It recently came to my attention, that there are believers who struggle with what IS and ISN’T a SIN Issue..
This topic has been an area of interest to me ever since the beginning of my faith journey.
It has always interested me. So, quite a few years back, I started studying the word to see what it says for myself. Lets take a look here and see what the Apostle Paul has to tell us in Romans 14 and 15:
‘Accept other believers who are weak in faith, and don’t argue with them about what they think is right and wrong. For instance, one person believes it’s all right to eat anything, but another believer with a sensitive conscious will only eat vegetables. Those who feel free to eat anything must not look down on those who don’t.
And those who don’t eat certain foods, must not condemn those who do, for God has accepted them.
Who are you to condemn someone else’s servants?
Their own master will judge whether they stand or fall.
And with the Lord’s help, they will stand and receive his approval.
In the same way, some think one day is more holy than another day, while others think everyday is alike. You should each be fully convinced that whatever day you choose is acceptable. Those who worship the Lord on a special day, do it to honour him. Those who eat any kind of food do so to honour the Lord, since they give thanks to the Lord before eating.
And those who refuse to eat certain foods also want to please the Lord and give thanks to God.
For we don’t live or die for ourselves. If we live, it’s to honour the Lord, and if we die, it’s to honour the Lord.
So weather we live or die, we belong to the Lord. Christ died and rose again for this very purpose – to be Lord of the living and the dead.
So why do you condemn another believer?
Why do you look down on another believer?
Remember, we will all stand before the judgement seat of God. For the scriptures say,
‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord “every knee will bend to me, and every tongue confess and give praise to God.’
Yes, each of us will give a personal account to God. So lets stop condemning eachother.
Decide, instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall.
I know and am convinced on the authority of the Lord Jesus that no food, in and of itself, is wrong to eat. But if someone believes it is wrong, then for that person it is wrong. And if another believer is distressed by what you eat, you are not acting in love if you eat it. Don’t let your eating ruin someone for whom Christ died. Then you will not be criticized for doing something you believe is good.
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.
If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God, and others will approve of you too. So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and build eachother up.
Don’t tear apart the work of God over what you eat. Remember, all foods are acceptable, but it is wrong to eat something if it makes another person stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything else if it might cause another believer to stumble. You may believe there is nothing wrong with what you are doing. But keep it between yourself and God. Blessed are those who don’t feel guilty for doing something they have decided is right. But if you have doubts about weather or not you should eat something, you are sinning if you go ahead and do it. For you are not following your convictions.
If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning.
15) We who are strong must be considerate of those who are sensitive about things like this. We must not just please ourselves. We should help others do what is right and build them up in the Lord. For even Christ didn’t live to please himself. As the scriptures say: “The insults of those who insult you, O God, have fallen on me.”
Such things were written in the scriptures long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for Gods promise to be fulfilled.
May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus. Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory . Remember that Christ came as a servant to the Jews to show that God is true to the promises he made to his ancestors. He also came so that Gentiles might give glory to God for his mercies to them. That is what the psalmist meant when he wrote:
“For this, I will praise you among the Gentiles; I will sing praises to your name.”
And in another place it is written,
“Rejoice with his people, you Gentiles.”
And yet again, (Psalm 117:1)
“Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles. Praise him, all you people of the Earth.”
And in another place Isaiah said,
“The heir to Davids throne will come, and he will rule over the Gentiles. They will place their hope in him.”
