STUDYGUIDE-15-140206 - length: 60:00 - taught on Feb, 6 2014
Let’s begin by reading this extended passage from Romans 14:1 through Romans 15:13.
In this section, Paul is taking what he taught in chapter 12 and using it to address a specific situation in the Roman church that was a source of conflict at that time.
And the specific situation there is but one symptom of a more general disease that afflicts congregations in all places and times, including ours.
Paul lays out principles that we are to use to fix our attitudes and guide our choices about our behavior in relation to other believers.
In Romans 14 and 15, Paul uses two terms to identify two kinds of believers. Can anyone pick them out?
Yes, the terms are “weak” and “strong”.
The weak believer is one who is prone to have a guilty conscience concerning “doubtful matters” or “disputable matters” that he would not have were he stronger or more established in the New Testament teachings concerning grace and not being under the law.
They have not yet come to a full understanding of the implications of GRACE in their lives.
So the faith here has to do not with belief generally but to one’s convictions about what that faith allows him or her to do.
The weak in faith are not lesser Christians than the strong.
They are simply those who do not think their faith allows them to do certain things that the strong feel free to do.
Another word for such a believer is “scrupulous”.
Let me give you the three main sections of this passage.
With that as an overall introduction, let’s begin tonight with the first section:
1 Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions. 2 One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only. 3 The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him. 4 Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
5 One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God. 7 For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; 8 for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord's. 9 For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.
10 But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.
Rom 14:11 For it is written, "AS I LIVE, SAYS THE LORD,EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW TO ME, AND EVERY TONGUE SHALL GIVE PRAISE TO GOD." 12 So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.
Romans 14 through 15:13 is an application of what Paul taught in Romans 12:3-13, especially verse 10:
ROM 12:10 10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor NASU
Having exhorted his readers to love one another and avoid dissension and jealousy, Paul now considers one of the most common causes of DISUNITY in the church: DISAGREEMENTS on the proper way to practice the Christian faith.
Both the “weak” and the “strong” believers were convinced that THEIR WAY of living out the Christian faith was right, and that the other was wrong!
Paul does not ultimately side with either party.
Instead, he urges us to accept one another, and preserve the unity by applying principles of love to the situation.
In verse 1, we are told to receive or accept the fellow believer who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions. Boy is this up to date!
1 Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions. 2 One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only.
There are many reasons why a believer may be weak:
They may be a new believer (babies are weak)
They may have come out of a legalistic upbringing ( the sick are weak)
They may not have had much sound teaching (the malnourished are weak)
They may need exhortation (if you don’t exercise you get weak)
Let me point out here that each one of us can be weak in certain areas of behavior, because of our past or our upbringing or even our areas of weakness in our flesh.
What are some of those areas where certain believers because of their background or tendencies may find themselves as weak believers who in their conscience genuinely believe that they are not at liberty to engage in certain kinds of behavior that other believers have no pangs of conscience about?
Bars or liquor stores for people with an alcohol addiction
Watching certain television channels if you have a tendency to be weak in the area of sexual lust and coveting
So we are to welcome the weak believer, - and not with the idea that we go to work straightening him out!
By the way, chapter 14 is a chapter of making proper distinctions.
So right off the bat we need to distinguish between a believer who is weak when it comes to his conscience concerning certain activities, and a believer who is rebellious.
In verse 2, Paul brings up the subject of eating vegetables.
Now of course we have that sort of thing today but probably not for the same reasons!
Paul is talking about believers who refuse to eat meat for moral or religious reasons.
In the first century, this was a burning religious issue.
Pagan converts to Christianity had practiced the sacrificing of animals to false gods, and so would have associated meat eating with that practice and therefore shun it.
But Jewish believers came out of their own tradition which had its own prohibitions when it came to what food was permissible to eat.
The thing to recognize is that for us the issues of eating meat, and later on in this section the issue of holding certain days to be special or holier than others,
These things are for us simply EXAMPLES of what we can call DOUBTFUL or DISPUTABLE THINGS. OPINIONS.
So here we come along with another key distinction.
When it comes to Christian behavior, certain matters are CLEAR things, and other matters are DOUBTFUL things.