This is the sermon for Sunday, April 25th, 2010.

Practical Christianity part 9

Matters of Conscience.

Romans 14:1-12.

Romans 14:1-12 NET – 1 Now receive the one who is weak in the faith, and do not have disputes over differing opinions. 2 One person believes in eating everything, but the weak person eats only vegetables. 3 The one who eats everything must not despise the one who does not, and the one who abstains must not judge the one who eats everything, for God has accepted him. 4 Who are you to pass judgment on another’s servant? Before his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. 5 One person regards one day holier than other days, and another regards them all alike. Each must be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 The one who observes the day does it for the Lord. The one who eats, eats for the Lord because he gives thanks to God, and the one who abstains from eating abstains for the Lord, and he gives thanks to God. 7 For none of us lives for himself and none dies for himself. 8 If we live, we live for the Lord; if we die, we die for the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. 9 For this reason Christ died and returned to life, so that he may be the Lord of both the dead and the living 10 But you who eat vegetables only – why do you judge your brother or sister? And you who eat everything – why do you despise your brother or sister? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. 11 For it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee will bow to me, and every tongue will give praise to God.” 12 Therefore, each of us will give an account of himself to God.

INTRODUCTION

This is the 9th sermon in our series, “Practical Christianity”.  Last time we looked at the subject, “Love is doing.”  In that sermon we saw that we are to remove the old ways of sin and put on Christ.

Now we are going to look at a very important subject.  It will be covered primarily through the remainder of our verses within this series.

Let’s begin by looking at the background concerning this passage.  Within the church in Rome, there are Gentile Christians who live in their freedom; and there are also Jewish Christians still struggling with food laws and Sabbath Worship.

This can be applicable to our day as well.  Let’s begin unpacking the text.

Welcome other believers without arguing over matters of conscience.

Romans 14:1 NET – Now receive the one who is weak in the faith, and do not have disputes over differing opinions.

This is a great example of what Paul wrote just before this verse.

Romans 13:13-14 NET – 13 Let us live decently as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in discord and jealousy. 14 Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to arouse its desires.

Some Christians love to slam other Christians over matters of conscience.  Some oppose alcohol consumption of any kind, while some don’t.  Some are opposed to eating meat and only eat vegetables; some eat meat freely.  Some go to movies; some don’t.  When someone steps on our conscience we like to argue and point out how that person is wrong and we are right.  Church, it is times like this that proves that we need to repent of our self-righteousness.

What did Paul mean by “weak in faith?” Well, not that their faith is somehow weaker than another persons.  It is most likely talking about the Jewish Christian that is struggling with the Gentile Christian’s freedom.

In our culture it would be a person who has come out of maybe a cult or some type of legalistic philosophy and they struggle with another who does not have that background.  We are to receive them.

Receive:

  • In Greek proslambano (pros-lam-ban`-o).
  • Receive, accept, admit to friendship.
  • The Greek word is PRESENT MIDDLE IMPERATIVE; meaning, that this is an ongoing command.

The Analytical Literal Translation translates this as, “Now be receiving.” This means, “to continue to receive.”

As we are receiving and welcoming them we are not to be quarreling over opinions.  To quarrel over opinions would be like putting on the old self that we cast off from us.  In other words, we as believers must accept other believers with whom we may disagree with concerning matters of conscience without trying to change them.  As Christians, we are all in a process with the Spirit called sanctification.  We must allow the Spirit to work on us and others concerning matters of conscience.

Examples of these differing matters.

Romans 14:2&5-9 NET – 2 One person believes in eating everything, but the weak person eats only vegetables. 5 One person regards one day holier than other days, and another regards them all alike. Each must be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 The one who observes the day does it for the Lord. The one who eats, eats for the Lord because he gives thanks to God, and the one who abstains from eating abstains for the Lord, and he gives thanks to God. 7 For none of us lives for himself and none dies for himself. 8 If we live, we live for the Lord; if we die, we die for the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. 9 For this reason Christ died and returned to life, so that he may be the Lord of both the dead and the living…

Examples:

  • Food. In the text, meat and vegetables.  Paul actually adds wine in verse 21.
  • Observation of special days. Seventh Day Adventists worship on Saturdays while most other Christians worship on Sunday.  According to this passage, this is a matter of conscience.  Don’t quarrel over days you meet to worship the Lord as a community.

It does not matter what food you eat or what day you gather with other believers to worship:  do both to bring glory and honor to God.

Be careful in making judgments.

Romans 14:4&10-12 NET – 4 Who are you to pass judgment on another’s servant? Before his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. 10 But you who eat vegetables only – why do you judge your brother or sister? And you who eat everything – why do you despise your brother or sister? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. 11 For it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee will bow to me, and every tongue will give praise to God.” 12 Therefore, each of us will give an account of himself to God.

Ultimately, God is the judge when it comes to matters of conscience, not you and me.  We all will give an account before God; not only in matters of conscience, but in how we treated the believers with differing opinions in these matters.

CONCLUSION

I want to close this sermon with a reading from the entire chapter of 1 Corinthians 8.  It gives some great advice.  Set your minds to listen.

1 Corinthians 8 NET – 1 With regard to food sacrificed to idols, we know that “we all have knowledge.” Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. 2 If someone thinks he knows something, he does not yet know to the degree that he needs to know. 3 But if someone loves God, he is known by God. 4 With regard then to eating food sacrificed to idols, we know that “an idol in this world is nothing,” and that “there is no God but one.” 5 If after all there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as there are many gods and many lords), 6 yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we live, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we live. 7 But this knowledge is not shared by all. And some, by being accustomed to idols in former times, eat this food as an idol sacrifice, and their conscience, because it is weak, is defiled. 8 Now food will not bring us close to God. We are no worse if we do not eat and no better if we do. 9 But be careful that this liberty of yours does not become a hindrance to the weak. 10 For if someone weak sees you who possess knowledge dining in an idol’s temple, will not his conscience be “strengthened” to eat food offered to idols? 11 So by your knowledge the weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed. 12 If you sin against your brothers or sisters in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 13 For this reason, if food causes my brother or sister to sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I may not cause one of them to sin.

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