Video Transcript: Accepting Each Other

Today we continue hearing God's word from the book of Romans we're getting near the end of that great book and the apostle is really beginning to press home the need now for Christians  to be together, he's laid down the great truths of the faith, about our sin about God's plan of  salvation, about the wonderful work of the Holy Spirit, the transformation, God brings God's  plan for Jews and Gentiles. And he's now dealing with some of the challenges that Christians  have in simply staying together in building each other up. And so this week, we're going to  think about accepting each other. And then next week, as we move into Romans 15, we'll  think about building each other up. In Romans, chapter 14, the apostle is dealing with a  challenge that people had where some of them focused on matters that were very important  to them. And they felt very strongly about but seemed much less important to others. And the groups could be a little suspicious of each other. You have, I think this is a huge deal. And you  think it's no big deal at all. And so let's listen to what the Apostle says, inspired by the Holy  Spirit, accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. 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. 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. 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. 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 who doesn't eat  meat, does so to the Lord, and gives thanks to God. When I say how in the world is that  possible that two people with opposite practices are both right, and are both serving the Lord. But so it is in this case, 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 for this very reason Christ died and returned to life, so that he  might be the Lord of both the dead and the living you then why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother, for you all stand before God's judgment seat. It is  written as surely as I live says the Lord, every knee will bow before me every tongue will  confess to God. So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore, let us  stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling  block or obstacle in your brother's way. As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced  that NO FOOD IS UNCLEAN in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him, it is unclean. If your brother is distressed, because what you eat, you are no longer acting in  love. Do not by your eating, destroy your brother for whom Christ died. Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and  drinking, but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. Because anyone who serves  Christ in this way is pleasing to God, and approved by men. Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace, and to mutual edification. Do not destroy the work of God for the  sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone  else to stumble. It's better not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything else that will cause  your brother to fall. So whatever you believe about these things, keep between yourself and  God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves. But the man  who has doubts is condemned if he eats because his eating is not from faith. And everything  that does not come from faith is sin. This ends the reading of God's word And God always  blesses His Word to those who listen. Church fights are nasty. And when Christians bicker and  argue and fight with each other, it does a lot of damage. It does a lot of damage to the people involved because of the pain that they're inflicting on each other, and the hurts they cause. It  does a lot of damage to people from the next generation, because they look at the older  people arguing bickering and fighting. And they say, Well, that's what Christ came to bring  who needs it. And if there are people outside the church, they get a message that Christians  are people who are experts at fighting over just about everything. But the only thing worse  than a church that fights over everything is a church that fights for nothing. That is truly a  problem, as well. But as we consider God's word to us today, we want to think about what the  Apostle by God's Spirit is telling us about accepting each other. And that means that we 

instead of fighting over every little thing with our people who want to focus above all on the  Lord Jesus Christ, and on the unity that we have in Jesus Christ, and then on matters that are  disputable, we can hold our own convictions without attacking others without judging them  without dividing over those things. And so we're going to look at a number of things that This  passage reveals, first of all, just accept those whom God accepts. As the Apostle puts it, to his own master he stands or falls, he's going to stand if God says he's going to stand. So don't be  too quick not to accept somebody. If God has accepted that person if the Lord Jesus Christ has Know when to fight. And as this passage emphasizes, know when not to fight, don't judge  others don't destroy them. Destroy here doesn't mean that if you have a disagreement and a  sharp disagreement, or if you cause somebody else to sin, you have caused them to lose their salvation forever. But it does mean that you'll harm severely their discipleship and their walk  with Christ. For the sake of you really insisting on something you didn't have to hold strong  personal beliefs. After all, that you're reading this passage about accepting each other and,  and making allowances for others, it's still important to hear what the Apostle says about  holding strong personal beliefs, even on some of the matters that are kind of disputable, you  can hold your conviction pretty strongly about that, and yet somehow have space to say, but  this is something that another person might disagree on and still belong to the Lord Jesus  Christ. You