Romans- Session 13- Unity- Romans 14:1-12

Romans 14:1-4

Lesson Resources:

Video Summary:

Romans Session 13

Romans Session 13 Handout

Romans Session 13 Powerpoint

Subject:  Unity

Central Theme:  Maintaining Unity

Objective Sentence:  We can maintain unity with fellow believers by following three imperatives.

Keyword:  Imperatives

Imperative #1- Stop arguing over disputed matters.  V.1-4.

Imperative #2- Assume the best motivation about your brother in Christ.  V.5-8.

Imperative #3- Understand your own accountability to God.  V.9-12.

 

Introduction:

Connection:

  • Discussion- How many of you have ever had an injury that then effected some part of your body that wasn’t injured?
  • My mom was disabled from the waist down. I remember her being relatively strong in her upper body because of years of depending on her upper body because of her disability.
  • But the effects are often not positive, but negative.
  • You injure your foot, and as a result you do not exercise and the respiratory, digestive, and muscular systems are affected.
  • One part of the body effects many other parts of the body. This is intrinsic to the bodies design.

Tension:

  • The Bible refers to the church as the body of Christ.
  • In a similar way each member of the body potentially and actually effects many other parts.
  • I heard it said recently that Christ predicted the growth of the body, and he prayed for unity.
  • If the mission of our local church is important, then by definition the unity of our body around God’s mission for our local church is absolutely important.
  • This means that each and every one of us are responsible for helping to maintain a spirit of unity in the bonds of peace.
  • In today’s text Paul helps the local church at Rome to understand how to maintain unity in the local body.

We can maintain unity with fellow believers by following three imperatives.

Imperative #1- Stop arguing over disputed matters.  V.1-4.

Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.  (2)  For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs.  (3)  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.  (4)  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.

Rom 14:1-4

Explanation:

  • There is much potential diversity in a healthy local church.
  • A healthy local church consists of people that are a reflection of their community.
  • One area of diversity is in the spiritual maturity of those who are members.
    • Some are strong and mature in the faith.
    • Some are weak in the faith and immature.
    • There are people all along that spectrum who are growing from babes in Christ, to children, to adolescents, to young adults, and on into spiritual adulthood and maturity.
  • If a church is consistent in evangelism, discipleship and service there will be all of these kinds of believers in the body.
  • If there are few babes in Christ it may be an indication that there are few reproducing adults!
  • But this kind of diversity can lead to disunity in the body, especially in areas that Paul calls “doubtful disputations”.
    • These are potential disputes or arguments that are not really that important and may never be settled.
  • Paul’s instructions to the local body is for the stronger to “receive” the weaker.
  • The word translated “receive” has the idea of taking into oneself, or to be hospitable and authentically loving to a person.
  • But in that reception it is not to bring about and foster these arguments.
  • As an illustration he speaks of the positions that people in the early churches took on eating.
    • Some believed that they should continue the Hebrew dietary laws from the Old Testament.
    • Some thought that they ought not to eat meat offered to pagan idols.  These are referred to as weaker brothers.
    • There were others, those characterized as stronger in the faith, which understood their freedom in Christ and would partake of the food as a gift from God to be enjoyed.
  • Paul says to both parties not to despise the other for the position that each hath taken.
  • Why?
  • It is to God to judge in these kinds of matters.
  • The one who does not partake does not answer to the one who does, and the one who does partake does not answer to the one who doesn’t.
  • God is the one to Whom we must give an answer.

Application:

  • One of the dangers in this discussion is that someone would choose license and call it spiritual maturity.
  • Another danger is that one would point to the person of Biblical conviction and call them a legalist.
  • Yet another may look at a brother in Christ who understands there freedom in Christ and call them out as a compromiser.
  • This is exactly what this scripture is trying to avoid.
  • How much time is wasted in arguing over trivial things!
  • Jesus said that we will be known for our love one to another.
  • Love and unity must be passionately fought for on things that are explicit in scripture.
  • There must be a contending for the Truth.
  • We should not contend over “doubtful disputations”.
  • We must give our brothers and sisters in Christ room to grow in these areas.
  • There is a time to “agree to disagree” on the opinions we hold that are not clearly communicated in the Word of God.
  • We must do this by agreeing fervently together on the clear teaching of Scripture.
  • We must submit ourselves to the Word of God together, and become convictional in those Biblical doctrines.

