Do Not Cause Another to Stumble (Romans 14:13-23)

Do Not Cause Another to Stumble (Romans 14:13-23).

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Saturday, October 16 and Sunday, October 17, 2021

It was 2018. I was ready to start my first and my only Tough Mudder competition. This is a 10 mile competition with super muddy obstacles. It is something in which you work as a team. So, one has to work with others to climb over 10 foot walls and crawl through mud under barbed wire. There are obstacles in which one is literally swimming through mud. I wore old shoes because I knew how muddy it would be. That was a mistake. I was at the starting line. It was crowded. It was sunny and it was hot. I look down and I see that the toe of my shoe was split open. I asked around for duct tape and no one had any, so I tied my shoelaces around it. I go through the first obstacle okay. The second obstacle was one in which we run and jump to climb over a wall. There were things sticking out of the wall to hold onto. I run and as I go to grab hold of the wall my foot slams into the wall. That would have been okay, but the toe was now opened. I got over the wall. But my toe was broken. I kept going and by the 3rd or 4th mile I was swimming through mud and got mud splashed into my eye. To make matters worse I had contact lenses in. My brother was ahead of me trying to pull me out, but I could not see. My eye was burning and my toe was throbbing. I had to reach into my eye and pull the contact lens out, throwing it on the ground. It is probably still there. Maybe they will find it in an archaeological dig in the future. At mile 5 I left the competition.

What I just described was a competition in which I experienced multiple “Stumbling blocks.” These caused me to exit the competition before the finish line. In today’s passage Paul will exhort the Christians not to cause a stumbling block in another Christian’s path.

My theme today is:

Do not cause another to stumble.