I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. ROMANS 14-15 NLT Life Application Study Bible
This verse assumes there will be differences of opinion in the church about what is right and wrong. Paul says we are not to quarrel about issues that are matters of opinion. differences should not be feared or avoided but accepted and handled with love. Don’t expect everyone, even in the best possible church, to agree on every subject. Through sharing ideas we can come to a fuller understanding of what the bible teaches. Accept, listen to, and respect others. Differences of opinion need not cause division, they can be a source or learning and richness in our relationships. STUDY NOTE: Romans 14:1
What is weak faith? Paul is talking about immature faith that has not yet developed the muscle it needs to stand against external pressures. For example, if a person who once worshiped idols becomes a christian, he might understand perfectly well that Christ saved him through faith and that idols have no real power. Still because of his past associations, he might be badly shaken if he unknowingly ate meat that had been used in idol worship. If a person who once worshiped God on the required Jewish Holy Days became a christian, he might well know that Christ saved him through faith, not through his keeping of the law. Still, when festival days came, he might feel empty and unfaithful if he didn’t dedicate those days to God. Paul responds to both weak believers in love: Both are acting according to their consciences, but their honest convictions do not need to be made rules for the church. Certainly, some issues are central to the faith and worth fighting for, but many are based on individual differences and should not be legislated. Our principle should be: In essentials, unity; In non-essentials, liberty; In everything, Love. STUDY NOTE: Romans 14:1
Eating ‘anything’ may refer to a strong Christian being free from dietary restrictions, or it may refer to his eating meat offered to idols. The person weaker in the faith, however, may eat only vegetables and refuse to eat meat that has been offered to idols. But how would Christians end up eating meat that had been offered to idols? The ancient system of sacrifice was at the center of social, religious and domestic life of the Roman world. After a sacrifice was presented to god in a pagan temple, only part of it was burned. The remainder was often sent to the market to be sold. Thus, a Christian might easily – even unknowingly – buy such meat in the marketplace or eat it at the home of a friend. Should a Christian question the source of his meat? Some thought there was nothing wrong with eating meat that had been offered to idols because idols were worthless. Others carefully checked the source of their meat, or gave up meat altogether, in order to avoid a guilty conscience. The problem was especially acute for Christians who had once been idol worshipers. For them, such a strong reminder of their pagan days might weaken their newfound faith. Paul also deals with this problem in 1 Corinthians 8. STUDY NOTE: Romans 14:2
Each person is accountable to Christ, not to others. While the church must be uncompromising in its stand against activities that are expressly forbidden by Scripture (murder, theft, adultery, homosexuality), it should not create additional rules and regulations and give them equal standing with Gods law. Many times Christians base their moral judgments on opinion, personal dislikes, cultural biases rather than the word of God. When they do this, they show their own faith is weak; they do not think God is powerful enough to guide his children. When we stand before God and give a personal account of our life, we wont be worried about what our Christian neighbor has done. (see 2 Corinthians 5:10) STUDY NOTE: Romans 14:10-12
Both strong and weak Christians can cause their brothers and sisters to stumble. The strong but insensitive Christian may flaunt his freedom and intentionally offend others consciences. The scrupulous but weak Christian may try to fence others in with petty rules and regulations, thus causing dissensions. Paul want his readers to be both strong in the faith and sensitive to others needs. Because we are all strong in some areas and weak in others, we need to constantly monitor the effects of our behavior on others. STUDY NOTE: Romans 14:13
Some Christians use an ‘invisible’ weaker brother to support their own opinions, prejudices, or standards. “You must live by these standards,” they say, “or you will be offending the weaker brother.” In truth, the person would often be offending no one but the speaker. While Paul urges us to be sensitive to those whose faith by harmed by our actions, we should not sacrifice our liberty in Christ just to satisfy the selfish motives of those who are trying to force their opinions on us. Neither fear them, or criticize them, but follow Christ as closely as you can. STUDY NOTE: Romans 14: 13
At the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15), The Jewish Church in Jerusalem asked the Gentile Church in Antioch not to eat meat that had been sacrificed to idols. Paul was at the Jerusalem council, and he accepted this request, not because he felt that eating meat was wrong in itself, but because this practice would deeply offend many Jewish believers. Paul did not think the issue was worth dividing the church over; his desire was to promote unity. So he concludes, “if someone believes it is wrong, then for that person it is wrong.” Paul’s practice was to honour, as far as possible, the convictions of others. Believers are called to accept one another without judging our varied opinions. However, when the situation has to be faced, how should we deal with those who disagree with us? Pauls response is that all believers should act in love so as to maintain peace in the church. STUDY NOTE: Romans 14:14
Sin is not just a private matter. Everything we do affects others, and we have to think of them constantly. God created us to be INTERDEPENDENT, not INDEPENDENT. We who are strong in our faith must, without pride or condescension, treat other with love, patience and self-restraint. STUDY NOTE: Romans 14:20-21
We try to steer clear of actions forbidden by scripture, of course, but sometimes Scripture is silent. Then we should follow our consciences. ” If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning” means that to go against a conviction will leave a person with a guilty or uneasy conscience. When God shows us that something is wrong for us, we should avoid it. But we should not look down on other Christians who exercise their freedom in those areas. STUDY NOTE: Romans 14:23
The knowledge of the Scriptures affects our attitude toward the present and the future. The more we know about what God has done in years past, the greater the confidence we have about what he will do in the days ahead. We need to diligently read our Bibles so we may have confidence that Gods will is best for us. STUDY NOTE: Romans 15:4
The Roman Church was a diverse community. It was made up of Jews and Gentiles, slaves and free people, rich and poor, strong and weak. So it was difficult for them to accept one another. Accepting means taking people into our homes as well as int our hearts, sharing meals and activities, and avoiding racial and economic discrimination. We must go out of our way to avoid favoritism. Consciously spend time greeting those you don’t normally talk to, minimize differences, and seek common ground for fellowship. In this way you are accepting others as Christ has accepted you, and God is given glory. STUDY NOTE: Romans 15:5-7