Sunday, October 5, 2014

Paul's Epistles Part 34 – Weak and Strong Faith

Paul's Epistles
Part 34 – Weak and Strong Faith
Pastor Bruce A. Shields
House of Faith Church | www.PS127.org | www.TruthDigest.org

INTRODUCTION
The last few chapters of Romans has dealt with understanding God's Grace and Mercy for us, and how we should extend this grace and mercy to others. Last week Paul explained what love is, and how we are to love God, our brothers and sisters in Christ, and those who do not believe, and how we are currently living in the end times, and the Day of Judgment is near.

Knowing we are to act out love towards others, whether saved or lost, Paul explains today how we are to act around those with weaker faith than us.

Specifically, how when we have strong faith, we understand that the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat, drink or what day we call holy, rather it is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

However, those of weaker faith may feel the need to abstain from certain foods or wine, or call a day holier than others, which Paul makes clear, these outward actions have nothing to do with the Kingdom of God, which has come by, and lives through the Holy Spirit, made available through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

Being part of this Kingdom is not about what you eat, drink or what day you call holier than another, rather by making Jesus Christ your Lord and Savior, thus receiving the Holy Spirit, and becoming a son or daughter to the Kingdom by being a follower of Christ and a "doer" of the Word.

Being a doer means following what Christ has instructed us as His followers to do, not the keeping of Old Covenant instructions which were designed to bring all TO Christ, but to follow the instructions given to us AS followers of Christ.

The instructions of the Old Covenant were designed to bring ALL to Christ, once there; we are to follow the instructions of the New Covenant to bring us to the Kingdom.

A few chapters ago Paul explained the difference between the two covenants, and why he struggled letting go of the Old so he could fully obtain the New.

We too must be strong in faith to fully grasp the New and let go of the Old.


SCRIPTURE REFERENCE Romans 14
Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.

One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for 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.

10 You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. 11 It is written:
“‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,
‘every knee will bow before me;
    every tongue will acknowledge God.’”


12 So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.

13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. 14 I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean. 15 If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died. 16 Therefore do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18 because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.

19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. 21 It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall.

22 So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves. 23 But whoever has doubts is condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.


                   I.            ACCEPT THOSE WEAKER IN FAITH WITHOUT FIGHTING OVER DISPUTABLE MATTERS
a.      vs 14 "I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself."


b.     What we can or cannot eat
                                                                         i.      Old Covenant declares some foods "unclean"
1.      Leviticus 11:4-8 "...you must not eat animals such as camels, rock badgers, and rabbits that chew the cud but don’t have divided hoofs. And you must not eat pigs—they have divided hoofs, but don’t chew the cud. All of these animals are unclean, and you are forbidden even to touch their dead bodies."

2.      Leviticus 11:10-11 "all creatures in the seas or streams that do not have fins and scales—whether among all the swarming things or among all the other living creatures in the water—you are to regard as unclean. 11 And since you are to regard them as unclean, you must not eat their meat; you must regard their carcasses as unclean."

3.      Leviticus 11:13-19 "These are the birds you are to regard as unclean and not eat because they are unclean: the eagle,[a] the vulture, the black vulture, 14 the red kite, any kind of black kite,15 any kind of raven, 16 the horned owl, the screech owl, the gull, any kind of hawk, 17 the little owl, the cormorant, the great owl, 18 the white owl, the desert owl, the osprey, 19 the stork, any kind of heron, the hoopoe and the bat."

4.      The list goes on...

                                                                      ii.      New Covenant declares NO foods "unclean"
1.      Acts 10:9-15 "About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. 10 He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. 11 He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. 12 It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds. 13 Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.”

14 “Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.”

15 The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”

2.      Hebrews 8:13 "By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear."

3.      What did Jesus say about the matter?
a.      Mark 7:14 "Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. 15 Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.”


c.      Whether we can or cannot drink wine
                                                                         i.      Both beer and wine were known in Biblical times. Wine was made from pomegranates, dates, honey and apples as well as from grapes. The Bible makes it clear that these fermented beverages were intoxicating (Genesis 9:21; Isaiah 29:9; Jeremiah 25:27). However, they may not have been as potent as modern beers and wines.

                                                                      ii.      Wine was a common beverage and used daily. In the old testament it was referred to as a gift from God to gladden men's hearts in Genesis 27-28, and psalms 104:14-15.