  1. Do not cause another to stumble (Verses 13-15).
    1. In Romans 14 Paul began to talk about conscious issues.
    2. Last week we talked about that. Paul was talking about disagreements about whether it was okay to eat certain meats. It seems that the issue was whether or not it was okay to eat food sacrificed to idols. Though some think it could have to do with Jewish dietary laws. Some, who Paul calls “the strong,” thought it was okay to eat food sacrificed to idols and not follow the dietary laws. Others, Paul calls “the weak,” thought it was not okay. Yet, Paul calls everyone to live at peace with one another. Paul continues that idea in these verses.
    3. Remember, last week I shared that Paul is saying that we are not to judge in matters of conscious.
    4. Let’s read verses 13-15, Romans 14:13-15: Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. 14I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. 15For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died.
    5. Paul says, “let us” and this is including himself. We are not to pass judgment on one another.
    6. We are not to put a stumbling block in the way of another.
    7. Paul gets more specific; we are also not to put a hindrance in the way of another.
    8. What is a stumbling block? Obviously, that would be something that makes a person stumble.
    9. I have ran many nights after dark. There have been at least a handful of times that I have stumbled on uneven sidewalks. That is what I think of when I read these verses.
    10. We do not want to make another stumble.
    11. We do not want to hinder their faith. We do not want to put an obstacle in another’s faith. “Hindrance” could be translated as “obstacle” or “snare.” I was fishing with Mercedes and she thought she caught a big fish. No, she caught a big rock. That is a snare.
    12. We do not want conscious issues to be a snare in someone’s faith journey.
    13. We do not want conscious issues to be a stumbling block in someone’s faith journey.
    14. Paul said something similar in 1 Cor. 8:13.
    15. In verse 14, Paul shares truth. He knows, and he is persuaded by the Lord, that nothing is unclean in itself. The food is technically clean. However, if someone thinks it is unclean, then for them it is a conscious issue which they must take seriously.
    16. In 1 Cor. 8:7 Paul builds on this.
    17. Later in verse 20 of this same chapter Paul will explain more of why this matters.
    18. In verse 15 Paul starts the “why” question which we will continue in the next point.
    19. We do not want to destroy a relationship. We do not want to harm someone’s faith. If we flaunt our freedom then we harm someone’s faith and Christ died for that person.
  2. Remember love (verses 16-18).
    1. Let’s read verses 16-18, Romans 14:16-18: So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil. 17For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men.
    2. It seems now Paul is exhorting them to move beyond these things.
    3. So, do not let what is spoken of as good, what would that be? That would be the meat that some are offended by. Don’t let that be spoken of as evil. Why would that be? It would be spoken of as evil because it harms a relationship. Further, the other person’s conscious considers the meat as evil.
    4. In verse 17 Paul says the Kingdom of God is way more than that.
    5. Paul shares what the Kingdom of God is NOT and then what the Kingdom of God is.
    6. What is the Kingdom of God? I like how one person defined the Kingdom of God: God’s people in God’s place under God’s universal ruler, King Jesus, whose unique earthly ministry announces the already inaugurated but not yet consummated Kingdom of God/heaven.[2]
    7. The Kingdom of God is NOT eating and drinking. Moody: Drinking anticipates drinking wine in v. 21. Wine was used as libations in the temples, and Jewish believers refused to purchase and drink wine just as they did meat.[3]
    8. Here Paul says the Kingdom of God is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.
    9. The Kingdom of God is not what they are arguing over.
    10. The Kingdom of God is about righteousness. This is pursuing living God’s way and recognizing that Jesus has made us righteous.
    11. The Kingdom of God is about peace.
    12. Paul has been exhorting them to be at peace with one another.
    13. The Kingdom of God is about joy, but the joy is in the Holy Spirit.
    14. Verse 18: whoever serves Christ… this means whether they eat the meat or not, is acceptable to Him and approved.
    15. So, Paul is telling them both sides are okay in this matter.
    16. Paul is telling them to let this go.
  3. Pursue peace (verses 19-23).
    1. Let’s read verses 19-23, Romans 14:19-23: So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. 20Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats. 21It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble. 22The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves. 23But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.
    2. Verse 19 encapsulates this whole argument.
    3. Paul makes an inference, “so then…”
    4. “pursue peace…” Now, that is a way to live, isn’t it?
