Summary: There is a time you can be right and altogether wrong.
Weak and strong Christians.
Rom. 14. 10/19/03
This morning I have a situation and I really need your help. I know that you have just been waiting for this moment and eager to help me. Because without your help this message will not be relevant at all. Because, you see, there is a time you can be right and altogether wrong.
I am going to give you a hypothetical situation and want you to vote on it. Here it is. Suppose here in Stokes County we have some idol worshipers. They worship all manner of gods. So when it comes time for sacrifice they pick the best beef they have in the herd and sacrifice it to one of their gods. Of course when the sacrifice is made the entire animal was not sacrificed. So, the rest of the animal was sold down at the meat market.
Now what we have here is the best beef a man has and has been sacrificed to pagan gods and put in the meat market for sale. It is good beef, cheaper than the other beef in the market but was sacrificed to a pagan god.
Now we know that pagan gods are not gods at all but only dead idol’s. Would you buy the beef? Are would you say it doesn’t matter how cheap it is, I’m not going to buy that beef that has been sacrificed to a pagan god?
So how many would buy the beef? How many would not by the meat? How many of you headed to the roundhouse so you would not get cornered into voting? Seems we have the making of a three-way church split.
That is sort of what Paul is dealing with as we come to chapter 14 in the book of Rom.. He dealt with a similar situation in Corinth as you will find in chapter 8.
Paul says in verse 1 accept him whose faith is weak. That is the keyword and it means to receive or welcome. Believers in Rome come from a variety of backgrounds. There were Gentile believers and Jewish believers. Some were slaves, some were masters, some were wealthy, most were poor. In addition, they were all at different stages of spiritual maturity. So, the word Paul gives to all the believers is to accept, welcome and love one another without judging are condemning no matter how weak, unlearned, someone’s faith may be. Acceptance creates room for growth to continue, while rejection stunts growth.
So, let’s deal with this subject of weak and strong Christians. And note first of all THE DIMENSIONS OF CHRISTIAN FREEDOM. What restrictions does God place on Christian freedom?
Let’s say we are driving on a highway that is called freedom and it stretches on and on. You can go as long as you want and as fast as you want. On either side of the highway of freedom there are two guard rails. We will call the one learning or knowledge and we will call the other loving. These guard rails are motivators for us to stay on the highway of freedom.
Let’s look at the one guard rail we will call learning or knowledge on one side. We know by learning and knowledge that an idol is no god at all. It is nothing but a dead idol. So, in knowing and knowledge we know it is all right to buy meat that is offered to a dead idol because it is no god at all. Right? But, that is only one side of the road.
On the other side of the road, there is the guard rail we called loving. For others, it would cause them to stumble in their Christian pilgrimage to buy the meat that had been offered to pagan gods. And listen! The Devil doesn’t care which side of the road he crashes you. Before we take any course of action the Bible is to be consulted and my brother is to be considered. Is what I am about to do contrary to the Word of God? If it isn’t, then will it offend my brother?
We think not only about the dimensions of Christian freedom but THE DISTORTION OF CHRISTIAN FREEDOM.
There is a way to distort Christian freedom. How? Glad that you ask. Suppose you, a believing member of Oak Ridge, go down to the market to buy meat. You have knowledge and know that pagan gods are no gods at all and the meat is cheaper. It was sacrificed to pagan gods but you don’t mind.
Now someone who is also a member came out of pagan society and also a Christian. He is having trouble with buying the meat. You think, well he ought to have knowledge as well, I will just let him fret over it. The weaker brother stumbles. You buy the meat knowing he is having trouble with it. You have just distorted your rights in Christian freedom. It doesn’t make any difference how right you are, if you hurt someone else, you are wrong.