psalm 24:1: “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world , and all who live in it” (NIV). Paul quotes that verse in 1 Corinthians 10:26 in the context of teaching the Corinthians that sin does not lie in things, not even in meat offered to idols.
That’s an important concept to keep in mind, even though the church has not always remembered it as clearly as it should. Greek philosophy, with its notion that the immaterial was of a higher order than the physical had an impact on the thinking of the church.
We also have a built-in motivation for looking at things as sinful. If sin lies in something outside of me, I consider myself less responsible. Instead of being convicted of the sin of drunkenness, I am tempted to blame “demon rum.”
To summarize, sin lies, not in substances outside of me, not in creation, but in my own sinful heart.