Romans 14:15-18

Wednesday Evening Bible Study

November 10, 1999

Introduction

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.

Last week we ended with

(Rom 14:14 KJV) 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.

There are reasons why not to do allowable things:

1. Conscience does your conscience struggle with doing it?

2. Bondage does this activity bring you under its power?

3. Profitability is it worth spending time doing?

4. Love there are times when its okay for me to do something, but because I am acting in love towards another person, Im not going to do it verse 15

:13-18

:15 But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably.

grieved lupeo to make sorrowful; to affect with sadness, cause grief, to throw into sorrow; offend; to make one uneasy.

not better translation, "no longer". You might have been walking in love, but when you cause someone to stumble, when you intentionally cause someone grief, then you are no longer walking in love.

I say "intentionally" because sometimes we can "grieve" others without even being aware of what were doing.

charitably agape Gods spiritual kind of love.

Lesson

Agape is more concerned for the other person.

(1 Cor 13:5 KJV) Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own

Behaving "unseemly" means being rude towards others, being inconsiderate of their feelings.

"seeketh not her own" means that a person using agape love does not concern themselves with their own needs before they are concerned with the needs of others.

(Phil 2:3-4 NASB) Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; {4} do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.

A person who is learning to walk in agape wont be thinking things like, "Well I have a right to this!"

I would say that most of the problems we encounter in our relationships with one another occur because we are thinking selfishly, we are thinking only about ourselves, and we trample on those around us.

Some people would hold to the idea that what they are doing is actually permissible. It may be permissible, but its not loving.

(1 Cor 8:1 NASB) Now concerning things sacrificed to idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies.

(1 Cor 8:1 NLT) Now let's talk about food that has been sacrificed to idols. You think that everyone should agree with your perfect knowledge. While knowledge may make us feel important, it is love that really builds up the church.

:15 Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died.

destroy apollumi to destroy; metaph. to devote or give over to eternal misery in hell; to perish, to be lost, ruined, destroyed.

W. E. Vine: "The idea is not extinction but ruin, loss, not of being, but of well-being" (An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words [Westwood, N.J.: Revel, 1940]).

Pretty strong words! If Im abusing my freedom in the Lord, could I actually "destroy" another person?

(1 Cor 8:9-13 NLT) But you must be careful with this freedom of yours. Do not cause a brother or sister with a weaker conscience to stumble. {10} You see, this is what can happen: Weak Christians who think it is wrong to eat this food will see you eating in the temple of an idol. You know there's nothing wrong with it, but they will be encouraged to violate their conscience by eating food that has been dedicated to the idol. {11} So because of your superior knowledge, a weak Christian, for whom Christ died, will be destroyed (same Greek word as in Rom. 14:15). {12} And you are sinning against Christ when you sin against other Christians by encouraging them to do something they believe is wrong. {13} If what I eat is going to make another Christian sin, I will never eat meat again as long as I live--for I don't want to make another Christian stumble.

What if you are a person who has the liberty to drink an alcoholic beverage?

So you take advantage of your freedom and order a beer with your pizza. There you are in a restaurant eating and drinking when in walks someone who knows that you are a Christian. If the person is a believer, but is an alcoholic, will your liberty cause them to stumble? Ive counseled with people who were alcoholics, and they have Christian friends who know they are alcoholics and still drink in front of them. Thats not love.

Even worse, perhaps its someone at work that youve been witnessing to. If they have been considering the gospel, will your "liberty" affect their decision? Some might say that it would help them relate to the unbeliever, but I think unbelievers need to see that Jesus changes us and makes us different.

Note: Though it might be okay to do the "gray" thing by yourself, when you cause another person to stumble, you are no longer in the "gray" area, you are sinning against the person and against Jesus (1Cor. 8:12).

:16 Let not then your good be evil spoken of:

be evil spoken of blasphemeo to speak reproachfully, rail at, revile, calumniate, blaspheme; to be evil spoken of, reviled, railed at

good agathos of good constitution or nature; good, pleasant, agreeable, joyful, happy.

The "good" things we have are the things we have a liberty to be doing. These things are "good" to us. But when we abuse our freedom by causing others to stumble, we cause them to speak badly of our liberty.

Lesson

Our actions can lead to blasphemy.

We may not ever actually blaspheme with our own mouths, but our actions might legitimately cause others to curse God.

When David had committed adultery and murder with Bathsheba, he was confronted by the prophet Nathan

(2 Sam 12:13-14 NASB) Then David said to Nathan, "I have sinned against the LORD." And Nathan said to David, "The LORD also has taken away your sin; you shall not die. {14} "However, because by this deed you have given occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born to you shall surely die."