    5. How many of us pursue peace?
    6. Paul then gives more detail about how to pursue peace. He gets more practical. Pursue what makes for mutual upbuilding.
    7. How are we doing with this?
    8. Are we critical of others?
    9. Are we trying to build one another up?
    10. In verse 20 Paul gives the truth again. Everything is clean, remember verse 14? In verse 14, he said something similar to what he shares now.
    11. IVP: The issue here is not eating meat or drinking wine per se, but that Gentile meat (suspected of having been offered to idols or not having the blood properly drained) and Gentile drink (some of it possibly used for libations to gods) were suspect to Jews. But like a good rhetorician, Paul calls his readers to concede his point even in the most extreme case, requiring abstinence from all meat or wine (and if it applies to the extreme, “how much more”—following a standard style of argument—to all lesser cases). (Although some Jewish groups abstained from wine for periods of time—Num 6:3; cf. Jer 35:5–6—diluted wine was a normal part of meals; thus the language here is probably hyperbolic.)[5]
    12. Do not… this is a command.
    13. “For the sake of food…” In other words, there are more important matters to champion. But look at the rest. For the sake of food, do not destroy the work of God. Wow! God is at work and when we argue and separate over conscious issues, we are hurting what God is doing.
    14. Even though it is clean it is wrong to make someone stumble.
      1. Now, I want to spend a few minutes on this verse.
      2. It is wrong to knowingly make someone stumble.
      3. I don’t think Paul expected them to go to the marketplace looking around and self conscious that they would make someone stumble.
      4. A contemporary example might be if you know someone is offended by alcohol don’t drink alcohol in front of them. Or, if you know someone is an alcoholic don’t drink alcohol in front of them. Don’t do anything that would trigger their alcohol addiction.
      5. However, I have heard people take this too far. One person might think they are free to drink alcohol and said person only has 1 glass of wine. However, others would say they better not even buy alcohol because suppose the cashier is offended by it.
      6. That is not the point of this passage. We ought not to knowingly be a stumbling block.
    15. Verse 21 goes into more detail. If meat is a stumbling block, or wine, or anything, don’t partake.
    16. We willingly alter our pace of walking while leading a small child by the hand so he or she will not stumble. How much more should we be willing to alter our Christian walk for the benefit of a weaker brother or sister in Christ whom we are leading.[6]
    17. Verse 22: This is interesting. The faith you have keep between you and God. In other words, if you feel that you have the freedom, keep it between you and God.
    18. Blessed… that is nice. Blessed is the man who has no reason to judge himself for what he approves. In other words, blessed is the one walking blamelessly, not causing strife.
    19. Verse 23: whatever does not come from faith is sin. In other words, if someone’s conscious says it is wrong, they must abstain.
    20. Cicero (De Officiis 1.30) says: “It is an excellent rule that they give who urge us not to do a thing, when there is doubt whether it is right or wrong; for righteousness shines with a brilliance of its own, but doubt is a sign that we are thinking of a possible wrong.”[7]
    21. “Faith” here as in verses 1 and 22 does not refer to the teachings of Christianity but to what a person believes to be the will of God for him. If a person does what he believes to be wrong, even though it is not wrong in itself, it becomes sin for him. He has violated what he believes to be God’s will. His action has become an act of rebellion against God for him.[8]
  4. Applications:
    1. We must not cause harm over conscious issues.
    2. We must not be judgmental of another believer over things that the Bible does not clearly condemn.
    3. If someone does not feel free to eat or drink certain substances we must respect them.
    4. At the same time, we must understand that we are not bound by a law, and all things are clean (Romans 14:14, 20; 1 Timothy 4:4).
    5. We must be walking in love and be less critical (verse 15).
    6. We must not allow the freedom to be spoken of as evil because of our lack of love (verse 16).
    7. We must seek God’s Kingdom, knowing that God’s Kingdom is about right living, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (verse 17).
    8. We must be seeking peace (verse 17).
    9. We must be seeking peace more than discord (verse 17).
    10. We must be walking by the Spirit (verse 17 and Galatians 5:22-23).
    11. Verses 19-23 seem to be a restatement for emphasis and that reminds us of how important these matters are.
    12. We must not destroy the work of God, in other words because trivial matters harm what God is doing in a believer’s life.
    13. We must obey our conscious so long as it accords with Scripture (verse 23). Further, we must not cause another person to go against his or her conscious.

