Romans 14

 

Romans 14

(Loving your Conservative/Liberal brethren)


Romans 14:1-23, 15:1,2: When brethren differ on an issue of living their faith, identifying the liberal and conservative views, and substituting them in the text at the appropriate places can help each to see if they are properly relating to each other as Christians. Note, the person with the conservative view this time may be the person with the liberal view next time. All brethren are not always conservative or liberal.


The thing to identify in a given circumstance is which view is the more liberal (allows more freedom), or more conservative (contains more restrictions). Both views may be right for the individuals involved given the fact that they are each required to live up to their own conviction of faith. But in many circumstances each is trying to put their view as a responsibility on the other, and in this they are both wrong. The one with the conservative view tends to harshly judge the liberal one, and the one with the liberal view tends to discount the conservative one. Romans 14 teaches this is not to be, though it presumes that each has their particular view based on a convicting faith (Heb 10:22 "Full assurance of Faith", and not just on a passing preference.

Romans 14 helps each participant in such a relationship see their own blindness toward the other, and the liberty of the other in Christ. To whatever extent existing views are not based on scripture, this must first be pursued, irrespective of the current liberal or conservative position of the existing view. Romans 14 is not a license to live as one pleases, but the authority to live according to one's scriptural conviction (faith), and acknowledgment that one's brethren have the authority to do the same. Yet each, where principle is not involved, should readily acquiesce in love, preferring one another.

Note clearly that this does not apply to technical, "non-lived" doctrines of scripture, and it does not apply to sins identified by scripture. While technical doctrines may well affect the direction of our lives, they should not affect how we live that direction. While sins definitely would affect how we live our lives, they are not to be part of our lives that the brethren should see them. This applies rather to the jot and title, the outward signs, attitudes, permissions, and restrictions, of how we live our daily lives by faith. These are the issues that can cause a brother to look surprised or askance at us, or us to look surprised or askance at him, for what we see the other doing, or not doing. These are the things that test our personal brotherly love, agape love, meekness, compassion, and our desire to be instruments of righteousness for God, lifting our brethren up as we serve them for their good and God's glory.

Gal 6:1 "If you see a brother overtaken in a fault, you which are more spiritual restore such a one in the spirit of meekness, considering yourself, lest you also be tempted.…"

2 Tim 2:25, 26 "..In meekness instructing those opposing themselves if God perhaps will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth, and that they may be recovered out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive of him at this will".

Js 5:20 "He who converts the sinner from the error of his way, shall save a soul from death, and hide a multitude of sin".

Romans 14

1. Receive (liberal), one who is weak in the faith (conservative/weak in the faith of his liberties), but not to disputes over doubtful things (in which neither has convicting faith).
The conservative is generally considered weaker in the faith because he has more directions and restrictions in his life that he uses to keep himself pure in his faith. As he matures more in faith, he'll need less and less specific direction and restriction, because he will do more right things and avoid more wrong things out of love, so that he doesn't need the same controls. Thus he will become more liberal as he matures in the spirit.

2. For one (liberal) believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak (conservative) eats only vegetables.
The liberal is convinced he will not stumble or sin in these. The conservative is convinced he will stumble or sin in these. He is usually convinced the scriptures teach that all are to stay away from the particular issue. Or the conservative in one issue may know he has a sinful habit in this area, and forces himself to stay away completely to avoid the connected temptation to sin. For one in such a position, this is a good and proper thing.

3. Let not him who eats (liberal) despise him who does not eat (conservative), and let not him who does not eat (conservative) judge him who eats (liberal); for God has received him (both liberal and conservative).
The liberal despises, looks down on the conservative for his many rules, and restrictions, and perceived traditions. The conservatives judges the liberal for blatantly ignoring all the rules that only the conservative sees. Can you find any love in either of these views? But what does the scripture say? God has received both of them. Is this hard for you to accept? But God accepts them both as they are, as long as they are acting in faith. God also knows that that they will grow and mature as long as they continue to act in accordance with their faith.

4. Who are you (liberal and conservative) to judge another man's (God's) servant? (Note: God's servant, not yours!) To his own master (God) he stands or falls. (His position with God is between God and him). Indeed, he (liberal and conservative) will be made to stand, for God is able to make him (liberal and conservative) stand.
If we understand the other brother is the Lord's servant, how can we even think of judging him in how he responds to the Lord's directions, and insist that he follow us? God is in control! Let Him direct! We need to just be ready to carry out His will. He may even ask us to hold up the other brother.

5. One person (conservative) esteems one day (Sunday & holy days) above another: another (liberal) esteems every day alike (Live as in the day). Let each be fully convinced (Heb 10:22 "Full assurance of faith" in his own mind.

