ローマ14:1-12 『ローマ38 The Weak and the Strong』2018/04/08 David Hawley

Passage Romans 14:1-12
Parallel Passages 1 Cor 8:10-11, 9:20-22
Other referenced passages Mark 13:33-37
Background ch 13 about civic duty will be more of a challenge to the Jews, a subject people – although they were not the only ones.
14:1-12 is about tolerance, leaving God to judge.
14:13-23 adds love is self-restraint in exercising freedom.
ch 15:1-13 continues themes of 14. Coda (v8, 9-13) indicates this is an appeal to Gentiles on behalf of the Jews.
Synopsis of the passage / Main Topic of text Do not judge, because we each answer to God.
1. Accept the weak, rather than debating minor points
2. Obey your conscience, and let others do the same
3. All will give an account to God
Reflection: Strong is better
Title The Weak and the Strong

Passage text:
[Rom 14:1-12 NIV] 1 Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. 2 One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. 3 The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does,
for God has accepted them.
4 Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand,
for the Lord is able to make them stand.
5 One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind
6 Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God.
7 For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. 8 If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. 9 For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.
10 You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. 11 It is written: ” ‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.’ ”
12 So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.

1. INTRODUCTION
● We are in the book of Romans, chapter 14, talking about living out the gospel.
● Last week we learned we should not be asleep, but awake. I hope that is true this morning 🙂
● But In chapter 12, Paul had set the fundamentals of how to live out the gospel in two main themes:
○ (1) we are to be living sacrifices dedicated to God and serving him, and
○ (2) love is the rule of the church
● Now, love is easy when there are no differences. If we are all the same personality, all have the same gifts and interests, then we wouldn’t need to be told to love. It would be natural.
● But that is not the case. We are different in many ways, and we have to learn to deal with those differences.
● First of all, we need to tolerate the differences. But that is of course not the end of it; finally we need to express love in dealing with our differences..
● One difference is our opinions about things that are not core doctrinal beliefs.
● This week, we are going to start looking at how to deal with differences of opinion in the church, at the basic level – tolerance. In the rest of the chapter, Paul will go on to speak about the 2nd level, love.
● But let’s start with the basics. Here are today’s points:
○ Accept the weak in faith.
○ Conscience is our guide,
○ but God calls us to account
○ Be strong for others

2. ACCEPT THE WEAK OF FAITH
14:1 Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters.
● ‘Disputable’ G1261 can also be translated ‘opinion’, something you are mulling over.
● So this is talking about things that you can have different ideas about, and still be a Christian brother or sister.
● The word “weak” (G772) here mean impotent, or sick, and is often translated that way. So “weak faith” is an ailing faith, a faith without power.
● If someone is weak, there may be various reasons:
○ New believer (babies are weak)
○ Lack of nutrition (need good teaching)
○ Lack of exercise (need challenge and exhortation)
○ Sick (e.g. by legalism)
● ‘Quarrelling’ means passing a legal judgment (NASB). That is not going to help with weak faith.
● Instead, our responsibility is to accept the person with the weak faith.
14:2 One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables.
○ Who is the person of weak faith? It is the one who cannot eat or refuses to eat meat.
○ Is this about vegetarians vs meat eaters? No.
■ To find out more, let’s look at 1 Corinthians. As we saw a few weeks ago, that multiethnic church had similarities to Rome, and the letter was written just a few years earlier.
■ 1 Cor 8 is an answer to the Corinthians question about eating food offered to idols, specifically meat. Typically, all meat in a pagan culture would be offered to idols before it was sold. So Romans 14:2 is also likely talking about eating meat knowing that it was offered to idols.
■ So this is a hot topic for early Christians.
○ So we are talking about a religious scruple of eating food that has been polluted in some sense by being offered in worship to idols.
○ And who is the weak of faith on this topic? It is the Jews, with their many religious scruples.
■ Besides the idol meat, in general they can’t eat with Gentiles, because they and their food could be unclean, cooked in the wrong way, etc.
■ On certain special days, like the Sabbath, they are forbidden to do many things.
○ We also have scruples over disputable things:
■ Drinking alcohol and smoking
■ Visiting temples, participating in Buddhist funerals and other civic religious rites
■ Celebrating Halloween, Easter eggs, …
○ So how do we deal with these scruples and differences of opinion?
14:3 The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them.
14:4 Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.
● Note again that Paul doesn’t say to debate and come to a binding judgment; instead he says to rise above the differences.
● The Gentile Christians are commanded not to look down on the Jews and their scruples, which aren’t important any more.
○ The equivalent of the Jews are what we would call legalistic believers..
● And vice-versa, the Jews are not to look down on the Gentiles and their pagan culture.
○ These Gentiles would be what we might call lax, unserious, or poorly taught believers.
● Paul gives two reasons for not judging:
○ God has accepted Jews and Gentiles, as they are
○ God will make them stand, that is, God is in charge of their journey of faith.
● First, we must accept them, because God accepts them freely, just as he accepts us.
○ This is the same as what Jesus taught us about forgiveness:
○ We must forgive, because God has forgiven. That shows we understand forgiveness, through our own experience of being forgiven.
● Secondly, God promises to make us stand in his presence without flaw (Jude 24).
○ So it is ultimately God who brings about mature strong faith, not us.
○ As Jesus taught, we should concentrate on the log in our own eye.
○ When we have learned the humility of dealing with our own sin, we will be less likely to condemn others
● Our basic responsibility is to accept and support, not to debate minor issues and condemn.
3. CONSCIENCE IS OUR GUIDE
● If we aren’t to settle differences of opinion with debate, what is our guide on matters of opinion?
A: Our convictions and conscience.
5 One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind
● So there are other things besides meat, like the Sabbath and Halloween, which are disputable.
● In all these disputable matters, we should obey our conscience, because to go against what we are convinced is right is damaging. If we continue doing something we feel is wrong, we train ourselves to ignore our conscience, which is a really bad idea.
● Paul writes about this in 1 Cor 8.
○ A person with strong faith 1 Cor 8:4,8 knows that idols are unreal, and so has no issue with eating the meat. This person has a clear conscience when they eat the meat.
○ But what about someone who has a different conviction, and believes it is wrong to eat such meat:
8:10 For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, won’t that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols? 11 So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge.
○ v10-11 says the brother who is ‘weak’ (same word), who has a weak conscience, is not able to eat the meat without doubt. Instead that weak brother will see the brother with a strong faith eat the meat, and will also eat without being convinced it is okay to do so.
● Paul says that person is severely damaged, “destroyed”.
○ So we definitely don’t want to go against our conscience.
14:6 Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God.
● Paul’s point is that these things are between each of us and God. Whatever we do must be part of our life as living sacrifices, and for which we can give thanks.
14:7 For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. 8 If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. 9 For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.
● In whatever state we are, dead or alive, Jesus is our Lord. Everything we do is in the context of our relationship with him. So our conscience must be clear for everything we do.
4. WE ARE ACCOUNTABLE TO GOD
● And finally, after everything is done, it is God to which we are accountable.
14:10 You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. 11 It is written: ” ‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.’ ”
12 So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.