I began this message talking about the Tough Mudder. The Tough Mudder is a competition that tries to put stumbling blocks in the path of each person. There is one in which you slide down into ice water. There is another one in which you get electrocuted. My brother is crazy, he has finished three of them! I, on the other hand, have competed in normal races. I have ran 10k’s and 5k’s and three marathons. In those races we run with no unnatural obstacles. The Christian life is a marathon and the goal, in the Christian life, is that we try not to put stumbling blocks in each other’s spiritual lives.

Pray.


[1] Ben Witherington III and Darlene Hyatt, Paul’s Letter to the Romans: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2004), 339.

[2] Dr. White, Cedarville University Chapel message on 09.17.2021

v. verse

[3] Michael G. Vanlaningham, “Romans,” in The Moody Bible Commentary, ed. Michael A. Rydelnik and Michael Vanlaningham (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2014), 1768.

[4] Robert H. Mounce, Romans, vol. 27, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995).

[5] Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), Ro 14:20–21.

[6] Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Ro 14:21.

[7] Ben Witherington III and Darlene Hyatt, Paul’s Letter to the Romans: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2004), 341.

[8] Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Ro 14:23.

Do Not Pass Judgment on One Another (Romans 14:1-12)

Do Not Pass Judgment on One Another (Romans 14:1-12)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Saturday, October 9 and Sunday, October 10, 2021

Jefferson shared:

In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.[1]

In Colson’s book “Who Speaks for God” he writes about a 60 minutes interview with Mike Wallace and Yehiel De-Nur. De-Nur was a Jewish writer and Holocaust survivor. He spent 2 years at Auschwitz. In 1961 at the Nuremberg trials, on June 7, 1961 he came in the courtroom for the Eichmann trial.

