Holiness Principle #3 – Holiness in the life of Christian is dependent upon living out our own convictions before God, not a set of convictions established by another person.
1 Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters.
2 One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables.
3 The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him.
4 Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
5 One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.
6 He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God.
7 For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone.
8 If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. (NIV)
When it comes to the matter of holiness, the Bible often operates on the basis of principles. That is, the Bible is far more than just a list of rules that must be followed. The Bibles lays down certain principles that will allow us to make the righteous and pleasing decision as we are faced with a variety of circumstances. Often Christians are required to extrapolate proper principles of holiness from examples in the Bible which, on the surface, don’t appear to have any relevance to our culture today. The first century issue of eating meat offered to idols is one of those examples. I doubt that it is very common today that we are faced with the decision of whether or not to eat meat which is offered to an idol. But are there principles that we can learn from the Bible concerning holiness from how Paul tells us to deal with meat offered to idols? Most certainly. This is an exercise to learn how to discern the heart of God. This is the difference in being a baby or being mature in Christ.
In Romans 14:1-8, the overarching theme is found in verse 8. “If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.” (NIV) The decisions which we make in life are to be based on the fact that we belong to the Lord. Let’s examine verses 1-8 and see what it means for our call to holiness to be based on the fact that we belong to the Lord.
Let’s begin with an examination of verse 1. “Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters.” (NIV) In verse 1, we learn two truths. First, we learn that there are variations in the strength of faith among Christians. Some Christians have a weak faith. Some Christians have a strong faith. The second truth we learn is that there are disputable matters in the Christian life. Some people see the world as black and white, with no shades of gray. And that is great. They have developed a strong set of convictions based on what they think is pleasing to the Lord. The problem is that this person may encounter another strong Christian with strong convictions who also sees all matters of holiness as black and white. And guess what? Their two lists might not match up. There are, in fact, disputable matters. And I am a poor person to try to list disputable matters because I have strong convictions. What you feel to be disputable is, in my mind, a black-and-white issue.
The instruction we are given in verse 1 is that we are not to pass judgment on someone whose faith is weak in regards to disputable matters. Verses 2-3 give us one example of this principle. “One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him.” (NIV) The strong Christian has a liberty in Jesus Christ. He has realized that a man is defiled by what comes from his heart and not what goes into his mouth (see Matthew 15:11). But the person who is weak in faith may have reservations about eating certain kinds of food. The instruction given to a strong Christian is that he must not look down on the weaker Christian because of his convictions. And the Christian who is weak in faith must not condemn the stronger Christian because of his liberty. And we are told why at the end of verse 3. Because God has accepted both the person who is weak in faith as well as the person who is strong in faith. The Greek word “accepted” is the word “proslambano.” It means to “bring towards oneself.” The mental picture I get of this word is a hug. God has embraced both the person who is weak in faith and the person who is strong in faith.
As we continue on with our survey of these verses, it is best to remember that these verses are dealing with disputable matters. The issues addressed do not relate to things which are clearly wrong and immoral, or clearly righteous and pleasing to the Lord. That being said, we move on to verse 4. In verse 4, we are told our role when it comes to judging someone else concerning disputable matters. “Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.” (NIV) A set of convictions which is held by a person on a disputable matter is a matter which is between that person and God. Another Christian has no right to judge someone else because they hold a different set of convictions. Discussion and debate are fine. But judgment is prohibited. The end of verse 4 is interesting. “And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.” (NIV) The thought which comes to me when I read these words is that God is pleased with the Christian who has taken the time to pre-determine convictions which they believe will be pleasing to the Lord, regardless of what position the person takes.
Another example of a disputable matter is found in verse 5. “One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.” (NIV) There are people that insist that you are not saved if you don’t worship the Lord on Saturday. Other people insist that Sunday morning must be set aside for worship. Other people see any day as a good day for worshipping God. Who is right? I believe that the end of verse 5 tells us that the person who has established a conviction about the necessity of setting aside regular time to worship God – regardless of what day that may be – is a person who is pleasing to God.
Would it have not been better if God had just laid down hard and fast rules for absolutely everything? Worship on Sunday between 8:00 a.m. and noon. Don’t drink more than 8 ounces of alcohol during a 24 hour period. Don’t go to a movie with a PG-13 rating. Guitars are o.k., but no drums. Only use the King James Bible. Don’t smoke. Do floss. Yes, it would have been easier (except for carrying the Bible it would take to hold all those rules), but I contend that it would not have been better. I suspect that the best thing for us as Christians is to live by principles and not by rules. Why? Because it is in the process of living by principles that our focus is on God. When we live by rules our focus is on rules. If you want proof of this, read Matthew 23 and see what Jesus thinks about the scribes and Pharisees who lived according to rules without being focused on God. I believe this is the point Paul makes in verse 6. “He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God.” (NIV) When we live out our convictions before God, we live a life that is firmly dedicated to God and a life of thanksgiving to God. Our focus is on God, not on self.
There is a saying that goes “No man is an island.” What does that mean? Paul defines this saying for us in verses 7-8. “For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.” (NIV) A person who lives a life devoid of convictions is a person who is living a selfish life. We Christians need to realize that when we have Jesus as our Savior, we also have him as our Lord. Therefore everything we do is part of service to our Lord, whether it is pleasing service or rebellion. We must remember the facts laid down by Paul in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” (NIV)
by Berean Husband