Romans 14:13-14

Wednesday Evening Bible Study

October 27, 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.

We’ve covered so far …

(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 aren’t 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.


:13 Let us not therefore judge one another any more:

Paul has been talking about how we shouldn’t be judging each other, but I think it’s important to clarify just what he’s been applying this to.

He’s been saying that we shouldn’t be judging others who have a different conviction than we do about these "gray" areas. If you feel that a Christian shouldn’t be drinking, but you find out that another person in the church drinks wine with their dinner, do you condemn that person as "carnal" in your mind?

The reason we shouldn’t be judging each other in regards to these "gray" areas is because

1) God has received or accepted that person (vs.3)

2) The other person is a servant of God. He is their master, not you (vs.4)

3) You need to assume that the other person has a desire to be pleasing to the Lord, just as you do (vs.6-8).

4) They will be judged by God, who does a better job of judging than we could ever do (vs.12).


To judge or not to judge

After last week’s study, I got to thinking that I needed to clarify something a little. It might be easy to think that we should never be judging others, but that’s actually not quite the case.

Jesus said that we shouldn’t be judging others –

(Mat 7:1-5 KJV) Judge not, that ye be not judged. {2} For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. {3} And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? {4} Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? {5} Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.

I don’t want to be nit-picking, but it seems to me that Jesus is not making a blanket statement that we should never make any kind of judgment at all. What Jesus is warning us is that:

1) We’ll be judged in the same manner that we judge others, so you better learn to be merciful!

2) Take care of your own problems before you bother with the problems that others have.

That doesn’t mean that you never deal with problems that others are having, but it means that you always take a look at yourself first in the mirror before looking at others.

Two types of people we are to judge:

1. Prophets – those who claim to speak for God.

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.

How can you tell a false prophet from a true prophet? Jesus warned that we should be able to tell the difference. You can tell them apart by "fruit inspection". And this requires that you make a judgment.

A "false prophet" is a person who is going to try to take a place of authority over you, who appears to be correct, who is wearing "sheep’s clothing", yet they aren’t what they claim to be.

Jesus said you could tell by their "fruit". What’s the fruit? I think it’s the overall things that a person’s life produces. It’s a changed life. It’s 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 that’s heading in the right direction. Fruit also includes the very words that a person says. Their words ought to line up with what we already know about God, it ought to conform to the Scriptures.

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 can’t hear what you’re saying because your life is shouting so loud!" Does their life match their message?

Paul also gave instruction concerning prophets:

(1 Cor 14:29-33 KJV) Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. {30} If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace. {31} For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted. {32} And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. {33} For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.

Paul gave a limit to the number of prophets who could speak during a church service, and instructed the church to be careful to "judge" what was said. You shouldn’t just take everything a person says and not run it through the filter of God’s Word. We need to "test" these things to be sure that they are of the Lord. You need to "test" all that I say as well. Don’t believe me just because you start to get comfortable with me. Test what I say to make sure I’m sticking to the Scriptures.

2. Hypocrites – people who claim to be Christians, but who are living in open sin.

(1 Cor 5:1-5 KJV) It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife. {2} And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. {3} For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, {4} In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, {5} To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

Look at the bold language that Paul uses. He speaks of having "judged already" this person, even turning them over to Satan for the destruction of his flesh.

(1 Cor 5:9-13 KJV) I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: {10} Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. {11} But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. {12} For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? {13} But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.

Paul clarifies that we are not to judge those in the world who are caught in specific sin, but we are to judge those who claim to be Christians and yet are continually living in unrepentant, open sin.

In Romans 14, we are not to judge others who are doing things that fall into these "gray" areas. But in 1Cor.5, we are to judge those who are in the church and are continuing in open sin.

(Gal 6:1 KJV) Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.

When a person is caught in a sin, those of us who are walking in the Lord ought to be reaching out to help them get loose from their sin. This requires a "judgment" on our part, in determining that they are indeed "overtaken" in a sin. But just as Jesus taught, we ought to look first at ourselves (Mat. 7:5) before we try taking a beam out of another person’s eye.

:13 but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way.

stumbling blockproskomma – a stumbling block; an obstacle in the way which if one strikes his foot against he stumbles or falls; that over which a soul stumbles i.e. by which is caused to sin

an occasion to fallskandalon – the movable stick or trigger of a trap, a trap stick; any impediment placed in the way and causing one to stumble or fall, (a stumbling block, occasion of stumbling) i.e. a rock which is a cause of stumbling; any person or thing by which one is (entrapped) drawn into error or sin

We’ll see in the next few verses what Paul is referring to in causing another person to stumble.

:14 I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself:

knoweido – to see; to see with the mind's eye, signifies a clear and purely mental perception

persuadedpeitho – persuade; to be persuaded, to suffer one's self to be persuaded; to be induced to believe.

