Thursday, September 23, 2010

Reading Through Romans 14-15

Reading Romans 14-15

We now come to a new section and as we do Paul zeros in on a new topic. Keep in mind we are still in the duty section, the practical section, or our response section. In the first eight chapters Paul laid a foundation by providing the doctrine that supports our duty; he provided our position that upholds our practice, and he gave us the reason for our response.

This section is a very important section. Beginning in chapter fourteen and running through the thirteenth verse of chapter fifteen the theme calls us to a mutual existence between the stronger Christians and those who are yet matured and are considered as weaker believers in faith. Granted Paul addresses an issue that is related to Jewish food laws. Paul sides with the strong believers but instructs these strong believers not to despise their weaker brothers. This principle gives us guidelines that dictate our attitude and actions when we encounter less mature people within the body of Christ.

Tomorrow we will finish up our reading of this great epistle by reading Chapter sixteen. Hope you have enjoyed both the reading of Romans and this little running commentary.

Chapter Fourteen

In verses one through twelve Paul commands us not to be judgmental of believers. The weaker brother is not to be judgmental of those who are stronger in the faith. At the same time the more mature and stronger believer is not to be judgmental of the brother who is weaker in the faith. Believe it or not this section is directed more to the weaker brother. The weaker brother is not to condemn nor judge the brother who is more developed in faith and convictions.

The problem we face even today as there are weaker brethren in the body. These individuals have not developed as far in biblical convictions and faith and attack, criticize, condemn, judge, and even harass those who have stronger faith and convictions. Someone recently put it this way, “Watch out for the professional weaker brother.” Sometimes believers enjoy remaining weak. It keeps them from developing the courage of biblical convictions. It is much easier to criticize someone rather than work through an issue biblically and develop sound convictions.

The stronger brother usually goes about his own business and by faith operates within biblical convictions. The weaker brother on the other hand has the tendency to be vocal against those who are stronger in faith. For example, the stronger brother sees every day the same with no significance of one day over the next. We can worship each and every day. The weaker brother has yet to see that the Sabbath as part of the ceremonial laws is not binding on believers in the church age make it quite a big deal when they think the Sabbath has been violated. 

In verses thirteen through chapter fifteen and verse thirteen we see that believers are not to pass judgment on one another and we are not permitted to cause believers to sin. Now, granted this is not the place to preach. But in me, you have a preacher, and “Have Sermon Will Travel.” In this case I am like Richard Paladin in Have Gun Will Travel. So here goes.

This section does not mean that a stronger brother goes into hiding and behind closed doors for fear of creating a stumbling block, lives out his strong faith based convictions. This passage is usually misapplied because it is not read and studied carefully.

Paul is not saying to the stronger brother you cannot eat the meat you have or drink the wine you have because it may cause a weaker Christian to sin. Paul is saying to do not force your convictions that you have developed based on biblical principles onto a brother who is weaker in the faith. In other words don’t force your brother by reproach, ridicule, sermonizing, and etc. to do something that would violate his conscience.

If I am convicted that pork is now clean and I can eat it but you are convicted that pork is unclean and you don’t eat it, I should not force you to violate your conscience and eat pork.

We are not asked to surrender our convictions, we are asked to not behave in such a way that would hurt the faith of someone who has weaker faith and in doing so we cause them to condemn themselves. In a specific setting we are encouraged to forgo a right in order to preserve peace and not cause a brother to sin against his own conscience.

Paul will say in verse twenty two that the stronger brother does not have to give up his conviction, or to think their action is sinful, or to damage their own conscience for the sake of the weaker brother. He is simply saying use your liberty in a considerate and Christ like-manner. (Let the cards and letters come in, I can take it)

Chapter Fifteen

In verses one through seven Paul gives Jesus Christ as an example of how stronger believers are to tolerate and support the weaker brethren rather than living selfishly to satisfy their own desires. The Christian life is all about strengthening others. Paul gives Christ as the highest example of someone living for the Glory of God.

In verses eight through thirteen Paul shows that Jesus Christ is the hope and salvation of both the Jews and the Gentiles. Therefore it is un-Christ like as a stronger Gentile believer to judge or inure the faith or conscience of a weaker Jewish believer. Those Jews who are believers Paul says that still believe certain meat is wrong and the Sabbath is binding support. But to the Jews Paul gives the example to the weaker Jews not to condemn the stronger Gentile believers who believe all meat is now for consumption and that there is no Sabbath.

