Chico Alliance Church
Pastor David Welch
“Deciding on a godly Lifestyle”
Romans 14:1-15:12 and selected passages
On what basis did the Gentiles feel free to eat anything? What did Paul mean when he said that he was convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself? How can we determine whether something is right or wrong, good or bad when Scripture dos not specifically prohibit it or strongly prescribe it? What are some principles and test to aid our discernment in a world clouded by sin? Last time we looked at seven basic guiding principles that should shape our thinking in regard this subject of liberty.
Seven guiding Principles
1. The Principle of personal conviction
2. The Principle of personal accountability
3. The Principle of Lordship
4. The Principle of salvation by faith
5. The Principle of inherent purity
6. The Principle of freedom from food & special days (shadow and substance)
7. The Principle of abstinence and avoidance of evil
Christ has truly set us free, but that does not mean we engage in harmful activities because we are free. The newly regenerated heart has a new desire to serve in the newness of the spirit. Even though we have liberty in Christ, we are encouraged to avoid those things that hinder the race that God sets before us. Hebrews encourages us to lay aside every sin and encumbrance that trips us on the way. Even though the early church council declared that it was not necessary for Gentiles to adhere to the Jewish laws in order to be saved, they did urge them to avoid some things that might be of harm to their life.
“Examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil.” 1 Thes. 5:21-22
“Abhor what is evil, cling to what is good.” Rom 12
Having laid a foundation of guiding principles by which we should live, how are we to determine whether an activity or practice is right or wrong in the absence of specific Biblical reference? The question of what is wrong with it must also be balanced with the question what is right with it.
These ten tests are like filters. Pour your lifestyle, your behavior, and your convictions through these filters. You can be pretty sure that if what passes through these filters is pure. What comes out at the end will be pure in God’s eyes and bring eternal benefit.
1. The Test of God’s glory
Will it glorify God? Will it cause others to gain a deeper appreciation of the person, presence and power of God? Will it cause others to see God in a new light?
Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God. Romans 15:5-7
Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense either to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God; just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit but the profit of the many, so that they may be saved. 1 Cor. 10:31-33
Something as common as eating and drinking can draw attention to God.
2. The Test of motivation and gratitude
Am I doing this (or not doing something) as an expression of my devotion and gratitude to God? Can I honestly say I am doing it TO THE LORD, to honor Him and express my love for Him? It is not a reluctant response but one that flows out of a grateful and willing heart. Much of the time we do things because the benefit or please ME!
One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord, and he who eats, does so to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God. Romans 14:5-9
Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus (as His representatives), giving thanks through Him to God the Father. Col. 3:17
For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude 1 Tim 4:5
How much of what I do is truly for the Lord?
3. The Test of love
Does it show my love and concern for others? Will it hurt others? Will it build up or tear down? Is it designed to primarily give me pleasure or will it benefit my neighbor?
Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves. Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification. For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, "THE REPROACHES OF THOSE WHO REPROACHED YOU FELL ON ME." Romans 15:1-3
For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, "YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF." But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another. Galatians 5:2-15
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. 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. 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. Therefore do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil; Romans 14:13-16
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. It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles. Romans 14:20-21
Not all men have this knowledge; but some, being accustomed to the idol until now, eat food as if it were sacrificed to an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled. But food will not commend us to God; we are neither the worse if we do not eat, nor the better if we do eat. But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if someone sees you, who have knowledge, dining in an idol's temple, will not his conscience, if he is weak, be strengthened to eat things sacrificed to idols? For through your knowledge he who is weak is ruined, the brother for whose sake Christ died. And so, by sinning against the brethren and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause my brother to stumble. 1 Cor. 8:7-13
Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor. 1 Cor 10:24
Even though I am free in Christ, for the sake of love I choose to abstain. God leads to make choices on the how it affects others not just how it pleases me.
4. The Test of creation -- Nothing God made should be shunned
Is this something instituted by God or made by Him? 1 Cor 10:24
If God welcomes someone, who am I to reject them. If God created something, who am I to reject it or treat it as unclean.
5. The Test of faith
Is this practice consistent with a firmly held conviction or belief? Do I truly believe that this practice expresses my trust in God? Are there lingering doubts as to the nature of this practice?
One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind. Romans 14:5
The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin. Romans 14:22-23
If in doubt, don’t do it!
6. The Test of Kingdom Relevance
How does this practice fit with the core kingdom principles of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit?
The kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who in this way serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. Romans 14:17-18
Will this practice develop greater righteousness and kingdom goals? Is this practice more important to me than the kingdom?
"Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:33
7. The Test of spiritual benefit or expediency
All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable (beneficial). All things are lawful, but not all things edify(build up). 1 Cor. 10:23
What benefit will result in this activity? What harm may result from it? Will this activity serve to build my character or deepen my walk with God? Again we encounter the evaluating question of what is good about it not what is wrong wit it.
8. The Test of demonic association 1 Cor. 10:19-22
This is an interesting passage and concept. On the one hand Paul affirms God’s sovereignty or authority and power over all things and that demonic forces are really nothing compared to Him so they can’t hurt things he has created.
On the other hand there is danger associated with things associated with demonic activity.
Moses instructed the people to destroy any spoil taken form the Canaanites that had to do with idol worship lest they be ensnared or defiled by it. I suppose the question here has to do with things that symbolize association or loyalty to Satan’s kingdom. Paul urged the Corinthians to not send mixed messages by the things we approve or participate in. What association does this activity have with demonic activity or witchcraft principles or false teaching? It is getting harder and harder to engage in the things produced by this devil directed world and not run into things that glorify and promote the things of the devil rather than glorify God. Even though we live in the world we are not to love the world system or its fleeting things. We should send a clear signal that we are fiercely loyal to God and that when we celebrate communion we affirm that loyalty. Therefore we avoid anything that might send a message that our loyalty lies anywhere but toward God.
9. The test of greater ministry effectiveness 1 Cor. 9:19-23
Paul voluntarily limited his freedom for the sake of greater ministry effectiveness. He evaluated everything by its effect on the cause of the gospel.
He relinquished his rights concerning certain things in order to win as many as he could. Will this enable me to minister better and reach more people for Christ? Will this hinder ministry and reaching more people for Christ? Will this put a stumbling block or tarnish my testimony? I don’t know how many times people have been hindered from pursuing Christ because of Christians.
10. The Test of a pure heart
To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled. They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed. Titus 1:15-16
Unless our heart is right, none of our activity will have eternal impact. A defiled, sinful heart produces sinful results. The Bible speaks much about the necessity of a pure heart in all we do. When our conscience and heart is pure, even the most mundane of activities can result in eternal impact. Something as common as eating and drinking can bring glory to the Lord. When our heart is impure even the most sacred of activities can be an abomination.
Prayer, songs, offerings, celebrations, sacrifices
Isaiah 1:11-1 Amos 5:21-22 Malachi 1:10 Isaiah 66:2-3
Sermon in a Sentence:
Even though all things may be lawful in Christ, not all things benefit or build up
so evaluate your practices according to the principles and tests of Scripture.
I urge you to take some of the things that have become dearly held preferences or even convictions and run them through these ten filters. Evaluate the things that have become routine and common place. How many of the things that occupy our time and require our resources will stand for eternity. Whatever remains after the tenth filter, embrace and practice! If it fails any of the tests, take a hard look at whether it should stay a part of your life. Better to evaluate here when we can do something about it than wait for the day when all things will be evaluated.
1 Cor. 3:10-15