Rom 14:3-4 Love and Liberty 4/25/2004 «--»
#1. Brethren in Christ (Rom 14:1-13)
#2. Know Where We Stand (Rom 14:9, Matt 1:21. Isa 48:8-11, Rom 3:11, Phil 2:13)
#3. Meat Offered to Idols (Rom 14:3, 1 Cor 8:1-13)
#4. What Is That Day? (Rom 14:5-6. Matt 28:1. Acts 20:16)
#5. The Clean and the Unclean (Rom 14:14-19. John 15:12)
Please open your Bibles to the Epistle to the Romans 14:1 (2X). The title of this sermon is "Love and Liberty" (2X). Whose love and whose liberty is the Lord speaking about? In this chapter, God commands us to love our brethren in Christ, and God shows us the liberty in our conduct in this world, and how our love and our liberty may at times be in conflict with one another. This chapter speaks of those who are weak in the faith and those who are strong. This chapter speaks also about eating meat and about feast days of the OT period of time. This chapter also speaks about when to judge and when not to judge. This chapter concerns two groups of people in the church: Jews and Gentiles. God does not command them to split into two churches, but God commands them to be tolerant of one another, and to love one another. Let us now meet our:
#1. Brethren in Christ (Rom 14:1-13)
Let us now read Rom 14, and keep in the background of your mind a congregation of Jews and Gentiles, both listening to the same sermon, but both coming to different conclusions:
Ro 14:1 Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.
Ro 14:2 For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs.
Ro 14:3 Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge
him that eateth: for God hath received him.
Ro 14:4 Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth.
Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.
Ro 14:5 One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every
man be fully persuaded in his own mind.
Ro 14:6 He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to
the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he
that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.
Ro 14:7 For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. (No man is an island.)
Ro 14:8 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.
Ro 14:9 For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the
dead and living.
Ro 14:10 But why dost thou judge thy brother? Or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? For we
shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.
Ro 14:11 For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue
shall confess to God.
Ro 14:12 So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.
Ro 14:13 Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a
stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother's way.
And so, you can see that this chapter is an admonishment how to love one another in spite of our disagreements over things that are not specifically commanded or forbidden in the Scriptures. There are two specific items listed in this chapter. One is the eating of certain meats, and the other concerns the keeping of certain holy days in a year. Now it is interesting that God chose these two examples. God could have listed a dozen other topics, but the eating of certain meats is a non-issue in our days. And yet God wrote the Bible for all times, and for all nations, and for all cultures on this earth. Therefore, it means that certain historical or cultural differences between then and now should not be in view at all when we read the Bible. We must be able to apply the words of Scripture to our time and our circumstances. And so we see that the eating or not eating of certain meats may have been a problem 2000 years ago, but if it is to be applied to our time it is actually a parable. Let's look at these
Historically this statement in Rom 14 is addressed to the mature and the strong members of the congregation. They who have been instructed in the grace of God and the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ know that among them will also be those who are weak in the faith. We have them in every church. And God says in verse 1, "Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations". We must receive them lovingly, not demanding that they immediately know all the doctrines that have taken us many years to learn. For example, some have been trained that certain meats are unclean, such as pork, or shrimp, or snails, or rattlesnakes. Many Jews who have been converted to Christianity may still find it repulsive to eat such meat. Also, many people object to eating meat from animals that were sacrificed to idols. They believe that such meat has been defiled. To be safe, these people eat only vegetables. But God receives us whether we are omnivores or whether we eat only vegetables. What we eat does not make or break our salvation. Therefore, we see that meat, the subject of discussion chosen by God, is a matter that is debatable. It is a matter that Is up for discussion. In this chapter God is not touching on matters that all Christians agree on and that stand rock-solid in the Bible. We need to keep this in mind when we discuss the second subject of discussion, which is the day that some consider holy and others do not. And so, to those who are critical of others for what they eat God says in verse 3, "Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth". Instead you must love them for who they are. and keep to yourself the liberty that you have in Christ, until they who are weak in the faith are able to understand it. The Lord Jesus said in Matt 15:11, "Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man: but that which cometh OUT of the mouth, this defileth a man". Those of us who have a sharp tongue should think about this before we begin the next criticism of our fellow man. The mature believer understands that the Kingdom of God is not in food or drink, but it is righteousness and peace with God in our soul. We who are strong in the faith must not look down or despise a person who does not understand these things. Some people are still bound by a "touch-not, taste-not” tradition.
