We know that Scripture nourishes human understanding. The Holy Bible uses an organic metaphor to describe God’s intention. It likens God’s Word to water that nourishes a seed enabling it to sprout and grow. This is a "living metaphor". It compares the process of growth in nature with the process of growing in faith and understanding. It shows us that a mature faith is not static. It grows!
2 Timothy 3:16 (KJV) All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
Today's daily bread is Romans 14:22-23.
Romans 14:22-23 (KJV) Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth. And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.
I thought this was an appropriate portion of Scripture for us to look at today given our differences on various subjects in this forum. Notably, our differences when it comes to the Rapture and/or this idea of how to respond in the face of persecution. The great thing about these verses is that they provide us with a good commentary on how we'll to respond to one another when these disagreements within the Body of Christ come up.
Here we see that Paul is dealing with a clash of values within an individual. Confronting a situation in which two distinctly different moral or ethical alternatives exist can produce puzzlement and fear. Such a situation has the potential to leave a person conscience-stricken after doing what he permits himself to do.
If there were no differences between what a person is permitted to do and what he actually does, there would be no self-doubt or self-condemnation to be concerned about. However, the reality is that differences arise. This often occurs when the individual has learned a value in his past, but he is challenged by a different value in the present. This leads to a number of overlapping questions that we need to consider:
» What is the source of what we permit ourselves to do?
» Where did our values originate?
» Where did we form our values?
» Are we sure we are right even when we are not conscience-stricken? This last question is necessary because people can be absolutely wrong while sincerely thinking that they are right.
We should ask these questions of ourselves in areas such as business ethics, education, entertainment, athletics, fashion, diet, child-training, and marital relations -- in other words, the entire framework of life, not just in the obvious areas of morality. Acts 18:25-26 reminds us that Christianity is a way of life, a course of conduct encompassing every aspect of life.
The Christian Classics Ethereal Library adds a critical component:
Hast thou faith?
In order to conclude, he shows in what consists the advantage of Christian liberty: it hence appears, that they boast falsely of liberty who know not how to make a right use of it. He then says, that liberty really understood, as it is that of faith, has properly a regard to God; so that he who is endued with a conviction of this kind, ought to be satisfied with peace of conscience before God; nor is it needful for him to show before men that he possesses it.
It is also plainly evident how strangely perverted is this passage by some, who hence conclude, that it is not material how devoted any one may be to the observance of foolish and superstitious ceremonies, provided the conscience remains pure before God. Paul indeed intended nothing less, as the context clearly shows; for ceremonies are appointed for the worship of God, and they are also a part of our confession: they then who tear off faith from confession, take away from the sun its own heat. But Paul handles nothing of this kind in this place, but only speaks of our liberty in the use of meat and drink.
Happy is he who condemns not himself
Here he means to teach us, first, how we may lawfully use the gifts of God; and, secondly, how great an impediment ignorance is; and he thus teaches us, lest we should urge the uninstructed beyond the limits of their infirmity. But he lays down a general truth, which extends to all actions, — "Happy," he says, "is he who is not conscious of doing wrong, when he rightly examines his own deeds." For it happens, that many commit the worst of crimes without any scruple of conscience; but this happens, because they rashly abandon themselves, with closed eyes, to any course to which the blind and violent intemperance of the flesh may lead them; for there is much difference between insensibility and a right judgment. He then who examines things is happy, provided he is not bitten by an accusing conscience, after having honestly considered and weighed matters; for this assurance alone can render our works pleasing to God. Thus is removed that vain excuse which many allege on the ground of ignorance; inasmuch as their error is connected with insensibility and sloth: for if what they call good intention is sufficient, their examination, according to which the Spirit of God estimates the deeds of men, is superfluous.
All of that is to say that the subject here in Romans 14, and on to Romans 15:13, is the consideration due from stronger Christians to their weaker brethren; which is but the great law of love (treated of in the thirteenth chapter) in one particular form.
I was reminded that we're all at different stages of our spiritual growth. My relationship with Jesus Christ is going to be vastly different from your own, but that doesn't mean that either one of those is "better" than the other. It's just to point out the reality that because we're all at different places right now we need to be mindful of that when debates arise.
As long as another Brother or Sister in Christ isn't denying a fundamental tenet of our shared faith, then what's the problem? We should lovingly and patiently encourage each other and pray that others' eyes and ears are opened to the truth if we perceive them to be in any kind of error, right? Do I have this wrong? Am I misinterpreting this passage?
Some points in Christianity are unessential to Christian fellowship; so that though one may be in error upon them, he is not on that account to be excluded either from the Body of Christ, or from the full confidence of those who have more light.
This distinction between essential and non-essential truths is denied by some who affect more than ordinary zeal for the honor and truth of God. But they must settle the question with our apostle. Acceptance with God is the only proper criterion of right to Christian fellowship.
As there is much self-pleasing in setting up narrow standards of Christian fellowship, so one of the best preservatives against the temptation to do this will be found in the continual remembrance that Christ is the one Object for whom all Christians live, and to whom all Christians die; this will be such a living and exalted bond of union between the strong and the weak as will overshadow all their lesser differences and gradually absorb them (Romans 14:7-9).
SOURCE: The Berean
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