In his opening statement, Dinur presented a different opinion about the Holocaust than other well-known Holocaust writers (such as Elie Wiesel), by presenting the Holocaust as a unique and out-of-this-world event, saying: “I do not see myself as a writer who writes literature. This is a chronicle from the planet Auschwitz. I was there for about two years. The time there is not the same as it is here, on Earth. (…) And the inhabitants of this planet had no names. They had no parents and no children. They did not wear [clothes] the way they wear here. They were not born there and did not give birth… They did not live according to the laws of the world here and did not die. Their name was the number K. Tzetnik.”[5]

After saying so, De-Nur collapsed and gave no further testimony.

In an interview on 60 Minutes, aired 6 February 1983, De-Nur recounted the incident of his fainting at the Eichmann trial to host Mike Wallace.

Was Dinur overcome by hatred? Fear? Horrid memories? No; it was none of these. Rather, as Dinur explained to Wallace, all at once he realized Eichmann was not the god-like army officer who had sent so many to their deaths. This Eichmann was an ordinary man. “I was afraid about myself,” said Dinur. “… I saw that I am capable to do this. I am … exactly like he.”[2]

Again: In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.[3]

Today, we look at a passage dealing with style, not principle. But we must realize how corrupt and evil we can be.

My theme today is:

We are not to judge other believers regarding matters of conscious.