And in reverse, let not the man who abstains from certain foods pass judgment on those who eat everything, for God has received and welcomed both. As long as we understand that the disagreement is not over the Gospel of Substitution, and the disagreement is not over the moral Law of God, and the disagreement is not over repentance, faith, love or godliness, and the disagreement is not over the Sovereignty of Almighty God, but the disagreement is over food and drink, and over things regarding the flesh, and over creature comforts, then we are standing on a solid foundation. Who are our brethren? They are those who believe the Gospel like we do, and who know the God whom we know. But we are not all of equal understanding. We must all learn to "grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord". And so we see that we must first be sure of the things that are not up for debate. Therefore, we must first:
#2. Know Where We Stand (Rom 14:9, Matt 1:21. Isa 48:8-11. Rom 3:11, Phil 2:13)
What is the Gospel of Substitution? What is the Good News of God's rules of Substitution? God touched on this issue when He said in verse 9, "For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living". Please turn in your Bibles to the Prophecy of Isaiah 48:8 (2X). We can find summaries of the Gospel everywhere throughout the Bible. For today, i have chosen an OT passage to prove that this is indeed true. We are going to cover verses 8-11, and we are going to see that this passage fully describes all we need to know about the Gospel of salvation Historically God was addressing the nation of Israel. But that is history. How does this passage apply to today? We are informed from Rom 9 and from Gal 6 that today God is not concerned about the blood descendants of Jacob, but God is concerned about the Israel of God. consisting of both Jews and Gentiles who were saved by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. The angel said to Joseph in Matt 1:21. "Thou shalt call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins". "His people'' refers to the remnant saved by grace out of all the nations of the world. But we did not come into the world as saved persons. We came into the world as condemned persons.
Isa 48:8 Yea, thou heardest not; yea, thou knewest not; yea, from that time that thine ear was not opened: for I knew that thou wouldest deal very treacherously, and wast called a transgressor from the womb.
Every one of us, including those who were born from the line of Jacob, came into the world as "transgressors from the womb". As soon as we were conceived we were under the wrath of God, because we read in Psalm 51, "In sin did my mother conceive me". Therefore every human being is in need of salvation. Without salvation we are on the way to Hell; that is a 100% certainty for those who have not been saved. Who then shall be saved? The Israel of God, His people, shall be saved:
Isa 48:9 fl For my name's sake will I defer mine anger, and for my praise will I refrain for thee, that I cut thee not off.
Who will be cut off? All those who remain unsaved will be cut off. Who will not be cut off? God says "I will refrain for thee", which also can be translated, "I will restrain Myself for you; I will hold back My anger for you. I will not do that for everyone in the world, but for you, because I have chosen you", as we can read in the next verse, verse 10. This concept of God choosing whom He intends to save is a concept well established throughout the Bible. God does not choose those who will turn to Him in repentance and faith, because the Bible says that no one will turn to God in repentance and faith. This is how human beings are, according to the Bible. God says in Rom 3:11, "There is none that seeketh after God", and "none" means "No Not One". Therefore God said in Isa 48:9, "For My name's sake" do I do this, "and for My praise" do I do this, because all the credit must go to Me. God receives all the credit, because He has done it all, 100%, and we, uncooperative mankind, have done nothing to deserve this gracious treatment from God. How did God save us? God says in verse 10,
Isa 48:10 Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.
What does it mean when God says that
"He has chosen us in the furnace of affliction"? Whose affliction?
It is true that we have more ears for the Gospel when we are in trouble. An old
saying from WW1 and WW2 is this: "There are no atheists in foxholes".
The foxholes refer to the holes in the ground that soldiers dig when they are in
the frontline of the battle zone. It is true that most people have
been saved when they went through great distress in their life. But that is not
the furnace of affliction that God is talking about here in Isa 48:10.