need to honor conscience your own, do not go against your own conscience, and  be very careful about what you do, that might lead somebody else to go against their  conscience. The strong in this passage are those who have kind of a bold, strong conscience  about something who don't have misgivings about who think it's fine, and want to just go  ahead and do it, and have no problem with it. But if the strong are dealing with somebody  who really feels that something is bad and wrong, and their own freedom of conscience leads  somebody else to go against their conscience, that can do a lot of damage. So honor  conscience, yours, and the conscience of other people who might have different convictions  than you do. And then, you know, with all of that, two major, major things is pursue the main  priorities of the kingdom of God, and focus on the Lord on the Lord Jesus Christ on God, the  Father, the the coming, Judge, the work of the Holy Spirit, focus on the Lord, because the  moment you start focusing on this or that matter, without focusing on God, and His  acceptance, and his judgments, then you're going to get off the tracks. So let's look at each of these in more detail. accept those whom God accepts, accept him whose faith is weak,  without passing judgment on disputable matters. And then the apostle goes on to say God  has accepted Him, we who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak, accept one  another, then just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. So you see this  theme running throughout accept each other because God has accepted and Christ has  accepted. Now what's it mean when he talks about the strong bearing with the failings of the  weak or accepting those whose faith is weak? This isn't talking so much about people who  have kind of a trembly shaky faith that Jesus is their Savior, there are such people who are  shaken by doubts even about Christ himself about His resurrection, and their relationship to  him. And there are other passages that talk about being merciful to those who doubt be kind  to those who kind of struggled to believe in the first place. Be good to them. But that's not  what this passage is talking about when it says to accept him whose faith is weak, we should  accept people whose faith is weak in that sense, who struggle with doubts. But nonetheless,  the Lord has begun his work in their life. And they've begun to trust Jesus, sort of, you know,  they're like the early apostles, oh, ye of little faith, okay. There's a big difference between ye  of little faith, and you have no faith, and a little faith directed at the Lord Jesus is still saving  faith. And so we are always to accept those whose faith is weak and to take courage when our own faith is doubtful and shaky. But again, that's not what is meant by weak faith in this  passage, in this passage, those whose faith is weak, are people who have really, really strong  convictions. And they are absolutely sure that if you don't observe special days, that's wrong.  If you're eating everything, and not being really, really careful about what you eat, that is  wrong. And the apostle kind of paradoxically is saying, people who have a weak faith are  those who have a really, really, really strong opinion, and very strong misgivings about things  that, in actuality, don't matter all that much. That's what weak faith is here that because the  stronger conscience is the one who says, Hey, what you eat is not a big deal, Jesus has 

revealed that the New Testament has made it clear. And so you know, I can just go ahead and  boldly do that. And I don't have a second thought. And the weak are those who if they did, it,  would feel guilty about it, they'd have misgivings. There are a lot of things in life that are that  

way, that some people just really feel bad or guilty, if part of their upbringing maybe was a  very strict upbringing. And so there's a pretty long list of things that makes them feel kind of  guilty if they do it. Those are the people whose faith is weak. Now, you might against it.  However impossible, I mean, strict is equal to strong, lacks that weak, that's lame. But what  the Apostle means by strong is those who actually have a tremendous amount of freedom,  because their conscience is not bothered by a lot of things that can bother other people with  a very strict or ritualistic upbringing. And so he's just trying to send the message that if  somebody like him, because he identifies himself with a strong in this passage, if you're a  person who really feels free to do a lot of things that others are a little bit uptight about, you  accept them and say Oh, they're just a bunch of Pharisees. They're really uptight about  things. This is a little different kind of emphasis than the apostle has in some of his other  letters. And some of his other letters. He says, Man, if you let yourself be circumcised, you've  blown the gospel. If you're in a big to do about what to eat or not, don't you know what the  Gospel says. But there he's dealing with people who say that this and this, and this are things  you need to do in order to be saved. And when it comes down to that he will not let them take an inch of salvation in Jesus Christ alone. But he's here he's dealing with a little different  question again, where if you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, now what is right, what's the  right way to live? What are the right things to do? And he says, there are people the weak  who have a lot of strong opinions about what they need to follow. And he says, if you are  living in greater freedom, you need to bear with those whose faith is weak, and accept them  because Christ has accepted you and he's accepted them. And so accept those God accepts.  