I Cor. 6:12 “Everything is permitted, but not everything is beneficial”…
Paul is no longer under the legal restrictions of the law, therefore all things are permitted, i.e., they are not restricted. This is not to say they are all good.
The first part of the phrase quoted above addresses the legality of a behavior. The second part addresses the morality of a behavior.
To say “it is legal” does not say it is good or right or morally acceptable. It only means you will not be charged for breaking man’s law. Before the law, you will be seen as innocent of law breaking, but before God, you will be held accountable to his moral law of doing all from love.
While Paul as an Israelite was still under the Law of Moses, he had to consult the written law to find out what was permitted. Once Paul received Christ as savior, he was moved out from under the law of Moses. From that point on he could not be accused of law breaking. The law would not hold him guilty. This put Paul on a new footing for knowing right and wrong. He was not to be dictated to by Moses law that made all the decisions about right and wrong for him. His new position meant that he himself would have to weigh his actions to gauge whether they were moral. All things were now permitted, but were they moral?
Paul judged morality by two principles. 1. Was such an action beneficial? This establishes that man is meant to do good as God does and work what is beneficial for all. 2. Does a particular behavior result in Paul’s behavior coming under the control of the thing he approves? God is not controlled by any influence outside of himself. He is free. Does it help and is it habit forming?
These are not new laws Paul is establishing whereby he will be judged and condemned or approved. It is not “replacement law”. It means to be free of external control such as law and to be controlled internally by one’s relationship to God. It means to be a blessing and remain a blessing.
You would not be far from the truth if you translated the phrase above like this: everything is legal but everything is not moral. But we must understand that this legal only means you cannot be charged under the law. It is only permitted because the law is taken away and then you must go to morality to get your answer. This is more difficult, because in this case, you stop at the crossroads when out driving because you know it is good to do and not because there is a stop sign that says stop.