Summary: A study on the Book of Romans
Freedoms That Can Hurt
Some of our problems of Christian unity stem from our backgrounds. Each person has been raised in environments that helped create much of their thinking. Paul realizes that the Jews were saved out of a legalistic background and the Gentiles were saved out of a total freedom background that engulfed them in deep sin.
The believers in Roman became divided over special diets and days. One group thought the other was unscriptural or at least not very spiritual.
While there are many direct commands against or for certain behaviors there are still some “gray areas”. These areas are not clearly right or wrong to every believer. Paul appeals to principles when we come into contact with these areas.
Augustine said: “In essentials, unity; in nonessentials, liberty; in all things, charity.”
He has them handle it by doing three things:
1. Receive one another - (1-12)
Paul was addressing the strong in the faith. The weak in the faith were those who felt obligated to obey legalistic rules concerning what they ate and when they worshipped.
Why receive him? God has! (3)
ILL: When God sent Peter to take the gospel to the Gentiles, the church criticized Peter because he ate with the Gentiles.
1 Now the apostles and brethren who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God.
2 And when Peter came up to Jerusalem, those of the circumcision contended with him,
3 saying, "You went in to uncircumcised men and ate with them!"
4 But Peter explained it to them in order from the beginning, saying:
5 "I was in the city of Joppa praying; and in a trance I saw a vision, an object descending like a great sheet, let down from heaven by four corners; and it came to me.
6 "When I observed it intently and considered, I saw four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air.
7 "And I heard a voice saying to me, ’Rise, Peter; kill and eat.’
8 "But I said, ’Not so, Lord! For nothing common or unclean has at any time entered my mouth.’
9 "But the voice answered me again from heaven, ’What God has cleansed you must not call common.’
10 "Now this was done three times, and all were drawn up again into heaven.
11 "At that very moment, three men stood before the house where I was, having been sent to me from Caesarea.
12 "Then the Spirit told me to go with them, doubting nothing. Moreover these six brethren accompanied me, and we entered the man’s house.
13 "And he told us how he had seen an angel standing in his house, who said to him, ’Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon whose surname is Peter,
14 ’who will tell you words by which you and all your household will be saved.’
15 "And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning.
16 "Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, ’John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’
17 "If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?"
18 When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, "Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life."
Later Peter forgot this freedom and Paul had to rebuke him publicly.
11 Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed;
12 for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision.
13 And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy.
14 But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, "If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews?
The weak control things in their lives by rules, the mature control things in their lives by relationships.
(4) God will see that His people are corrected. A servant is to be busy working for his master not judging the other servants. People who are busy winning souls to Christ have more important things to do than run around looking to see what the other saints are doing.
No Christian has a right to play God in another Christian’s life.