Summary: Freedom in Christ is one of the churches most valuable commodities.
THE COST OF FREEDOM – Romans 14:13-23
What is one of the churches most precious comoditys? What do we stomp on with a vengence in the eyes of the world? What does the world look for and rarely seen intact in the body of Christ? UNITY
John 17 ‘That they may be one even as we are one’
John 13 ‘ they will know us by our love’
JOHN WOODEN: won many college basketball national championships in a row while at UCLA. Was asked, ‘What does it take to make a winning team? THREE THINGS
1) Get players in right condition (right with God/Salvation)
2) Team them the fundamentals (Discipleship)
3) Teach them to play together as a team (fellowship)
Church needs to learn lesson #3 especially.
Paul is concerned about those in the church in Rome who in using their ‘liberty’ they have harmed the conscience of those who are offended by certain behaviors: Eating of meat, keeping of Sabbath. It was upsetting the delicate balance of unity.
Problem was that some people saw certain attitudes, behaviors and actions as perfectly ok while others were offended by the same.
WRONG VIEW OF LIBERTY: Confused Liberty with License. Our nation today has confused our ‘freedom’ with the right to anything and everything we want to do.
Liberty does have rights but it also has responsibilities. When you take liberty and do things that harm others then it becomes license and is a misuse of freedom.
John Ashcroft is under fire now politically by many who are trying to get his appointment for Attorny General withdrawn. Read an article that most of the money and concern are coming from the pornography industry that fears his appointment means that finally the obscenity laws already on the books will now be enforced. They have abused liberty and now will be reigned in.
Paul is discussing, not obvious wrongs, but the decision to do certain things knowing the effect it will have on others in the body of Christ. Judge the appropriateness of it.
AUGUSTINE: In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, and in all things love. LOVE TRUMPS LIBERTY
MAKE SURE YOUR LIBERTY HAS THE RIGHT EFFECT ON OTHERS (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.
1. Stop the atmosphere of judging others and create an atmosphere of self-inspection.
a. You like judging, turn the microscope on your self. Look at your own actions and the effect they are having on others and learn what it means to exercise love instead of liberty.
b. Same word is used twice: judge determine Point is to judge our lives as to whether we are causing others to stumble.
1) Obstacle – simple rock in the middle of road
2) Stumbling block – elaborate stick used in setting a trap.
Simple or complex issue: what effect is it having on my brother or sister’s walk with God.
We cannot make our decisionS independent of the body of Christ.
2. Stop trying to determine what you can do without deciding what you should do. (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.
FREEMAN: Lady who was near the end of life who was faithfully there each Sunday. I decided during the winter to grow a beard, I had had one a few years earlier but hadn’t grown one since coming to the church. ‘I know what to give you for Christmas RAZOR!’
I had every right, nothing in Bible, most all had beards, but I had to decide was my beard worth the effect it would have on her.
a. Paul states ‘I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself’ He understands that things that bother others are not necessarily wrong.
Around 1928 Donald Grey Barnhouse was preaching at a Conference. He was approached by some older women who were upset that some of the younger women were not wearing stockings. He responded: The virgin Mary never wore stocking! ‘She didn’t’ In fact they were first worn in the 15th century in Italy by prostitutes. ‘OH’ It was a scandal when a wealthy woman wore then to an upper class ball. Finally Queen Victory wore them and they became the badge of a prude. TIME TO DUCK OR RUN
b. Paul point is that even though it may be right if in the mind of another believer it is wrong then to them it is wrong. Right become wrong when in your heart you believe it to be wrong.
c. Does that mean that they are automatically weaker believers? They could be stronger! Confused?