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Navigating the Grey

Romans  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  1:02:01
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Everything that marks the Christian life, is motivated by love.

That a Christian’s life is marked by service, generosity, hospitality and peace....all motivated by love.
A continual love
We have been shown much love by God, so we must show much love to others.
There is always a need to love, there is always a way to show love that is needed.
A God Exalting love
Our lives and our focus is not centered on what “not” to do; keeping a checklist and walking on eggshells
Our lives and our focus is on loving others, when we seek to love and benefit others, the “thou shalt not” is taken care of
An urgent love
There is an urgency to show a love that preaches the gospel.
The message of the church is not found solely in word or deed, but it is found in both word and deed
Paul continues this theme of “love”
Specifically, how the church should interact with each other in areas where there is disagreement
We are the body of Christ, many members, many different cultures, many different backgrounds....how do we stay knit together amid so many differences?
The next few times we look at Romans, we are going to look at navigating these “grey” areas.
As a side note, if you google the words Christian and Grey together…you get a lot of stuff about 50 shades of grey…which is not the book we want to study this morning.
Romans 14:1–12 ESV
As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? 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 confess to God.” So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.

The problems Paul wants to address stem from arguments over areas of conscience.

In Scripture there are closed / open handed issues
Closed Handed (Solid Doctrines/Principals of Scripture)
God is the Creator of the Universe
The Ten Commandments
The Virgin Birth
Jesus - Sinless Son of God (Lived, Crucified, Risen)
Salvation through grace by faith in Jesus
Open Handed Issues (Matters of Conscience)
Should Christians celebrate Holidays? How?
Halloween
Easter
Christmas
Should Christians drink Alcohol?
What does it mean to dress Modestly?
In Marriage are there sexual acts that are prohibited?
What movies/television/music do I expose myself to?
How/When do I Sabbath?
How do I give/tithe to the Church?
Which version of Scripture should I use?
Even though we have both open and closed handed areas in scripture we must be on guard not to find ourselves in one of two wrong “extremes”
We must guard against thinking there are very few areas of conscience (thinking that there is only black/white)
We must guard against thinking that every area is an area of conscience (thinking there is no black and white only grey)
I want to concentrate this morning on the issue at hand for Paul and these believers he is writing to, then next month start to see how this applies to our modern day areas of conscience.
In Rome, the issue at hand primarily concerned food
Some would “eat eat anything”
Some would “eat only vegetables”
Being vegetarian is not required by Scripture, but it does appear in the Book of Daniel.
It may have been that some Gentile believers became vegetarians to avoid eating meat that had been sacrificed to idols. (1 Corinthians 8)
It may have been that Jewish believers became vegetarians to avoid eating meat that wasn’t kosher in order to keep Levitical law.
Along with the issue of food, there were also issues of arguing over certain calendar observances (feast and holidays) and also drinking wine
THE MAIN POINT: These open-handed issues were a problem because of the division and destruction they were causing within the church.

Those who are weak in faith are not legalist, but desire to honor God by faith, through God-centered convictions.

What does Paul mean by “weak in faith”
He does not mean they were legalists
Attitude of legalism is summed up as “Jesus Plus”
Not trusting in Jesus alone for salvation
Adding an obligation/requirement of the law to be accepted by God…the best example is found in Galatians
Galatians - The Judaizers who were teaching that salvation came through Jesus AND circumcision. The two could not be separated.
Paul has harsh words for these false teachers and says they are guilty of distorting the gospel.
That isn’t what is happening here...
Those weak in faith desired to honor God
Weak faith is not “no faith”, these people placed their trust and their hope in the sacrifice of Jesus
Their motivation (v6) of abstaining was not so they would be accepted by God, but an effort to honor and glorify God in how they lived.
They were honoring God by abstaining from something they considered unclean...
Romans 14:14
Romans 14:14 ESV
I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean.
These were people who believed that this food was unclean.
If they were Jewish, it may have been unclean because it wasn’t approved in OT Levitical law....I can’t eat that because I desire to honor God.
If they were Gentile, it may have been food sacrificed to idols…I can’t eat that because I don’t wish to honor false Gods, but the one true God alone.
In 1 Corinthians 8:6-7 Paul in gently says those weaker in faith are limited in their freedom in Jesus because of their past. (former associations,worldview,upbringing)
1 Corinthians 8:6–7 ESV
yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist. However, not all possess this knowledge. But some, through former association with idols, eat food as really offered to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled.
I have seen this culturally firsthand in Romania as compared to the USA.
Paul’s point here to those who are “strong” in faith, is that even though those “weak in faith” have a more limited freedom in Jesus, they are not to look down on them or regard their convictions lightly as something to easily dismiss.
The “weak in faith” are to be welcomed, loved and respected because their faith is in Jesus and they are living God-centered lives that seek his Honor.

