Do not cause others to stumble (13)
The principles to follow:
Nothing is inherently unclean (14)
Act in love (15)
Consider your testimony before others (16)
Remember the difference between essentials and superfluous issues (17)
God is pleased if follow these principles (18)
Actively pursue peace and edification (19)
Food is only food. The work of God and our fellowship is more important (20-21)
Maintain your own convictions before God in faith (22)
Whatever is not of faith, is sin (23)
Build up others and consider their good above your own (5:1-3)
Be likeminded and serve God together (4-6)
13 – Why do we normally judge others? What underlying attitudes does judging spring from?
From the context, what might be an obstacle or a stumbling block? What can you get from the word “determine”?
14 – Theologically speaking, should Christians avoid some foods because of some inherent uncleanness of the food?
Does verse 14 teach that our own conscience is the final standard? Is our own conscience the final standard? What then does this verse teach? How can this be applied to other areas of our lives besides only clean or unclean foods? Give some specific examples.
15 – How could someone be destroyed with food? What did Jesus say would be the consequences of causing one of the “little ones” to stumble?
16 – What does this verse mean? How can we control what others say about us? What might people say if we use our Christian liberty in a way that hurts others? So what principle is implied here (you should consider your testimony)?
17 – What does it mean that the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking? Which issues are more important? Why is it important to differentiate between surface issues and the essentials? If Christians divided over surface issues, how many churches would there be in the world (one for every believer)?18 – Explain the phrase “approved by men”.
19 – What can we learn from the word “pursue”? What are some practical ways you can put this into practice?
22- What is a conviction? Are convictions good or bad? How can we “come up” with a conviction? What is the problem with a “convictionless” person? What is the importance of having your “own” conviction? What is the importance of having it “before God”?
23 – If it is not a problem to eat (see verse 14), what is the problem with the person described in verse 14 eating? Explain the phrase “whatever is not from faith is sin”.
15:1 – How can we bear others weaknesses? What one word can be used instead of the phrase “please ourselves”? (selfish)
2 – Who is our neighbor?
3. Did Christ have the right to please Himself? Did He? Do we have the right to please ourselves? Do we?
14 – Mark 7:19 – And thus Jesus pronounced all foods clean.
Acts 11:1-10 – Peter’s vision of the blanket from heaven with the various foods.
15 – Mark 9:42 – Whoever causes one of these little ones to stumble…millstone..
18 – John 13:35, Php 2:15 – Verses commanding us to a good testimony. Christians are scrutinized.
19 – Psalms 133:1 – How good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity.
On convictions: There are a lot of convictionless people running around. They might seem to be good and upright, but if the circumstances are right then they will show their true colors. It is a popular “almost idiom” that everybody has a price. The bad guy will think that the good guys will give in if they just offer enough money or enough incentive. For example, you may often see seemingly upright citizens break the law when they are in a desperate situation such as a family member sick and without insurance, losing a job and needing to pay a loan, etc. People are willing to do almost anything if the price is right. That means they are acting without convictions, merely considering what is best for themselves.
As Christians this loosy-goosy, apathetic attitude is not acceptable. We are not to be like an anchorless ship or a floating sick, going wherever the forces of nature push us. We are to form opinions about what is right and wrong and stick to these standards. These are actually deeper than personal preferences as they are rooted in God’s Word and not changeable circumstances. They are to be of faith, meaning that we need to be convinced of our minds and keep it no matter what the cost, but at the same time knowing God will take care of us if we follow our convictions. Give some examples of convictions believers might have, even unpopular ones. (Mom and Dad deciding Mom would stay home with the kids and not get a job. Child discipline even in the face of opposition from grandparents. Doctors not taking bribes. Tithing even when finances are extremely tight.) God is extremely pleased with godly men and women who maintain their Scriptural convictions even in the face of strong opposition or pressure.
The verses here show that we should have convictions. Second, they show that these convictions are to be our own. This means that we are not to do the things because other believers do them. For example, I should not just let Christy stay at home because my parents think it is right. If I do it to please them, it is not doing it for the right reason. We don’t court because that is what our Bible teacher says we should do instead of dating. We don’t “not kiss” prior to marriage because that is what our Bible teacher suggests. We have to look at Scripture for ourselves, and form our beliefs of what is right and wrong based one what we understand Scripture to teach. In the grey areas, we have to look at all of these principles in this passage and think about what would be most honoring to God.