Here the case is not so much outright sin, but because we might cause others to stumble in acting against their convictions.

:17 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink;

the kingdom of God the reign of God right now in your heart (Robertson).

meat brosis act of eating; that which is eaten, food

drink posis a drinking, drink

(Rom 14:17 NLT) For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

:17 but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

righteousness dikaiosune in a broad sense: state of him who is as he ought to be, righteousness, the condition acceptable to God; integrity, virtue, purity of life, rightness, correctness of thinking, feeling, and acting

Sometimes we want to know just how much we can do and still get away with it. But a person who has a focus on "righteousness" doesnt concern himself with how far he can get from Jesus, but with how close he can stay to Jesus.

peace eirene a state of national tranquillity; peace between individuals, i.e. harmony, concord; security, safety, prosperity, felicity, (because peace and harmony make and keep things safe and prosperous)

I think in the context of the passage, this is talking about peace between people.

joy chara joy, gladness

Lesson

Focus on the right things

Too often we get sidetracked with little, tiny, inconsequential issues.

Whats important is that we find life in the Holy Spirit.

Illustration

Jim Elliot, the young pilot who was killed on the missionary field, in The Journals of Jim Elliot, wrote,

"Just finished For Whom the Bell Tolls. ... Would that I could get as aroused about experiencing God in life as these modern writers are aroused at just experiencing life. They make no comment, draw no conclusions, point no moral, simply state things as they are in simple words in up-to-date settings.

"Perhaps it is for this very lucidity that they hold such grip on one. Must we always comment on life? Can it not simply be lived in the reality of Christ's terms of contact with the Father, with joy and peace, fear and love full to the fingertips in their turn, without incessant drawing of lessons and making of rules?"

Gods desire is that we learn to find joy and contentment in life.

Illustration

Many years ago a little girl was totally blind. She was blinded as an infant as the result of an accident. She lived to be over 90 years old. She became a saint of the American church. She wrote many popular Christian songs and choruses. Her name was Fanny Crosby. When she was only eight years old, she wrote:

Oh, what a happy child I am, although I cannot see.

I am resolved that in this world, contented I will be.

How many blessings I enjoy that other people don't.

To weep and sigh because I'm blind--I cannot and I won't.

-- John Yates II, "The Man Born Blind," Preaching Today, Tape No. 46.

Illustration

Rod Cooper, ("Worship or Worry?" Preaching Today, Tape No. 108.) writes,

"I used to be the chaplain for the Astros and the Oilers when I was in Houston, Texas. After I'd do a chapel, they'd give me tickets. One time in the Astrodome I watched Earl Campbell run over everybody, his own men included, to get to the goal line. When he got to the goal line, he put the ball down. The place went crazy. People were giving high fives and jumping around. The score board went off. The same thing happened when the Astros hit a home run. It was a ringing shout, because their man scored a touchdown.

I'm not saying that when you come to church you need to give each other high fives or do cartwheels down the aisle, but worship is a time of anticipation and expectation. We come together because all week God has been knocking home runs and scoring touchdowns in our lives. Worship is a time to celebrate what God has done for us."

Sometimes I feel like dancing

All this is found in "the Holy Ghost".

Gods desire is that we focus on what the Holy Spirit has for us.

:18 For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men.

serveth douleuo to be a slave, serve, do service

these things What are "these things"?

Its serving Christ according to "righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost".

Its serving Christ according with love (agape) towards others.

acceptable euarestos well pleasing, acceptable

approved dokimos accepted, particularly of coins and money; accepted, pleasing, acceptable

Donald Barnhouse "In the ancient world there was no banking system as we know it today, and no paper money. All money was made from metal, heated until liquid, poured into moulds and allowed to cool. When the coins were cooled, it was necessary to smooth off the uneven edges. The coins were comparatively soft and of course many people shaved them closely. In one century, more than eighty laws were passed in Athens, to stop the practice of shaving down the coins then in circulation. But some money changers were men of integrity, who would accept no counterfeit money. They were men of honour who put only genuine full weighted money into circulation. Such men were called "dokimos" or "approved"."

Lesson

A strong witness

Our goal isnt to "impress" people, but to "impact" them.

When they see that we care enough for others to limit our own freedoms, they begin to get a taste of what Jesus is all about. Its all about His love.

(John 13:34-35 KJV) A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. {35} By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.