Those who are strong in faith are not lawless, but desire to honor God by faith, through God-centered convictions.

Paul will call those with a more fuller understanding of our freedom in Christ those who are “strong in faith” (15:1)
He is not saying these are lawless people.
Romans 6:1 Shall we continue in sin so grace may abound? God Forbid! We died to sin in Christ’s death and are raised to a new life in His resurrection
Go back to Romans 14:14 I am persuaded in the Lord Jesus
Romans 14:14 ESV
I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean.
Paul says He knows, He is convinced....(v5) “each one should be fully convinced in his own mind” that it is ok to eat the food in question.
Those “strong in faith” are not abusing God’s grace as an excuse to sin, but enjoying the freedom God’s grace gives to partake in God’s goods gifts.
Those “strong in faith” desired to honor God
(v6) The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God..
These Christians that were stronger, had a better understanding that this food wasn’t unclean.
They may have been Jews that saw that the dietary restrictions had been lifted when Jesus pronounced all foods clean. (Mark 7:19)
They may have been Gentiles that saw that food sacrificed to idols could still be eaten because there is no other god....they were fake gods and eating this food was not worshipping them b/c they believed there is only one true God.
Either way, these “stronger” Christians were trusting in the finished work of Christ, and had at the forefront of their minds the honor of God....

The most telling mark of a Christian to the world is that we love one another. This kind of love is only possible when our focus is on the good news of the gospel; each of us are sinners whom Jesus has given His life to save.

How do we respond? How do we keep unity? How do we love those who think differently on these non-essential issues?
The tendency of those who better understand the gospel is to be impatient with the inhibitions of the “weak” as legalistic bondage. The temptation of the “weak” is to condemn the “strong” for behavior that seems to be lawless license. These mistaken responses should yield to the light of God’s gracious acceptance of both “weak” and “strong.” - R.C Sproul
Walk Alongside Them
Here Paul says welcome, the word here means to “draw them to you” or “to lend a hand”....it’s doing life together
The Church should be a safe place for all of us to admit we ‘don’t have it together’, we all struggle, we are all learning…we are here because we are being drawn to God and His beauty
He says not to quarrel
It’s ok to discuss, it is ok to talk and think things true with other believers and examine the scriptures together. Iron sharpens iron.
It’s not ok to see that something is clearly, and repeatedly called sin and deny that it is a sin.
It’s not ok to see something not clearly called a sin, and have an opinion and try to force that on someone else
It is ok to disagree, and still be able to serve alongside each other even through a disagreement. Pastor Steve and I disagree on a few things…but we both cling to Jesus
So we walk alongside each other, we talk and discuss God’s beauty, we may even point out hazards and obstacles, but we don’t trip each other up and try to beat each other down.
Paul is reminding us to keep the main thing the main thing
It can be so easy to fall into the trap of making much of our own opinions in these areas of conscience…
We want to be right, we want approval, we want to win
If we are called to a genuine and urgent love, let me no waste my time trying to proclaim “my glory”, but let me proclaim Christ and Him crucified....
It’s the same kind of trap they fell into in Corinth…Some saying I follow Paul, others saying I follow Apollos...
Don’t waste you time here…don’t waste your life proclaiming what all that you stand against…proclaim who you stand for.
I am a Sinner Guilty before God
I mess up daily…I don’t have together..
But I have a loving, merciful, gracious Savior whose blood covers a multitude of sins...
This is how we walk, this is how we do life together…as a church with many members of different cultures, of different backgrounds, united in the sacrifice of Christ.
This is the big take away for the week…we must see this, we must stew on this before we take it a step further.
Where are we going from here?
We will continue to talk about navigating these grey areas. How do we discern what is good, right and perfect?
How do think through these areas of conscience?
Are there times when we are called to limit or sacrifice our own freedom in Christ for the sake of our brothers and sisters?
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