  1. Don’t pass judgment on one another (verses1-8).
    1. So, we have been going through Romans. Last week we talked about fulfilling the royal law, that is to love one another. Now, Paul continues how to love.
    2. Verse 1 seems to be more of a summary. Verse 1 reads (Romans 14:1): As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions.
    3. What does he mean by weak in faith? He will tell us in a few minutes. This is going to be about conscious issues.
    4. Paul knew that we have the freedom. It seems that this is really about eating food sacrificed to idols. One source shares: The weak were Jewish believers who felt that eating meat offered to a false god was an act of idolatry, so they ate vegetables only (v. 2).[4]
    5. This subject is addressed again in 1 Corinthians chapters 8-10. As part of a seminary class, I read someone’s dissertation on this topic.
    6. Paul believes as Christians they have the freedom to eat the food sacrificed to idols, but this does not mean participating in the idolatrous practice. In 1 Corinthians 10:25 Paul writes about eating meat that was sold at the market place.
    7. Regardless, I believe the principle is to welcome others. Paul says, the one who is weak in faith welcome him. But notice the rest of the passage, “not to quarrel over opinions.” Paul says welcome him, but don’t quarrel.
    8. LET IT GO.
    9. It needs to be noted that what Paul is writing about here concerns matters of conscious. This is NOT about things where the Scripture is very clear. If we talk to a brother or sister in Christ about something commanded in Scripture God is the judge and we are merely the mouthpiece.
    10. Again, the Moody Bible Commentary informs us: Food was offered in honor of the gods, and surplus fare was sold to the markets to provide income for the priests and maintain the temples. Gentile believers had the conviction (faith) that it was permissible to eat this meat. Paul directed the stronger Gentile believers to fellowship with Jewish believers, but not to coerce them to adopt the stronger brother’s position (v. 1).[5]
    11. Don’t judge based on diet (verses 2-4).
    12. Look at verse 2 (Romans 14:2): One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables.
    13. Why does the weak person eat only vegetables? It is because the weak person believes that it is wrong to eat meat sold in the marketplace that had been part of a sacrifice to demons. In 1 Corinthians 8-10 Paul says that they are free to eat. But here Paul is saying not to judge one another. If another’s conscious does not allow it, that is fine.
    14. Look at verse 3 (Romans 14:3): Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him.
    15. Paul is giving more detail of what he introduced in verse 1. Don’t despise one another. Don’t judge the person who eats the meat sacrificed to idols (gentiles), God has welcomed him.
    16. Look now at verse 4 (Romans 14:4): Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
    17. He is now asking questions. We are not in a place to pass judgment. It is before his own master that he stands or falls. The Lord will make him stand.  
    18. Don’t judge based on days (verses 5-6).
    19. Look at verse 5 (Romans 14:5): One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.
    20. Now, Paul switches to days.
    21. He says that each person must be convinced in his own mind. It appears that Jewish people thought they had to follow sabbath days and certain holy days, though the gentiles did not feel obligated to do so.  
    22. The Bible does not give a direct command on this issue.
    23. Look at verse 6 (Romans 14:6): The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God.
    24. Paul is saying that they both want to honor the Lord. The one who observes the day, observes in honor of the Lord. The one who eats meat gives thanks to God; therefore, honoring the Lord. The one abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord.
    25. The reason: we belong to the Lord (verses 7-9).
    26. Look at verse 7 (Romans 14:7): For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself.
    27. We don’t live for ourselves. We are not to live for ourselves. We must always live for the Lord.
    28. Look at verse 8 (Romans 14:8): For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.
    29. That is self-explanatory. Whether we live or we die, we are the Lord’s.
    30. Then, look at verse 9 (Romans 14:9): For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.
    31. Christ died and He lived again, through the resurrection. This is so that He is Lord of the dead and the living. What does that mean? He is Lord on both sides of eternity.
  2. Every believer will be judged by the Savior (verses 10-12).
    1. Now look at verse 10 (Romans 14:10): Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God
    2. Paul is now appealing to the ultimate judge, God.
    3. NET Bible: The judgment seat (βῆμα, bēma) was a raised platform mounted by steps and sometimes furnished with a seat, used by officials in addressing an assembly or making pronouncements, often on judicial matters. The judgment seat was a familiar item in Greco-Roman culture, often located in the agora, the public square or marketplace in the center of a city.[12]
    4. Look at verses 11-12 (Romans 14:11-12): for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” 12So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.
    5.  “as it is written” signals an Old Testament quotation.
    6. Every knee shall bow to God. Every tongue shall confess to God.
    7. This is a quote from Isaiah 45:23.
    8. Verse 12: we will all give an account to God.
    9. Dr. Constable points out: There is a strong emphasis on recognizing Jesus’ lordship in our lives in these verses. The word “Lord” occurs seven times in verses 5–9.[14]
  3. Applications:
    1. We are not to pass judgment regarding matters of conscious.
    2. This means if someone believes they must follow Jewish dietary practices (verses 1-4), we must not look down upon that person.
    3. If one person believes they are to follow other ascetic dietary practices (verses 1-4), we must not look down on them (some believe this could have to do with people who followed certain ascetic practices).
    4. If one believes they are okay to eat not following those practices they must be careful not to look down on others (verses 1-4).
    5. If one believes they should observe Saturday, or Sunday, as holy we must not look down upon them (verses 5-8).
    6. If one (the strong) believes they are free from observance of certain days they must not look down on others (verses 5-8).
    7. We must do whatever we do in honor of the Lord (verse 6).
    8. We must live for the Lord (verse 8).
      1. Are we living for the Lord?
      2. Are we organizing our affairs around the Lord?
      3. Are we making Jesus Lord of our life?
      4. What is in the center of our life?
      5. Jesus must be the center. Oftentimes we put our self in the center. Imagine your life like the solar system. Oftentimes we put ourselves in the center and everything revolves around self: hobbies revolve around self, sports revolve around self, job revolves around self, family revolves around self, church and Jesus revolves around self. If that is our life what can happen? You get busy and your relationship with Jesus can easily spin off of our mini-solar system. What needs to happen is that Jesus is in the middle COMBINED with self. Everything revolves around Jesus.
    9. We must recognize we will all submit to God as the ultimate judge (verses 9-12).
    10. We must not judge one another concerning matters of conscious.
    11. If the Word of God is clear about something anytime we talk about anything we must quote Scripture.
    12. We can easily substitute other things in place of days and food. What about alcohol? I was taught that Christians are not to drink alcohol. This was wrongful Bible teaching based off an inaccurate teaching that the alcohol in the Bible was non-fermented. Upon a little bit of study, I soon realized that was a wrong teaching. This passage is saying don’t judge someone regarding that. Now, don’t misunderstand, the Bible is clear about drunkenness. The Bible clearly calls that very sinful, but if someone drinks in clear and careful moderation that is not wrong. Don’t think someone is a better Christian because they have liberty to have a glass of wine with dinner, or because they abstain.
    13. We can apply other things. We can indirectly apply this to how one dresses for worship. Right, one thinks they must dress up, another thinks they are free to wear shorts to church.
    14. We can apply this to other sensitive topics. Vaccines… Facial coverings… In these cases, we are indirectly applying this principle. The principle is being applied.  
    15. The point is clear: DO NOT JUDGE ON MATTERS OF CONSCIOUS.

