Romans 14:13-23

Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died. So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.

Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats. It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble. The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves. But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.

Observation

  • We are not to pass judgment on one another.
  • We are not to put a stumbling block in the way of a brother.
  • We are not to hinder a brother.
  • Nothing is unclean in itself.
  • Paul was assured that nothing was unclean itself.
  • Something is unclean if someone thinks it is unclean.
  • Something is clean is someone thinks it is clean
  • The same thing can be either clean or unclean based on who you think about it.
  • The same thing can be both clean and unclean at the same time based on what different people think about it.
  • If your brother is grieved by what you eat you are not being loving.
  • Christ died for our Christian brother therefore do not destroy the Christian brother by eating something offensive to him.
  • Do not let what you think of as good be referred to as evil.
  • The Kingdom of God has nothing to do with eating or drinking.
  • The Kingdom of God has to do with righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
  • Whoever serves Christ is acceptable to God.
  • Whoever serves Christ is approved by men.
  • We are to pursue that which make peace
  • We are to pursue that which builds ourselves and others up.
  • We are not to destroy the work of God for the sake of food.
  • Everything is clean.
  • It is wrong to make someone stumble in the faith by what you eat.
  • It is not good to eat meat or drink wine if it causes you brother to stumble.
  • We are to keep the faith that we have between ourselves and God.
  • If we have no reason to pass judgment on ourselves for what we eat or drink we are blessed.
  • Anyone who has doubt about rather or not eating something is sinful and eats anyway has sinned.
  • The reason eating something you think may be sinful is indeed a sin is because what you did was not done by faith in God.
  • Anything that is not done in faith is sin.

Interpretation

In the previous passage Paul explains that we have been set free. Christians have been given a tremendous liberty. And this passage he starts by saying, “I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself.” But then Paul circles back to what he said in 13:8 and 10 “Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. … Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” If we love our brother, we will not want to do anything to adversely affect his relationship with Christ. In fact if we love Christ we will want to do everything possible in enhance God’s relationship with His elect. Therefore we are free but because we are free we are bound by love.

Paul says everything in Christ is clean. What was accursed by Adam is blessed by the Lord. Nonetheless, whatever we do may be corrupted by a corrupt conscience. We receive the freedom through faith but if we are not acting or living in faith we corrupt what Christ has cleansed.

If we behave in a manner that causes others to stumble in their faith we take what is good and contaminate it in three ways. First we violate love. Love is the fulfillment of the Law. Second, when the weak conscience is wounded the price of Christ’s blood is wasted because the weaker brother has been purchased by the blood of Christ and we damage their relationship with Christ. The third reason is that since the liberty we have was given to us as a blessing, we should be careful that it is not spoken of with disdain by evil men.

Now some may think, “If I am free but cannot exercise that freedom, I am not truly free.” But the apostle points out that we are indeed free because the Kingdom of God does not consist of these things. In comparison to our inheritance in the Kingdom, eating, drinking and fleshly desires are worthless. When we receive true righteousness, we enjoy a great and an invaluable gift. We receive a calm joyful conscience. When we have peace with God, what more can we desire? The conclusion then can only be one thing, we should do all we can to; bring peace between God and others, lift us and all our Christian brothers up, and fortify both our Christian brothers and us.

Paul concludes this chapter by reminding us that we are saved by faith. Therefore, if we do something that we are not sure rather or not it violates the will of God we are not living by faith. If we say, I am not sure rather this will offend God or someone else and since I am not sure I going to do it, that is not demonstrate love. That demonstrates selfishness. When we act in such a manner the love of God is not in us and we violate God’s law. Love is the fulfillment of the law.

Application

While God alone is our Judge, the impact our actions has on others plays a vital role, both in fellowship and evangelism. Our responsibility to avoid the destruction of others is complemented by promoting “peace” and the things that “upbuild”. This includes both maintaining fellowship with the “weak” and also encouraging them to understand the liberty they have in Christ.

Many have taken this chapter to mean that as long as I do not think something is not sin then it is not sin. This is clearly not what Paul is talking about. We are not a law unto ourselves. Paul is clearly referring to the fact that it is immaterial how devoted anyone by be to observing foolish superstitious ceremonies as long as we remain pure before God. God’s word and His law still stand.

Love fulfills the law. It is not that Christ death did away with the law. Christ has given a new commandment that we love one another as He loved us. (John 13:34) If the old law was difficult this new command is impossible on our own. We can only love as Christ loves us, if Christ loves through us. But the good news is if we trust in Him, His love will be express through us. As we draw closer to Him and know Him, He loves through us and for us.

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