Theme: In liberty areas we must not stumble others, living our personal convictions in faith before God. The example of Christ is helpful to us in this process.
Work Hard Not To Stumble (14:13-19)
Because it is sin if they feel it is sin (14:13-16).
- Paul had come to the strong conviction that nothing is unclean in itself.
- Limitation to this: areas Scripture is silent.
- In the Lord Jesus: Jesus’ teaching on the matter may have helped him come to this conclusion.
- Mark 7:21 (ESV)—21 For from within, out of the heart of man…
To stumble does not mean to mislead. To stumble does not mean to offend. To stumble is to harm another believer, bringing them into sin. This will be the definition I work from today.
- Stumbling block: cause stumbling.
- Hindrance: skandalon — trap, ensnare.
- Grieved: hurt.
- Destroy: wide range of meanings, but only God can eternally destroy, so this must mean the opposite of building up.
The strong should not force their liberties on those with convictions. It is not loving to force people to move at your pace. Love will slow to the pace of another.
Because there is more to life in the kingdom (14:17-19).
God’s kingdom is not about food and drink, the externals.
- Colossians 2:23 (NLT)—23 These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, pious self-denial, and severe bodily discipline. But they provide no help in conquering a person’s evil desires.
God’s kingdom is about righteousness, peace, and joy. We work hard not to stumble because there is more to life in the kingdom.
- Our little liberties and convictions aren’t what the kingdom is about.
- Not worth arguing over: Christmas trees / Trick or treating / Music / Beer and wine / Fashion / Body art / Parenting styles
Live Out Your Faith With Others, But To God (14:20-23)
With others — Reiteration of the rule (14:20-21).
As far as others go, we must not force them to deny their conscience. But what about those personal convictions/liberties?
To God — Personal convictions must be responded to (14:22).
You must live out your faith in these areas before God. The Message — Cultivate your own relationship with God.
You must be careful not to grieve / destroy / make evil.
You have a concerned conscience. You can’t go there. You might even read the Bible and come to the knowledge of liberty, but aren’t able to pull the trigger.
Look To Jesus’ Example (15:1-13)
Please and build up like Jesus did (15:1-3).
Jesus’ rule was that He wasn’t there to please Himself. He did everything to build up (v 3), for His neighbor’s good.
- Sometimes this meant He submitted to a conviction of others.
- Sometimes this meant He partook of liberty.
- He did this for the church in Corinth regarding payment — He had an 8-fold argument for his liberty/right to payment, but he denied it in Corinth (1 Corinthians 9:1-19).
- He did this for the church in Jerusalem — He purified himself and paid the expenses of four men to do the same after their vow (Acts 21:23-24).
Receive endurance and encouragement from Jesus likeness in the Scriptures (15:4-7).
Encouraging examples in Scripture of those who laid down their rights (like Jesus):Abraham with Lot / Jonathan with David / John with Jesus — they never lost anything.
Remember what Jesus did to reconcile Jew and Gentile (15:8-13).
This is one major way Jesus denied His liberty for the conviction of others — He wanted to reach Gentiles so badly, so He went to the Jew first, then to the Greek! He became a servant to the circumcised.
To the Jew first, and also to the Greek. — Romans 1:16–17 (ESV)—16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”