Again, from Jefferson: In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.[15]

Remember the illustration from the beginning of this message?

Yehiel De-Nur. De-Nur was a Jewish writer and Holocaust survivor. He spent 2 years at Auschwitz. In 1961 at the Nuremberg trials, on June 7, 1961 he came in the courtroom for the Eichmann trial.

He gave testimony and then collapsed. Why?

Was Dinur overcome by hatred? Fear? Horrid memories? No; it was none of these. Rather, as Dinur explained to Wallace, all at once he realized Eichmann was not the god-like army officer who had sent so many to their deaths. This Eichmann was an ordinary man. “I was afraid about myself,” said Dinur. “… I saw that I am capable to do this. I am … exactly like he.”[16]

Dallas Willard was answering “why are Christians so mean”? He said we are mean because we think we have to be right. So, we must settle down and not quarrel over things not commanded in Scripture.

The Scriptures from Romans 12:9-10:

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.

Prayer


[1] Thomas Jefferson, Christian Reader, Vol. 34.

[2] Swindoll shared the illustration. I tried to find it in writing but could only find wikipedia. I think it is accurate since Swindoll also quoted it (Insight for Living 09.08.2021).

[3] Thomas Jefferson, Christian Reader, Vol. 34.

 

[4] Michael G. Vanlaningham, “Romans,” in The Moody Bible Commentary, ed. Michael A. Rydelnik and Michael Vanlaningham (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2014), 1767.

v. verse

[5] Ibid.

[6] John F. MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006), Ro 14:2.

[7] Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Ro 14:2.

[8] https://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/how-not-to-correct-a-fellow-christian?utm_campaign=Daily%20Email&utm_medium=email&_hsmi=131213461&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-9_Z88-JEcVlIoZninEQCskcovWMMH8B57fDjiVKq9IYZkgjIl27rRYg0I8CSLt87LUedMJUkGVUmqADl5aqQBx3qbOLQ&utm_content=131213461&utm_source=hs_email

 

[9] Michael G. Vanlaningham, “Romans,” in The Moody Bible Commentary, ed. Michael A. Rydelnik and Michael Vanlaningham (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2014), 1767.

[10] Paige Patterson, “Salvation in the Old Testament,” in CSB Study Bible: Notes, ed. Edwin A. Blum and Trevin Wax (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), 1802.

[11] John F. MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006), Ro 14:9.

[12] Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition Notes (Biblical Studies Press, 2006), Ro 14:7–10.

[13] https://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/how-not-to-correct-a-fellow-christian?utm_campaign=Daily%20Email&utm_medium=email&_hsmi=131213461&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-9_Z88-JEcVlIoZninEQCskcovWMMH8B57fDjiVKq9IYZkgjIl27rRYg0I8CSLt87LUedMJUkGVUmqADl5aqQBx3qbOLQ&utm_content=131213461&utm_source=hs_email

[14] Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Ro 14:12.

[15] Thomas Jefferson, Christian Reader, Vol. 34.

[16] Swindoll shared the illustration. I tried to find it in writing but could only find wikipedia. I think it is accurate since Swindoll also quoted it (Insight for Living 09.08.2021).

Fulfilling the Royal Law (Romans 13:8-14)

Fulfilling the Royal Law (Romans 13:8-14)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Saturday, October 2 and Sunday, October 3, 2021

Do you ever think about Christian conduct? How are we to behave?

