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Romans 14

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Romans
Romans 14:13–23 NIV
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. 14 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. 16 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. 19 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. 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.

we ought to love one another even when it constrains our own freedom or we must never take lightly our own conscience or anyone else’s conscience.

Intro

What are your rights?
What are your rights?
Romans Unity and the Priority of Responsibilities over Rights (Romans 14:13–23)

The question at issue in this passage is the relationship between the right of Christians to use their freedom and their commensurate responsibility to use that undoubted freedom in a way that is constructive rather than destructive of Christian fellowship.

The question at issue in this passage is the relationship between the right of Christians to use their freedom and their commensurate responsibility to use that undoubted freedom in a way that is constructive rather than destructive of Christian fellowship.
We ought to love one another even when it constrains our own freedom or we must never take lightly our own conscience or anyone else’s conscience.

The principle of conscience

Romans Unity and the Priority of Responsibilities over Rights (Romans 14:13–23)

When Christ fulfilled and brought an end to the law, part of what came to an end was the whole regimen of clean and unclean foods which had been, and remains, one of the distinguishing characteristics of the Jewish faith. Realization that that regimen no longer had any religious authority for them seems to have been rather difficult for those Christians for whom, prior to their conversion, such considerations had been at the center of their religious convictions. After all, one of the ways Israel was to respond appropriately as chosen people to the God who had redeemed and called her was to observe certain dietary restrictions. For former Jews to live in total freedom from such restrictions was obviously difficult, and difficult in proportion to the extent to which they had previously sought to live under the law God had given to Israel. One can see the extent of that difficulty in the story of Peter’s vision in Acts 10:9–19. Peter resists the heavenly voice (God!) that tells him dietary restrictions no longer apply (v. 10); and even after being told the same thing three times, Peter still has difficulty absorbing what the vision meant (vv. 16–19).

When Christ fulfilled and brought an end to the law, part of what came to an end was the whole regimen of clean and unclean foods which had been, and remains, one of the distinguishing characteristics of the Jewish faith.
Realisation that that regimen no longer had any religious authority for them seems to have been rather difficult for those Christians for whom, prior to their conversion, such considerations had been at the center of their religious convictions.
After all, one of the ways Israel was to respond appropriately as chosen people to the God who had redeemed and called her was to observe certain dietary restrictions. For former Jews to live in total freedom from such restrictions was obviously difficult, and difficult in proportion to the extent to which they had previously sought to live under the law God had given to Israel.
One can see the extent of that difficulty in the story of Peter’s vision in . Peter resists the heavenly voice (God!) that tells him dietary restrictions no longer apply (v. 10); and even after being told the same thing three times, Peter still has difficulty absorbing what the vision meant (vv. 16–19).
Romans Unity and the Priority of Responsibilities over Rights (Romans 14:13–23)

A similar kind of difficulty was faced by gentile converts to the Christian faith. Many of them had followed religious practices which involved eating meat that had been sacrificed to some god or goddess, or which involved drinking wine as part of their participation in cultic celebrations. For some of them, apparently, the identification of such food and drink with the idols they had formerly worshiped had been so complete that now, as Christians, it seemed inappropriate to continue to consume them. Paul faced a similar problem in Corinth (see 1 Cor. 8). Obviously, while the religious convictions of these Christian converts had changed, their consciences remained sensitive to those former convictions.

Problems of consciousness were not merely a Jewish Christ A similar kind of difficulty was faced by gentile converts to the Christian faith.
Many of them had followed religious practices which involved eating meat that had been sacrificed to some god or goddess, or which involved drinking wine as part of their participation in cultic celebrations.
For some of them, apparently, the identification of such food and drink with the idols they had formerly worshiped had been so complete that now, as Christians, it seemed inappropriate to continue to consume them.
Paul faced a similar problem in Corinth (see ). Obviously, while the religious convictions of these Christian converts had changed, their consciences remained sensitive to those former convictions.
We see similar issues of freedom of conscious occurring in Corinth, where Christian women were using their freedom in faith in ways that put a barrier in the middle of the church and caused disunity.
Romans Unity and the Priority of Responsibilities over Rights (Romans 14:13–23)

Other Christians, who were not bothered by such former associations, felt their freedom in Christ enabled them to eat or drink anything they pleased for “the kingdom of God does not mean food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (v. 17). Is that valid insight to be sacrificed to those unable or unwilling to realize it? Is my freedom to be limited by the ignorance or weak conscience of others? It is that problem Paul is addressing in our passage.