And of course, that principle can be applied very more broadly, even if the hang up isn't over  who's stricter, or who is more relaxed in a certain way, that general principle if God has  accepted somebody as his own, then you need to too and accept doesn't just mean kind of  tolerate or put up with it means to welcome to warmly welcome to embrace. And that ought  to be kind of our rule of thumb when we're when we're dealing with fellow believers and we  know they're a fellow believer in the Lord Jesus Christ in whatever our pattern of  disagreement might be. The predominant note ought to be acceptance, affirmation,  enjoyment of each other's company, accept those whom God has accepted. And as I said  before, the only thing worse than a church that fights over everything is one that never fights  for anything and never says anything is at stake. There are a couple of areas where you do  need to be ready to stand for the gospel, and to resist those who are giving false teaching on  those matters. One is just in the area of heresy of false teaching that rise to the level of not  just being a mistake. But an error about the most fundamental and important elements of  Christian reality. If anybody is preaching to you a gospel, other than what you accepted, let  them be eternally condemned. So if someone is denying Jesus Christ, dying for human sin,  Jesus Christ rising from the dead, Jesus Christ reigning and returning, you don't say, Well, we  have a little difference of opinion about that is you just have to reach the conclusion that is  not Christianity. There are some forms of so called liberal Christianity, which say, you don't  need to believe that Jesus rose again, or that he's returning because his real emphasis was be nice. Well, yeah, we should be nice, but that's not the gospel. And if you just empty the  gospel, then that's heresy. And that leads to damnation. And it's just wrong to pretend that we all serve the same savior. That's, and there are other examples I could give, but at the very  heart of the Christian faith is just simply faith in Jesus Christ, who he is what he's done,  summarized usefully. In the words of the apostles creed, you believe in God, the Father,  almighty, creator of heaven and earth, you believe in Jesus Christ and His life and death and  resurrection, you believe in the Holy Spirit, you believe in the forgiveness of sins, that he's  coming again, to judge the living and the dead. And these are things that that are worth  fighting for. That doesn't mean you pick a fight with everybody outside the church who  happens to disagree with you on that. It does mean that when people come into the church  and claim that something else, is what Christianity really is, then you say, No, that's not so.  And you have to sometimes challenge those who come with that. The Apostle says, it's no 

business of mine at all, to judge people outside the church, as they're not Christians don't  expect them to behave like it. Don't expect them to think like it. They need to be converted  before they're going to think and act like Christians. But he says when you've got somebody  who calls himself a believer, and denies or behaves in a way totally at odds with the core of  the faith, that is a place where judgment is needed. And in fact, you got to kick a person like  that out, sorry, but that's what he says. They, they just have to be expelled from the Church,  another area is not just heresy or seriously false teaching that's promoted or accepted, but  also of wickedness. The Apostle says, of a whole set of behaviors, do you not know that the  wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God Do not be deceived? And so we cannot say that  anything goes, because the Apostle says that there are certain things that people who are  doing this, it's just a characteristic of those who aren't part of the Kingdom of God. He  mentioned things like perpetual drunkenness, or sexual immorality, or perversion. In our time, homosexuality has been promoted in many churches as being acceptable. And we might be  tempted in a in a message like this to say, Hey, everybody, to their own opinion, but but in  this case, it's one of the behaviors that's mentioned just before the Apostle says, Don't you  know that the wicked won't inherit the kingdom of God. But then he says, also don't want to  forget this. He goes on to say, this is what some of you were, this was some of you were, but  you were washed, you were sanctified. So he's not saying, hey, write people off if they have  one of the one of these sins in my sin list. He's saying, that's what some of you were, but God  made you clean through the Lord Jesus Christ, and through faith in Him. And so when we have these great commands of God, that the Bible repeatedly, states and behaviors also that the  Bible condemns, then the church cannot simply say, No prob, chill. The Bible says to accept  each other. Somebody has said that the favorite verse of the best known verse in the Bible  used to be, For God so loved the world, John 3:16, that He gave His one and only Son that  whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. And so now, today's main verse of the Bible is Judge not that you be not judged. While we're in it. We're in territory studying  today judge not that you be not judged. That's what Jesus said. And the Apostle Paul is saying  the same thing and he means the same thing that Jesus did. But Remember when Jesus said,  Judge, not that you be not judged? A couple of breaths later, he said, Watch out for false  prophets. And he said, broad is the road that leads to destruction, narrow the road that leads  to life. So when he said, Don't judge, he did not mean Hey, every road will get you there. And  there are no dangerous false prophets because there's wolves out there, and they sometimes  wear sheep's clothing. So we need to be alert. We need to know when to fight. And having  said all that, please, please, please don't fight all the time and don't fight over everything.  