Romans 14:23


Friday, 3 January 2014

But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin. Luke 14:23

To complete the chapter, Paul finishes with this notable and to-the-point statement. The “but” is given as a contrast to what he just said in verse 22 –

“Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves.”

If you have faith, exercise your faith before God. Don’t lord it over others and don’t cause others to stumble. Use your faith as a tool for sanctification, not destruction. If you have faith, eat without conscience and be grateful for what you have been provided.

On the other hand, where faith is lacking, there is doubt. As we are limited beings, we cannot know everything perfectly. There will always be areas where we are unsure. Therefore, doubt cannot be sin. However, doubt can be the cause of sin. This is what Paul will show us now. “But he who doubts is condemned if he eats.” The clear understanding of this is that if someone feels that they shouldn’t be eating something, pork for example, and they eat it in order to fit in or because they feel coerced, then they sin. Not because eating pork is wrong (as is clearly shown in chapter 14), but because they are in a state of doubt concerning what they are eating. And the reason for this is “because he does not eat from faith.”

If you are eating something under any type of compulsion, then it can’t be from faith. Faith, by its very definition, involves doing something which isn’t forbidden, with a clear conscience, and without coercion. Calling on Jesus as Lord implies the exercising of faith in the fact that Jesus is Lord. If one is forced to call on Him, then they haven’t really called on Him. The same is true with something as simple as having certain foods for dinner.

A Christian who has pork chops for dinner and who eats with a clear conscience, implies that he believes Christ has fulfilled the Levitical laws prescribed in the Old Testament (because these laws forbid the eating of pork). If one believes this, as the Bible demonstrates is true, then Jesus must be Lord. Why? Because if the law is fulfilled in Him, then it died with Him. If we are calling on Jesus as Lord and accepting His work, then we must believe that He rose again because one cannot call on a dead Lord. If the law was fulfilled in Him, and then He died under the law, then the law died with Him. If He rose again, then a New Covenant must be in place. If a New Covenant is in place which says that nothing is unclean of itself (Romans 14:14), then accepting that by faith implies that Jesus is Lord.

But… if one eats pork because he feels coerced, then he is not eating from faith. And “whatever is not from faith is sin.” If someone doesn’t understand the work of Christ in the manner described above concerning the law, then they may feel that dietary restrictions still apply. However, to fit in or for whatever other reason, they may feel pressured to eat pork. If they do so, even though there is nothing wrong with eating pork in and of itself, they are not eating from faith and thus they sin.

Pork has been the example here, but Paul says “whatever” is not from faith is sin. If one violates their conscience in a matter in order to be pleasing to others, they are not acting in faith. Is it better to be a man-pleaser or one who pleases God? God is pleased with faith. That is the lesson of the Bible.

As a final thought on this, although it is acceptable to not eat pork, it is not acceptable to teach that it is not acceptable to not eat pork. And there is a difference. The Bible has shown that eating it (or any other food) is now all right. Therefore, to teach that it is not okay is to violate what the Bible teaches. This then no longer is a matter of conscience, but a matter of doctrine. To violate doctrine through incorrect teaching is sin. Be careful to know the difference.

Life application: Romans 14 has shown that eating all foods and drinking anything one wishes is acceptable. To teach otherwise is sin. And to eat any food apart from conscience is also sin. However, to abstain from any food or drink is not sin. Know the difference and be prepared to defend your knowledge.

Lord God, the day is brightening and the heaviness of sleep is fading away. Once again, the day is set before me and my hands are ready for accomplishing the many tasks of life. I look forward to them and am excited to get out and get going. But first, please allow me just this… Allow me to tell You how much I love You. Ok Lord, out I go. Praising You along the way! Amen.

Romans 14:22


Thursday, 2 January 2014

Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. Romans 14:22

Paul is speaking to believers, therefore he is speaking to people of faith. Because this is so, the logical conclusion is that his question, “Do you have faith?” Is not speaking of saving faith. Instead, it is speaking of the faith which is implied in verses 14-21. This is faith to act in disputable matters. For example, the person who has “faith” to eat all things as opposed to those who lack the faith to eat certain foods. In such an instance, when it will obviously harm another to exercise your faith, then restrain from doing so.