God says, "I have refined thee", like a goldsmith does
when he refines the gold, by scraping away the dross from the melted metal. How
did God scrape away our dross, meaning our sins, from our
soul? He did that with the blood of Christ. The
Lord Jesus Christ went
through "the furnace of affliction" when He suffered on the
cross, to purchase us before we even have been conceived, and
before our soul was in existence. Why did God choose the word
"furnace"? God chose His words very carefully. The Bible teaches
that the Lord Jesus Christ was the stand-in for those whom He
came to save, His people. We were not able to help ourselves, since
for every sin we would have to pay the penalty of spending an eternity in Hell.
It means that we would never get to heaven, because an
eternity is forever. Just one sin lands us in that condemnation so that
with every sin we only dig a deeper hole in Hell. But the Lord Jesus Christ
took upon Himself the guilt of every sin He came to pay, and He paid the
penalty for us, in our place. It means that He
had to pay the full price, the
equivalent of an eternity in Hell. Only then would the guilt of our sins be
fully paid. That is why God chose "the furnace of affliction",
because this furnace refers to Hell. When the Lord Jesus Christ finished the
suffering for our sins on the cross, He might have said to each one of His
chosen people. "Behold I have refined thee, in the furnace of
affliction". Since the Lord Jesus Christ is not able to do anything that is
a futile attempt, or that is wasted, He does not say this to everyone
in the world, because not everyone in the world is saved. And so we see here in
verse 10 "the Gospel of Substitution". God permitted the Lord Jesus to substitute
for His people, because He
was a perfect man and because He was able to endure the penalty that had to be paid. Now V. 11:
Isa 48:11 For mine own sake, even for mine own sake, will I do it for how should my name be polluted? And I will not give my glory unto another.
Literally, God says in verse 11, "For My sake, for My sake. I will do it, for how it is defiled?" It was defiled already during the time that Isaiah wrote this Scroll. God was not honored with the Jews' religion of those days, and God is not honored with the Jews' religion in our days. God was not, and is not, given the credit that belongs to Him. People take away the credit that belongs to God by ascribing to themselves how faithful they are, and how willing they are to do God's work for Him, and how ready they are to make a decision for Jesus. That is stealing from God the honor that belongs to Him. That is why God says in verse 11, "And I will not give my glory unto another". Literally He says, "My honor I give not to another". God has never given man the honor to claim that we were partly responsible for our salvation, or for our sanctification, or for any so-called "good work" that we do. We must always give God the honor and the glory, "For it is God which worketh in us, both to will and to do of His good pleasure" (Phil 2:13). And so, it is only by God's Holy Spirit that we are made willing to believe the Bible and to see the Sovereignty of God in all the Scriptures. Of our own selves we would never have been willing to believe this, because this Gospel is an offense to our natural instinct. This Gospel is cutting down our ego and our self-respect. But given the depravity of our soul, as stated in verse 8 it is no wonder that in our natural state we will have such an aversion against the true Gospel. Please turn in your Bibles two pages to your left (->), to Isa 46:9 (2X). There we see:
• The Sovereignty of God (Isa 46:9-11)
Historically God is speaking in this chapter to the nation of Israel. But applied to our time God is speaking to us, to those who belong to the Israel of God. And God says here in Isa 46:9,
Isa 46:9-10 Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; / am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:
Isa 46:11 Calling ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass, I have purposed it, I will also do it.
