Romans 14: 13- 15:12 Ė Pursue Edification

 

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) Unity & Diversity - in this thing called the body -

1) Diversity in areas - doubtful things - gray areas -

 

C) Ch. 14 & 15a deal w/ how to handle these issues of diversity in order to maintain a unity w/ in the body !

 

 

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 !

 

 

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

A) We noted that Paul says the answer is in having a genuine acceptance of one another V.1 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

1) Those who ate the meat - realizing that the idol was nothing more than a piece of wood or stone - considered strong !

 

 

Now another thing that was interesting was that Paul didnít deal w/ the issue of the debate - Plus or Minuses of Veggieís Vs. Meat.

A) Not an issue of salvation - or Christian growth - so Paul doesnít deal w/ whether it is right or wrong

 

B) Instead - Paul focus is on the perspective of the believers toward each other in these gray areas - to avoid Division

1) Genuine acceptance of one another in Christian love

2) Individual Christians - can disagree over customs & social habits - gray areas and still be both be right w/ God !

 

3) Christ is the judge of us all - we are all going to stand before Him - Judgment of rewards - therefore - We need to be submitted to Him !

 

C) I love Paulís heart here to not get sucked into this meaningless controversy - but rather to focus on the attitude of the individuals involved toward each other

 

D) He brings the issue back to Christ heart toward that individual - when you are Judging others in these - meaningless areas or laying trips on people legalistically - / or stumbling others w/ your liberty

 

E) You had better realize that you are dealing w/ Godís servants / w/ Godís kids - you are going to have to answer to Him!

 

So that was the focus of the First 12 verses - get tape - clearer -

In v. 13 - 23 Paul gives some application

A) 3 applications - statements all beginning w/ word therefore ! v.13

13Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother's way.

14I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean.

15Yet if your brother is grieved because of your food, you are no longer walking in love. Do not destroy with your food the one for whom Christ died.

 

A) Paul begins by addressing the strong & saying Determine not to be a source of stumbling

 

B) The apostle's choice of words here calls for a complete determination not to be an obstruction in the life of another brother

1) the word for "stumbling block" means something carelessly left about over which someone stumbles,

 

C). We must determine not to be a willing or unwilling cause of a weaker brother's stumbling as we exercise our Christian freedom.

 

D) Our Christian lives must be salted with a refusal to do anything that will harm the spiritual life of weaker brothers.

 

 

In v. 14 Paul was agreeing with Jesus' statement in Mark7:14-19 that nothing that man eats defiles him.

A) inanimate things such as food and drink are morally neutral. Things which have no moral qualities.

 

B) But "if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean."

 

C) So if a new Jewish believer feels (however wrongly) that certain meats are unclean and should not be eaten, they are truly unclean to him, and he would sin by partaking and would be in danger of moral shipwreck.

 

D) Sin for him to go against his conscience -

 

And In v. 15 Paul says that any behavior that distresses anotherís conscience is wrong - meaning you are not walking in Love !1Cor. 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 - 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.

 

Exercising Christian liberty is very much like walking a tightrope. As you walk the rope with balancing pole in hand, at one end of the pole is love for others and at the other is Christian liberty. When these are in balance, your walk is as it should be!

 

So First of all Paul says - donít be a stumbling block to your Brother -

 

 

The next thing Paul does isto say - get your eyes off each other / off these temporal things & onto the eternal v.16- 18

16Therefore do not let your good be spoken of as evil;

17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

18For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men.

 

A) Paul lifts the whole issue to a higher level than mere eating & drinking

 

B) We are sometimes prone to think that the Kingdom of God primarily involves what a person does or does not eat or drink, or what he wears,

1) or what he does or does not do in certain things !

 

C) This is how the Pharisees lived, making a big deal of externals. But the Kingdom of God is not mainly a matter of externals but of eternals ó"righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit."

 

 

D) Now There are certain doctrines in the Scriptures we are to stand fast on, and refuse to let anyone change us on. -

1) but that is not what Paul is referring to here - gray areas

 

If you are going to create division by arguing so hard for your rights, or your freedom, or by flaunting your liberty in the face of those who do not agree with it, then you are distorting the Gospel itself,

 

When Paul says Therefore do not let your good be spoken of as evil; He

actually uses the word "blaspheme." ( evil )

 

In other words You are causing that which is good, -the good news about

Christ, to be blasphemed because you are making too much of an issue over a minor matter.

 

 

 

When You are insisting that your rights are so important that you have to divide the church over them, or separate from a brother or sister who does not believe as you do.

 

That is saying to the watching world around that Christianity consists of whether you do, or do not do, a certain thing.

 

What unbelievers need to see in us is righteousness Peace & Joy - not these disputes over petty little issues !

A) You have seen that word, "righteousness" many times in Romans, and you know what it means..

 

B) It means that, because of the death of Jesus on your behalf, you

are loved by him; you are accepted by him; - Justified !

1) In fact, he cheerfully and delightedly calls you his beloved child.