Because it's unfortunately been the case that some churches which are quite vigilant in the  area of doctrine, and in the area of proper Christian behavior, seem to also be vigilant in  managing to find a fight every day. And so we have to be very cautious and prayerful to God,  Lord, make us people strong in faith and clear in conviction who know the cardinal truths of  the faith and really trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. But not a bunch of nitpickers. So, the apostle talks about what he calls, disputable matters, or some translations opinions. As I mentioned  before, weak faith feels wrong or uneasy about some of these disputable matters and the  ones the apostle mentions are diet, and days. For Jewish believers in the city of Rome, or in  some of the other great cities of the empire, there was a real problem for eating meat. They  were vegetarians, for the reason that some people are nowadays that they think that it's a  health thing or that they don't want animals to die so that they can have their meal. That's a  reason behind some modern vegetarianism and not knocking the that practice for those who  prefer to be vegetarians. But here, the issue of eating only vegetables is how do I know where that meat came from? Was it slaughtered in a kosher manner that would measure up to  standards of cleanness for a Jewish eater. I'd better play it safe, and stick with the veggies. Or if you were a Gentile believer in Rome, you might have just come out of paganism, where  eating was a big thing in paganism, and where in the temples they would sacrifice meat to  their various idols and gods and goddesses. And it was all part of the festivities. And so a  Gentile believer with a tender conscience might say, I belong to the Lord Jesus Christ. And this steak, how do I know where that came from? Because you know what? The meat markets are  always getting leftover meat from the temple sacrifices, and then selling it to people. And I 

might be eating something that was offered to an idol, am I going to poison my soul? Am I  going to dishonor God by eating a roast that was offered to Zeus? And then others would  have some difficulty about days God had created in six days and rested on the seventh he  commanded a day of rest. And he also with the people of Israel commanded a variety of feast days of festivals that they were to observe. Now, when you have grown up your whole life,  observing the Sabbath, and your whole life, being very careful with dietary laws in fact that  was a mark of keeping God's covenant. How in the world? Can you just change your diet on  the spot? Or say, Hey, no problem, if you consider everyday alike, and yet the apostle sends a pretty clear signal throughout this passage that in fact, it's not a problem. If a Jewish person  would eat some bacon. It's not a problem if you ate meat from the market. And it was  sourced, we're very careful about meat sourcing these days. And it wasn't just sourced from  non caged hens. It was sourced from an idol temple. And the apostle's message here and  elsewhere is if you ate something, and it was sourced from an idol temple, you know what  God made that meat and it tastes good, eat it and give things that that was his approach to  meat sacrificed to idols. He said, It's not the idols meat. It's God's meat, and just don't ask  any questions about where it came from, because we know it came from God. That's what he  says in another passage. The meat came from God. But he sounds a little different note in this passage, because he says, You know what, those who have that concern about the sourcing of the meat they're eating those who have that concern about the special days and festivals that that they were raised with? Do you in the next five minutes, have to convince them that it's  okay to eat anything? And say, Hey, come on, come on. Come on. I'm eating everything and  I'm a Christian. Now you hurry up and join me in eating this without any questions. I, I don't, I  don't worry about what I do on a day of rest anymore, or on the festival days, because those  have been fulfilled in Christ and I serve Christ. All of that would be true. And the Apostle says,  Don't shove somebody else's face in it. And don't judge them if they still have hang ups about the meat they eat. And don't judge them if they still have hang ups about how they handle  the special days. Well, one of the challenges, of course, is to know what are the disputable  matters and what are the ones we're fighting about. So maybe I'll succeed in getting  everybody mad, we can all have a good fight today. That's, that's always the risk of getting  into these kinds of matters. Christians disagree on whether it's okay to work on Sunday, or  shop on Sunday, or eat out on Sunday. Some wonder whether Sunday at all is the day you  ought to be thinking about. I'll be Saturday, and you ought to be really strict. About Saturday.  There have been one strand of people who have said that Sunday observance is the mark of  the Antichrist, or one of the preliminary marks of the Antichrist. They believe that Saturday is  so important that you are cooperating with antichrist, if you go along with the change to  Sunday. Should children of believers Be baptized as babies? Or is it only professing believers?  