Romans 14 :1-12 Ė Diversity Or Division Ė Love Is The Key

 

Intro: We have been winding down our study in the book of Romans - looking at the final Chapters - Practical Christian living

A) CH. 12 - Functioning w/ in the body -†† Ch. 13 Functioning in Society / last wed. Ch. 14 -15a Functioning in controversy

 

B) Now on Sunday we began to look at that section there in Ch. 12 where Paul is talking about the Church as a body - in which Unity

1) One body in Christ - Christ is the Head !

 

Bb) And there is no doubt the importance which Godís word places on the unity of His People.†† Psa. 133 133:1Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brethren to dwell together in unity!

2It is like the precious oil upon the head, Running down on the beard, The beard of Aaron, Running down on the edge of his garments.

3It is like the dew of Hermon, Descending upon the mountains of Zion; For there the LORD commanded the blessing; Life forevermore.

 

B) And in John Ch. 17 when Jesus was praying for His disciples & then He added us into when He said in v. 20 20"I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word;

21"that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.

 

C) So Unity is there - connected under - Christ - and that unity is maintained when we keep our eyes on Christ !

 

D) But there is also diversity - Many members & the members donít all have the same function & gifts

1) And within this diversity there is going to be a diversity of perspective over certain things

 

E) When we all come together it is foolish to believe that we are somehow going to agree on everything

1) And the early Church despite itís great unity - had trouble w/ itís diversity

 

F) Subsequently - they began to engage in that favorite Christian indoor sport Ofjudging one another & seeking to Change each other

 

 

That is the situation that Paul is dealing w/ here in Rom. 14 - 15a

A) The Controversy in the Church at Rome had to do w/ 2 main things the eating of meat & the keeping of days

 

B) See the Church that God had assembled in Rome consisted of 2 very different groups of people

 

C) On the one hand were the Gentiles who had been saved out of their gross paganism / idolatry & immorality .

1) And on the other hand were the Jews who had been saved out of their rules & ritualism

 

D) The Controversy centered around the fact that many of the Jewish believers - because of their dietary laws - had chosen to become vegetarians

 

E) While the gentiles believers who were not reared w/ those customs & laws - thought it was silly not to eat meat.

1) In fact in those days there were these outdoor markets ( Shambles)where they would sell choice meat - that had been offered to idols

 

F) You could get the best cut of meat - at an awesome price !That was another controversy that Paul wrote to address in 1 Cor. 8-10

1) Is it ok to eat meat - offered to idols ? Some said if you did you were participating in the idolatry

G) That is not what Paul is dealing w/ here - but no doubt the same practice was conducted - shambles -

1) in both sections Paul shares some similar insights & points dealing w/ Christian liberty .

 

H) But the main issue in Rome was should we eat meat period !

†††††† So Paul begins v.1

 

14:1Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things.2For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables.3Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him.

 

 

A) Paul begins by saying donít get hung up over doubtful things . We still do this type of thing today. Disputes over gray areas /

1) Things which are not clear in the word -

 

B) A Christian from the south - Bible belt area - might be appalled by the fact that some was holding a swimming party where men & women attendance

1) Or at the sight of a Christian woman wearing pants - especially to Church.

 

C) They in turn would shock - believers from other parts of the country by lighting up a cigarette.

 

D) Conflicts over going to the movies - watching videos / wearing makeup / Christians in America - look down on drinking Alcohol

1) Because it is associated w/ a partying worldly - rebellious lifestyle

††† yet in certain parts of Europe - pubs after Church - lunch & beer

 

E) Card Playing - because of itís association w/ gambling - some church groups strongly forbid it .

1) My wife & I love to play cards / in Oregon - families who had come

The point is there are always going to be controversies over doubtful things - The question is how do we deal w/ them rightly?

A) Paul says the answer is in having a genuine acceptance of one another

Receive one who is weak in the faith.

 

B) This is something I find really interesting that Paul makes this distinction between those who are weak & those who are strong.

1) Which category would you fall into ?

 

C) This might be surprising but Paul labels those who are more rigid - more strict - those who said could only eat Veggieís as the weak brothers

1) 2For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables.

 

D) Paul is saying that the person who doesnít know or understand and enjoy their liberty is really the weaker brother

 

E) Paul makes the same distinction in 1 Cor. 8 describing those who had a problem eating that meat which had been sacrificed to an idol as weak

7However, there is not in everyone that knowledge; for some, with consciousness of the idol, until now eat it as a thing offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled.

8But food does not commend us to God; for neither if we eat are we the better, nor if we do not eat are we the worse.

9But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak.††† 10For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol's temple, will not the conscience of him who is weak be emboldened to eat those things offered to idols?

 

F) I think our tendency is to look at those who make such a fuss over these seemingly gray areas bound up in cannots as being - ď Super spiritual ď

1) Paul says they are weak .

 

TURN BACK TO ROMANS

Now here is what is really interesting - Paul does not even discuss the rights or the wrongs of eating meat or not eating meat.

A) He doesnít seek to try & argue the issue concerning how healthy eating only veggies would be - nor does he defend meat eating.