Many Jewish believers don’t eat pork. Whether you feel that is right or wrong, would it be right to invite such a friend to your house and serve ham along with the other food? No! Nor would it be right to invite them over and, even without serving ham, argue the point that ham is ok thus insinuating that they aren’t acting like mature Christians. These are the kinds of things that can only lead to unhappiness in them. In turn it will lead to unhappiness in you. Instead of such an attitude, exercise your faith before God, exercise your freedoms when they won’t harm, and don’t cause an air of animosity to arise over such disputable matters.

And Paul explains why – “Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves.” By acting in this manner you are actually bringing condemnation on yourself. Again, this is not speaking of condemnation from salvation, as if such a matter could cause the loss of salvation. Rather it is speaking of condemning thoughts. Such thoughts are, as will be revealed in the next verse, what leads to sin. This is also revealed to us by John in his first epistle

“Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God.” 1 John 3:21

Life application: Just because we have the right to do certain things, and just because we have the faith to exercise that right, it doesn’t make it right to follow through with that thing if it will cause another to violate their conscience. By causing others to sin, we sin.

Gracious Lord God, it’s the beginning of a new day with unlimited possibilities ahead. I pray that I will use this day to Your glory and with all of the abilities You have granted me. Help me to not waste my time or the chances that come up, but to meet each challenge and opportunity with boldness. Thank You for the day ahead. Amen.

Romans 14:21


Wednesday, 1 January 2014

It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak. Romans 14:21

Again, as Paul has done on several occasions in this chapter, he gives a very short, concise, and clear statement. If your brother is offended by your eating habits or by your wine drinking then don’t do them around him. Instead, that is what you have a house for. If we cause another to “stumble” or be “offended” or “made weak” we have sinned against a person for whom Christ died. Is it worth causing this type of disruption in another’s life just to engage in eating and drinking? No.

The kingdom of God is not about meat and wine, but about righteousness, holiness, and glorifying God. He has given us these things during this life to enjoy but not at the expense of fellowship and harmony within the body of believers.

Life application: Use empathy towards those around you. Don’t have a belligerent attitude over “doubtful matters” but rather live at peace with those who are of the faith. We’ll be spending eternity together, so why should we be fighting about these things now?

Lord Jesus, here we are at the beginning of a new year. Please help me to live out this year in a way which is honoring to You and helpful to those around me. Thank You for the life You have given me. May I use it to faithfully serve You. Amen.

Romans 14:20


Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are pure, butit is evil for the man who eats with offense. Romans 14:20

“Do not destroy the work of God…” What is this referring to? It is the work of God in Christ Jesus, fulfilling the law and its requirements so that we can live in newness of the Spirit. Jesus Christ is now building a temple with His followers as “living stones” in that building. The word Paul uses for “destroy” signifies to tear down a structure. When we use something such as dietary restrictions (which have been set aside in Christ) as a standard of judgment toward others, we in essence “tear down” portions of His temple. We either make believers ineffective or we keep people from becoming believers. Who would want to participate in a legalistic, finger pointing religion?

And so, “for the sake of food” we sin against our fellow man and diminish the glory of the Lord and “the work of God” in others’ eyes. What a terrible price to pay over something which isn’t even prescribed in His word! And this is absolutely certain because Paul continues, “All things indeed are pure…” That statement could not be any clearer. He is talking about foods and then, even in the exact same verse, he makes this proclamation. And yet there are denominations by the score who put unscriptural burdens on their followers, “Don’t eat, don’t touch!” Instead of God’s word as the standard, they promote their agenda. Instead of the freedom which is found in Christ, there is bondage and harsh rule.

And because of a mishandling of the word, the result then is that it becomes “evil for the man who eats with offense.” If a Christian is told that drinking soda is wrong and then another Christian says that soda drinking is fine, there is now a dilemma in their mind. “Which do I believe?” If they go ahead and drink a soda when they feel it may be wrong, they have now committed evil because they are consuming the soda with a guilty conscience. This is the sad state of the neurotic believer who is swayed by every form of doctrine which blows their way. They actually sin through their own lack of knowledge and their guilty conscience over a matter which is really not an issue that should have ever arisen.