Other Christians, who were not bothered by such former associations, felt their freedom in Christ enabled them to eat or drink anything they pleased for “the kingdom of God does not mean food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (v. 17).
Is that valid insight to be sacrificed to those unable or unwilling to realise it? Is my freedom to be limited by the ignorance or weak conscience of others?
It is that problem Paul is addressing in our passage.
Are there similar issues in our church today?
Alcohol, the consumption of,
Playing of sport on Sunday’s
Halal meat,
Voting & support of different politicians,
Wearing of certain clothing,
Even different
How do we maintain unity and as a church, and live out the purposes that God has for his church in the midst of such differences.

The principle of conscience

2. The principle of love: we must build up God’s people by not undermining their submission to Jesus (vv. 15, 16 with vv. 19–21).
3. The principle of the kingdom: God rules by his Christ over a people who live together in right relationships, harmony and joy in the Holy Spirit (vv. 17, 18)
The principle of conscience
We must never pressure another Christian to do something unless they are fully convinced in their own mind that it honours Jesus as Lord (vv. 13, 14 with vv. 22, 23).
This passage and others in the Bible show us that it’s fine to hold different points of conscience, so long as that conviction does not contradict the gospel.
Holding different ideas in the periphery is something that we should almost expect!
We all come from different backgrounds, and all have different stories. We also all have different struggles.

Different conscientious decisions must not be condemned

Romans 14:1 NIV
1 Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters.
The gospel dispenses believers from all prohibitions concerning food. Those who are strong in faith realise this, and joyfully accept this liberty. Yet others are hindered from accepting this, on account of scruples about food inherited from their past life. Paul asks those with a clearer grasp of the gospel to respect anyone whose “faith is weak”, so that, in their own time, they may come to share the fulness of the liberty of the children of God.See also ; ;
The gospel dispenses believers from all prohibitions concerning food. Those who are strong in faith realise this, and joyfully accept this liberty. Yet others are hindered from accepting this, on account of scruples about food inherited from their past life.
Paul asks those with a clearer grasp of the gospel to respect anyone whose “faith is weak”, so that, in their own time, they may come to share the fulness of the liberty of the children of God.
See also ; ;
1 Corinthians 10:29–30 NIV
29 I am referring to the other person’s conscience, not yours. For why is my freedom being judged by another’s conscience? 30 If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for?

God accepts and supports people who reach different conscientious decisions

Romans 14:3–4 NIV
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.

God alone must judge whether decisions of the conscience are right or wrong

Romans 14:12–13 NIV
12 So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God. 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.
Colossians 2:16 NIV
16 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day.
It’s not our job to judge each other, even if we disagree.
It’s not our job to judge each other, even if we disagree.
It can be easy to judge someone else, when they hold a different option to us.
What I love about this passage is that Paul is writing about those who are weak in faith; I think we always consider that we are the ones who have a strong faith!
They are not as serious about their faith as I am;
Colossians 2:16 NIV
16 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day.
I have a deeper theological understanding than they do;
When we make these sorts of judgements, we create barriers.
One thing that is important to say is;

does not say that all opinions regarding matters of conscience are equally valid.

does not say that Christians should refrain from judging a believer who is engaging in obvious sin.

So what should we do?
So what should we do?

The principle of love

We must build up God’s people by not undermining their submission to Jesus (vv. 15, 16 with vv. 19–21).
Our “rights” must always be subordinate to our love for others.
Romans 14:15–16 NIV
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. 16 Therefore do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil.
Romans 14:15
Romans 14:19–21 NIV
19 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.
If something you believe sincerely causes someone else to struggle, cut it out, because of your love for them.
If your consuming of alcohol causes a brother or sister to stumble, don’t do it around them.
If your consuming of Halal...
Another thing that this passage is not saying that we should not talk about our differences of opinions.
Paul in this passage, even outlines his arguments as to why he thinks the eating of all food is permissible theologically/
The point the Paul wants to enforce is the principle of Love.
How I see this working out in our context is when we face disagreements about things with the church.
When the leadership make a decision contrary to what you believe the church should do.
When someone does something that you don’t agree with.
How we act in this space is incredibly important.
Love is what we operate out of.
Not pride
Not ego
Not perfectionism
But love.
John 13:35 NIV
35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
John 13:

God rules by his Christ over a people who live together in right relationships, harmony and joy in the Holy Spirit (vv. 17, 18)
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