● This is the great equalizer. No matter who we are, whether we have deep or shallow understanding, whether our faith is weak or strong, we are each individually responsible to God.
● We each will bow to God, not to each other’s judgments.
● And we will stand if God makes us stand, not by the strength of our faith or our accomplishments. Our acceptance is by grace alone.
● This reminds me of last week’s message to “wake up”, and of Jesus’ words in Mark 13:
33 Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. 34 It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.
35 “Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. 36 If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. 37 What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’”
● There is a purposefulness to the Christian life, because Jesus is coming back, suddenly one day.
● When that day comes, God will recognize us as his own, because we have believed and placed our fate in Jesus’s hands.
● But God will also give out rewards and responsibilities in the kingdom based on what we have done with our lives.
● We will give account of what we have done with the talents and gifts and opportunities he has given us.
● So we may have all these opinions, and try to follow our conscience, but ultimately we give an account to God.

5. BE STRONG
● Now I want to go back and look at the issue of weak and strong faith again.
● After Paul has been talking about meat offered to idols in 1 Cor 8, in the next chapter, he says:
20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law;
21 to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law.
22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some.
○ Paul had strong faith, and knew that idols are actually nothing, and that he is free to eat with pagans in an idol’s temple, even meat offered to idols.
○ Paul could act as if he was weak like the pious Jews, or act out his freedom by eating with Gentiles. In both cases, his purpose was to engage with any kind of person, so that he could save some by whatever means.
● So because Paul was strong in faith, he could serve God and others more freely, in more situations. Strong faith gives us more freedom. And that freedom is to be used to minister.
● Here’s another example.
Remember Peter, when a Roman army officer called Cornelius called Peter to come to speak to him and his family.
○ That would be difficult because Jews did not enter Gentile houses, because Gentiles were unclean!
○ But God had just showed Peter a vision of unclean animals, and told him to eat. But he refused at first, because they were unclean.
○ Peter didn’t realize that the gospel has done away with those rules, so actually Peter was free to visit the Roman officer.
○ But his faith was weak. And so God had to teach him.
○ That Roman officer was the first Gentile convert.
○ Because of Peter’s experience, where his faith grew stronger, we are here today. If Peter had stayed weak, there would be no Gentiles in the church, only the safe and pious Jews. And Paul would have found more difficulty in getting the support of the other apostles for his ministry to Gentiles.
● So, it is important that we learn to be strong in our faith.
● We will then be able to use the gifts God has given us more fully, according to the measure of our faith (Romans 12:6).
6. CONCLUSION
● So, what have we learned?
● First, when we face issues that are not clear doctrinally, like drinking alcohol, or attending Buddhist funerals, or celebrating Halloween, or hunting Easter eggs:
○ We should be careful to follow our conscience. Can we give thanks to God while doing?
○ Remember that we are living sacrifices; we should always think in terms of how our action serves God’s purposes in the world.
■ Is it honorable in the eyes of outsiders? Or will it confuse them?
■ Is it part of our civic and social duties?
■ Does it allow us to build relationships with people?
○ And we should let other people follow their consciences, even if they disagree with us.
● Secondly, we should strive for the prize, God’s ‘well done’
○ We are given talents and responsible for using them, not burying them for safety.
○ So, we should strive to grow stronger in our faith, so that we can increase our usefulness
○ Faith that is strong understands the freedom of the gospel, and the upward and onward call to glory
○ We should strive to grow stronger and more useful as individuals and as a church.
Let’s pray.

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