Romans 14 – Our Rights
In our churches today there are considerable differences such as:
– In age, education, maturity, personalities and cultural and religious backgrounds.
– There is the difference in spiritual health and unity.
– There are various attitudes and behavior that can destroy fellowship and fruitfulness. These can even cripple the work of the witness to the worlds around us.
– Their backgrounds may be that they come from a long line of evangelicals or may have a heritage of strict legalism.
– Others have a considerable openness and freedom.
These types of differences or problems can be a real danger to a church’s spiritual health and unity. When conversion occurs people come out of various religions and belief systems. When new they would be considered ‘weak’ Christians. Those stronger Christians needs to consider the weak and not behave in a manner that they consider wrong.
The issues involved are things that are matters of food or drink, not moral or doctrinal ones. Sometime music can play such a part as a person’s background might have a type of music that triggers past experiences that they have chosen to leave behind because they were not wholesome activities. There may be activities that when others are engaged in it there might be mixed messages within the person of things that they left behind. We are to act in “love” not selfishness in pushing our conscious on another.
We are to be interspersed, not independent people. What if an Amish person came to understand the Bible and left the Amish way of life? How quickly do you think the person could readjust their behavior or belief system to accept different things? An example might be at a wedding reception we’d think nothing of having dance music and even to dance with our spouse. Would they have anything like that in their culture?
What about even a newly converted “catholic” and when they are attending our style of worship service in comparison to their style? When there was an ‘alter call’ wouldn’t that be a new experience and one they might never feel comfortable being involved in? Yes, they would adapt, but wouldn’t it take time to develop a comfort level?
14V1 – Now accept the one who is weak in faith, “accept” – (proslambanesthe)
S4355προσαναλαμβάνω,προσλαμβάνω[proslambano /pros·lam·ban·o/] v. From 4314 and 2983; TDNT 4:15; TDNTA 495; GK 4647 and 4689; 14 occurrences; AV translates as “receive” seven times, “take” five times, and “take unto” twice. 1to take to, take in addition, to take to one’s self. 1ato take as one’s companion. 1bto take by the hand in order to lead aside. 1cto take or receive into one’s home, with the collateral idea of kindness. 1dto receive, i.e. grant one access to one’s heart. 1d1to take into friendship and intercourse. 1eto take to one’s self, to take: i.e. food.
L3453 – to accept the presence of a person with friendliness—‘to welcome, to receive, to accept, to have as a guest.’προσλαμβάνομαιe: τὸν δὲ ἀσθενοῦντα τῇ πίστει προσλαμβάνεσθε ‘you must welcome among you the person who is weak in the faith’ Ro 4:1.
Not passing judgment or “differentiation”…
G1253διάκρισις[diakrisis /dee·ak·ree·sis/] n f. From 1252; TDNT 3:949; TDNTA 469; GK 1360; Three occurrences; AV translates as “discerning” once, “discern” once, and “disputation” once. 1a distinguishing, discerning, judging.
L33.444διακρίνομαιb; διάκρισιςb,εως f: to dispute with someone on the basis of different judgments—‘to dispute, to debate about, contention, dispute.’
Is Weak (astheneo) (Weak Abstractly) in the Greek language astheneo is their word describing or representing a temporary condition… Like when we get a ‘cold’ don’t we feel very ill and then in a few days all is well again.
G770ἀσθενέω[astheneo /as·then·eh·o/] v. From 772; TDNT 1:490; TDNTA 83; GK 820; 36 occurrences; AV translates as “be weak” 12 times, “be sick” 10 times, “sick” seven times, “weak” three times, “impotent man” once, “be diseased” once, and “be made weak” once. 1to be weak, feeble, to be without strength, powerless. 2to be weak in means, needy, poor. 3to be feeble, sick.
They are weak in their understanding of and living out their true faith in Jesus Christ. We need not to be guilty of passing judgment on undeveloped but sincere opinions. It is important for us to realize that whatever spiritual strength we might have it is not there because of our own power. Instead, that too, is a gift from God. It is God that gives us a understanding and a strength to life in accordance of His Word. This should remind us of how weak we and every believer is within himself.
We should receive all other believers in that God receives them. The gospel of the New Covenant in Jesus Christ includes no ceremonial or dietary restrictions given to mankind as the Mosaic law has been abolished.
1 Timothy 4:1–3 (NASB95) 1 But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, 2 by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, 3 men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth.
V.4 – Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
Point: The Lord sustains them all. We are not to judge the servant of another, not alone, the servant of Jesus Christ. We can ask: Who will bring a charge against God’s elect?”
V.5-9 The Lord is Sovereign to each believer.
The weak Jews of that day were still under compelling feelings to observe special days and foods. The weak Gentiles wanted to separate themselves from the special days of their paganism.
16Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath.
Consider that the Sabbath can be on a Saturday for the Jews and Sunday for the Christians. Which is right? Is the actual day of the week the point of what God tells us when he says we are to have a day to worship Him? Are we to judge the others? We might consider it that God wants us to worship Him and Sunday is the generally accepted day for us. But if another Christian consider their day of worship to be a different one, is that wrong?
Some women feel they are to wear a covering in church and maintain that. Is that wrong? It is sinful to try and impose our personal convictions on others.