Life application: It is the word which prescribes what we can and cannot do. By knowing the word and understanding the work of Christ on our behalf, we will remain free from sinning against our guilty conscience. Don’t ever stop reading and learning your Bible.

Lord God, as the year is ending, I want to take a moment and thank You for all You have done for me in the past year. There were many joys and blessings. There was abundance and delight. Along with them, there were some trials and setbacks… but You never left my side and You carried me through each one. Thank You, O God, for this wonderful life You have blessed me with. Amen. 

Romans 14:18


Sunday, 29 December 2013

For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men. Romans 14:18

Still building on the entirety of the contents of chapter 14, Paul again begins this verse with the connector “for.” This has been one long and continues stream of points and summaries in order to establish doctrine concerning “disputable matters.” It is obviously something of profound importance to him and one which then begs the question, “Why?” The answer has several parts –

First, he had come out of the legalistic system which ruled the life of a Pharisee. He saw how it corrupted the already complex system of the law to the point that it became a crushing burden on the people. Jesus personally spoke against their conduct time and time again. Thus Paul understood that legalism is destructive to the individual and displeasing to the Lord.

Secondly, adding to God’s mandates through legalism invariably leads either to feelings of self-righteousness by those who impose them or to feelings of worthlessness to those on whom they are imposed, but who fail at meeting a requirement which is actually no requirement at all. And the opposite – liberalism, or the setting aside of God’s mandates, invariably leads to immorality, license, and a weak and ineffective gospel message; one so watered down that it actually makes no change in the life and conduct of the one who hears it.

Finally, as the Lord’s spokesperson for doctrine during the church age, his words are to be taken as the inspired word of God. Because they are, just like any other time in redemptive history, we are not to add to nor take away from what God prescribes.

Proverbs 30:5, 6 sums this thought up quite well –

“Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him. Do not add to His words, Lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar.”

When man interferes in what belongs to God alone, he becomes an usurper of God’s right to rule and His authority over His creatures. Think of it… what a slap in the face of God to decide that we know what is better than He!

Because of these, and certainly many other valid points, he says, “For he who serves Christ in these things is…”

(1) “Acceptable to God.” Christ is God’s standard for humanity. He is our example and He is our guide. Our religious duties are to Him. Therefore, when we serve Him as rightly instructed, the inevitable result is that God accepts our conduct. He gave the instructions and He gave the Son whom we are to serve.

(2) “Approved by men.” Those who see our conduct and understand our relationship with Christ will approve of our actions in that capacity. Although this section is dealing with our acceptance of others’ actions within the faith, this doesn’t necessarily mean that those who see and approve will all be Christians. But even those who aren’t will be able to say, “He is a good example of the faith he professes.” How many times does a person look at a Christian and say, “If that guy is an example of being a Christian, then I want nothing to do with Christianity!” And why? Because they are either adding to what God expects through legalism (“Look at that self-righteous jerk!”) or failing to act properly through a watered down, liberal faith (“Look at the perverted things that ‘Christian’ does!”) Our adherence to God’s laws reflect on the One we profess to serve. If another maligns our Lord when we are faithfully obedient, then He will judge that person. But if someone maligns our Lord when we act unfaithfully, then He will certainly judge us.

Life application: We serve an infinitely wise God. What He ordains is right, whether we personally accept a premise or not. We may have a conscience about eating meat, but that is our problem, not His. Our conduct towards other Christians is to be in light of God’s word, not our own pet peeves. And this certainly reflects on our relationship with the Lord. And those who view us from outside the faith are making value judgments on the Christian faith (and thus Christ) because of our individual actions. Let us remember this and act accordingly.

Lord Jesus, I need to remember that it is You I serve. May my judgments about other believers be in line with Your word and not based on my pet peeves. Help me never to add to, or subtract from, those things that You have spoken. I’m not in a competition with them, but in a relationship with them because of You. Help me to honor You through my relationship with those who have also received You as Lord. Amen.