Summary: Series in Romans
Text: Romans 14:13-23
Title: Gray Areas Pt. 2
(Guidelines For Living Together)
13 Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this-- not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way. 14 I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. 15 For if because of food your brother is hurt, you are no longer walking according to love. Do not destroy with your food him for whom Christ died. 16 Therefore do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil; 17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 For he who in this way serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men.
19 So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another. 20 Do not tear down the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are clean, but they are evil for the man who eats and gives offense. 21 It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles.
22 The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. 23 But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin.
I. Don’t cause your brother to stumble- 13
II. Don’t hurt your brother- 14-15
III. Don’t destroy your brother’s faith- 15
IV. Don’t ruin your witness- 16-19
V. Don’t make a big deal out of little things- 20-21
VI. Don’t flaunt your liberty or force your preferences- 22-23
I’ve been gone for a while so I thought I would start things off with a quick review of where we left off three weeks ago. If you remember we began studying this passage in chapter 14 of Romans that deals with the issue of gray areas in the Christian life.
Paul deals with two current gray areas of his day, eating meat that had been sacrificed to idols and celebrating certain religious holidays. Those issues aren’t really things we deal with today, but we have whole new list of gray areas.
We talked about how things like movies and music and drinking alcohol and many other cultural things can be gray areas.
In general a gray area is an area of life where the Bible neither specifically condemns an action nor condones an action. It is often an area where people might have a tendency to take something too far or something that has a high potential to cause sin, such as drinking.
Some Christians deal with the problem of gray areas by simply putting everything into black and white categories. There are some churches who only sing songs out of the book of Psalms. They feel that if a song isn’t in the Bible then it is dishonoring to God or something.
Often people have a strong desire to honor and please God so they avoid everything that might be seen as negative. This leads into legalism and a miserable life. It might be easier on one level to simple avoid things and separate from society, but that is not what Paul had in mind and that is not the joy-filled Christian life.
Those people who thought they were extra godly because they avoided meat and always celebrated the Sabbath were actually called weak in faith. The strong believer was the person who understood their total and complete freedom in Christ and recognized that their holiness came from Jesus, not themselves.
In the first 12 verses of chapter 14 Paul encourages both the weak believers and the strong believers to show a high degree of respect and acceptance towards each other. The weak believer was not to condemn the strong believer for eating meat. The strong believer is not to judge or look down on the weak believer because of their personal convictions.
Paul’s main goal here is to emphasize the need for unity and grace and peace within the body. He understands that the church is a group of people who are very different and very unique. Maintaining unity in the midst of such diversity is a tough thing. But he wants all of us to understand that arguing over the gray areas is completely unnecessary.
We need unity on the essentials, but charity on the non-essentials. One of my pet peeves is people who major on the minors. You know what I mean? People who don’t seem to understand the difference between something essential to the Christian life and something secondary.