I think it’s interesting that Paul used this word here. He was a Pharisee. He was a Jew who had lived by the strictest code of what was clean and what was unclean. But Jesus had "persuaded" him differently.

nothing – I don’t think Paul is making a blanket statement here. After all, sin is sin. Don’t pervert this passage to say that there’s nothing "unclean" about your Playboy magazines. But in the context of the passage, Paul is talking about food.

uncleankoinos – common; by the Jews, unhallowed, profane, Levitically unclean.


All food is clean.

(Mark 7:1-9 KJV) Then came together unto him the Pharisees, and certain of the scribes, which came from Jerusalem. {2} And when they saw some of his disciples eat bread with defiled, that is to say, with unwashen, hands, they found fault. {3} For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders. {4} And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, brazen vessels, and of tables. {5} Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands? {6} He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. {7} Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. {8} For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. {9} And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.

In the Law of Moses, God gives a large list of what kinds of food are acceptable to eat and what kinds are not. The strictest of the Jews, the Pharisees (of which Paul had been at one time, though Paul probably wasn’t in this group), had even stricter rules for what they could eat and how they could eat. Jesus said that the Pharisees weren’t really concerned about God’s ways, but only for putting on a show for others.

(Mark 7:14-23 KJV) And when he had called all the people unto him, he said unto them, Hearken unto me every one of you, and understand: {15} There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man. {16} If any man have ears to hear, let him hear. {17} And when he was entered into the house from the people, his disciples asked him concerning the parable. {18} And he saith unto them, Are ye so without understanding also? Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him; {19} Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats? {20} And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. {21} For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, {22} Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: {23} All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.

Jesus said it wasn’t external, physical things that defile a person, it’s the things that come from your heart that defiles you.

The modern translations translate verse 19 a little differently:

(Mark 7:18-19 NLT) "Don't you understand either?" he asked. "Can't you see that what you eat won't defile you? {19} Food doesn't come in contact with your heart, but only passes through the stomach and then comes out again." (By saying this, he showed that every kind of food is acceptable.)

I don’t think this entirely eliminates the Levitical Law of what foods were to be eaten and which were not. But Jesus is saying that it does not affect your relationship with God. Yet there is still some great value to the Levitical Laws. One of the big things that was forbidden was the eating of "fat". The "fat" belonged to God. Our modern dietary science tells us the same. I also don’t have a problem with the laws against eating some foods like vultures and buzzards (Lev. 11:13), bats (Lev. 11:19), and "winged insects that walk" (Lev. 11:20).

When Peter was at Simon the Tanner’s house, he had this vision of a sheet full of unclean animals being lowered from heaven with a voice telling him to rise up, kill, and eat. Each time, Peter refused, being the good Jewish boy that he was. But he was rebuked,

(Acts 10:15 KJV) And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.

Ultimately God was referring to how He was going to use Peter to open a door to those "unclean" Gentiles.

Paul also wrote,

(1 Tim 4:1-5 KJV) Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; {2} Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; {3} Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. {4} For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: {5} For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.

Part of the false doctrine in the latter days would be certain kinds of dietary restrictions. Paul says we ought to be thankful for what God gives us to eat. Food is no longer "unclean" because of what Jesus has said (the word of God) and because we pray over it.

:14 but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean.

esteemethlogizomai – to reckon, count, compute, calculate.

Just because the Scripture says that something is okay to do, doesn’t mean that for you it’s okay to do it.

There are reasons why not to do allowable things:

1. Conscience

That’s the issue here. If you are having a hard time getting yourself to eat roasted bat wings, just because you know all food is "clean", doesn’t mean that you should be eating it! If you have a struggle with your conscience about drinking alcoholic beverages, even though you realize that the Scripture allows it (as long as you aren’t getting drunk), then you shouldn’t be doing it.

2. Bondage

(1 Cor 6:12 KJV) All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.

(1 Cor 6:12 NASB) All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.

Keep in mind here that we’re still talking about the things that fall into the "gray" areas. I don’t think you can twist Paul’s words to say that "all things are lawful" could cover something like immorality. Paul makes it very clear in this very same passage that there are some things that aren’t negotiable (1Cor. 6:9,14).

There may be some things that are perfectly fine for you to do. But the question is, can you stop? Does this thing bring you into it’s power? People say, "Oh, I can quit any time." But can you? Do you have to do it?

If there is something other than Jesus Christ in control of your life, then something’s wrong. This often requires that we need to die to something in our life, to be "crucified" to it. A.W. Tozer said,

"In every Christian’s heart there is a cross and a throne. And the Christian is on the throne until he puts himself on the cross. If he refuses the cross, he remains on the throne."

Does the thing have control over you? Then Jesus must not be on the throne.

3. Profitability

(1 Cor 10:23 KJV) All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.

(1 Cor 10:23 NASB) All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify.

There are lots of things that we can be spending our time doing. The question is, "is it profitable"? Is it worth spending time doing? Does it build you up? Does it build others up?

I kind of wonder if sometimes we need to be a little careful here. Some of us are very good at laying guilt trips on ourselves. We can fall into a trap of thinking that only hard work is profitable and never learn to take a rest. God says that He created the Sabbath for our sakes, because we needed rest.

4. Love – we'll see this next time in verse 15