Principles of Christian Liberty
Verse 1 – Receive one who is weak in faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things.
Who are the weak in faith? Usually it’s the new believers. They haven’t really went through enough trials in order to increase their faith in God and what He’s capable of. Older Christians who are strong are not to correct them harshly, but with patience and love.
Verse 2 – For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables.
Verse 3 – Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him.
Some Jewish converts were aware that some of the meat sold in the markets had been used and killed in idol worship and what was left sold in the markets. In order to avoid this type of meat they refrained from all meat and only ate vegetables. Some Gentiles on the other hand had not known of any law forbidding the eating of meat that had been in idol worship, so they ate what they wanted. Paul was telling them not to criticize each other, to each his own. Eat what you want without judging another.
Verse 4 – Who are you to judge anthers servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.
Paul is talking about a person becoming a busy-body in another person’s affairs. What right do we have to stick our nose in anther’s home life?
Verse 5 – One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind.
Verse 6 – He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observer the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks.
If you live for Christ, every day should be for the Lord. Whether you go to the house of the Lord on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, do it unto God and don’t criticize those who go on a different day.
Verse 7 – For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself.
Verse 8 – For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.
Verse 9 – For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living.
We, as Christians, live unto Christ, to do His will, and promote His glory. Those without Christ live unto self-ratification. In all circumstances, the Christian belongs to the Lord Jesus.
Verse 10 – But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.
Each person is accountable to Christ, not to others. Many times Christians place their own convictions on other Christians, as if it is scriptural. The do’s and don’ts; for instance, dresses only for women and men, no long hair. When a leader of a body of believers does this, they show their own faith is weak. When we stand before Christ to give an account one day, we won’t be concerned about what another has done.
Verse 11 – For it is written: “As I live, says the LORD, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” (Isaiah 45:23)
Verse 12 – So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.
Verse 13 – Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.
Both the strong and weak Christian can become a stumbling block to other Christians. Sometimes the one who is strong in some areas, has no patience with those who are weak and is condescending in their behavior. On the other hand, the weak Christian constantly is using their own opinion of how others should behave. Paul says, “Stop it!”
Verse 14 – I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him who considers anything to be unclean to him it is unclean.
Verse 15 – Yet if your brother is grieved because of your food, you are no longer walking in love. Do not destroy with your food the one for whom Christ died.
If you noticed, Paul is referring to the “brethren,” which is another way of saying, a believer in Christ.” He is not talking about or to people of false religions that do not worship Jehovah. This applies to Christians. A Christian lives in love for the weaker believer. We are not to cause a person’s spiritual ruin by teaching them to ignore or violate their conscience.
Verse 16 – Therefore do not let your good be spoken of as evil;
Verse 17 – for the kingdom of God is not food and drink, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
Verse 18 – For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men.
Verse 19 – Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.
Verse 20 – Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are pure, but it is evil for the man who eats with offense.
Meaning what Paul said before; we are not rude and disrespectful concerning others.
Verse 21 – It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak.
Why do you think Paul mentions wine? We are talking about Christians here. Not everyone believes to abstain from all alcohol and still others do. When a weaker Christian that may have had a problem at one time with alcohol abuse, it would not only be rude but dangerous to drink in their presence. Some will see nothing wrong with it; some will think if it as alright for these Christians, so why can’t I? Don’t flaunt your freedom in this area that might cause another to stumble backwards.
Verse 22 – Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves.
Paul tells us to be careful in certain liberties that we approve of and doing them in front of those it might offend.
Verse 23 – But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin.
Some actions are very clear in Scripture that we are to avoid, but sometimes the Scripture is silent. Everything that does not come from faith, meaning, to go against a conviction, will leave a person with a guilty or uneasy conscience. When God shows us that something is wrong for us, we should avoid it. But we should not look down on other Christians who exercise their freedom in those areas.