Who ought to be baptized? That's a matter that people in our congregation don't all agree on? Should we press very, very hard to make sure everybody agrees on that or send them to a  church down the street that may agree more with their convictions? What elements ought we  to use for the Lord's table? Some people say that the cup of communion is not really  communion. If it's unfermented, if you serve grape juice, shame, shame, double shame. We  all know it's supposed to be wine. And others say, you know that word wine in the Bible, it  doesn't really mean what we mean by wine it means grape juice. And, and besides, we know  all drinking of any alcoholic beverage at any time is wrong anyway. There are those who really insist on fermented wine but unfermented bread, no yeast, or else. There are others who say,  What's the big deal? You know. And so some feel and have very tender are what we serve  doesn't have yeast in it. There are a few people who felt strongly about that, to be honest, I  don't at all, at risk of offending anybody, I don't at all. But that that's just the way it is that  there are some people who have a little more tender conscience about how it ought to be  done. So this is one of those areas, just elements for the Lord's table. What do you do with  those? worship music and liturgy, there have been groups of Christians who believe that  nothing ought to be done in worship, except the singing of Psalms, Psalms only no other  songs or hymns. And those songs ought to be sung without accompaniment. Because musical instruments are not something that's sanctioned in public worship, you might wonder how  they could think that but they do. There are others who have very different convictions about 

music or about the way the order of the service, the liturgy ought to be arranged, and people  will get very upset with each other. Unfortunately, I have to say that most of the worship  wars, most of the bickering about worship actually has almost nothing to do with theological  conviction, but personal preference. I like this kind of music, it makes me feel a certain way.  And so that's what we ought to have. And, and they'll, you talk about disputable matters, a  good, a good sized chunk of today's Christians will choose their church, based on the style of  the instrumentation and the music when there is zero said about that in the New Testament.  So there there it is all strictly a matter of personal preference. And people will make their  decisions about a church based more on that, than on the soundness of the doctrine being  taught, or on the purity of the lives of the people. Alcohol, hey, we just read Psalm 104. Today, wine that gladdens the heart of man, and others will say boy that that can't mean what it  sounds like, because liquor does so much damage. People ought to abstain from it totally. And everybody ought to abstain from it. Totally. I don't see how any Christian can drink. smoking. I  mean, even before people knew that smoking caused cancer, there were Christians who  thought smoking, you're bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, and ought never to be done and would  judge anybody who's smoked as kind of Well, that's a little bit of that smoke from hell drifting  upward. What kind of movies should you go to? Or should you avoid? What style of music and  what kinds of lyrics Am I permitted to listen to? These are all areas that Christians have  different practices on and different notions about what is the best approach in the whole area  of education. It's that's a super important area to think about and a lot of us here have very  strong convictions about how we ought to pursue it. And we don't trust The public school  system to do a very good job of teaching some basic things, but also the truth of the faith, it  might be in opposition to that. And others will believe very strongly in Christian schools, and  not public schools, but they don't like homeschooling, and then others think homeschooling is  the way to go. And everybody ought to go that way. And if you don't, there might be  something really seriously defective about your walk with God. These are the kinds of matters that Christians have very strong opinions about. And when you pour so much of yourself into  some of these things, it takes on even heightened importance. What about Halloween, it's  October, just about we got a month to go. It's looming. And there are those who believe that  Halloween and everything associated with it is of the devil. And every book or movie that  involves magical fantasy is straight from the pit of hell. And there are others who say, You  know what? On Halloween, little kids dress up in costumes, and get candy. I like kids. I like  costumes. I like candy, would you please relax? There are some who say you know that those  magical fantasies are just horrible. There's others who say, Oh, what can be the harm? I enjoy them? What could go wrong? And sometimes in those areas, the truth might be that both are  misunderstanding very severely, because you might be saying, Hey, I've enjoyed the whole  Harry Potter series 14 times and it was fabulous. And there are others that say, Harry Potter.  You know, and they can't believe that somebody who claims to believe in Jesus Christ would  indulge in sorcery and devil worship. And and then the one who doesn't have the hang ups  will say what in the world is the big deal, you don't like little kids eating candy. And you don't  like a little fantasy now and then. And they have almost zero understanding of somebody who may have had trouble with the powers of darkness, and with occult powers and where  something might pose a tremendous threat to them, and to their well being, even if it might  not pose a threat to another person. So it's important to understand sometimes where people  are coming from rather than saying that notion is just crazy and ridiculous. Standards of  modesty, how low should the neckline be allowed to plunge or the hemline be allowed to rise  or the guys do run around with their shirts off. And you know that all the stuff that has to do  with our notions of what involves sexual modesty, some books will give very precise guidance on you know, if you ever had a question about There'll be somebody, somebody will give your answer. It will be a stretch, though, to get that answer straight from the Bible. Because the  Bible doesn't lay it out in those kinds of terms. It emphasizes the value of modesty, of trying  to respect other's bodies and your own impact on others. But it doesn't lay out every detail  and Christians differ on that. How do you approach finding a mate? And how do you approach  dating courtship romance? There again, some things can be spelled out. And some people  emphasize an approach different from the world's recreational dating and they're hoping that 