God indicates here that He is declaring the end of history from the beginning. It means that before Gen 1:1 God declared to Himself everything that history will bring until the end of time. God can do that because He is omniscient. But that is not the only reason why God knows the end from the beginning. God knows the end from the beginning because He brings to pass what He determined to be done. God says, "My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure". Even though Satan and all his demons and all mankind rallying behind Satan will try do have it their way, My counsel, or My purpose shall prevail, and I will do all that I planned to do. I shall call "a ravenous bird from the east", which is not a real bird but a man, Cyrus, and he shall execute My wrath on Babylon, because I have purposed it. therefore I will also do it. God says here that He is not only the Ruler of Israel, but He is also the Ruler of all the heathen. God has determined that the heathen king Cyrus will one day rise up and destroy the Babylonian empire, and send the children of Israel back to their home country. God not only sees this happen, but God causes it to come to pass. This is the great God we have. This is who God is. And all efforts from man and from Satan to steal away His sovereignty is going to backfire. The Lord Jesus will say, "You never knew Me because I never knew you; depart from Me, ye that work iniquity". To sum it up, God, in His sovereignty chose whom He wanted to save, and God determined that the Lord Jesus Christ would pay the penalty for the sins of all those whom He chose. Subsequently, by God's Holy Spirit, God's irresistible grace will be brought into the lives of those miserable human beings whom God has chosen to save and they will be given the faith to believe this Gospel of Substitution and the Sovereignty of God. And God will make sure that we never abandon this faith in God our Savior. Now we are standing on a solid foundation. Now we can distinguish between those things that are debatable and those things that are not. For example,
#3. Meat Offered to Idols (Rom 14:3, 1 Cor 8:1-13)
Please turn in your Bibles to the First Epistle to the Corinthians 8:1 (2X). You find 1Cor right after Romans. God said in Rom 14:3, "Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not: and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him." This may refer to eating meat from clean and unclean animals. In most Christian congregations this has become a non-issue, because today most Christian congregations consist of Gentiles. Likewise, "meat offered to idols" has become a non-issue, because in this country meat may only be sold in government-approved stores. How do we now apply the passages that refer to meat offered to idols? God's Word is for all times, it means then that these passages are to be interpreted as parabolic language. Let us read 1Cor 8.
1Co 8:1 Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.
1Co 8:2-3 And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know. But if any man love God, the same is known of him.
1Co 8:4 As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one.
1Co 8:5-6 For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.
1Co 8:7 Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled.
1Co 8:8-9 But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse. But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become stumbling block to them that are weak.
1Co 8:10 For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol's temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols;
1Co 8:11 And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?
1Co 8:12-13 But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ. Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.
What is God saving here? Meat that is offered to idols is not defiled. It was not offered to other gods to begin with, because other gods do not exist. So, can we go ahead and eat it? Consider this: If you have a weak brother in Christ who might be shocked to hear or see that you eat meat that was sacrificed to idols, he will defile his conscience when he also begins to eat this meat. You would have sinned against your brother in Christ by wounding his weak conscience. Actually your liberty in Christ has been the source of your sin against your brother. Then out of love for your brother and for his conscience sake, do not eat this meat.
How do we apply this now to our day and age? Can we think of something that was sacrificed to idols and which is available to all to partake? I can think of a few examples. The first one is automobile traffic. Who is the idol? The idol is money. The love of money drives manufacturers to bring out more and more expensive cars. Where is the sacrifice? The sacrifice is made every day in the form of huge amounts of gasoline that is converted into carbon dioxide and water, supposedly. We ail partake of it in different ways. The difference is in how fast we drive. We know that speed demons are the cause of fatal traffic accidents, most of the time. But driving slower than the speed of traffic also causes accidents. Since keeping up with the speed of traffic is not against the law. I could drive quite a bit faster than the speed limit. This is like meat that is offered to idols. But a brother in Christ might be watching me, And so, out of love for my brother I will drive much closer to the speed limit, to ease the conscience of my brother who might be watching me.
Another example is parties, whether it be office parties, or family gatherings, or Mother's Day parties, or Father's Day parties, these are gatherings that are organized for the sake of having fun. But ask yourself if this is a God glorifying way of spending your time. Most of the time the answer is NO, unless you use this occasion to do some witnessing for Christ. Would I then attend a party after a Roman Catholic water baptism? I probably would not, although it would not be a sin. Do we sin if we attend a water baptism in a Roman Catholic Church or in a United Church of Christ? We know that these denominations believe that water baptism is a requirement for salvation. Therefore, if we attend such a ceremony, with our actions we indicate our approval to this doctrine, which means that we do sin if we attend such a water baptism. I would only go to the party afterward because it is such a unique opportunity to witness of the meaning of Baptism. Do we sin if we celebrate Halloween?