                                                                   iii.      Wine was used at weddings and celebrations (John 2:1-3), used in worship in the Old Testament (Exodus 29:40, Leviticus 23:13, Numbers 15:5), wine was used as trade for payment of debts (2 Chronicles 2:10, Ezekiel 27:18, Amos 2:8), and Wine was also used as medicine (2 Samuel 16:2, Proverbs 31:6, Mark 15:23, Luke 10:34, 1 Timothy 5:23)

                                                                     iv.      There is nothing in either the Old or New Testament that opposes the moderate use of alcoholic beverages; they were a staple of everyday life. On the other hand, there is no commandment in the Bible that we must drink, and many individuals and groups abstained from alcohol.

1.      Even Jesus drank wine:
a.      Matthew 11:19
b.     Luke 5:38-39
c.      Luke 7:34

                                                                        v.      Although moderate use of alcohol is approved in the Bible, drunkenness is strongly opposed in both the Old and New Testaments:

1.      Ephesians 5:18 "Don't be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, let the Holy Spirit fill and control you."

2.      Galatians 5:19-21 (Fruits of the flesh) Drunkenness is listed.

3.      Luke 21:24 "Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap."

                                                                     vi.      However, those with lesser faith may believe any drinking of wine is wrong.
1.      And that's OK...

2.      Paul is saying, whether you think it's OK or wrong, you are both right in a sense. We will talk about that in a later point.


d.     A day being more sacred than another
                                                                         i.      Some say this day is holy, or that day is holier than the others.

                                                                      ii.      This is referring to ALL the Jewish Sabbaths, not just the Sabbath day some have decided to hold on to.

1.      This is the perfect example of one with lesser faith picking and choosing from the Old Testament.

2.      Demanding we keep the Sabbath of the Commandments while ignoring the other seven Sabbath's God also declared in the Old Covenant.

                                                                   iii.      Some believe everyday should be lived for the Lord as opposed to picking a single day to represent our servitude.

                                                                     iv.       Just as with other instructions in the Old Covenant, they represent what was to come in the New, which we have in Christ Jesus.

1.      When we are followers of Christ, HE is our Sabbath!

2.      Matthew 12:1-8 "At that time Jesus went through the grain fields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, “Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.”

He answered, “Haven’t you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread—which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests. Or haven’t you read in the Law that the priests on Sabbath duty in the temple desecrate the Sabbath and yet are innocent? I tell you that something greater than the temple is here. If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”




               II.            DO NOT PASS JUDGMENT ON EACH OTHER
a.      Who are you to judge someone else's (Jesus') servant?
                                                                         i.      Food, Wine, Sabbath Day
1.      The weaker faith stays away from foods and wine and observes a special day.

2.      Those stronger in Faith realize it is not food, wine or a special day that brings us into the Kingdom of God, but the living for the Lord Everyday through the Holy Spirit.

3.      However, we MUST NOT JUDGE them.

4.      AND THEY must not judge us!


b.     Judge not! (Heaven and hell, not followers outwardly living in sin that leads to death)
                                                                         i.      This is not the judging we are called to do in Matthew, rather the judging we are told NOT to do throughout the New Covenant.

                                                                      ii.      We cannot tell ANYONE whether they are going to heaven or hell.

                                                                   iii.      We are called to judge believers in our congregation, to bring them back into the Truth if they wonder from it to save their souls from damnation, but that is another sermon.

                                                                     iv.      Paul tells us that these matters, what you do or don't eat or drink, or what day you celebrate for the Lord, ARE NOT COVENANT BREAKERS with God!

                                                                        v.      Therefore, do not fight about them with others!

c.      We all stand before God's judgment seat, each of us giving an account for ourselves to God.



            III.            MAKE EVERY EFFORT TO DO WHAT LEADS TO PEACE AND MUTUAL EDIFICATION
a.      Do not be a stumbling block or obstacle
                                                                         i.      Do not offend those of weaker faith.


b.     What you think is sin, becomes sin if you do it
                                                                         i.      Do not cause them to sin!


c.      Whatever you believe about these things (what you can or cannot eat, whether you can drink wine or not, and if a day is more sacred than another), keep it between you and God.












CONCLUSION

We are commanded by scripture to accept each other, regardless of our level of faith. Some of us have greater faith than others. We are not to judge each other on account of eating, drinking or Sabbaths, but accept each other as servants of the Lord.

We must make every effort to live in peace with each other, and not become a stumbling block or obstacle to the other.

We need to do what leads to peace and mutual edification! We need to encourage, uplift and build each other up!

Those who bring discord and chaos, causing dissentions and arguments, always finding faults with others and causing trouble, to those, the Lord has warnings, you are working against the Body of Christ, and against Christ you cannot stand.

We are one body, one spirit, let us work together, through the Holy Spirit, lifting, edifying, building and strengthening each other so that together we can rightly serve God. 





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