Romans 14:7-12

Wednesday Evening Bible Study

October 20, 1999


Paul has moved through his doctrinal section in Romans and now has moved on to the practical side of things.  This chapter talks about how we deal with others who have different convictions about certain "gray areas" than we have. Some example of "gray" areas might be:

What you can eat or not eat. Movies. TV. Dancing. Celebrating Christmas. Pokémon cards. Going to the beach. Drinking alcohol. Smoking. Clothing styles. Makeup.

Weíve covered so far Ö

(Rom 14:1-2 KJV) Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.

Meaning, "To you who are strong in your faith, keep accepting those who are weak, but not for the purpose of making judgments on the things they struggle with, or for trying to "set them straight"".

{2} For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs.

Those who are "strong" in the faith arenít stumbled by eating or not eating certain things. Those who are "weak" in the faith are the ones who think that eating or not eating certain things is bad.

We donít need to be judging each other as Christians because we are each Godís servants (14:4), and God will take care of the judging.

In verse 6, Paul talked about how each of us Christians make our decisions based on wanting to please the LordÖ

:7-12 Ready for judgment

:7 For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself.

(Rom 14:7 NASB) For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself;

:8 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.

(Rom 14:8 NLT) While we live, we live to please the Lord. And when we die, we go to be with the Lord. So in life and in death, we belong to the Lord.


A Christian belongs to the Lord.

The way Paul is stating it here, itís as if he is stating something that is obvious to us all. But sometimes I wonder if I really understand it.

My actions ought to reflect the fact that someone else owns my body.

(1 Cor 6:18-20 KJV) Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. {19} What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? {20} For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.

The Holy Spirit is in me. I am His temple. I have been bought with a price.

In Paulís day, somewhere close to half of the worldís population were slaves. We look at all the Scriptures about slaves and masters and tend to just relate them to our place of employment, and thatís okay. But in Paulís day, half of this room would be slaves. No rights. No privileges. Someone owns you. Someone else has the right to tell you what to do.

Take a look at the price that was paid for us:

(1 Pet 1:14-19 NIV) As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. {15} But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; {16} for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy." {17} Since you call on a Father who judges each man's work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear. {18} For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, {19} but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.

In a sense, we have been bought from the slave-market of sin by God. He paid for us with the blood of His own dear Son. For some of us, the idea of slavery is totally repugnant. But there is a sense in which we are now slaves to God, we have been purchased by Him.

And our actions should reflect our ownership. We should act like the one who owns us. If God is our owner, then we ought to be holy like He is.

Keep in mind weíre talking about us all being Christians here. There are people in the world who could care less about what pleases the Lord.

This chapter doesnít apply in the same way to how we view our relationships with non-believers.

:9 For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living.

Jesus died and rose again for the purpose of becoming our Lord. He died on the cross to pay for our sins. He rose from the dead to prove that He is Lord and that our sins were completely paid for. He is our Lord whether we are alive like we are now, and He is our Lord even after we die.

:10 But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother?

thou Ė su Ė "you", it is singular here, as in the rest of the passage. Paul is giving these lessons to us as individuals, not just to the group.

judge Ė krino Ė to separate, put asunder, to pick out; to judge; to pronounce an opinion concerning right and wrong.

set at nought Ė exoutheneo Ė to make of no account, despise utterly. The same word was used in verse 3 as "despise". In fact, both the verbs ("judge", "set at nought" are the same two verbs used in verse 3, "judge", "despise")

This verse is talking to both the "strong" brother (who would "despise" or "set at nought") and to the "weak" brother (who would "judge" the other).

Again, these are the things that we do when we disagree with each other over the "gray" areas. Our different views over how we treat certain "gray" areas should not be causing division between us. These are the "non-essentials". We can agree to disagree over the "non-essentials".

St. Augustine put it this way: "In essentials, unity; in nonessentials, liberty; in all things, charity."


Working at unity.

My old pastor, Mark Bove, used to say that it was a miracle when two or more people stayed united for any period of time. I can see his point. Itís so easy for divisions to spring up that separate us from each other. Paul wrote:

(Eph 4:1-3 NIV) As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. {2} Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. {3} Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

David wrote,

(Psa 133:1-2 KJV) A Song of degrees of David. Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! {2} It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments;

The "ointment" is the holy anointing oil, which is a picture in the Bible of the Holy Spirit. Aaron was the first high priest, and the picture of the oil flowing over his head is that of the Holy Spirit equipping him for his ministry.

The point is this: When we learn to get along with each other, through being humble, gentle, and patient with each other, we will see a greater outpouring of the Spirit in our lives and in our ministries.

Is it important that we get along with each other? Yes!

Again, here in our current chapter, the idea is that we need to be careful that we donít cause these "gray areas" to divide us.


Warren Wiersbe writes,

Two of the most famous Christians in the Victorian Era in England were Charles Spurgeon and Joseph Parker, both of them mighty preachers of the Gospel. Early in their ministries they fellowshipped and even exchanged pulpits. Then they had a disagreement, and the reports even got into the newspapers. Spurgeon accused Parker of being unspiritual because he attended the theater. Interestingly enough, Spurgeon smoked cigars, a practice many believers would condemn. Who was right? Who was wrong? Perhaps both of them were wrong! When it comes to questionable matters in the Christian life, cannot dedicated believers disagree without being disagreeable? "I have learned that God blesses people I disagree with!" a friend of mine told me one day, and I have learned the same thing. When Jesus Christ is Lord, we permit Him to deal with His own servants as He wishes.

:10 for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.

stand before Ė paristemi Ė to place beside or near; to stand beside, stand by or near, to be at hand, be present

judgment seat Ė bema Ė a step, pace, the space which a foot covers, a foot-breath; a raised place mounted by steps; of the official seat of a judge; of the judgment seat of Christ. This was like the judgment seat at the ancient Olympic games where the winners would come to collect their 1st, 2nd, or 3rd prizes.