 

B) He leaves it as an open question - it has nothing to do w/ salvation or sanctification

 

C) What Paul does address however is the attitudes that both groups would have toward the other.

3Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him.

 

D) The strong brother is not to despise the weak one as being superstitious & narrow minded

1) Nor is the weak brother to adopt a bad attitude toward the stronger brother - by labeling him as carnal & worldly

 

E) Paul says to both understand that God has received that person.

 

 

In other words - what your brother does or doesnít do really isnít your problem . V. 4 4Who are you to judge another's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.

 

A) What Paul is essentially saying here is it is not your responsibility to change your brother - for he is not your problem

1) He is not your servant - but he belongs to God

 

B) Who knows that brothers heart way better - than you do - and loves that brother - way more than you ever will.

1) And the Father is committed to the work that he has begun in that brother or sisters life .

C) And what you might see as a problem - presently is not a problem w/ the father because he is working on other areas of that persons life.

 

 

Pastor Ed Rey was sharing at our family camp yesterday - he told this story about when Alan Redpath -came to speak at the Redlands

A) During his message he made a statement that - just rocked Edís whole world - turned his Christianity upside down

 

B) Redpath - who had been walking w/ the Lord - for 50 yrs saidI am no better a man today - than I was 50 yrs ago when I was first saved.

 

C) The saying - bugged Ed - because - he looked at his own life & could pinpoint - a lot of changes that had taken place in the 12 yrs - been saved

1) He thought - How could Redpath - who Ed looked at as a spiritual giant - say he was no better a man .

 

D) Three yrs later he had the opportunity to ask him when Alan Redpath came back to the church in Redlands - dinner

1) In that 3 yrs Redpath had suffered a stroke that left him paralyzed from the neck down for a period of time

 

E) Ed asked him at that dinner what he meant by that statement - I am no better a man Ö..

1) Redpath explained by telling this story

 

 

He said that during that time when He was paralyzed that - he was extremely frustrated . One particular day - after wife Margaret Changed his diaper fort he 3rd time that she told him she was going to the store / back shortly

 

He said he laid there waiting as he heard the door close - waiting as he heard the car drive down the street - and when he knew she was definitely gone - he back to curse & swear & use profanities that hadnít in 5o yrs

Then he began to weep bitterly - said Lord where did that come from -

 

The Lord quietly responded Alan that came from the part of you that I havenít killed yet.

 

Suddenly it made sense - that what the Lord is doing w/ each one of us - is He is killing off the flesh - Justification is miracle of a moment - Sanctification is the process of a lifetime

 

Process of killing off who I am and replacing me w/ himself - conforming me into the image of his own son. ( We are all in that process of Change )

 

Makes sense what Jesus said that unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground remains alone - dies - bears much fruit

 

To follow Jesus means I daily take up my cross - other words I die daily

 

A) Now this can be so freeing in dealing w/ my brothers & sisters when I see areas in them wear - they need to grow & Change -

1) they are Godís servants and He is committed to doing that work in them - when I see areas hung up - know they havenít died yet - there

 

B) But God is faithful to work in His servants / in His kids !

1) Iím not going to be worried about what your kids are doing - they are your kids - in the same way - fellow Christians - Godís kids

 

C) So Paul says donít judge anotherís - servant - because to their own master they will stand or fall

1) But then he adds those who are Godís servants He will make him to stand .

 

D) I love that - The person I donít understand - God makes to stand - The person I want to put down, God Himself will hold up !

E) Others might look at a person & think they are not going to make it - but they fail to factor in Godís grace - mercy & faithfulness which sees us through

 

 

So Paulís first point is to say - we need to genuinely accept each other despite our differences in perspectives - gray areas

A) Realizing that the person whom I might disagree w/ is Godís servant - they are His child - therefore His responsibility

 

B) And God will Change -them or change me - if He sees it as something that is necessary - He will address it!

 

 

The next thing Paul goes on to explain is something we so often forget is that individual Christians can disagree on certain things yet still be perfectly right w/ God !V.5-8

 

5One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind.

6He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks. 7For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself.

8For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord's.

 

A) This controversy wasnít just over diets it was over days. There were some who suggested that the proper day to worship was on Sat. /

1) The traditional Sabbath .

 

B) Others said worship should take place on the first day of the week - Resurrection. Day - Sunday /Still debated today - 7th day Adventist - those who worship on Sunday are in danger of losing their salvation.

 

Paul again doesnít deal w/ the issue but says - let every man be persuaded in His own mind !

A) The vast majority of issues which cause division in the body of Christ are those which are not clearly spelled out in the word . They are opinions

 

B) They are perspectives which can be solid and excellent - but we always need to be mindful of our Brothers & sisters w/ great Latitude

1) Need to allow them the space & time to be persuaded in their own minds !

 

C) We need to give our brothers & sisters room as it relates to their own convictions as long as it is doesnít conflict directly w/ the Word/

1) Realizing they can be perfectly right w/ the Lord - even though they have a liberty that I donít feel like I have !