The Bible states that if our conscious dictates we do that, then we need to follow that conscious directive as long as it is not of a moral or doctrine issue. We are to comply with our conscious before God. We are not to look at the person as ‘weak’, but as a true believer submitting to their walk with God and under conscious to do so. Remember, we are wholly belonging to Christ because we “have been bought with a price” (1 Cor. 5:20).
V.10-12 – But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written,
“As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall give praise to God.”
So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.
The Lord alone will judge each individual, not us.
Our Christian liberty is ‘vertical’, before the Lord. Yet, the exercise of that liberty is ‘horizontal’ as it is seen by how it affects others. We are given ‘freedom’ and yet we are to limit our liberties if necessary for the sake of the body of Christ. We are to work in ‘love’ and harmony of His people. An independent attitude is of the world and not of God.
V.13 –“ …let us not judge one another anymore….” would be our actions are not to stumble our brother’s way….
V.14-15a – “…that nothing is unclean in itself; but to him who things anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean.” God has cleansed all food and we are to no longer consider it unholy. However, God has still accepted those in His Flock that have not fully grasped that concept or truth. If one is at liberty to enjoy anything that the Lord does not declare to be sinful, that is fine. It is that we are not to judge another whose conscious dictates a different behavior.
Remember, that as long as we feel discomfort about any such thing, we should avoid doing it – even if it would not cause offense to other believers. If we personally consider anything to be ‘unclean’, then it is required that we act in accordance with that conviction.
V.15 – For if because of food your brother is hurt (lupeo) , you are no longer walking according to love. In the text “is hurt” (lupeo) has the basic meaning of causing pain, distress or grief. (This is the same term used about Peters grief in John 21:17 “He *said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved… “
G3076 – 1to make sorrowful. 2to affect with sadness, cause grief, to throw into sorrow. 3to grieve, offend. 4to make one uneasy, cause him a scruple.
Therefore, if we take a stand against our brother for the food he or she eats or does not eat and it causes them to be ‘hurt’, then we are no longer walking according to love. Paul warned that if your liberty becomes a stumbling block to the weak, then it is wrong for you to act in that manner. V.15b “Do not destroy with your food him for whom Christ died.”
V.16-19 – we do not want to forfeit our witness before the rest of the world by our behavior.
Therefore do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil; for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who in this way serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another. Ro. 14:16-19
In Acts 15 it was shown that the Jerusalem Council strongly denounced the Judaizers’ insistence claiming that Gentiles were to be circumcised. A letter was sent to the congregation and told to abstain from things strangled, things sacrificed to idols, from blood and from fornication. Three of these things were prohibitions having to do with religious law and ceremony that applied to both the Jews and Gentiles. Of course ‘fornication’ was forbidden as it was a moral sin. (Acts 15:29) We would not take the three prohibitions and make them into Bible doctrine, however, if our brother is offended by them, then we would do well to act in accordance to his conscious concerning things sacrificed to idols, blood or things strangled. Apart from him or her we have a clear conscious concerning those three things then we can act accordingly in our home.
1 Corinthians 10:23-32(ESV)
23“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up.
24Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.
25Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience.
26For £“the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.”
27If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience.
28But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience—
29I do not mean your conscience, but his. For why should my liberty be determined by someone else’s conscience?
30If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks?
31So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
32Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God,
The situation at this Biblical time was that a strong and a week Christian would sometimes go to dinner at the house of an unbelieving Gentile. When the meal was served the meat could have been sacrificed to idols. But if the weak believer was disturbed and tell the other believer not to each in good conscience what should the other do? In this situation, out of love for the weak brother, he would support that weak brother even if it would offend the non-believer, the host.
The point was that at any time it might be better to forfeit the exercise of your freedom when it might cause spiritual harm to a believer. It was more important to demonstrate our love for our brother than ‘our freedom’ we felt we had. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:19(ESV)
19For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them.
The scriptural principle is: “…for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” V.16
In Philippians 1:11(ESV)
11filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. This verse would indicate that righteousness in our daily living should always be more precious to us than the exercise of our liberties.
Peace in the church is one of our utmost obligations to God’s body, the church. We are to be more interested in serving others than in pleasing ourselves. We are not there to push our ideas and preferences, but to seek unity and love among all.
Thus, peace and the joy of believers is a product of righteousness. These two, “peace and joy” are both fruits of the Spirit. Meaning that they are ‘God given’ and not a source of pride in self.
V.20-21 – Don’t pull down the work of God.
“Do not tear down the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are clean, but they are evil for the man who eats and gives offense. It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles.
For example: We might become sad or angered that someone might deface a painting of “Rembrandt” or destroy a non-replaceable Stradivarius Violin – but how much more we’d want to respect God’s work. The congregation and the people themselves are individually the ‘work of God’. True, we are considered a ‘work’ in progress, but still we belong to God.
In these verses the apostle reminds us that he is not speaking about sinful and unholy things, but about discretionary liberties that are good gifts from God. Yet, these vary things can become evil for a man who eats and gives offense. The issue is that we are not to push our liberty (a discretionary option) to a point that it could stumble your brother.
V.22-23 to show that we are not to denounce or flaunt our liberties.
The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin.
Our faith has been given to us by God. It is His gift to us. It is not there to abuse others or hurt any of our brothers or sisters. If a Christian still has a religious carryover from his past, then he must follow that until he no longer can condemn himself for eating it.