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.

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