Lesson 85: "None of Us Liveth to Himself" (Romans 14:7)
Welcome to lesson #85. Paul's Missionary Journey Epistles. We are ready for ch. 14, if you'll turn there. Actually this next section goes down through the middle of ch. 15. But, I think to keep it simple; we'll read through the end of ch. 14 and pick up the tail end of this section a little later. While you're turning to 14:1, as we start the final cassette in this series; I would like to congratulate you for your endurance and perseverance to this study. Further, I would like to appeal to you once more to encourage others to study the Bible. Please enroll your neighbors and friends in these courses. A simple telephone call and a little encouragement from you may be enough to launch others into their own private Bible study. Pass it on! Please do not send in an enrollment card for them without their consent and approval. Let's be partners, encourage Bible study. We need your help! Your neighbors need you help. Take the time to encourage them. "Love worketh no ill to his neighbor..." AND "the night is far spent." (13:10,12).
If you have ch. 14 in your sights, let's read. V. 1, here we go: "Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations. For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs. Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him. Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? To his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand. One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regaredeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks. For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's. For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living. But why dost thou judge thy brother? Or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then everyone of us shall give account of himself to God. Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother's way. I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean. But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died. Lest not then your good be evil spoken of: for the kingdom of god is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. For he that in these thins serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men. Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and thing wherewith one may edify another. For meat destroy not the work of God. All thins indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offense. It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby they brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak. Hast thou faith? Have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth. And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin."
O.K. what came to your mind as you read ch. 14? What about eating in the church building? One cup for taking the communion? Instrumental music in the worship? Observing Christmas and Easter? Separate Bible classes? Hey, it's wrong to argue religion! Women wearing slacks to worship? Or the hat issue? Drinking coffee or tea? Yard sales to raise money? Prayer partners? Supporting orphan homes? What did I leave out? Well, you probably thought of 10 more. I think you're catching on, you're getting warm at least. Did ch. 14 say, just accept anything and everything? Somebody's going to shout "liberal! liberal!" And another will holler "too conservative!" Someone has said, everybody has a nobody! What about Jesus when he went back to Nazareth? (Matt. 13:57) "They were offended in him...[Jesus said] A prophet is not without honor, save in his own country, and in his own house." Listen to Paul back in Rom 12:18, one more time: "If tit be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men." Was Paul a liberal? Or was he too conservative? Back in Rom 10:17, Paul said, "Faith cometh by hearing," do you remember that? Do you hear all the gospel in one word? One sermon? Or one chapter? I'm afraid not! We have said before, faith comes by degree. One member has just heard for the first time and obeyed the word. Another has been practicing it for 40 years. One came out of this religion, another came out of that. Someone else used to think there were an atheist. Would you expect all these people to have exactly the same opinions? Of course not! Can we just bend the scriptures to accommodate everybody's opinion? Absolutely not! It says what it says. Remember, no one ever learns it all. I said NO ONE! Some would like for you to believe they know it all. But, you're smarter than that! Right? Is there going to be a little verbal conflict over these things. Naturally! Do we need a little guidance here? Absolutely! So, look at v. 1! "Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations." The very words: "weak in the faith," implies that some are stronger than others in this commodity called faith. Is there a minimum level of faith in every Christian? Yes, there is! Every one must believe in Jesus Christ as God's Son, repent, confess and be baptized for the remission of sins, just to be a Christian. A level of faith less than that is not Christian faith. If it grows, it may eventually be, but, it's not yet. I'm sorry, if that offends you my friend. I know! That cuts out a lot of people who claim to be Christians. Bro. Horsley, how can you say that? I'm not being judgmental. That's what the Bible teaches. I cannot up that requirement, and I cannot lower that requirement. That's God's requirement. Jesus said, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned." (Mark 16:16). That's what Jesus said. I'm just the mailman. I can't change the message; but I can read it! Is there a maximum level of faith? Paul said! Now, let's see? What did Paul say? :A11 have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.? (Rom 3:23). There's no upper limit! We all have room for improvement; no one has reached perfection. Some have said they are saved and sanctified and cannot sin. That's just another way of advertising their ignorance of the Bible, really. What did Paul say? "Him that is weak in the faith receive ye!" Yes, but, Bor. Horsley, what if he's not a Christian? Well, accept him for what he is. Teach him! His faith may not be strong enough to cause him to obey the gospel yet! It'll grow! If you'll accept him and teach him. That's all you can do! Faith won't fit in a hypodermic needle. You might transplant a heart; but, you can't transplant faith. Everybody has to grow his own. Yes, but, Bro. Horsley, what if he argues denominational stuff that's not in the Bible and contrary to the Bible: Look at the last of v.l, Paul said, very plainly: "but not to doubtful disputations." What does that mean? Now, that puts the monkey on your back to know what the Bible teaches. If he's too far out and too far off the Bible base; that verse says don't receive him. Is that what it says" That's what it says! Then that's what we must do. That's the rule that Paul gave.
V.2-3-4 deal with dietary concerns. You know, that old man eats opossum, and puppy ham, or something else. So, what? What someone eats simply doesn't enter into then* Christianity, with the exception of what is written in Acts 15:29, Thee were dietary rules given in connection with the law of Moses. But, now, you can be a vegetarian, fish-I-tarian, eat rattlesnakes and chocolate covered ants if you want to and still go to heaven. Going to heaven depends upon faith; not upon the food you eat. Do I have to eat it because they do? Absolutely not! One of the big things in Paul's day was meat offered to heathen idols. Even hi that case, it doesn't depend upon the meat; it depends upon the conscience of the one eating. Do you remember I Cor. Ch. 8-9-10?