their kids will take a better path to finding a mate. But they may be way too quick to judge  people who went on a date in the very word date causes them heart palpitations, because we  know that all dating is wicked. And there are others for whom the word courtship will cause  heart palpitations because we know they're all Legalist morons who are out to control their  children. So you have perceptions of one another. That may be unfounded. But but the  various approaches may all have legitimate concerns. The question of contraception and  family size, the apostle says to keep your opinions to yourself, you know, on some matters,  whether you like a large family is an opinion kind of hard to keep to yourself if the kids keep  coming. And then it makes people very uncomfortable. There will there are some who will say  you know, when it comes to family size, the more the merrier. And any form of limiting family  size is dead wrong. There may be others with a rather different set of priorities who say you  environment wrecker, you you had eight kids, the Earth is already overburdened, you're  depleting its resources, how immoral can you get and there will be some in the Christian  church who think that way, who really do take seriously environmental concerns and I might  not agree with some of their take on things, but they may be legit followers of Jesus Christ  who wonder what's wrong with a guy and his wife who have eight kids. So you have these  areas of different conviction and practice. Do you think the President is fabulous? Or do you  think he may be nearly the lowest human being who ever lead entered the planet, maybe  worse than Caligula and Nero, and Hitler combined? You know, those, those are the kinds of  divisions that Christians can get into regarding politicians and their programs. And I will just  make one observation. Most claims about a political politician or a particular party, are vastly  overblown, because their opponents are always trying to get the advantage over them. So  you know just be aware of that. But, but by the same token, you know, Jesus, when He chose  the 12, disciples, chose a tax collector named Matthew. And he chose a zealot named Simon.  And the Zealots had no more beloved activity than slipping a knife between the ribs of a tax  collector. So they wanted tax collectors dead. Well, Jesus picked, zealot, and he picked a tax  collector. And somehow, Jesus was more important than their political opinions. At that point,  those things kind of came to matter a lot less, and Jesus loomed a lot larger in their lives, and  then the whole area of patriotism or the military or pacifism. For some people, the big thing  about Christians is God country flag, and our troops. And our troops are, almost, they are  almost more important than our missionaries. And we love our country, and we're patriotic,  and we love the flag. And there are others who say Jesus taught us to turn the other cheek.  And I am by conviction, a pacifist, and I believe it is wrong to use deadly force. And you have  people with great support for troops and soldiers. And you have others who think all soldiering is something that Christians ought to avoid. Well, that's just a partial list. And having given  that list, some of you will say, and he had three items that really don't belong in the  disputable matters, those were the essentials, die heretic. There, that's the danger of Even  wading into these waters or tiptoeing into them a little bit, is, when you take the apostle's  guidance about disputable matters and how to deal with them. You have to actually think  about some of the particulars that that could threaten to divide. And so you know, here's one  little ditty believe as I believe, no more no less that I am, right? And no one else, confess, feel  as I feel, think only as I think, eat what I eat, drink only what I drink. Look, as I look, do always as I do, and then and only then I'll fellowship with you. Well, maybe not. You know if you have  to categorize things a little more precisely. To do or not to do in some of these areas, and  immature participants, somebody who does, I do what I like, and nobody tells me what to do.  And then there's the immature non participant, I won't do it and no real Christian would do it.  A mature participant says it's fine for me to do this. But that doesn't make me superior to  those who have hang ups about it. And a mature non participant says, I choose not to do this.  But I won't judge or condemn those who do. So accept each other. Know when to fight, and  when not to and now I'll hit the fast forward a little bit as we get into the details of the  passage. Accept him who's faith is weak without passing judgment, who are you to judge  someone else's servant. You see, the don't judge command comes again and again with a  reminder of who really does have the right to judge to his own master, he stands or falls and  he will stand to the Lord is able to make him stand. The whole central doctrine of the book of  Romans is justification by God's grace in Jesus Christ through faith alone. That message 

