Sunday, 15 December 2013
He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks. Romans 14:6
Paul now ties both previously discussed concepts, days and food, into one concise thought. He’s already noted that some are “weak in the faith” and therefore fail to receive all the liberties found in Christ concerning the eating of food. On the other hand, there are those who understand that there is nothing which, as Jesus taught, “enters a man from outside which can defile him; but the things which come out of him, those are the things that defile a man.” (Mark 7:15)
He has also noted that “one person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike.” There are those who want to observe a traditional Saturday Sabbath to the Lord. There are those who desire to have a “day of worship” to honor the risen Christ. There are some who may wish to esteem Thursday above all others; whatever. And then there are those who hold all days in equal esteem. Additionally, concerning the Sabbath observances and festival days, particularly those once mandated under the law, Paul will tell us this in Colossians 2:16, 17-
“So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.”
All of these Old Testament things only pointed to Christ and His work. They are mere shadows of the reality found in Him. If someone wants to have a Yom Kippur observance in their church, there is nothing in Scripture to say, “do this thing” or “don’t do this thing.” On the contrary, if they mandate such an observance because it is a requirement under the law, then they have reintroduced the law where it has already been fulfilled; they have set aside the grace of Christ and are now debtors to the entire law.
But Paul’s point in verse 6 isn’t about those who mandate such things. It is about different people desiring to honor the Lord in their own way. And so he says, “He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks.”
Those who observe any or ever day, do so to the Lord. If they don’t observe any day, they don’t do so to the Lord. The bony finger which points at the observer (or non-observer) is actually making an accusation against what the Lord has accepted. Likewise, those who eat whatever is set before them do so because the Lord has ordained that anything can be eaten, without violating a New Testament precept. And those who don’t eat, do so in the understanding that they are not required to eat any particular thing; their is no mandatory food requirement in the New Testament and so they are free to not eat whatever they feel violates their conscience.
In both instances – days and food, and in both instances – observance or non observance/eating or not eating, the person does so to the Lord an they do so in thanks to God. Therefore, what has been received in gratitude and in the freedom found in Christ, it is sanctified and acceptable. How clear this is, and yet the waters are so easily muddied.
These “doubtful matters” of food and days include many other issues not specifically addressed by Paul – styles of clothing, moderate alcohol consumption, types of music in worship, etc. These issues are left up to the individual. When judgment is rendered toward others over such matters, the inevitable result is legalism and imposed bondage. Be ready to defend your freedoms in Christ by knowing your Bible and what it allows.
Life application: Let us accept those who eat different foods than us and let us accept those who observe different days than us. And may we not find fault in their observances with the exception of those who mandate them as a precept which is contrary to Scripture. Only in such instances should we stand against their poor doctrine which can only lead others away from the truth found in Christ.
Glorious, wonderful Lord. I love the freedom which is found in You. The Old Testament mandated a Sabbath; You fulfilled that day. The Old Testament mandated feast days; You fulfilled them all. The Old Testament mandated dietary restrictions; You fulfilled the Law and now I am free to eat or not eat those things sanctified through the Word of God and prayer. Thank You for the freedoms I now have in You! Amen.