And
then what follows in verse 6 will be true.

6. He who observes the day (conservative/special Sunday or Holy day) observes it to the Lord (and he gives God thanks); and he who does not observe the day (liberal/views all days alike), to the Lord he does not observe it (and he gives God thanks). He who eats (liberal) eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat (conservative) to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks.
Do all as unto the Lord (Acts 23:1 and 24:16), and give Him the thanks.

7. For none of us (liberal or conservative) lives to himself, and no one (liberal or conservative) dies to himself. (If we are in the Lord's will, we live and die for him).

8. For if we (conservative and liberal) live, we (conservative and liberal) live to the Lord; and if we (conservative and liberal) die, we (conservative and liberal) die to the Lord. Therefore whether we (conservative and liberal) live or die, we (conservative and liberal) are the Lord's.
But we must believe it, (have faith in it), and live it, until we die in it.

9. For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living. (The Lord of all who believe (have faith) to the saving of their souls).

10. But why do you (conservative) judge your (liberal) brother? Or why do you (liberal) show contempt for your (conservative) brother? For we (conservative and liberal) shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.
Our attitude defines our heart! Our heart decided our words and actions. Our words and actions convict us of righteousness or of sin.

11. For it is written, As I live, says the Lord, every (conservative and liberal) knee shall bow to me, and every (conservative and liberal) tongue shall confess to God. This identifies all who have faith and would live. All others will be destroyed. Only those of faith are eternal.

12. So then each of us (conservative and liberal) shall give account of himself to God.
His words, his actions, his faith, his love (or lack thereof) shall be accounted to God! Ultimately we are all responsible for ourselves. We cannot blame others, or genetics, or circumstances. (Ro 8: 35-39; Gal 6:2, 5)

13. Therefore let us (conservative and liberal) not judge one another any more (for how they walk with the Lord), but rather resolve this, not (either of us) to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother's way.
Do not interfere with another's walk with the Lord, when you see him walking in faith. Rather encourage him in his walk. Encourage him into more light, but not to a change of his walking in faith.

14. I know, and am convinced by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him (conservative) that considers any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean.
Two strong statements.
1) Nothing is inherently unclean. That is, nothing as it is produced in nature will make us spiritually unclean. How we modify it and use it may make us unclean, as with drugs and alcohol. How we view it or abuse it may make us unclean, as with lust and fornication. But the individual things themselves will not make us unclean if all are used and viewed as intended by God
2) If someone believes something is unclean, then it is indeed unclean unto them. This is because their belief, their faith, is that it is unclean. And they must live their faith. Can you see how important faith is in our relationship with God, and in our obedience to Him? You can see then how even our liberal or conservative position in any thing has to be based on faith, and once confirmed, then that position must be held and acted upon until and unless we are brought to a different understanding in faith.
And if that is true for us, isn't it also true for our brother with the opposite view? Though we may view the matter differently, shouldn't we see the brother is walking in faith, with a pure conscience before God and men? To do any differently, he would be hypocritical, and that would be sin! Rejoice in his integrity! It is a good thing. If God wants him to see the point differently, He will bring him to see it in due time. And he may use us to do it, but only if we are desirous of doing it in love.

15. Yet (liberal) if your (conservative) brother is grieved because of your food, (you see it as clean; but he sees it as unclean) you (liberal) are no longer walking in love. Do not (liberal) destroy with your food, the one (conservative), for whom Christ died.
We must walk in love as Christ commanded us, building up our brethren, not stumbling them or tearing them down.

16. Therefore do not let your (liberal) good (which you see as clean), be spoken of (by the conservative view) as evil (because he sees it as unclean).
But you may bring him to this, and thus stumble him, because you flaunt your liberality before him.

17. For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking; but righteousness (doing right for others), and peace (bringing peace to others), and joy (sharing joy with others), in the Holy Spirit. Doing for…..Bringing to….and Sharing with. That is the kingdom of God.
The kingdom of God is nothing earthly, such as car, house, clothing, etc.. (Mt 6:33. "Seek first the kingdom of heaven, and all these things shall be added unto you."

18. for he (liberal and conservative) who serves Christ in these things is (1) acceptable to God, and (2) approved by men.
"These things" are the righteousness, peace, and joy of verse 17. Righteousness is the deed. Peace and joy are the effect, when all is done as unto the Lord. Clearly this is acceptable to God. And even fallen men must approve of the purity of the motive and method.

19. Therefore let us (liberal and conservative) pursue the things that make for peace (between me and all others), and the things by which one may edify (build up) another.
Let's find each other's needs, and provide them. Let's find each other's limits, and stay inside them.