In verses fourteen through thirty three Paul lays out the extension of God’s salvation and redemption through his calling to the Gentiles. Paul focuses on his calling to the Gentiles in this section. He explains his unique ministry Gentiles. He also builds a case as he asks his Roman readers to support his planned missionary trip to Spain. Paul will share his plans to visit Rome and what he hopes to accomplish.


Persis said...

Thanks for posting these chapter summaries. They've encouraged my soul in the word.

Gregg said...

Persis - You are very welcome. I am glad that they refreshed your soul! Praise God for His living Word.


Even though I've been a Christian for 30 years I still consider myself to be the weaker brother in certain areas.

Most of my close Christian friends who believe they have the freedom to drink alcohol will not order wine with there meal when we go out to dinner. They are all aware of my alcoholic background and have never said it but I'm sure it's because they do not want to offend me.

I think I'm beyond that but even after knowing some of them for over 25 years, out of respect for me they have never had a drink of alcohol in my presence. My love and respect for them would not change if they did but I'm thankful they don't.

LibbyLibbyLibbyLibbyLibby said...

Good Biblical Study!

arlee bird said...

Unfortunately, judgemental attitudes are often the result of out of control feelings rather than level-headed rationalism and reasoning. At this time--again--we are seeing at our church people leaving because they felt they had been offended in some way and rather than bring it to anybody's attention to try to rectify the situation, they gossip about it later.
This is particularly burdensome to me as a member of the administration council because often they will point to us and blame us for not doing something. If you don't know that something wrong is going on, how can you do anything?

Tossing It Out

Seams Inspired said...

Loved reading these chapters! :o) Growing up in a somewhat legalistic home, I wish my family had read Romans. I still struggle with judging others. I must constantly be aware of not only my words, but guard my thoughts as well. I feel I am probably eating the veggies...mashed...most often as far as my biblical knowledge is concerned. Now, if you want to see someone get their praise on and worship, I'm all about the meat there! LOL I can praise my God with no thought to what others might think. I can be in a room of 10,000 people, and it's just me and my LORD celebrating His glory. :o)

What I loved most is that these words written centuries ago are still so applicable today. Here's what stood out to me...

14:8 No commentary other than I just love this verse.

14:16 This verse can be applied in so many ways. It can help a Christian stand firm in faith. It can also be applied to gossip, which is one of my biggest peeves in a church setting: "We need to pray for X because I heard..."

14:22 What a powerful statement!

15:4 These are instructions for life, aren't they?

15:13 I pray this over my children and family, especially when I see them struggling.

Gregg said...

Ron - I don't think you are the weaker brother. The weaker brother is one would say that peanut-butter cookies are sinful. Then goes about telling others that peanut-butter cookies are sinful and attempts to get others to believe the same thing. That is a weaker brother. The weaker brother fails to see we have liberty to eat peanut-butter cookies and cannot enjoy them and doesn't want me to enjoy them.

Your situation is different. I haven't heard you say that wine is sinful and that you are on a campaign to make sure everyone thinks it is sinful. You simply recognized you had a problem and to prevent that problem you abstain. Your friends do exactly what I would do; if we had dinner together tonight I would forgo ordering my favorite Merlot and have an ice team as not to be any kind of temptation to you.

LLLLL - thanks Libby. This is a great section in Romans. We can't forget it is all built up and made possible by the truths taught in Romans 1-8!

Lee - I know what you mean by being in leadership and not knowing about a problem and being accused of not taking care of business. part of that is the leadership's fault. We need to teach regularly and fervently that if someone offends us it is our responsibility to go to that person and get the problem fixed or take it to the leadership. Christians from some reason think they have the right to be judgmental, God forbid and God help us.

Seams Inspired - Yes, 14:8 says a lot. We belong to Christ and are to please him by our lives or by our deaths.

14:22 sometimes it is better to keep our convictions to our self. This is not our Christian faith or witness by the way, we are never told to keep that to ourselves, but some of our convictions are to be kept to ourself. I don't have to surrender my conviction on the use of wine, but I don't have to speak of it or behave in a manner that would hurt the faith or conviction of someone else.