Then, what about holidays? That's v.5-6. Some people have to have their Christmas and Easter and Halloween, which is some tunes called All Saints Day. I do not observe Christmas, Easter or All Saints Day. Personally, I can't see how anyone with one wit of Bible knowledge can make Christmas trees, SantaClaus, Easter bunnies, witches and black cats fit into Christianity. I feel it's simply dishonest to tell little children that Santa Claus bit. As a little kid, cedar trees were very scarce in the country what I grew up, back in the hills of eastern Kentucky. I can remember traveling miles through the woods and through the snow to get a nice cedar tree to worship. I thought I was really doing God service in all that work and exposure. Now, of course, I understand that was simply ignorance on my part, that someone else instilled into me. We should have been using our tune to learn the truth. It would have been more productive. But, some of my family, members of the church of Christ, still play it up with Santa Clauses, cedar trees, nativity scenes, the star of Bethlehem and all that stuff. Some of them look at me as being a little square along on the edges and tell me they do it in a now-religious way. Personally, I cannot understand how anyone can observe a religious holiday in a non-religious way. To me that is a contradiction of terms. I think that's the way Paul felt. I think that's what he was getting at with that: "regardeth the day" bit in v.6. Some, in every congregation where I have ever preached, have put up Christ Mass trees. That was two words a couple of centuries ago, did you know that? Spelled C-H-R-I-S-T —A-S-S-. That alone tells you were the practice came from. The word Christmas (spell it however you like) is not in the Bible. Neither is All Saints Day or Easter. The word "Easter" does occur in the King James Version in Acts 12:4. But, the word is a retrofit substituted for Jewish passover or "the day of unleavened bread," back in v.3 of that chapter. It certainly does not mean Easter in the sense that word is used in the 20th century. So, am I going to tell you that you can't be a Christian and do those things. Definitely not! Paul said in v.5, "Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind." I've told you my persuasion. But, you must be persuaded. That's what Paul said. It fells within the area of human judgment and opinion. And if this chapter says anything, it says we must be tolerant in areas of opinion. Several years ago, one day, my mother quoted an old eastern Kentucky proverb what says: "Cleanliness is next to godliness." I told her that was not in the Bible. She said, "yes, I know it, but it ought to be." I feel a little like that abut religious holidays; but, it's still not in there. So, you be persuaded in your own mind. Now, that doesn't mean you simply say: hey, I like it, so with me it's all right. That' the way my denominational friends and neighbors decide everything. That is not what Paul is saying. You must read the Bible and learn what God expects and then decide if this is acceptable Christian conduct. There are some areas God has left to your discretion. What about giving? I Cor. 16:1-2? You must consider the facts and decide what to give. Malachi asked, "Will a man rob God?" (Mai. 3:8). I'm sure you wouldn't want to do that! But, you must realize whatever you decide about these things; it's going to affect more than you. It's going to affect others. Paul said in v.7, "none of us liveth to himself and no man dieth to himself." You must keep your conscience. "Every one of us shall give account of himself to God." (That's v. 12). We must not be guilty of imposing our standard upon someone else when it is a matter of opinion. The Bible is the standard. The lesson in this section is; we must clearly distinguish between faith and opinion, i.e. faith hi the sense Jude used that word "faith" in Jude 3, "earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saint." (Meaning, of course, the Bible.) Take a hard look at v. 13, "Let...no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fell in his brother's way." When you start imposing your standards, it's going to cause someone to blunder and falter. In v.14, Paul said, "there is nothing unclean of itself." A kitchen match can be used to cook a meal for your family or your neighbor, a very commendable thing. But that same match (in the hands of arsonist) can destroy your family and your neighbor, and you. So, it's not the match. It's the person holding that match and the thoughts in the mind of that person holding the match, that makes the difference. That dollar in you billfold can be used to buy alcohol, drugs, medicine, food, clothing, giver to your needy neighbor or it can be given to God and credited to your account in heaven. What will you do with it? Well, call it opinion or call it human judgment, what ever you like; but, you must decide. You can use it right or you can mis-use it. What will you do? However, you cannot say: it's my business, it's nobody else's business but mine, and expect that there will never be any consequences. There will be! "None of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself." (V.12). What else could it mean? Paul said (in I Cor. 6:12), "All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient." Paul is preaching the same thing to the Romans. Beyond that, it applies to you and me. Read the chapter! You don't need my comments! This chapter is not complicated. It doesn't take a PhD to understand it.
Do you have feith? I hope you don't mind me asking that question. Paul asked that question in v.22. "Hast thou faith?" After Paul asked that question he followed it up with a command. What is that command, Paul? "Have it [i.e. your feith] to thyself." Is that what he said? Yes, but he said more than that: have your feith "before God" also. Do you see that? So, you can't live to yourself. You can't die to yourself. There's more to it than that. AND, don't miss the last part of v.22. "Happy is the man that condemneth not himself..." Does that say, do your own thing? Pick out the religion that fits you? If it feels good, do it! Nope! I'm afraid that's not what it says. Everything you do, you must consider it in connection with God's instruction to you. Either you develop feith or you don't. You can't stumble around in doubt and darkness. "Whatsoever is not of feith is sin." (V.23). You must develop a feith to guide you. That feith must come from hearing God's word, Rom. 10:17. Everything we do relates to our feith. It's not something you pick up and take to church on Sunday and then park it until next week. Paul continues this advice into ch. 15. Until then, have a good day.