Understanding Romans 14

Text: Romans 14:1-9

Romans 14 teaches the need to accept and not judge those with whom we differ on matters of opinion. Some have tried to expand the scope of this chapter to include matters of faith. But on matters of faith, we are not to tolerate departures from the faith (Jude 3; Galatians 1:6-9; 2:3-5). On matters of opinion, we need to be sure we understand and apply what Paul wrote in this chapter.

Brethren Will Have Different Opinions

  • We are to be united in matters of faith (Ephesians 4:4-6) – the same thing should be taught “everywhere in every church” (1 Corinthians 4:17); we are to “agree” and have “no divisions” (1 Corinthians 1:10)
  • Yet passages like Romans 14 show us that there will be different opinions on certain matters

More or Less Strict

  • In every area of application of Bible teaching, some will take a more strict view and others a less strict view – ex: clothing, entertainment, involvement in politics/government, etc.
  • Three possibilities – (1) both may be wrong; (2) one may be wrong; (3) neither may be wrong; the third possibility is what is under consideration in Romans 14
  • What are we to do? – must look to what God’s word says, follow it, and not go beyond it

What Does God’s Word Say?

  • We cannot determine what is right by how “strict” a view is – the Pharisees were the “strictest sect” of the Jews (Acts 26:5); yet they went beyond the requirements of God’s law (Matthew 15:2); they sinned when they enforced their “stricter” view (Matthew 15:6-9)
  • We must determine what is right by what the word of God says (John 17:17) – we can illustrate how this works by looking at the examples used in Romans 14

What Does God’s Word Say Regarding Eating Meat?

  • God has accepted those who eat and those who don’t (Romans 14:2-3)
  • Nothing is unclean in itself (Romans 14:14; 1 Corinthians 10:25-26) – even the idols are nothing (1 Corinthians 8:4-6)
  • To be avoided if we cannot distinguish eating from idol worship (1 Corinthians 8:7; Acts 15:29)
  • Not to divide or cause others to stumble (Romans 14:21; 1 Corinthians 8:9-13; 10:27-29)

What Does God’s Word Say Regarding Observing Days?

  • God has accepted those who observe certain days and those who don’t (Romans 14:5-6)
  • OT days to be observed were nailed to the cross (Colossians 2:14)
  • Days can be observed wrongly (Galatians 4:10-11) – by going back to the law (Galatians 4:21); by changing the gospel (Galatians 1:6-9); by binding these days on others (cf. Galatians 2:3-5)
  • There is just one day we are required to observe – the first day of the week (Acts 20:7)

What Does God’s Word Say Regarding ___?

  • Examples – our clothing, our jobs, our entertainment, our food, etc.
  • In every example, we cannot determine what is right by seeing what is more strict
  • We must consider everything the word of God says on the subject (Psalm 119:160)
  • Then, we must follow what the word of God says (James 1:22) – cannot come short of this
  • Then, we must be careful not to go beyond what the word of God says in judging others (2 John 9; 1 Timothy 4:1-3)

The Sin in Romans 14

  • The context of Romans 14 is about matters of opinion in which no sin is involved – in these cases, neither opinion is wrong; either the more strict view or the less strict one
  • Yet Romans 14 does deal with sin – not the opinions, but in dealing with those of other opinions
  • How the person with the “more strict” view commits sin – by judging/condemning his brother (Romans 14:3, 10); by doing what he believes to be wrong (Romans 14:23)
  • How the person with the “less strict” view commits sin – by regarding his brother with contempt (Romans 14:3); by causing his brother to stumble (Romans 14:13, 15-17, 20-21)

Conclusion

  • This chapter is a call for unity (Romans 14:19)
  • Let us unite around God’s word and not divide over other matters

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