PART 12: Romans Chapter 14 “HELPING A WEAKER BROTHER”
Over the Past Weeks we have Navigated through Romans and understand: “There is a War in the Christian Life Between Flesh and Spirit.
- We still battle with the flesh…But the Battle is Not with Our Physical Body.
The battle between the flesh and the spirit is the battle between the old man, who is fallen and corrupt, and the regenerated person, who now lives by the Spirit of God”
We’ve looked at Romans 2 KEY verses 1: 16-17 “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 17 For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
We discussed that All people are Under the Wrath of God. There is Only One Means of Escape, and that’s Through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And that We are Justified through Faith in What Christ did on the Cross…POINT MADE: God Answers the Mess We Make in Our Lives With one Word: GRACE.
We understand that Adams Sin Nature was Imputed to All Mankind…But when we choose to receive Christ’s Free Gift of Salvation…His Righteousness is Imputed into Us…
Our Studies Have Encouraged us to Choose Holiness…And we Understand that To Become Like Christ I Must Put Off the Old Self and Put on the New!
Romans Contrasts Life in the Flesh versus Life in the Spirit… We have been Freed from the Penalty of Sin. We Are Forgiven! We have Also been Freed from the Authority and Power of Sin. BUT…We have a Daily Choice to Make, because What We Haven’t Fully Lost is Our Desire to Sin…Sin Still Attracts Us!
Once Engrafted into Gods Family by Grace…We Have a Responsibility to the Great Commission…Only One Life Will Soon Be Past, Only What’s Done For Christ Will Last!
We also learned that God Uses Life’s Tribulations to Drive US to the Roots of JOY… Which is…HOPE In Jesus Christ ALONE!
Last week in Chapter 13 We Learned that a Christian’s Responsibility to the Government Requires Submission to God…And that Submission to Government Is An Expression of Our Submission to God.
Now, In Romans Chapter 14 and 15, Paul gives More Instructions to Believers about Living Together in Harmony.
- He discusses the Problem of Criticizing other Believers and Causing Others to Sin Because of Our Actions.
In rOMANS 14:1-15:13 pAUL sPEAKS TO THE ISSUE OF HANDLING DOUBTFUL AND DISPUTABLE THINGS BETWEEN CHRISTIAN BROTHERS AND SISTERS.
We Often Run Across Two Extreme Positions in Christianity.
- One position is intensely legalistic and structured, and if you do not agree with them in such positions, you are not spiritual.
- The other position makes almost no separation from the world, their lives being almost carbon copies of the world, because they feel free in the Lord and unrestricted.
Both of these Positions are Flawed Because of Their Attitudes. They treat the other side, with contempt instead of the Love and Caring.
- These, and other related issues are the subject of these chapters. Paul divides the discussion up between those whose faith is strong and those whose faith is weak.
Romans 14:1-9. Makes Clear that Not All Believers are at the Same Place Spiritually, Understanding Freedom about what Food they may Eat or about certain Days of the week.
- Each person Must do what he does For The Lord, Not for himself.
KEY: CHRIST CALLS US TO HELP…NOT HINDER A WEAKER BROTHER
Vs 1-2: says Don’t Judge Each Other in Doubtful-Disputable things. “Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. 2 One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables”.
We must Receive (accept) the one who is weak in the faith…We are to Distinguish between one who is Weak and the one who is Rebellious…BUT…Paul warns us to Not make Spiritual Maturity a Requirement for Fellowship.
There are Many Reasons Why a Christian Might be Weak. In 1 Cor. 8 Paul looks at those who refuse to eat meat for a spiritual reason…Like meat Sacrificed to a Pagan god.
- OR, they Refused the meat because it wasn’t kosher [Jewish dietary regulations].
Because Some Christians saw Nothing Wrong in this Meat and Other Christians saw Much Wrong in it…This Became a Burning Issue Among Believers in Paul’s day.
- The issue of Not eating meat for Spiritual reasons is No longer directly relevant to Christians today…However…there are plenty of issues where some believers believe one way and others believe differently.
- EX: Worship Music…Drums-No Drums…In the past Guys Hair Length…etc.
In Paul’s mind, the Weak brother is the Stricter one. It wasn’t that they were weaker in their Christian life because of what they ate or didn’t eat, But They Were Weaker Because of Their Legalistic Attitudes and Lack of Love Towards Others.