Thirdly, we are to hold these principles “before God”. We are answerable to God for our convictions. Sometimes God is the only one who knows if we break them. God is the only one who can see our own conscience. We do it to please God, not others. Also, we are not to push them onto others who may feel differently (remember that this is in the gray areas). We are not to judge others who may not follow the same set we do. We are not to look down on them as inferior Christians. Our convictions are between us and God and for us, not others.
Supplementary Material from previous study of Romans
13. So we need to stop judging each other. Instead of judging make a decision to not hinder your brother’s relationship with the Lord in any way.
14. Abiding in Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is in itself unclean. Only if someone considers it to be unclean then it will be unclean to him.
15. If your eating causes your brother distress you are not acting in love. Do not let such a small thing as eating destroy your brother, who Christ died for.
16. Do not let what you think is good be talked about as evil by others.
17. God’s kingdom has little to do with eating and drinking and everything to do with righteousness, peace, and joy of the Holy Spirit.
18. Anybody who follows these things really does please God and is approved by men.
19. With this in mind, let all of us give our 100% effort to be peaceful and mutually edify.
20. Do not belittle God’s work for something trivial like food. All food is clean, but it should not be eaten if it will cause somebody to stumble.
21. It is better to avoid meat or wine and all other such things to help your brother.
22. Whatever is your opinion about these issues don’t flaunt it. It is a personal conviction. Blessed are those who don’t condemn themselves by what they believe.
23. But if someone has doubts and still eats is condemned because he did so in lack of faith. If anything is not done with a clear conscience it is sin.
Outline Romans 14:13-23
I. Principles to apply in grey areas (13-23)
A. Do not hinder (13)
B. Theology of the grey, be convinced (14)
C. Act in love (15)
D. Don’t be divisive? (16)
E. What is really important? (17)
F. Serve Christ (18)
G. Edification (19)
H. Other’s well-being (20-21)
I. Don’t espouse personal opinions (22)
J. Clear conscience (23)
Stumbling block- to stub
Obstacle- Snare, occasion to fall
Distressed- to be sad
Edification- Related to architecture, build up not tear down
In this passage Paul explains the principles that should come into play when we develop our convictions, and act them out.
Theologically speaking, there are several principles that we need to apply when forming our convictions. A prerequisite mentioned in verse 14 is to abide in Christ. If we are not abiding in Christ everything else will be problematic! Secondly we have to be fully convinced. We have to be sure of our beliefs. There is no room for being loosy-goosy and being blown about by every wind of doctrine (James 1:6, Eph 4:14-15). We need to have strong standards and beliefs and if we are sure about them we should be non-compromising. In addition they must be of faith. The motivation must be to serve and please God more and we need to have a clear conscience we are following God’s will.
Secondly, although we may have freedom to do something in Christ it isn’t necessarily productive to do so. So there are many principles Paul explains that should guide our behavior as part of the body of Christ.
Our actions should never cause another to stumble! If someone else views our conviction as questionable we shouldn’t practice it in front of them. We don’t want to be a source of temptation for Christian brothers and sisters. There is enough temptation from the world and Satan as it is! (13) (Psalms 133:1)
Love should be our primary motivating factor. It is the central quality that all believers should exercise. If we weigh our action on a scale and see that love is deficient we shouldn’t do the action. Christ gave His life for the people in the church. We don’t want to do anything that would hurt them. (1 John 3:16-18, 1 John 4:7-8)
Our actions of Christian freedom should in no way give unbelievers in the world an opportunity to look at the body of Christ and blaspheme because of brother’s lack of love for each other. In other words the church should be unified and maintain a loving example in front of the world (Gal 5:13)
We need to consider what is really important. Trivial issues of dispute and controversy, debates over words, and personal opinions have no eternal value. God is concerned with our heart and our spiritual growth. (1 Tim 6:4)
What would Jesus do? Serve Christ!
Our actions should always edify and build up other believers (Hebrews 10:24-25). Peer pressure is a very strong thing, both in the church and out of it. As believers, we should always use our influence to encourage others for right, not for something that they feel uncomfortable doing.
Questions for discussion-
How can we be sure if our conviction is right or wrong? (study Scripture, Holy Spirit, prayer)
Is it important to have strong convictions based on God’s Word?
What are the principles we need to remember when acting out our convictions or freedom in Christ?
If something we are going to do isn’t acceptable by all of these principles what should we do?
If a Christian brother or sister is encouraging us to do something we feel uncomfortable with in our conscience what should we do?