Romans:The Glory of the Gospel Part 35
Do Not Cause Stumbling – Romans14:13-23
Mosaic Rockford – Dave Spooner – July 8th, 2018
- Last week we focused on the first half of chapter 14 where we are instructed to not pass judgment on other believer’s lifestyle choices. We are to live in freedom and love with other believers who don’t live the same way that we believe. Please note that when it comes to sin issues, we are instructed to tell the truth to each other because we love each other. In issues of clear sin, we have a mandate to warn each other. In the end, each of us will give an account to God for what we did with what He gave us. God is our master and ultimate judge.
- We do have freedom in many things. However, we must keep several things in mind with the choices that we make. Is what I am doing beneficial or harmful to myself or others? Can I be doing something else with my time and resources that would be better? Is what I am choosing to do glorifying to God? Am I putting God first with my choices? Is it a choice I would be proud of on judgment day? Does this choice line up with the teachings of the Bible? Are my choices motivated by love? Love of God or love of others?
- These are important questions you must consider, as they will guide you in the right direction and provide protection for you with the greatest wisdom and reward. The second half of chapter 14 deals with living our life in the community of faith and doing so in consideration and benefit of other believers, with the chief aim being “to live in love and harmony with each other.”
Do not cause others to stumble
Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.
- Instead of focusing on and pointing out what other people are doing wrong (which causes division, separation and condemnation), we are to focus on making sure that our choices do not cause other people to sin or stumble in their faith. For example: what we watch, what we listen to, what we consume and what we cloth ourselves with. Love thinks about the other and how our actions affect them.
Walk in love
Rom 14:14-16 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. 15 For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died. 16 So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil.
- Paul is fully convinced that nothing is unclean in itself – which is an increasable statement coming from his Jewish background. He is saying that objects and items by themselves do not cause someone to be “unclean” or “unholy.” However, if someone thinks that they are unclean, then they are unclean for that person. This means that when it comes to our conscience – the part of us that believes something and convicts us if we go against what we believe – if we go against what we believe, then we are willingly sinning (even though what we believe is not correct). Example: my grandmother with cards.
- With my grandmother, I did not play cards around her because she thought that I was sinning, and it would have a negative effect on her and our relationship. It may also entice her to play even though she thought it was wrong (The better way would be to pray for her and have a conversation about these things to try to change her beliefs to a biblical position if possible, if not love her the way that she is). I would not participate in card playing around her until she changes her opinion. Why would I do that? Because I love her (not primarily because I did not want to get in trouble).
- We must walk in love with others, and in doing so think about the choices that we make and how it would affect others. We are not, in any way, to destroy someone else who Christ died for. (People have the highest value.) You are to take this very seriously. I, for one, do not want to do anything that will hurt or destroy the faith of other people. It is a serious crime in God’s eyes and we need to do everything in our power to not hurt other people or hinder their faith.
- If we are participating in a behavior of something that is good, and others disapprove, we are causing what is good to be spoken of as evil. It is better to not participate in the activity with the people who think that activity is wrong.
Pursue kingdom priorities
Rom 14:17-19 ESV
For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. 19 So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.
- What we eat and drink does not matter in an eternal sense (it will affect our bodies however – it is a good thing to manage them well out of love for God, ourselves and others) – which means we should give these things up for what really matters. What really matters are the principles of the kingdom community – living in righteousness, peace and joy that is provided by the Holy Spirit.
- If we live with these priorities and goals in mind, we will serve Christ in a way that is acceptable to God and it will be approved by other people. Both the opinion of God and other people matter. We need to care about what God and other people think because we are called to live in community and to be at peace with each other. We are also to do things that build each other up, not destroy them. Make sure that your highest priority not to express your freedom but to uphold the faith. Live in Christ, live in peace, live in joy.
Live by faith
Rom 14:20-23 ESV
Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats. 21 It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble. 22 The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves. 23 But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.
- Everything that we use for food is indeed clean. Our personal freedom must not be our highest value but must take second place to making sure that we love others. Because of our personal freedom, it is wrong to damage or hurt another by causing them to stumble.
- If you have a personal belief that says that what you do is okay (things outside what is clearly prohibited by the bible), keep that between you and God. Do not let it become an issue between you and someone else if it causes them to stumble. You are blessed when you can live in line with what you believe.
- If you have doubts about what you are eating or doing, it is better for you not to participate in that activity. Whatever does not proceed from faith is sin. This is a huge statement.
- If you make any choice that is not in line with what you believe and your faith in Christ, it is sin. Living in sin degrades our soul, puts us in bondage, damages our connection with others and make us hide and avoid God. This is not a healthy or helpful way to live.
- Recognize that you have freedom because of Christ (we don’t have to live by the religious code of the Old Testament). Live with wisdom and as a free person being guided by the faith.
- Make sure to let your love for others take priority over your personal freedom. Only do what will be beneficial for building others up and living in peace. The kingdom of God is not a matter of eating, drinking, fashion or entertainment, but righteousness, peace and joy.
- Make sure your faith is biblically verified and founded. Make your choices based upon faith that is built upon the word of God. Live in line with your thinking. In doing so, you will live in healthy, productive and connective ways with God and with others.