- Legalism has a way of making us think that we are strong and those who don’t keep the rules the way we do are weak. EXAMPLES?
Rom 14:3-4 Judging Our Brother is Inappropriate because We are Not their Masters. 3 The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. 4 Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.
It would be easy for a Christian who felt free to eat meat to despise those who did not feel free as hopeless legalists.
- It would also be easy for those who did not eat such meat to judge those who did – but God has received those Christians who eat meat.
He says, “Who are You to Judge Someone Else’s Servant?” Paul says, it isn’t our place to pass judgment on any fellow Christian. They Stand or Fall Before their Own Master, God
Paul is NOT telling these Christians OR us to Erase these Differences…He Tells Them and US to Rise Above them as Christian Brothers and Sisters.
Paul said that if a person has a weak faith, those who have a stronger faith should not argue with that person over trivial matters such as what to eat.
- If your faith lets you eat as you wish, Paul said, do not waste time judging someone who follows eating rules.
- God is not concerned about this and you are Not in a Position to Judge.
- Each servant stands or falls for the Master. The Lord will Sort it Out.
Rom 14:5-6 Judging Our Brother is Inappropriate because these are Matters of Conscience. 5 One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. 6 Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God.
By bringing in the aspect of observing certain days, Paul lets us know that he is talking more about Principles than Specific Issues like just Eating Certain Meats.
- Paul says…Let each be Fully Convinced in his Own Mind: In such issues, Paul is willing to leave it up to the Conscience of each Individual.
- But whatever we do, we must be able to do it to the Lord, not using conscience as an excuse for obviously sinful behavior.
Rom 14:7-9 We Live and Die to the Lord. 7 For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. 8 If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. 9 For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.
From Beginning to End, Our Lives are to be Dedicated to God…We Do All For the Lord!
Rom 14:10-12 Judging our brother is Inappropriate because We will All Face Judgment before Jesus. 10 You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. 11 It is written: “As surely as I live, says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God. 12 So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God”.
The use of both “Judge” and “Treat them with Contempt” is meant to have application to both the “Strict” and the “Free” Individuals. In both cases, the Attitude is Wrong because we shall All Stand Before the Judgment Seat of Christ.
The Strict Christian found it easy to Judge his brother, writing him off as an Unspiritual meat-eater-Compromiser.
- The Free Christian found it easy to Show Contempt Against his Brother, regarding him as an Uptight-Legalistic-Goody-Good.
Essentially, Paul’s answer is “Stop Worrying about Your Brother. You have Enough Of Your Own to Answer for Before Jesus.”
Every knee shall bow: The quotation from Isaiah 45:23 Emphasizes the Fact that All will have to Appear before God in Humility, and Give Account of Himself before God. If this is the case, We Should Let God Deal With Our Brothers and Sisters.
Paul Addresses the Issue that Some think There Are Sacred Days while Others Don’t
- Regardless of what Practices a Person has…They Are to be Done for the Lord.
- Paul explained the Lord is Always with Us, and whatever we do, we do for the Lord.
- He reminded believers that Christ died and rose again to be the Lord Over All
Rom 14:13 Therefore let Us Stop Passing Judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind Not to put any Stumbling Block or Obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.
Paul is saying that We have No Reason to Treat our brothers and sisters with Contempt or to Judge them.
- God will one day Judge Us All and We will All Bow Down before Him and Praise Him.
- Everyone will have to Account for Themselves and their Actions to God.
- For this reason, People should Not Judge One Another and Tell each other that their Habits…Not their Rebellious Sins Against God…will Stand in the Way of Salvation.
He said we should Not Purposely Eat or Drink things that will Cause other Believers to Stumble in Their Walk with the Lord. ***Don’t use Your Liberty to Stumble a Brother.
- Therefore let Us Not Judge One Another Anymore…Rather Resolve Not to put a Stumbling Block or a Cause to Fall in Our Brother’s Way.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus made it clear that We should Not Judge others according to a standard that we would not want to have applied to our self. Log-Eye
This Doesn’t take away the Need and the Responsibility for Admonishment Rom 15:14 or Rebuke 2 Tim 4:2 says, Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.
- When we admonish or rebuke, we do it over clear Scriptural Principles, Not over Doubtful OR Disputable things.