 

C) Experiencing the righteousness of Godin our lives should produce a longing for holiness, a driving desire to know him better,

1) an intense thirsting in the inner parts. David's longing is expressed in Psalm 42:1, 2a:As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.

 

D)Jesus Matthew 5:6ó"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled."

 

The next thing the world needs to see in us is peace !

A) Peace is characterized as a calmness - inner satisfaction - not being disturbed or up tight by little things

 

B) Opposite of that is - two people screaming at one another over what they disagree on!

Next is Joy !††† Like this def. Joy is that delight in life that always finds life worthwhile, even though it may be filled with problems.

 

A) Joy, in a Christian, does not come from circumstances. Diff. From Joy & Happiness circumstances / Joy inner stability

1) Joy is a state of heart - happiness comes & goes

 

B) Where is Joy found ?

Not in unbelief -- Voltaire was an infidel of the most pronounced type.He wrote:"I wish I had never been born."

††

Not in pleasure --

†† Lord Byron lived a life of pleasure,.He wrote: "The worm, the canker, and the grief are mine alone."

††

Not in money --

†† Howard HughesAmerican millionaire, had plenty of that.When dying he said:"I suppose I am the most miserable man on earth."

††††††††††††††††††† Not in position and fame --

†† Lord Beaconsfield enjoyed more than his share of both.He wrote: "Youth is a mistake; manhood, a struggle; old age, a regret."

Not in military glory --

†† Alexander the Great conquered the known world in his day. Having done so, he wept, because, he said, "There are no more worlds to conquer."

 

†† Where, then, is Joy found ? Only in the Lord - The Joy of the Lord is my Strength !

 

 

 

Person who is focused on the Lord & on the Kingdom is filled w/ Joy !

 

1Pet.1:6In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials,

7that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,

8whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,

9receiving the end of your faith; the salvation of your souls.

 

1Pet.4: 12Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you;

13but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.

 

Paulís Point is that The Kingdom of God consists not of externals but of eternals. How wonderful it would be if we would concentrate on these things.

A) Marriages in our fellowship w/ others / in our relationships - it is when we get our eyes focused on the externals = trouble !

 

 

B) The overall principle here is this: whether we be "weak" (limited in freedom) or "strong" (more liberated), we make a great mistake if we focus on externals.

 

C) The weak shrivels his Christianity by seeing the externals as a road to greater righteousness.

1) The strong trivializes his faith by insisting on his rights to the externals.

 

D) If we flaunt our freedom, we are far less free than we imagine.

Bottom line is this The Kingdom of God will not be manifested in your life if your rights are so important to you that you are willing to separate from a brother who does not agree with you.

 

Whether we are strong or weak, we are to live as citizens of the Kingdom of God, focusing not on the externals, but on the elements of eternityó"righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit."

 

 

So In light of that Paul says next - Pursue that which is going to bring a mutual benefit !

19Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.

20Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are pure, but it is evil for the man who eats with offense.

21It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak.

22Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves.

23But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin.

 

Word Pursue means to get after it ! Make it a priority & a passion - pursue it !

 

A)Pursue those things that make for peace & edification !

1Cor 10: 23All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify.

 

B) Learned hard way - Camp - skit !

 

 

C) Love how Paul concludes this issue in 1Cor. 10 31Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

32Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God,

33just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.

 

 

So Six Principles Paul hits on here in Romans 14 on this issue of liberty & Diversity is Genuine acceptance in Love - / Individual Christians can disagree in minor areas & still be right w/ God

 

Christ is the Judge of all of us so lets submit to Him !

 

Donít stumble a brother - Eyes on the Kingdom - Pursue Love & edification !

 

Paul raps up this whole thing by - giving a few practical illustrations ch. 15

15:1We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves.

2Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification.

3For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, "The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me."

 

Phillips Translation - We who are strong in the faith ought to shoulder the burdens & the doubts & the hang ups of the weak !

 

A) That word ought = owe - we owe it to them Why ? Because of what Christ did for us !

 

B) Love is the Key - ultimate display of Love !

 

C) Came not to be served but to serve - lay down his life -

D) Not just Jesus but other examples - 4For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.

 

E) Others - - Abe w/ Lot - Moses w/ Pharaoh -

 

F) All focused on Heaven ! 10for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

 

Moses 25choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin,

26esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward.

27By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible.

 

David W/ Saul - focused on righteousness !

 

One final example - 5Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus,

6that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God.

8Now I say that Jesus Christ has become a servant to the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers,

9and that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy, as it is written: "For this reason I will confess to You among the Gentiles, And sing to Your name."

10And again he says: "Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people!"

11And again: "Praise the LORD, all you Gentiles! Laud Him, all you peoples!"

12And again, Isaiah says: "There shall be a root of Jesse; And He who shall rise to reign over the Gentiles, In Him the Gentiles shall hope."

13Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

14Now I myself am confident concerning you, my brethren, that you also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.

Final example that Paul points to is the fact that Jesus Himself has excepted this diversity in creating His church His body

 

A) Made up of Jews & Gentiles who couldnít be any more different & unique