This is a festival of which we should not partake, because we would teach our children that it is OK to do homage to devils. We must teach our children by our example. Perhaps you remember that meats offered to idols only pertain to items that are debatable. To do homage to devils is absolutely a sin. This is not debatable. We should not engage in Halloween celebrations, no matter how innocent it may seem.
Please turn about 15 pages to your left (->) and let us return to the Epistle to the Romans 14:5 (2X). The second subject matter in this Epistle to the Romans is "The Day".
#4. What Is That Day? (Rom 14:5-6, Matt 28:1, Acts 20:16)
Ro 14:5 One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.
Ro 14:6 He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.
Could this possibly refer to the worship service on Sunday? Absolutely not! Worship on Sunday has been a doctrine that was accepted by all Christian denominations throughout time. Why was this so? Did emperor Constantine arrange it this way? Absolutely not! God commanded this in the Bible, and all the ancient churches could read the Greek text of at least one of the four narrative Gospels that was distributed to most churches. There in the Greek text of Matt 28:1 they could read:
Mt 28:1 In the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.
Literally the Greek text says, "But after
the Sabbaths (plural), at the dawning into the first of the Sabbaths
(plural), came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre".
The time referred to here was Sunday morning. The only reasonable explanation
for this verse is that the OT era of Saturday Sabbaths came to an end, and a
new era of Sunday Sabbaths started on the day that Christ rose from the grave.
It means that God instituted the Sunday as the day we must set aside for Him.
No longer was the Saturday the day people set aside as a day of rest, looking
forward to the rest we will have in the complete work of Christ, but now the
Sunday must be set aside, looking back on the complete work of Christ, and
thanking Him for it in prayer and in worship. Therefore it is of great
importance that we do not hinder other people from doing the same.
Therefore we do not buy, or sell, or eat in restaurants on Sunday, because we would
be employing others to work for us, whereas they should be worshipping in their
church on Sunday. Sunday Brunch is not a feast unto the Lord. Rather it
is a pagan feast, because the pagans like to do those things that are
abominable in God's sight. Therefore, the day mentioned in Rom
14:5-6 cannot refer to moving the Sunday worship to Saturday,
because that, would be absolutely contrary to Scripture. Sunday cannot be
touched. It is not a debatable issue. What other days could be in view? Remember
that the early church consisted of
Jews and Gentiles. Many Jews were still hanging on to the feast days of the Jews, such as the Feast of Tabernacles, and the Feast of Pentecost. Even the Apostle Paul made it his business to be at Jerusalem on Pentecost (Acts 20:16). And thus we conclude that "the day" in Rom 14:5-6 refers to a Jewish holiday, possibly Passover, which the Jews considered holy, but which the Christians considered as nothing, because it did not fall on Sunday.
Do we sin if we partake of a Passover meal? If it were nothing more than a sentiment, then we would probably partake, to please those who invited us, and we would regard it as nothing more than a secular party. But if they regarded their Passover celebration as something virtuous, or as an act required for Jewish Christians, then we should stay away from this as far as we possibly can. If possible we should teach them from the Bible that God has done away with the OT Ceremonial Law, and that a Christian must not carry this baggage around. Let us now consider:
#5. The Clean and the Unclean (Rom 14:14-19, John 15:12)
Ro 14:14 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.
Ro 14:15-16 But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died. Let not then your good be evil spoken of:
Ro 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
Ro 14:18 For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men.
Ro 14:19 Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.
Love and Liberty. Paraphrased verse 16 says, "Let not our good understanding of our liberty in Christ be evil spoken of by those who do not understand it". Let our love for the brethren dominate in all that we do. The Lord Jesus said in John 15:12, "This is My commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you". What would be more pleasing to Christ than to love one another as He commanded us? We must not insist on our rights. If our love for one another demands that we relinquish some of our rights then we should do so. These are the things that make for peace in our church. These are the things with which we edify one another. And to make a distinction between the clean and the unclean is only necessary when sin is being introduced as meat that is offered to idols. This is where we must draw the line. This is how sin slips in, and this is how the church degenerates into apostacy. To be tolerant of sin is not pleasing to the Lord at all.
AMEN. Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.