By Nick Bibile
(Continuation of the Roman series)
Ro 14:13 Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother's way.
Apostle Paul continues in Romans with respect to meats and drinks. In the church, there is the strong and the weak. Apostle is speaking to the strong Christians here as they understand their the freedom they have in Christ, and the stronger Christian should not abuse his freedom to cast down the weaker Christian. There are some in the church who will always find fault with the weaker Christians and they can be easily offended in their weaker minds, and they can easily stumble and fall. We need to leave all to Christ the Judge where we all must stand before him.
Verse14) I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean.
The ceremonial law is being void, and this also related to the foods we eat. We cannot morally sin in what we eat. What defiles a man is not what he eats but what is in the heart. It is what comes out of the heart that defiles a person.
Mt 15:10 And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand:
11 Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.
Mt 15:17 Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught?
18 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.
19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:
20 These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.
As the middle wall is broken, all food is cleaned before God, if it is sanctified by prayer.
Ac 10:12 Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air.
13 And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat.
14 But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.
15 And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.
Verse15) But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died.
But there may be a weaker brother whose who has a weak conscience in regard to food, and can get easily stumbled by the stronger brother. The stronger brother should be more patient and longsuffering with the weaker brothers. It is not meat that accounts but what is more important is that our weaker brother will grow in his salvation, and not to turn back from the gospel of grace. We must follow the example of Christ as he did not destroy the weaker persons but gave his life to them.
Verse16) Let not then your good be evil spoken of:
Again speaking to the stronger Christian, when a weaker Christian stumbles and falls, evil will be spoken against him.
We should be very careful how we live, that we should not offend our weaker brothers. We should take care of our liberty that it will not hurt the weaker brother. Our goal should be to glorify God, and we should not seek our own appetite but we should seek how we can edify the weaker brothers in the church. We should not live to profit ourselves but to profit others in their salvation.
1Co 10:28 But if any man say unto you, This is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake that shewed it, and for conscience sake: for the earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof:
29 Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other: for why is my liberty judged of another man's conscience?
30 For if I by grace be a partaker, why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks?
31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.
32 Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God:
33 Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.
Verse17) For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
We should not be focused not on the externals in worship but the internal. The foods have nothing to do in the service of God. The kingdom of God is not meat and drink. The word righteousness here is not the righteousness of Christ, which is imputed to the believer, but refers our duty, which we owe to men, but in this case, it is our duty to God. The genuine Christian has peace with God and that peace reflects that he has peace with his brethren and all men. The immediate effect of the gospel is joy! An unspeakable joy, and this joy is not the fleshly worldly joy, but of the Holy Spirit. Apostle Paul said, rejoice in the Lord always again I say, rejoice. (Philippians 4:4) When we were enmity with God, Christ’s mission as a mediator was to reconcile us back to God, and at the birth of the savior the shepherds cried out in joy on the birth of our savior. The greatest thing in salvation is how God brought us from the darkness to the light from Satan’s kingdom to the light, saved from the wrath of God and to love of God.
Verse18) For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men.
The true Christian is a servant of Christ, a bondservant of Christ. We live to serve Christ. This service is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. This service is pleasing to the Lord, and when we serve Christ, God accepts us. We fulfill our duty to men.
Verse19) Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.
It is the strong Christian’s duty to make peace with the weaker Christian, if he is stumbled. Peace is made when there is hostility. Many times, there is a sacrifice to peace. The greatest example is Christ. When we were enemies of God, Christ died for the ungodly. (Romans 5:10) He reconciled us to God, so we have peace with God. The stronger Christian should realize that the liberty he has in Christ should not stumble the weaker Christian but edify him.
1Co 10:23 All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.
Verse 20) For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence.
Eph 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
The word workmanship in Greek here is poiema poy'-ay-mah. This word comes from the noun poieo, to make something, a piece of work. Ps 143:5 “I remember the days of old; I meditate on all thy works; I muse on the work of thy hands.” Ec 3:11 “He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.”
Now we are the workers of God, and our work to God should not be hindered through food, but if food that we eat is going to stumble my brother and if that is going to be an offense then I will not eat meat. Because I will sin as he stumbles, because of me.
1Co 8:13 Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.
Paul was more concerned of his brother than him self, as Christians we should be sensitive to the weaker Christians.
Verse 21) It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.
Paul has determined himself that he will act wisely, not selfishly toward the weak.
1Co 8:9 But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to them that are weak.
22 Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth.
Many people take this passage out of context and say, I have faith before God, my conscience is pure before God, and I am not condemned what I do, as my conscience is clear. I have the liberty so it is okay for me to go to the movies, go to dancing, gambling as my conscience is clear before God. But Jesus said, “ Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” (Mr 8:34) The word deny means you do not have any connection with someone else, means the devil, flesh and the world. Also it means losing sight of one’s own interest. It means saying no to the pleasing of your flesh. It means crucifying the flesh. It means taking the narrow road. It means to carry the cross, to become a martyr for Christ, means that you have given yourself up and even be ready to die for Christ. It means the death for Christ is more profitable than all the pleasures of the world. It means to be like Christ, follow in his footsteps until you die.
John Calvin says, “This passage is evidently perverted and misunderstood when it is adduced to support the opinion that a person may observe foolish superstitions and ceremonies without danger, provided his conscience is pure and undisturbed before God. The context clearly confutes such a misconstruction. Christian may forgo his liberty with respect to meats and drinks, but he has no rights to practice what God has not enjoined, nor to avoid practicing what God has instituted.
Verse 23) And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.
If you eat something and you doubt in your conscience that what you eat, may sinned against God, then you should not eat. Do not eat anything with a doubting conscience.
For what ever is not of faith is sin. Faith comes by hearing the word of God. This means what ever that contrary to the word of God is sin. If you are convinced what you are doing is contrary to the word of God but still you go ahead and do it, then you are guilty before God. This means knowing it is not good and still practicing.
Let me conclude with the following scripture.
1Co 9:22 To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.
23 And this I do for the gospel's sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.
Here is a man speaking and we know his pride before, pride of his heritage and education. Now he realized he is nothing before God, and God used him mightily and Paul was a great man, he believed if you want to be the greatest you need to be a servant, he bent down to the weak and we should not be ashamed to do the same. We need to accommodate the weak, and need to find room for them. Today people are looking for the reward and the crown for their work upon earth, on the other hand the true Christians are not looking for the rewards here upon the earth but in heaven. Apostle Paul had a goal, and a design to accomplish that goal, and his goal was to preach the gospel. As he said, “Woe unto me if I preach not the gospel.” This was his number one priority in life, all the others were second. To the poor we should bend down to their level, to the weak in doctrine we need to bend down to their level, remember no one became a strong in Christian instantly, remember you past, God had a lot of patience with you, in the same way we need to have patience with weaker brother. We need to wear their shoes. Our goal is the same as to apostle Paul and that is to preach the glorious message of the gospel.