CSBC Sunday School: Romans Series
Lesson #13: Romans 14:1-12
May 24, 2020
Resources: Phillips; Braddy; MacArthur; Ray, Explore the Bible
HOOK: (Why should we listen to this lesson?)
Central Theme: WE SHOULD FACILITATE UNITY!
Objective Statement: EVERY CHRISTIAN SHOULD FACILITATE UNITY BY PRACTICING THE THREE POINTS WE WILL CONSIDER TODAY!
Points: POINT #1 – STOP JUDGING! POINT #2 – HONOR GOD! POINT #3 – REMOVE OBSTACLES!
- FOCUS ATTENTION: The human body is an amazing example of God’s creative genius. One of the most destructive challenges to the Theory of Evolution is our increasing knowledge of the internal workings of the body and its remarkable systems that operate within every human being. As we come to discover more and more about the complexity of the human body the probabilities of things so complex just evolving by sheer chance makes it impossible. CAN YOU NAME SOME OF THE SYSTEMS THAT MAKE THE BODY WORK? (Allow for observations such as the Circulatory System; the Endocrine System; the Nervous System; the Digestive System; the Skeletal System; and others. Trivia Question? What is the largest organ in the human body? It’s the Skin that covers your body!) All these systems keep things moving and growing in every person. When problems develop in one system, it frequently causes cascading problems in other systems as well. The Local, Body of Christ; the Local, NT Church, works the same way. To keep the body healthy and effective, believers must live in UNITY with one another.
- CONTEXT: In this latter section of Romans, Paul is very concerned with how Christians were to treat other Christians and especially those who were still young in their faith. Because of the pagan culture in which people lived even the Christians were confronted with dietary laws and food purchases. Some Christians were dogmatic in their opinion that to buy meat in the market that had first been offered to idols was ungodly and must be avoided. Other believers concluded that an idol was nothing but wood, or stone, or metal, and therefore, of no value or importance; it was just paganism. Paul does not specifically mention idols in Romans 14 but he is dealing with the issue of food just like he addressed in his letter to the Corinthian (1 Cor. 8:7-8). It started happening that some Christians started JUDGING other believers because of their choices in eating meat and from where it was purchased. Such actions of judging others was causing rifts and schisms within the local churches. So Paul is going to remind everyone who is the “Righteous Judge” and the only One who can truly discern the hearts and motives of people; it’s GOD! So what can we glean from our text today that will clarify our responsibilities as true Christ-followers?
- Let’s Explore the Bible in Romans 14:1-12.
BOOK: (What does the Bible say?)
POINT #1 – STOP JUDGING! (Rom. 14:1-4)
- Paul makes this ethical admonition to two groups within the Roman Church: the weak ( 14:1), and the strong (Rom. 15:1). Paul did not identify the groups beyond listing three activities that were causing problems: eating meat (14:2), honoring special days (14:5), and drinking alcoholic wine (14:21). When Paul speaks about “Him that is weak in the faith” (vs. 1), it deals with a new believer but he also uses it to address someone whose conscience is weak (1 Cor. 8:7). Paul is always concerned with the spiritual growth of all believers. The Greek word translated “receive” was used of receiving a person into one’s home or circle of friends. Paul was not just talking about mere tolerance for a weak brother or sister, but rather a full acceptance into the body. When the author uses the phrase “not to doubtful disputations” (vs. 1b), he is insisting that Christians should not engage in divisive debates and quarrelsome arguments that only lead to a destruction of unity. In Verses 2-3, Paul deals with the contention that had arisen over the issues of dietary concerns. Some Christians were arguing in favor of vegetarianism to avoid the possibility of eating food that had been offered to idols. Others believed “he may eat all things” (vs. 3). The “disputations” arose over which one was right in their conscience. Both groups wanted to champion their position so they started JUDGING those who disagreed with them to the point that some even began to “despise” (vs. 3) the others. They began develop an attitude that the other person had little worth. Apparently the debates got more heated as the emotion of each side escalated, that both groups forgot they were Christians and part of the same body. Paul concluded these thoughts with, “for God hath received him” (vs. 3b). In other words, both sides were loved by God, but He did not want the disruption to unity. In matters of religious practices we need to show grace and acceptance, not judgment and disdain.
- In verse 4, Paul uses his familiar style of a rhetorical question to reinforce his admonition that believers should not judge fellow believers: “Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant?” In the culture of Paul’s day it would obviously be a reference to a Servant/Master relationship and the Master had final authority to judge his servant. In the Christian realm, ownership obviously belongs to God, Himself, and therefore, He alone has the right to judge; “for God is able to make him stand” ( 4b). As believers, we have a responsibility to accept other believers as God has accepted them and to refrain from being judgmental about their state of spiritual maturity.
