Do Not Let Your Good Be Spoken of as Evil

Text: Romans 14:16

It is possible for things to be good in themselves, but actually end up being used for evil, or in a way that would lead to evil. How can this happen? That is what we will consider in this lesson.

By Harming Our Brother

  • Some matters may not be unclean in themselves (Romans 14:13-16, 2-3, 5) – but we must not cause a brother to stumble, even with a matter of liberty like food
  • Example: lead a brother to violate his conscience (Romans 14:2, 23) – your example emboldens them to do something they believe is wrong (1 Corinthians 8:7-10); they become more likely to commit other sins because their conscience is dulled against guilt (1 Timothy 4:2)
  • Example: refusing to wait to partake of the Lord’s Supper – commanded to partake (1 Corinthians 11:23-26); but we harm our brother if we refuse to “wait for one another” (1 Corinthians 11:33)

By Seeking the Praise of Men

  • The Pharisees were condemned for this (Matthew 23:5) – regardless of whether the deeds are good or bad, the attitude is condemned
  • Example: teaching to draw attention to ourselves – teaching is good (Acts 20:26-27); but not this attitude (Acts 20:30; 2 Corinthians 4:5)
  • Example: praying on the street corners (Matthew 6:5-6) – significance is not the location, but the attitude; God’s attention is what is important (Philippians 4:6-7)
  • Example: fasting to be notice for our sacrifice/piety (Matthew 6:16-18) – a public display of righteousness is not enough to please God (Matthew 5:20; 23:27-28)

By Doing it in the Wrong Situation

  • Not “situation ethics” (justifying sin based on circumstances) – instead, this is a respect for God’s law in every situation we are in; not determining what is right in a given situation by our judgment, but by God’s revelation
  • Example: sexual relations – good within marriage (Hebrews 13:4); not outside of marriage
  • Example: women teaching – women can teach (Titus 2:3-5; Acts 18:26); with limits (1 Corinthians 14:34; 1 Timothy 2:12)
  • Example: enjoying social meals together (Acts 2:46) – not a work of the church (1 Corinthians 11:22, 34)

By Doing it in an Unauthorized Manner

  • Many people do things in the name of the Lord, but are actually practicing lawlessness (Matthew 7:22-23) – good intentions are not enough; we must have authority for what we do and how we do it (Colossians 3:17)
  • Example: preaching the gospel – important work (Romans 10:13-15); but not through human institutions (1 Timothy 3:15; Hebrews 7:14)
  • Example: practicing benevolence (Galatians 6:10) – not to expand the limits of church benevolence (Romans 15:26; 1 Timothy 5:16)
  • Example: worshiping in song (Colossians 3:16; Ephesians 5:19) – no authority to use instrumental accompaniment (Hebrews 7:14)

Conclusion

  • Important that we do what has been commanded, authorized, and left in the realm of liberty
  • But we should not do these things in a way that could actually be wrong
  • We must be careful to serve God in a way that brings honor to Him

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