- We may offer advice to others about such things, But We Should Never Judge Them.
Rom 14:14-15: I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean. 15 If your brother or sister is distressed because of what You eat, you are No longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died.
KEY POINT: Paul knew that there was nothing intrinsically unclean about meat that was not kosher or sacrificed to an idol. Yet there was Nothing that Could Justify the Destruction of a Christian Brother or Sister Over Food.
- The Issue is Not Our Personal Liberty…It is Walking in Love Towards a Brother that Jesus loves and For Whom He Died.
“Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died”: KEY: If Jesus was willing to give up His life for the sake of that brother, I Can Certainly Give Up My Steak Dinner!
Rom 14:16-18 Pursuing the Higher Call of the Kingdom of God. “Therefore do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18 because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval”.
Our liberty in Jesus and freedom from the law is good, but Not if we use it to Destroy another Brother in Christ. If we do that, then it could rightly be spoken of as evil.
- If we place food and drink Before Righteousness, Peace and Joy in the Holy Spirit, then we are hopelessly out of touch with God’s priorities and His heart.
Serving God with a heart for His righteousness, Peace and Joy is the kind of Service that is Acceptable in His Sight and will be Approved by Men.
Rom 14:19-21 Use your liberty to build each other up, Not to tear each other down.
Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. 20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. 21 It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall.
Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food: If eating or drinking something will stumble another brother, then we are not free to do so. Even if we have the personal liberty, we do not have the liberty to stumble, offend, or weaken a brother.
- Here Paul Concedes that there is Nothing Impure in the Food Itself…But he likewise insists that There is Nothing Pure in Causing a Brother to Stumble.
- Don’t do Anything that Causes Your Weaker brother to Stumble, or to be Offended.
Now Paul is Not Speaking about Catering to Someone’s Legalism. Paul speaks about the Stumbling of a Sincere Heart, Not Catering to the Whims of Someone’s Legalism.
- For example, When some Christians from a Jewish background were offended that Gentile believers were Not Circumcised, Paul didn’t Cater to their Legalistic Demands.
Rom 14:22-23 The Concluding Principle of Faith. 22 So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves. 23 But whoever has doubts is condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.
If you have [strong] faith, and feel liberty to partake of certain things, Praise God! But have Your Strong Faith Before God, Not Before a Brother Who Will Stumble. [Not Pride]
There are things God Will Challenge Us to Give Up…And if We Go on Approving them in Our Life…We Condemn Ourselves.
- It may Not be that the thing itself is clearly Good or Bad…But it is Enough that God has Spoken to Us About this Matter.
Each of us must ask, “God what is there in My Life Hindering a Closer Walk with You?”
- I want to Know the Happiness that comes from Not Condemning Myself by what I Approve in My Life.” [THE JOY OF A CLEAR CONSCIENCE]
- This takes faith, because We Often Cling to Hindering things Because We think they Make Us Happy [Satan’s Lie]. Real happiness is found being closer and closer to Jesus, and by Not being Condemned by What We Approve (Allow to Remain).
Whatever is Not from Faith is Sin: Paul concludes with another principle by which we can Judge “gray areas” – If We Can’t Do It In Faith, Then It Is Sin.
This is a wonderful check in our spirit on our tendency to justify ourselves in the things we permit. If we are troubled by something, it likely Isn’t of Faith and Likely is Sin for Us.
Causing Others to Sin: Paul told the church in Romans Chapter 14 that when We Distress Another with Our Habits, We are Not Behaving in a Loving Manner.
- He said we should Not Purposely Eat or Drink things that will Cause other Believers to Stumble in Their Walk with the Lord.
- Likewise, if You Believe Something is Good, do Not Force Others to go along with it.
IN CLOSING…We are to Give Freedom Instead of Judgments For Each Other.
- Remember…Not all believers have the same level of spiritual growth. They don’t have the Same Freedom about what food they may eat. What Music to Listen to…Etc.
Hebrews 10:24-25 “ And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching..”
HOWEVER, Hebrews 3:13 says, “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that None of You may be Hardened by Sin’s Deceitfulness.”
You and I have a 2-fold Responsibility to our Brothers and Sisters in Christ…
POINT: We Are To Exhort SIN…BUT Love And Accept The Differences of the Sinner!