Wednesday, December 17, 2014

NTDS (39): Three Really, Really Good Rules

Rom 14:13-14 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way. NIV

Rom 14:19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. NIV

Rom 14:22 So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. NIV

In Romans 14, Paul addresses a couple of issues, which had been causing some division in the local church. One issue concerned the keeping of Jewish holy days and festivals. With the church being made up of both Jewish and Gentile believers, there was debate about whether or not they needed to be celebrated. The other issue was whether or not to abstain from eating meat.

The context of this passage concerns being one as a body of Christ, so Paul has to exhort these people to not let non-essential issues divide them. These two issues, as well as many others that come up in the early church, are man made issues. There is no mandate from the Lord for Gentiles to observe the Jewish feasts, nor is their any instruction about abstaining from meat. Therefore Paul gives this instruction, “
Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.” Rom 14:5-6

What he means by that is that each person should obey his or her conscience in matters of this type and not be influenced by others to do something they do not want to do or, not do something they are not convicted about. Remember though, that this concerns matters that are not directly or by principle, sinning against the Lord. Paul then encourages people to do everything as unto the Lord.

Let’s look at a modern day example of the type of issue that can divide the body. Then I want us to look at the three rules and see why they are so important. The issue? Drinking! Uh oh, somebody reading this is already getting upset:)

There is much debate and division about this issue in the church. Is it ok for Christians to drink alcohol or not? The instruction from Paul, by inspiration of the Spirit, is do not get drunk. (Eph 5:18)  If you do, you are in sin, period! But we do not have specific instructions to not drink. We know that even Jesus drank wine. (Please, let’s not get into the silly debate about whether or not it was fermented) Even when there is not a specific instruction on something, we must still look at biblical principles on such matters. What are they in this case?

 1 Cor 10:23 All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify. (NASU)
This is a simple principle that you should be using when you make a decision about drinking as well as other issues in life. It is lawful, but is it profitable? Is it edifying? You must be convinced in your own mind, like Paul said, but you need to think through and pray about it, since there is obviously some risk involved in using alcohol. (You don’t really want to argue that point, do you?) Whatever decision you make, you must consider the three rules listed at the top, so that you will not contribute to dividing the body of Christ.

One: don’t pass judgment on another person who chooses to drink without getting drunk. Don’t belittle a person who chooses not to drink. Make sure you do not stumble a brother or sister by your decision.

Two: Make sure that you are trying to edify other believers and not use your liberty in Christ as an instrument of division. Instead, be an instrument for peace.

Three: This is how you can accomplish one and two. Do not advertise your choice in the matter to the world. I cannot emphasize this enough. In today’s world of Facebook and Twitter, it is easy to stumble other people with your display of the choices you make! Please brothers and sisters, I and exhort you by the mercies of Christ, to follow Paul’s command here in Ro 14:22, Keep your beliefs on this type of matter between you and God! That way you can be sure not to stumble other believers.

Paul said it, not me. If you do not like that, take it up with God because He inspired Paul to write it! I believe that if you follow these principles and instructions, you will find that it will help bring unity to the body and glory to our Lord which should always be the desire of every believer’s heart!

God bless you


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