 

Two of the most famous Preachers during the Victorian area inEngland were Charles Spurgeon & Joseph Parker -†† early in their ministries they fellowshipped& even preached at each others pulpits

 

But then they had a disagreement - that really dealt w/ some gray areaís. Spurgeon accused Parker of being unspiritual because he attended the theater

 

Now what was interesting was that Spurgeon - who was against - going to the Theater - smoked cigars / a practice many believers would condemn

 

But Spurgeon argued that he did not smoke to excess - but when someone asked him what he meant by excess - he responded - No more than two at one time

 

A) So this conflict brewed between these two that ruined their fellowship & tainted their - ministries - as reports of the Dispute got into the Newspapers

1) Who was right ? Perhaps neither - perhaps both

 

B) I tell you this it would have been far better if they had disagreed agreeably & remained in fellowship -

1) Realizing that in their hearts both were right w/ the Lord .

 

C) It is interesting though that yrs later - Spurgeon - did abandon his cigar smoking because - he opened the newspaper one day & saw an ad that one of the cigar stores had placed in there

 

D) The add was for a particular - cigar they sold in their shop - and the slogan read - THE CIGAR THAT SPURGEON SMOKES

 

E) Seeing that - Spurgeon realized that his liberty - might cause another t stumble - so he abandoned it altogether

1) Which is exactly the way that Paul deals w/ the situation in 1 Cor. 8

 

 

Now remember the controversy here is should we eat meat that has been offered to idols - Should we or should we not .

A) Those who were weak in the faith - argued no way - if you do you are participating in idolatry.

 

B) Those who were strong said it really - didnít matter because an idol is not a god anyway there is only one God - idol just a piece of stone or wood

 

C) Paul says - Love is the Key V. 1 ††Now concerning things offered to idols: We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies.

 

 

Love is the Key - You who have the knowledge to understand that an idol is nothing more than a piece of wood can become prideful in that Knowledge.

A) Especially if you are seeking to force your liberty upon your weaker brother or sister - by trying to get them to join you.

 

B) Knowledge puffs up - but love Edifies or Love builds up - that is the key .

Skip down to v. 7 7However, there is not in everyone that knowledge; for some, with consciousness of the idol, until now eat it as a thing offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled.

8But food does not commend us to God; for neither if we eat are we the better, nor if we do not eat are we the worse.

 

Paul says not everyone has that understanding - has that knowledge - some had perhaps seen some pretty horrid things in pagan days

A) Thus they wanted no part of that ! /†† Caeth ( Skate board outreach) - reminded of worldly days - young in the Lord - be sensitive to that.

 

B) SO Paul says

9But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak.

10For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol's temple, will not the conscience of him who is weak be emboldened to eat those things offered to idols?

11And because of your knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?

12But when you thus sin against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ.

 

C) When you insensitively flaunt your liberty - in such a way that wounds someone else- you are really hurting Christ - Heavy

1) Causing someone else to stumble for whom Christ Died - Worst thing you can do - totally unloving Ė unChrist-like

 

D) Who commissioned us to lay down our lives for our friends ! To lay down our lives - for our Bros. & Sisters

††††††††† 1) So Paul concludes - Love is the Key -

13Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.

 

IF MY LIBERTY CAUSES SOMEONE ELSE TO STUMBLE I WILL FORFEIT MY LIBERTY - AT THEPRICE OF LOVE !!!!!!!!Back to Rom.

So first of all we see that we need to have a genuine acceptance of our Brothers & Sisters even though diversity in gray areas

 

A) And we need to realize that even though my brother of sister might differ from me / might have a different conviction than I have

1) Their hearts are can still be right w/ the Lord

 

B) Therefore I must exercise love - and seek to not lay trips on them in areas where I donít have liberty - nor stumble them in areas where I do

 

C) The next thing that Paul explains is that it the whole issue boils down to this Christ is the Judge & we need to all be submitted to Him.

9For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living.

10But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.

11For it is written: "As I live, says the LORD, Every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall confess to God."

12So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.

 

A) Every Christian will one day stand before the Judgment seat of Christ - not to be Judged for sin but to be given reward for what they have done .

1) For the Lord in obedience to Him / and w/ the right motives & heart( 1 Cor. 3:10-15 / 4:9 / 2 Cor. 5 )

 

B) Now until that day you donít know what is going on in the hearts of people

†† you donít know whatthe motives of others are .

 

C) Guys listen - guess who you are going to be given an account of ? Yourself and that is all .

1) You donít have to give an account for that person - in front of you - or behind you

 

 

D) Every one of us is going to give an account for himself - not for our sins but for what we did w/ what the Lord gave us .

1) The Possessions the Lord gave us materially - the finances He blessed us w/ .

 

E) The gifts & talents that He gave - the ministry opportunities -that He opened the door for .

†††††††††

 

So the Lord is the Judge ! - We will all give an account - so instead of being focused on what my brother is doing or not doing - lets be about what the writer of Heb. Encouraged

 

Stir up each other to Love & good works !

 

 

Now some might ask - Does this mean - I can never confront - another Christian- No if a brother is taken in sin - you who are spiritually - go to Him

A) Focus is restoration.

 

B) If Clear black & white issue - in other areas - love is the Key pray - realize God is working .

 

C) Examine yourself - first - splinter - when you have a beam.