Sep. 17. Relationship Between Strong and Weak Christians

Rom. 14:1-15:13

There were some weak Jewish Christians in the Roman church who needed special care and encouragement. They still observed some of the outdated laws and traditions of the Old Testament.

The Law of Moses forbade eating certain kinds of meats, but Paul stated that under the new law all meat is fit for human consumption. God has not given a law forbidding certain meats. It just doesn’t matter. Therefore, a person eating meat should not condemn one who does not eat meat. A person who does not eat meat also should not condemn another who does eat meat. If God is silent on a matter, man also should be silent on the same matter.

There were persons who felt the need to keep the Sabbath day, new moon or other special festival days as days of worship. God has directed that the first day of the week be utilized for worship, but if someone wanted to worship on the Sabbath or another day also, it was permissible as long as he did not bind it upon other Christians. Other Christians should not condemn him for worshipping on other days as long as the first day or Lord’s Day was not forsaken.

Paul urged the Romans to remember that Christians do not live to themselves, but to the Lord. Christians must leave the judgment of those matters up to the Lord who is the Judge. One should remember that he is not the judge, but will himself stand before the judgment seat of Christ. There are some judgments necessary for Christians to make. They must recognize false prophets and their false teachings and in areas of specific commandments, erring brothers are to be admonished.

One of the most sobering thoughts in the Bible was stated by Paul regarding the judgment. “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.” This is personal. One person will not be judged for another. Instead of being so intent on condemning his brothers for their weaknesses, one needs to keep his own soul prepared for the ultimate judgment.

The Law of Moses specified certain meats to be clean or unclean. Paul pointed out that under Christ, no food is unclean. However, if a brother felt for some reason that a kind of food was unclean, it then became unclean to that individual. Because of Christian love, one must refrain from actions, which within themselves are acceptable to God, but would cause a brother to violate his conscience. A selfish attitude is contrary to the love of Christ.

It is a little thing for a person to forgo certain desires or pleasures. Those things are not the goal of Christian living. Paul stated that peace and edification of one another are the things that are acceptable to God.

A person’s conscience is that wee small inner voice that warns him of evil. Paul urged the Romans to avoid doing anything that would cause another to violate his conscience.

The weak brother should be taught the differences between the old and new laws in a spirit of love. The teacher must not force his personal opinions upon others, but he should guide his hearers to the truth.

If one’s faith leads his conscience to believe a certain action is sinful, he indeed sins when he indulges in that action. Paul stated, “But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith, for whatever is not from faith is sin.”

As Paul continued his thoughts regarding relationships with weaker Christians, he admonished the stronger Christians to respect their weaknesses. Strong Christians must use Christ as an example of forgoing pleasures of this life in order to please others.

The Romans were told how the examples of God’s relationships with His people during the Old Testament eras were to encourage and admonish Christians during the New Testament dispensation.

Since Jesus had died for all, Jews and Gentiles alike, Paul admonished the Romans to work together and receive one another as equals. They were to be like-minded as they glorified God.

Paul quoted several Old Testament prophecies regarding the future relationships between Jews and Gentiles. Those prophecies showed them that it was God’s plan from the beginning to include the Gentiles in His promises.