Part of the influence of Rome upon the world in Paulís day was that Rome had spread its love for the "games". Many cities around the world had their smaller versions of the Roman Coliseum, where cities would have various types of competition, some purely athletic, others quite violent and deadly. The average person in the Roman Empire knew of the picture of an athlete standing before the king or judge to receive their prize.

But here, the king that we are going to stand before is no earthly king, it will be Jesus. We will all stand before Him.

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

shall bow Ė kampto Ė to bend, bow, the knee (the knees); in honour of one; used of worshippers

shall confess Ė exomologeo Ė to confess; to profess; acknowledge openly and joyfully; to one's honour: to celebrate, give praise to. Here, the idea is to give praise to, to give gratitude to.

Paul is quoting from:

Isaiah 45:23 I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth [in] righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.

Paul also quotes this in Phil. 2:8-11.


You can bow now or you can bow later.

There used to be a commercial on TV about oil filters or something, where a mechanic is saying to the camera, "You can pay me now, or you can pay me later". The idea was that you ought to spend a little money now on a new oil filter rather than having to spend a lot of money later getting a new engine.

Everyone will bow before Jesus Christ. You can either bow your knee to Him now, willfully giving Him honor and praise, or you will be forced to bow to Him later, acknowledging that He is indeed the King of the Universe. Even those in hell bow their knee to Him. They know for sure that He is King.

You donít need to wait. You can bow now.

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

account Ė logos Ė of speech, a word, uttered by a living voice, embodies a conception or idea; can carry the idea of "account", i.e. reckoning, score. We are even going to have to give an account for every spoken word:

(Mat 12:36 KJV) But I say unto you, That every idle word (rhema) that men shall speak, they shall give account (logos) thereof in the day of judgment.

Here in Romans, the context is talking about us as Christians. All humans will also give an account, but here the idea is that we are Godís servants, and we will have to give an account of ourselves. You donít need to be the judge of another Christian because God will be doing that.


The Judgment (bema) Seat of Christ

It is not to determine whether or not we go to heaven, but to determine our rewards when weíre in heaven. It is where our deeds are judged after having become a Christian.

2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things [done] in [his] body, according to that he hath done, whether [it be] good or bad.

Paul talks about our lives being like a build on a foundation. When we accept Jesus as our Savior, God lays a foundation in our life. What we do with our lives after that is the building that we build. Itís the building we build that will be judged.

1 Cor 3:12-15 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; {13} Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. {14} If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. {15} If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

Godís method of judging our works will be to put them through the fire. Whatever survives the fire of Godís judgment is worth keeping. Whatever burns up is worth losing.

Whatís the difference between a "gold" kind of work and a "stubble" kind of work? Itís our motives.

Mat 6:1-2 Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. {2} Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

If your motive is so that others will see you, youíve already got your reward. Donít be expecting anything from Jesus.

The best motive to do anything, the motive that will produce rewards in heaven, is love:

(1 Cor 13:1-3 NASB) If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. {2} And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. {3} And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

Ultimately, if we donít do things out of love, then itís worthless.


God judges correctly.

One reason we need to be careful in judging others is that "motives" are a very difficult thing to judge. You can see someone doing a good deed, and it may look like theyíre doing it for the right reasons, they might even stop and tell you that theyíre doing it for the right reasons, but deep down inside they may be doing it for the wrong reasons. And the opposite is true too! Sometimes you may think that someone is doing something just to get attention, but deep down inside their heart they are only doing it out of love for the Lord. And they might have a hard time telling you that because they donít really want to talk about their good deed and lose their reward!

Things arenít always as they appear:


How many are like that famous painting of olden times, in which the artist depicted what seemed at a distance a holy friar with a book before him, and his hands crossed in devotion, looking like a saint indeed, but when you came close to the venerable impostor, you found that his hands, though clasped, enclosed a lemon, and instead of a book there was a punch- bowl into which he was squeezing juice. To seem to be answers men's purposes so well that it is little marvel if pretenders swarm like the flies in Egypt's plague. Yet if they would remember the last great day, men would abhor hypocrisy.

- Charles Haddon Spurgeon, The Quotable Spurgeon, (Wheaton: Harold Shaw Publishers, Inc, 1990)

Jesus can see the real motives, up close, even if others canít.

How can you tell the difference between good motives and bad ones? YOU CANíT!!! Only God can.

Thatís why we need to be careful in not judging gray areas. Let God handle it.


Fruit inspection

Even though Iíve just talked about how we are not to judge each other, there is a sense in which we are to make some sort of judgment on others.

Mat 7:15-27 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. {16} Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? {17} Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. {18} A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. {19} Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. {20} Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. {21} Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. {22} Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? {23} And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. {24} Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: {25} And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. {26} And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: {27} And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.

Jesus is talking about "false prophets". These are going to be people who are going to try to take a place of authority over you, who appear to be correct, who are wearing "sheepís clothing", yet they arenít what they claim to be.

Jesus said you could tell by their "fruit". Whatís the fruit? I think itís the overall things that a personís life produces. Itís a changed life. Itís a life that conforms to what God says we ought to be doing. It may not be a perfect change, but it ought to be one thatís heading in the right direction.

There may be times when someone seems to have a desire to exercise authority over you. Does the overall flavor of their life reflect Jesus? You have to stand back and look at the big picture. Someone once said, "I canít hear what youíre saying because your life is shouting so loud!"

Yet even this is not actual "judging" in that we are not to be the ones to pronounce whether or not they are going to heaven or hell. Thatís still Godís job. But it will influence how we respond to them.