Doubtful Disputations Deter Doxological Demonstrations Displaying Desired Decorum

October 5, 2011 at 1:20 pm | Posted in A Little Alliteration, Romans | 14 Comments
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I find it easier to explain Romans Chapter 14 by skipping ahead just a little and looking at the very first Verse of Chapter 15:

We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.

Romans 15:1 (emphasis added)

The “then” means, “Considering what I just said…” Romans 14 deals with the problem of pleasing ourselves at the expense of others’ “infirmities.” Those who have infirmities are called the “weak in the faith.” How we treat our fellow Christians will be determined by answering the question, “Who do you love?” You are going to please those whom you love. Should you be trying to please the exuberant, loud, extroverted believers? Or should you try to please the mean, quiet, bored-looking believers? Those are overt questions, but they are only masking the real question: Am I going to please God, or am I going to please myself?

If you are a parent of siblings, then you know one of the most pleasing things you can experience is watching your kids “prefer one another.”

Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;

Romans 12:10 (emphasis added)

Similarly, God is pleased when, instead of a “me first” attitude, I have a “you go first” attitude toward my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.

Romans 14:1 (emphasis added)

When a fellow Christian is weak in the faith, we need to receive him – but not for the purpose of disputing with him over his personal convictions. Those who are counted as “weak in the faith” in this passage of Scripture are those who have trouble understanding their freedom in Christ. They think they’re more spiritual because of what they eat or drink (or what they don’t eat or drink) or because they keep certain days holy. Here are two misconceptions which are both dangerous ditches on the sides of the road:

Misconception #1: The rule-keepers are “better Christians.”

Misconception #2: Those who have personal convictions are “legalists.”

We must stay balanced on the road and not fall into either ditch. Here are some examples: I strongly prefer the King James Version of the Bible. It is the translation I study and the only one from which I teach in church. I believe it’s the one that everyone ought to use. That does not make me a legalist. I often wear ties, dress shirts, socks, and shoes to church. That does not make me a legalist. I have friends who use other translations of the Bible. I have friends who wear flip-flops to church. I have friends who wear leather motorcycle chaps to church. I have friends who don’t eat pork because it was forbidden to the Jews in the Old Testament. I have friends who enjoy few things better than killing a deer. I probably eat about a pound of bacon a week, and I wouldn’t shoot a deer unless it was attacking me. Which of us is the “weaker” Christian? I don’t know. But I do know we need to have Scriptural reasons for doing what we do, and, when we disagree on non-essentials of the Christian faith, we need to receive each other in Christian love.

What’s the reasoning for this “receiving in love?” Why is it a good thing to do?

1. God wants us to do it.
2. Ultimately, people are answerable to God, not to me.
3. No true Christian is an island unto himself.

For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s.

Romans 14:7-8

I’m not your ultimate judge and you’re not my ultimate judge. In Christ, we are free from bondage, not enslaved to each other. We will give an account of our freedom one day – not to each other – but to Whom?

For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.

Romans 14:11

Notice that the verse does not say that every eye will wink, every hat will tip… No, it says the knees will bow and the tongues will confess.

If you are not in Christ Jesus, that verse should horrify you. On judgment day there will not be any mumbling about a lot of different ways to Heaven. No one will be saying, “You called Him Jesus, I called him Buddha, but it was all the same thing.” You will be face to face with the Christian God of the Bible and none other.

So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.

Romans 14:12

In a previous post, I addressed the truth that Christians are not free to sin. We are free from sin – from its power.

Let not then your good be evil spoken of: For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men.

Romans 14:16-18

The manifestation of freedom is not breaking rules. The manifestation is in joy in the Holy Ghost. Some Christians spend every day reviewing every little mistake and wringing their hands over how mad God is at them. We have to remind them over and over how nothing can separate them from the love of God. Little kids fight over the “last word” or whose “turn” it is. How freeing it is when we don’t feel the need to enforce our freedom! When we can enjoy the true freedom of letting our brothers and our sisters have “our” turn, or the “last word” if they want it. True Christians still battle with the flesh. The flesh will always have a tendency to look at something questionable, and ask, “Why can’t I do that? What’s wrong with it?” But the Spirit asks, “What’s right about it?”

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