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Doubtful Matters

30/07/2017

Doubtful Matters and A Christian Example.

Text .  Romans 14:13-23

Paul has been teaching us about the correct way to use our Christian liberty.  He has told us that we are not to disagree on non-essential issues, issues that are secondary to the Christian faith, that when a ‘weaker brother’ come into our fellowship we have to receive him in a particular way – in such a way that we will not simply argue with him and thus destroy his faith! V1.  Now that leaves us with two dilemmas.

  • Who is ‘the weaker brother?’ In Romans, most likely the weaker brother was the Jewish Christians who had returned after exile) But what of today?  My own humble opinion on the matter, is that none of us are strong in the faith, outside of Christ, who grants us the gift of faith in the first place, and without the help of the holy spirit who sustains us.  But what then on my second dilemma?
  • Where do we draw the line in ETHICAL matters? In ethics, practical obedience, what is an essential issue and what is not?  Paul’s two ‘doubtful matters’ of food and feasts could be expanded many times today. It can be straightforward enough when theological or doctrinal issues are in question, to find a place to draw the line – that’s helped and guided by 1st Corinthians 15.  But what of modern ethical issues?  How do we apply the ‘nonessential’ rule in those cases, – how far do we let the ‘weaker brother’ stray before we are forced to say – you are wrong?  Where do you draw the line?  Obviously, if something is clearly condemned in the scripture, surely we must take that line also – but many modern ethical problems are not explicitly mentioned in the Bible.

This whole section has at its heart the basic principle of Christian liberty and freedom, and the restraints that we must exercise upon ourselves, for the sake of the Lord, other believers and the witness of the Gospel. Its principles are fundamental for Christian ethical behaviour.  1 Cor. 8:9  For the Christian there is…

 

  1. The Importance of a Chrisitan Example.

A bad example is a very destructive trait in a believer.   Paul teaches us that there is nothing unclean OF ITSELF – but if we perceieve it to be unclean, and to eat it would offend our conscience, – then it is unclean to us!  (The importance(?) of perception).  I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean.  Consider too the connection between our own desires and personal tastes and love for our neighbour!  1Yet if your brother is grieved because of your food, you are no longer walking in love. Do not destroy with your food the one for whom Christ died.

So Paul gives us a really good summary principle.  16 Therefore do not let your good be spoken of as evil;    Don’t give people the opportunity to criticise you by deliberately ghoing out of your way to prove just how broad minded or indeed fundamentalist you are compared to them.

 

  1. The Definition of a Christian Example.

So, what is practical Christianity all about?

  • The definition of a poor example. What the kingdom of God is NOT. 17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking. To boil that down to its most basic principle, – the kingdom of God is not completely centred on ME. Paul makes it clear, that God’s Kingdom is NOT about what I want, the food I wantto eat, and the wine I want to drink.  Its not about me at all!
  • So what is it all about? What the characteristics of the Kingdom are, and notice carefully that none of these things are about ME – they are about relationships – with God and with others: but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Righteousness!  Living in a right relationship!  Living justified before God, through Christ, and then before men. Being in a right relationship with others, considering them.

  • Peace! Peace with God. And peace with our neighbours.
  • Joy in the Holy Spirit! Joy that results from the knowledge of forgiven sin, and rejoices in the wellbeing of others. Joy
  • and happiness that come from making other miserable and sad is not Christian Joy!
  • The definition of example: 18 For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men.

One commentator remarks, “A church where there is strife and contention, quarrels and bitterness, divisions and disagreements, has lost all right to the name of church.  It is not a fragment of the kingdom of heaven, it is simply an earthbound society.”

 

  1. The Pursuit of A Christian Example. 19 Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.

We have clearly defined ethical aims as a company of believers.  Those are to live at peace with one another, knowing the peace of God in our hearts, and to build each other up in the faith.  Through a steady diet of expository preaching of God’s Word, the Holy Spirit applies the Word to our herts and we willing respond by conforming our lives to God’s pattern, pursuing PEACE and BUIDING OTHERS UP IN THE FAITH instead of destroying them.  So :-

  • Put God’s work first. 20
  • Consider others. 21 
  • Remember we are under divine scrutiny. Remember that everything we do, we do it in God’s sight.    22

 

A final summary:  In these matters, be careful we do not sin.    23 But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin.

Bob McEvoy, July 2017

From → Bible Study, Romans

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