This is the sermon for Sunday, May 2nd, 2010.

Practical Christianity part 10

Refuse to be an obstacle.

Romans 14:13-23.

Romans 14:13-23 NET – 13 Therefore we must not pass judgment on one another, but rather determine never to place an obstacle or a trap before a brother or sister. 14 I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean in itself; still, it is unclean to the one who considers it unclean. 15 For if your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. Do not destroy by your food someone for whom Christ died. 16 Therefore do not let what you consider good be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God does not consist of food and drink, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 For the one who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by people. 19 So then, let us pursue what makes for peace and for building up one another. 20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. For although all things are clean, it is wrong to cause anyone to stumble by what you eat. 21 It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything that causes your brother to stumble. 22 The faith you have, keep to yourself before God. Blessed is the one who does not judge himself by what he approves. 23 But the man who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not do so from faith, and whatever is not from faith is sin.

INTRODUCTION

This is the tenth sermon in our series, “Practical Christianity.”  Last time we looked at matters of conscience and how believers should not argue and divide over those issues.  We also learned that we should be careful when it comes to matters of conscience about judging other believers.

We now are looking at refusing to be a stumbling block when it comes to those matters.

The underling fact of our text this morning is that there are two types of Christian readers of Paul’s writings: (1) Jewish; (2) Gentile.  The truth revealed in Romans is that both groups were accepted, and they shouldn’t be stumbling blocks with each other by what they believe they are free and not free to do.

How do we bring these truths to light for us today?  Well, there may many types of Christians in our culture:  Denominational, Non-denominational, Baptist, Methodist, Pentecostal, Charismatic, Reformed, and the list could go on.  We must not allow our beliefs and our freedoms to become stumbling blocks to other believers concerning matters of conscience.  Now we are not talking about heresy, or false doctrine, but issues very similar to Paul’s day.  You see, what was true in Paul’s time is true in our day as well:  We have been accepted by God through Jesus Christ; and we must deal with one another on the basis of this truth.  Let’s begin.

We must not be stumbling blocks or obstacles.

Romans 14:13 NET – Therefore we must not pass judgment on one another, but rather determine never to place an obstacle or a trap before a brother or sister.

Romans 14:15-16 NET – 15 For if your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. Do not destroy by your food someone for whom Christ died. 16 Therefore do not let what you consider good be spoken of as evil.

Romans 14:20-21 NET – 20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. For although all things are clean, it is wrong to cause anyone to stumble by what you eat. 21 It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything that causes your brother to stumble.

Romans 14:23 NET – But the man who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not do so from faith, and whatever is not from faith is sin.

Unpacking these passages:

  • Causing another believer to stumble begins when we pass judgment on them (verse 13a). Judgment in Greek is krino (kree`-no). It means, “to decide, to call judicially; to condemn, to punish, to conclude, to decree, to determine; to call into question, to think.”  When we begin passing judgment on another believer, we begin looking at their every word and action based on this type of judgment.
  • We must make a mental judgment to not make another believer stumble (verse 13b). The word, “determine” is the same Greek word as “judgment” in the text.  So while we don’t judge others, we judge ourselves by determining not to allow our beliefs concerning our liberty to cause another to stumble.
  • Paul gives an example: eating (verses 15-16). If the food we eat in front of others causes them grief, then we are not walking in love and we are in danger of having our liberty spoken of as evil.
  • Don’t allow what you enjoy to destroy God’s work (verses 20-21).
  • If doubt is there, then don’t partake (verses 22b-23).

While nothing is in itself unclean; it would be unclean if a believer thinks it is.

Romans 14:14 NET – I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean in itself; still, it is unclean to the one who considers it unclean.

1 Corinthians 6:12-13 TNIV – 12 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything. 13 You say, “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food, and God will destroy them both.” The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.

In Corinth, the believers were thinking that they were free, but Paul was warning them that not all things are beneficial, and in some cases this freedom could lead to grievous sin.  Some in Corinth was using food as an argument to engage in sexual immorality!

Don’t use what you feel you are free to do as an argument to support your beliefs; experience does not make a good point to debate from.

While we may be free in matters of conscience, some believers may not think so; to them it is sin if they partake, so don’t pressure someone to walk in the same “freedom” as you do.

The Kingdom of God is not found in our freedoms but in us being accepted by God through Christ as we serve Him.

Romans 14:17-18 NET – 17 For the kingdom of God does not consist of food and drink, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 For the one who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by people.

The Kingdom of God is represented in what we receive in Christ.

Kingdom of God:

  • Righteousness.
  • Peace.
  • Joy.
  • Which we all receive through the Holy Spirit.

So in light of all this, what should believer’s do?

Pursue peace and what builds others up.

Romans 14:19 NET – So then, let us pursue what makes for peace and for building up one another.

“Let us pursue” in Greek means, “to follow eagerly; to endeavor earnestly to acquire.”

The Free Bible Commentary says this concerning this verse: “This should be the believer’s goal in all things.  One’s personal freedom and theological understanding must lead to stability and growth of the body of Christ.”

CONCLUSION

As we close this morning, let’s eagerly long to acquire peace with one another and endeavor to edify each other.  Don’t allow your freedom or beliefs concerning freedom in Christ to become a stumbling block or obstacle to other believers.

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