POINT #2 – HONOR GOD! (vs. 5-8)
- Paul’s second example of differences among the Roman believers related to judgmental attitudes toward the observance of special days. Maybe this involved the Gentiles who formerly considered special days that were practiced in the Roman world and they still wanted to fulfill those observances. But it is more likely the Jewish converts that still wanted to hang on to the vestiges of their Jewish feast days and maybe even Sabbath. Paul tells them not to judge one another in these observances; it’s not that important ( 5-6). Paul warned both groups: “Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind” (vs. 5b). In other words, if your conscience allows you to have liberty, one way or the other in these special days, it is not for someone else to judge your motives. If someone is a true believer, and as long as they do their actions “unto the Lord” then it’s OK, provided they “giveth God thanks” (vs. 6). In verses 7-8 Paul returns to the issue of ownership (vs. 4). No one lives or dies unto themselves (vs. 7). Rather than living or dying for oneself, Christians live and die “unto the Lord” (vs. 8). Living for the Lord surely means that every aspect of our lives (what we think, what we feel, what we desire, what we do) is done for the Lord. HOW WOULD YOU PARAPHRASE VERSE 8 IN YOUR OWN WORDS? (Allow for comments but the answers should reflect our acknowledgement that we belong to the Lord and whether we live or die it should bring glory to God. He is in control of our future and we should strive to please Him no matter what. Our goal in life must be to honor Him whatever the cost: “whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s” (vs.8c).)
POINT #3 – REMOVE OBSTACLES! (vs. 9-12)
- Verse 9 says, Jesus “Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that He might be Lord both of the dead and living.” In His singular redemptive act Jesus made a way for all those who would believe to obtain eternal life. He removed all the obstacles if we would just have Faith and receive His Grace. Whether the Roman Christians were “weak” or “strong” they all had one thing in common; JESUS was their Lord and Savior. The thing they shared was infinitely more significant than any differences that might separate them. Paul commanded believers not to judge or despise others because God had accepted all the weak and all the strong. Who do we think we are to usurp the role that is clearly reserved for God? WHAT IS THAT ROLE IN VERSE 10? Well, it’s the fact that Only, God is the Righteous Judge and “we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ” ( 10). Paul then paraphrases Isaiah 45:23; “As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God” (vs. 11). Ultimately, all believer’s and unbelievers will one day acknowledge that God is the final authority and praising Him will be required. God’s irrevocable truth is that everyone will appear before Him in judgment (Phil. 2:10-11). Verse 12 just further develops the idea that everyone will one day be judged. Here Paul tells us that “every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” This statement highlights the individual nature of that experience. HOW WILL YOU DO AT THE JUDGMENT SEAT OF CHRIST?
LOOK: (Why is what it says important?)
- Objective Statement (Repeated): EVERY CHRISTIAN SHOULD FACILITATE UNITY BY PRACTICING THE THREE POINTS WE EXAMINED TODAY!
- Which action do you consider to be more divisive: JUDGING others or LOOKING DOWN on others? Both have serious consequences related to the issue of UNITY. If there are judgmental attitudes prevailing or if in pride someone thinks they are better than others because they are more spiritual, it’s destructive either way. God reminds us we are not better than anyone else; we are just equally saved by Grace.
- It is a sobering thought to remember one day we must all give an account of ourselves to God. The knowledge that God will require from us an assessment of what we have done, should cure us of the desire to judge or look down on fellow believers. For the local, assembly of believers to function as one, unified, body, we must all do our part. Just as the different physiological systems keep our human body functioning at peak capacity, so too, the spiritual body of the local Church only works if there is union and harmony among all of its various parts. DO YOU CONTRIBUTE TO THE HEALTH OF YOUR CHURCH BY WORKING FOR RATHER THAN AGAINST THE UNITY OF THE LOCAL BODY?
TOOK: (Why is it important to me? What should I do with it?)
Evaluation: Romans 14:12 says, “So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” That comment should humble us and frighten us just a little bit. For our frail, fragile, powerless, human frame to stand before Almighty God at the Judgment Day, it should make every Christian take an inventory of our actions and behavior. Are you ready for such a meeting? For the one who does not know Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, that meeting will spell your eternal doom, separated from God in a place called Hell. Today is the day of salvation! If you call upon the name of the Lord, you will become His child and that judgment day will be a reunion with your Savior, not a moment of abject hopelessness. Settle the issue of your salvation, NOW!
In preparation for our next Bible Study please read Romans 15!
This S.C.O.P.E. Lesson #13, is from Romans 14:1-12, and it’s for May 24, 2020.