Response:

  • Is there someone you need to “receive” today?
  • Is there a position that you hold that is creating disunity… in your local body of believers? …in your family?

Imperative #2- Assume the best motivation about your brother in Christ.  V.5-8.

One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.  (6)  He that regardeth the day, regardeth 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.  (7)  For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself.  (8)  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.

Rom 14:5-8

Explantation:

  • Paul continues with two positions on what he has already characterized as “doubtful disputations” in verse 1.
  • The first argument is how to regard the holy days of the Old Testament for the believer.
    • This is much like the previous issue of what to eat and what not to eat.
    • Paul takes the position that people ought to be kind and receive each other regardless of which position they take on these “doubtful disputations”.
  • He points to the motive that each person has for taking the position they do.
  • Even though different believers take differing and often opposite positions their motive is the same.
  • They take the position that they do to be right with the Lord and honor him.
  • It is not a good thing to get in the habit of violating one’s own conscience even if you are finding yourself feeling guilty for something that isn’t necessarily wrong.
  • It is a good thing to be sensitive to your God given conscience. It guards unity when we allow each other the room to take the positions that we do on matters such as these.

Application:

  • Here are some principles:
    • We must show each other grace.  In matters that are not clearly delineated in scripture we must show each other grace when we don’t come to the same conclusion.
    • We must not violate our own consciences. It is a dangerous thing to begin to live in a way that goes against our consciences, except when our consciences are informed by the Word of God.
    • We must assume the best in others.  The scripture says that love hopes all things.  This means that the loving thing to do is to think of the best possible motives in the other person.  In the above scripture it is to recognize that each believer is coming to their position because they want to honor God.

Imperative #3- Understand your own accountability to God.  V.9-12.

For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living.  (10)  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.

Romans 14:9-10

Explanation:

  • Christ death, burial and resurrection are proof that we can be saved from the power of death by the resurrection life of Jesus Christ!
  • Those who are in Christ are subject to him both in death and life.
  • Therefore we should not be the judge of our brothers and sisters in Christ when dealing with matters that are “doubtful disputations”.
  • We are not the judge of them.  Christ is the judge.
  • We shall all stand before the judgement seat of Christ.  We will give an accounting of what we did in these bodies.

2Co 5:10  For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

Application:

  • We should spend the majority of our time holding ourselves to account of what is clear in scripture and what violates our own conscience.
  • We should also take responsibility for helping our brothers and sisters in Christ be provoked to love and to good works that are clearly taught in scripture.
  • It is a waste of time and harmful to the ministry of God to argue and feud over matters that aren’t clear in scripture.
  • They create disunity and harm to the cause of Christ.
  • In these matters we must be fully persuaded in our minds.
  • We must also realize that we will give an accounting of ourselves to God, and so will our brother and sister in Christ.

Response:

  • We should take continual inventory of our own relationship with God.  How is your relationship with Him today?
  • We should make things write with our brother and sister in Christ where unity is possible.

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 every one of us shall give account of himself to God.  Romans 14:11-12

Explanation:

  • Remember the context of these verse is a call to not judge another brother in Christ when they have a different opinion on you on a “doubtful disputation”.
  • Paul is making the case that they answer to God and not to you.
  • In this context he states the truth that everyone will eventually bow their knee to God as ruler and sovereign over everything.  He quotes the prophet Isaiah who said,

I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.  Isaiah 45:23

  • This verse highlights the supremacy of Christ.  We know that the Paul revealed in Philippians that Christ will be glorified in this way.

Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:  (10)  That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;  (11)  And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.  Philippians 2:9-11

Application:

  • Every person will acknowledge Christ as Lord.
  • Every person will give some kind of accounting of themselves to God.

 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. Romans 8:1

  • If you wait to give an accounting then and will not bow the knee now the Bible says you are condemned already.

 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.  (18)  He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

John 3:17-18

  • We ought not to reject or fight with brothers and sisters in Christ on arguments that are not clear in scripture.

Response:

1 Question and 1 Statement:

  • Are you ready to meet God?
  • Don’t separate and argue with your brother over “doubtful disputations”.

 

Conclusion:

We can maintain unity with fellow believers by following three imperatives.

Imperative #1- Stop arguing over disputed matters.  V.1-4.

Imperative #2- Assume the best motivation about your brother in Christ.  V.5-8.

Imperative #3- Understand your own accountability to God.  V.9-12.

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