means God has already given us what his judgment is on those who believe in Jesus Christ,  and the verdict is innocent. And you can be really sure that if he is his verdict on the day of  judgment, and even right now is innocent for those who trust in Him, that he's going to make  those who trust in Jesus Christ stand and not fall on the day of judgment. And if God accepts  them now and on the Day of Judgment, he says, mine not guilty. Do you really want to be that guy? Or that girl who said no. When God said mine. They stand. You then why do you judge  your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother, for we'll all stand before God's  judgment seat. So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore, let us  stop passing judgment on one another judgment, it can involve a couple of things. One is just  judging between different things. And we all need to do that all the time, we need to make  good judgments, good assessments of what's right and wrong of the path we ought to follow.  But to judge somebody else here really refers to condemning them to saying that they aren't  Christian at all, that they're ruined. And you are not to judge another person's standing with  God based on one of the disputable matters. So don't judge in the process of not judging,  don't destroy. Put another way, please don't shoot your fellow soldiers. You know what friendly fire is, it's when you get mowed down by the people on your own team in your own army. And  if somebody has taken a hit, you know, they say, Oh, they're wounded, they're weak. Now,  they're not weak anymore, they're dead. That really solved that problem, didn't it? Well, that's what the apostle's saying, you know, don't do that. Make up your mind, not to put any  stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way. If your brother's distressed because of what you eat, you're no longer acting in love, do not by your eating, destroy your brother, for whom Christ died. And again, destroy doesn't mean that you can rob your brother of his eternal  salvation. But it does mean you can do immense damage to his discipleship his walk with the  Lord his connection with other believers. And so be very careful not to be destructive. And  destruction can come in the form of judging somebody too harshly. It can also come in the  form of doing something that leaves another person with a more sensitive conscience to do  things that they would otherwise not have done and to go against their own conscience. And  convictions do not destroy the work of God, for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it's  wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. So if I know somebody has a problem with eating certain things, and I say, Hey, come on over for supper, and I just  throw it right in front of them. That's wrong. Even if you have the right to eat it. It's better not  to eat meat or drink wine or do anything else that'll cause your brother to fall. You say it's  okay to drink wine. I have a free conscience about the consumption of alcohol in moderation.  So does that mean that you can have a big party with several people who might be tempted  to alcoholism, and say, I'm going to have an open bar you have everybody drink up? Alcohol  is fine, I have that conviction in the Lord. You better think about the brothers and sisters who  might be damaged or harmed by what you're doing. So if you know very well, the circle of  friends that you have over that they share your same conviction that they don't have  vulnerability to alcoholism, maybe you can all have a glass together. Fine. But the Apostle  says Don't let your freedom be an excuse to cause somebody else to fall. So don't judge or  destroy. And at the same time, he still says now. On these disputable matters, you know what, you certainly don't have to change your mind because of what Pastor Feddes said because  you don't even have to change your mind because of what I said. I mean, the apostle is  writing as an apostle, and he's saying, you know, whatever you believe about these matters.  Just hold on to it holds firm convictions before God but at the same time, don't flaunt them or  force them. On others. Each one should be fully convinced, in his own mind, I'm fully  convinced that NO FOOD IS UNCLEAN in itself. And do not allow what you consider good to be  spoken of as evil. So those statements are saying if you've got a strong conscience and firm  convictions on something, something don't all of a sudden get trembly or wobbly because  somebody disagrees with you. They can disagree. Just hold on firmly to what you believe is a  conviction and you're good. And so and he says so whatever you believe about these things,  keep between yourself and God. There's a there's a lot of the time you know what, where you  don't have to sit, share your convictions about everything on every occasion, that may come  as a newsflash, but not everything you believe and have strong convictions about has to be  shared with everybody, on every occasion. You may have something that you feel strongly 

about and nearly every discussion you have, or every Bible study your part of or whatever  that rises right to the surface. And you want to talk about that. Even though you know there's  several people in the group that disagree with you. Well give it a rest. Keep it between  yourself and God. If you have strong convictions about something, leave some space,  breathing room for other people and for other convictions and at the same time. You know, we always have this notion that if I believe it everybody should and as long as not everybody  does, then I'm going to get kind of uncomfy the Apostle says, Be firm if you believe really  strongly about Sabbath observance, for instance, and I am not going to shop or eat in a  restaurant on Sunday, don't try to change your mind because you happen to know some  Christians who don't feel strongly about that. If you feel strongly that homeschooling is the  best way to raise your kids, don't think that you gotta change your mind or get squishy about  that just because not everybody agrees. But you don't have to turn every conversation you  ever have with every stranger you meet to homeschooling. So he's saying, where you're with  fellow believers focus on the things that unite you, if they're the big things, and you can have  conversations about other things from time to time, but don't make that the constant focus of your time together Honor conscience, don't violate conscience. But I would say  parenthetically you can educate it. Over time, you can learn