20. Do not (liberal) destroy the work of God (in the conservative brother) for the sake of food, (or for any other thing of this world). All things indeed are pure (See Vs 14); but it is evil for the man (liberal) who eats (or does anything) with offense (toward the conservative brother).

21. It is good (liberal) neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your (conservative) brother (1) stumbles, (does a momentary wrong) or (2) is offended, (shocked to see what is claimed for truth) or (3) is made weak.(led to reduce his own principles).
Mt 18:6. "But whoever shall offend one of these little ones which believe (have faith) in me, it were better
for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea".

22. Do you (liberal and conservative) have faith? (There is that faith again)! Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he (liberal and conservative) who does not condemn himself in what he approves.
"A conscience void of offense before God and men". (Acts 23:1; 24:16)

23. But he (liberal and conservative) that doubts (doesn't have faith; and now look at the result!) is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin.
This is the major and all encompassing decision point upon which our whole life is to be based. Everything we do in the narrow way must be based on faith. If it is not of faith, and we do it, it is sin!. It's corollary scripture is James 4:17. "He who knows to do good and does it not, to him that is sin". If you hold something by faith, and is doing good, a "good work", you have a requirement to do it. To not do it is sin. Therefore our lives can only be for or against faith! We are forbidden to do what is not of faith, and we are required to do what is of faith. This pretty much outlines the walk of faith, the narrow way. And these two scriptures are our guardrails to stay in the narrow way. Let us see to it that we allow our brethren to also walk in their faith. That is the foundation of Love.

Romans 15:1, 2
1.
We then that are strong ought to bear with the weaknesses of the weak, and not to please ourselves.
2. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to his edification. (Psa 133:1-3)

The sum of the matter:

1. Seek knowledge, understanding, and wisdom in all matters, from scripture, by the Holy spirit, that you can hold in convicting faith (full assurance of faith).

2. Do all that faith tells you to do, and avoid all that faith tells you to avoid. (Act only and always by faith)!

3. Judge your brethren by their integrity; living what they believe; what they have faith in, (not by what you have faith in), and then rejoice with them in this, as you want them to rejoice in your faith.

4. If you are convinced their faith (their view of a matter) is not correct, talk to them in meekness and love to try to convince them of the truth of scripture on the matter, but always support their integrity in their faith-view.

5. Be prepared, and willing to listen to someone in love and patience as they try to present their view of a matter from scripture. They are God's providence to you! (You are not always a teacher. You have to learn also).

6. Be very patient and loving to your conservative and liberal brethren. You'll be in their shoes the next time, and you'll want them to be patient and loving with you. (Sounds like the golden rule! Do unto others as you would have them do unto you).

The foundation of our relationship with God and with Christ, and even with our brethren and those in the world, must be based on faith. Whatever is not of faith is sin (Ro 14:23). We must earnestly seek to assure ourselves that all that we do in our lives is based on faith, and the true faith that comes from the scriptures, through the conviction of the holy spirit.

1. Faith must be founded on scripture, and be in harmony with all of it. If you are a real truth seeker, you will always be ready to listen to someone who is presenting a view of the teaching and harmony of scripture. Then after hearing the presentation, prove all things to yourself, rightly dividing the word, and hold fast (in full assurance of faith) that which is good. Then apply all that you hold in faith in your life.

2. If you reject a new thought, after carefully searching it out; reject it in love and meekness, and with thanks to God for the brother or sister who was concerned enough to bring it to you.

3. When you find a new truth; hold it fast; rejoice in it; thank God for it; and live it! Even if it turns you 180! It is importantly critical that you hold truth, and not that you hold an old view, or tradition, or false image of yourself.

4. Insist on integrity in your life; living all that you believe the Lord wants you to do. If you don't have full integrity, you have hypocrisy.

5. Put spiritual concern for others above your own personal desires and liberties.

6. Seek to be a blessing to all, and especially to the household of faith. Even your constructive criticism of them should be seen by them to be intended for their good.

And always remember, as important as faith and obedience are in your life, and living a life of integrity that you may have a conscience void of offense before God and men, it equally important in the lives of your brethren. You may feel an obligation to try to change a view they have so they will change their actions. But never try to change their actions without first changing what they believe (and this must always and only be attempted in love). To do so would force them to hypocrisy, and you would be responsible.

May we all be led to see the value our God places on us, and on our faith, and on our integrity in living our faith. And may we always also at the same time remember the value our God places on our brethren for the same reason, that we may rejoice with them, and deal only carefully and lovingly with them as His "dear little ones".

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