Our conduct is to be decent and honorable (v. 13). It must be acceptable in the open light of day. One example is Augustine. In his Confessions Augustine tells of his conversion to Christianity (viii.12). In a.d. 386, at a time when he was deeply moved by a desire to break from his old way of living, he sat weeping in the garden of a friend in Milan. Suddenly he heard a child singing Tolle, lege! Tolle, lege! (“Take up and read! Take up and read!”). He picked up a scroll lying there, and his eyes fell on Rom 13:13–14, “Not in orgies and drunkenness …” Immediately his heart was flooded with a clear light, and the darkness of doubt vanished. No other theologian has made a greater contribution to the theology of the Western world.[1]

The passage today talks about these ideas.

My theme today is:

Christian living means loving our neighbor and clothing ourselves with Jesus, making no provision for the flesh.

  1. Owe love to others (verses 8-10).
    1. Let’s read verses 8-10: Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
    2. Paul had just been writing about being submissive to authorities and now he begins to write about motivation. What motivates us, and how do we respond? Love must motivate us.
    3. We must owe loves.
    4. ESV Study note: Verses 8–10 focus on the Christian’s relationship to the Mosaic law. Owe no one anything links back to v. 7, and thus the command does not prohibit all borrowing but means that one should always “pay what is owed” (see v. 7), fulfilling whatever repayment agreements have been made. The debt one never ceases paying is the call to love one another. Indeed, love fulfills what the Mosaic law demands.[3]
    5. New American Commentary: The Christian is to allow no debt to remain outstanding except the one that can never be paid off—“the debt to love one another.”76 The obligation to love has no limit. We are to love not only those of the family of God but our “fellowman” as well. As God’s love extended to all, so must our concern reach out to believer and nonbeliever alike (cf. Matt 5:44–45).[4]
    6. We must love.
    7. What do we owe? Do we owe service? Do we owe money? Do we owe Bible teaching? No, this passage says that we owe love.
    8. For the one who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. Jesus said this (Matthew 22:38-40). James 2:8 is very similar as well.
    9. In verse 9 Paul lists some of the ten commandments (see Ex. 20:13ff and Deut 5:17ff) and says they are summed up in “you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
    10. Paul lists 4 of the commandments dealing with human relations.
    11. You shall love your neighbor as yourself comes from: Lev 19:18; Matt 19:19.
    12. Remember in Luke 10 Jesus was asked “Who is my neighbor?” and Jesus responded with the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37). The Good Samaritan served his enemy and so even our enemy is our neighbor.  
    13. In verse 10, Romans 13:10, he says that love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
    14. If we love someone, we do not make fun of them. If we love someone, we do not harm them physically. If we love someone, we do not try to have competing comments that are one-uppers. If we love someone, we care about them. If we love someone, we want them to know Jesus. If we love someone, we won’t cheat them out of money. If we love someone, we want the best for their children.
    15. Think of how you feel if something bad happens to your children. Go further, think of your children as a young, innocent, vulnerable child, how did you feel if they were mocked or harmed? We should strive to love everyone that way. We, as Christians, ought not to harm anyone. We should try to think of all people like an innocent vulnerable person and then I think we are more likely to love them.
    16. By the way, I think God likely thinks of us that way.
    17. Gal 5:14; James 2:8 are good cross references.
    18. augustine: The rule of love is that one should wish his friend to have all the good things he wants to have himself and should not wish the evils to befall his friend which he wishes to avoid himself. He shows this benevolence to all men. No evil must be done to any. Love of one’s neighbor works no evil. Let us then love even our enemies as we are commanded, if we wish to be truly unconquered. of true religion 87.[5]
  2. Put on the Lord Jesus Christ (verses 11-14).
    1. Now, Paul challenges them to step up. Now, Paul wants them to think in a wartime way. The time is coming for them to wake up in the faith.
    2. Look at verse 11, Romans 13:11: Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed.
    3. Do you ever feel like you are sleep walking through the day?
    4. Do you ever drive somewhere and it was such habit you don’t really remember passing certain roads?
    5. Do you ever feel like you are almost in overdrive through life?
    6. Paul is urging us not to live the Christian life like that.
    7. It is time to wake up. This is a common exhortation for Paul: 1 Cor 15:34; Eph 5:14; 1 Thess 5:6.[6]
    8. ESV Study note: Sleep here is a metaphor for a life of moral carelessness and laxity. Salvation is viewed as a future reality here, and it draws nearer every day. the day is at hand. The nearness of the end summons Christians to put off all evil works and to live in the light.[7]
    9. Salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. What does that mean? I think it means Jesus’ coming is getting closer and our death is getting closer.
    10. Verse 12 expands on this, Romans 13:12: The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.
    11. There is often a contrast of light and darkness in the Bible. Darkness is sin, and wrong, and evil. Light is good.
    12. So, we know Jesus, get rid of the works of the flesh, of the devil, of sin, and live for Jesus.
    13. Look at verse 13, Romans 13:13: Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy.
    14. Walk properly… This means walk as Christians. Again, it is daytime, we know Jesus.
    15. Paul lists some of the sinful ways we are not to walk. Don’t walk in orgies and drunkenness.
    16. Don’t walk in sexual immorality.
    17. Don’t walk in sensuality. This is literally debauchery, that is excessive indulgence, sensual pleasures.
    18. Dr. Constable: The practices he urged us to avoid here were common in Corinth where Paul wrote this epistle. He observed them constantly. Intemperance often leads to sexual sin that frequently results in contention and quarreling.[9]
    19. Now, let’s look at verse 14, Romans 13:14: But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.
    20. This verse really sums up verses 11-14.
    21. Put on the Lord Jesus.
    22. It is like we are clothed with Jesus. It is like Jesus is our uniform.
    23. ESV Study note: The metaphor of putting on clothing implies not just imitating Christ’s character but also living in close personal fellowship with him.[10]
    24. This passage is famous for bringing Augustine of Hippo to salvation (Confessions, 8:12.22).[11]
    25. Don’t give the flesh any chance. The flesh is the worldly ways. We are to be different. Why? Because we love one another.
    26. Don’t give the flesh any opportunity to gratify its desires. They are not of God.
    27. This is a common exhortation: Job 29:14; Gal 3:27; Eph 4:24; Col 3:10, 12[12]
  3. Applications:
    1. Do we aim to love another (verse 8)?
    2. Do we realize that we will always owe love to others (verse 8)?
    3. Do we view other people as created in the image of God, or do we objectify people? When we view them as created in the image of God it will help us to love them.
    4. How do we view that waitress and waiter? Chik-Fil-A, that is God’s chicken, once had a training video. It showed people coming up to the counter to order. Over their heads a little bubble was shown that shared what each person faced that day. For example, this person just got news that their husband died. This person’s child was just diagnosed with cancer. This person just got laid off of their job.
    5. We must remember everyone has something they are dealing with and they are all worthy of grace. We need grace too.
    6. We must give up the old ways and clothe ourselves with Christ (verse 14).
    7. This week, try to be less demanding and try to be extra gracious wherever you go. This week give a good tip at a restaurant even when the service is not worthy. This week try to think of others as created in the image of God.

Prayer


[1] Robert H. Mounce, Romans, vol. 27, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995), 248.

57 M. Volf, Exclusion and Embrace (Nashville: Abingdon, 1996), p. 276.

[2] Ben Witherington III and Darlene Hyatt, Paul’s Letter to the Romans: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2004), 320.

[3] Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 2180.

76 Moule says the debt of love is not like a forgotten account that is owed to a lender but like interest on capital that is continuously due and payable (Romans, 358).

[4] Robert H. Mounce, Romans, vol. 27, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995), 245–246.

[5] James Stuart Bell, ed., Ancient Faith Study Bible (Nashville, TN: Holman Bibles, 2019), 1409.

[6] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995).

[7] Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 2180.

[8] John F. MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006), Ro 13:12.

[9] Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Ro 13:13.

[10] Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 2180.

[11] Paige Patterson, “Salvation in the Old Testament,” in CSB Study Bible: Notes, ed. Edwin A. Blum and Trevin Wax (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), 1802.

[12] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995).