some things and where you had  huge hang ups about something you might find from further study of the Bible and further  fellowship with other believers that you know what, those were kind of groundless, and 10  years later, you may feel different about something. And, and you may learn that some things that were a big deal in your upbringing. Nah, in the big picture, they aren't that big a deal. In  fact, they're not a deal at all, according to the Scriptures. But meanwhile, as long as your  conscience troubles you about something, listen to it. Do not go against your conscience just  because somebody else tells you something's okay. And don't violate your own conscience  and don't violate somebody else's, by trying to lead somebody who is a teetotaler into  drinking because, hey, alcohol is okay. Or trying to lead somebody to believe something that  you would be more comfortable that they would believe. He says, whatever doesn't come  from faith is sin. And here faith is not just a reference to trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ, but  also just a sense of boldness and a clear conscience a strong conviction. If you can't proceed  into something and and feel that it's right in your conscience, then you shouldn't do it. And  you might be open to later conversation and learning a little bit more about about if you feel  uneasy about something, don't go ahead with it. And at the same time, don't let you're  uneasy with these in this way that caused you to look sideways at somebody else who seems  to have no problem with it at all. Accept those whom God accepts know when to fight when  not to don't judge or destroy over these disputable matters. Hold your personal beliefs  strongly. But personally, you don't always have to bring them up in every conversation, and  with everybody to deal with. honor their conscience and your conscience. And then to keep it  all in light of the bigger message of the gospel, we got to pursue the main priorities. If your  brother's distressed because of what you eat, you're no longer acting in love, what matters  more, what you have for supper, or love. Love is the greatest commandment, the one who  loves this fulfill the law. Love is the greatest and so if you think supper matters more than  love, you got a few things to learn about the Christian faith and the Christian walk. So the  Apostle says, if you're one of those who feels that you can do whatever, but it's going to hurt  somebody else, then you got to act in love. The kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and  drinking, but of righteousness, of that right standing with God and of right living before God of peace of shalom of well being in the Lord of joy and gladness in the Holy Spirit. It's life in the  Holy Spirit of having God's love poured out in your heart by the Holy Spirit of having the Holy  Spirit, sending the message Abba father the Spirit of sonship into your heart. When you have  that as the apostle's talked about earlier in Romans did all these other things become of  much, much less importance because the Kingdom of God was never about those things.  Those are some of the peripherals but the kingdom of God itself is, is about righteousness,  peace, joy, love in the Holy Spirit. And so make every effort to do what leads to peace, and to  mutual edification. Keep your eye on the target, keep the main things, the main things and in  all that focus on the Lord. Just to repeat one last time God has accepted Him. The Lord is able  to make him stand. He says, if you live you live to the Lord. If you die, you die to the Lord, 

whether we live or die. We belong to the Lord. And that's why Christ died to return to life so  that he'd be the Lord of both the dead and the living. Jesus is Lord that is the central  confession of the Christian faith. That is the confession for which so many of the early  Christians died. Jesus is Lord. And anybody who confesses that and truly means that Jesus is  Lord is your brother or sister in Christ. He's the one who's coming to judge the living and the  dead. We're going to stand before His judgment seat and so don't destroy your brother for  whom Christ died. Jesus Christ hung on the cross in agony, his life's blood was poured out, he  bore the whip, and the nails and the scorn and the mockery and the anguish and the  judgment from God. And he did all that. For that person that you're in a mood to destroy.  Think there's something wrong with that picture says the apostle Christ died for him. And  you're about to ride him out of town over that one thing that you think they need to  straighten out. Do not destroy the work of God, accept one another than as Christ accepted  you, in order to bring praise to God. We pray Father, that you will give us a spirit of proportion  of what matters most, that we may know again, the wonder of you as our Father of Jesus  Christ and His precious blood for our salvation, of the Holy Spirit working within us, of the  great realities of love and righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, and then Lord  out of that overflow of fullness. Help us Lord to be people who can love one another as you've loved us who can accept one another as you've accepted us. Help us Lord not to be fooled by  false prophets, or by the great wickednesses that would threaten us. But by the same token,  Lord help us not neither to be divided or harmed by needless bickering over disputable  matters. And so, Lord, we thank you for the spirit of unity and blessing and peace that you've  given to our congregation throughout our years together and we pray, Lord, that you will  continue that that you will help us more and more to love one another, to accept one another  to find bonds and ties of love with fellow believers beyond our congregation as well and to  rejoice that you are the great God of grace. We pray in Jesus name, Amen.

Last modified: Monday, January 17, 2022, 9:54 AM