Romans Fourteen

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

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Romans 14:1 Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.

doubtful disputations. “Doubtful disputations” refer to critical judgments on the inward reasonings of others. Unless some practice is specifically revealed in Scripture to be right or wrong, each believer should be free to formulate his own convictions about it. New Christians may still feel constrained by certain criteria they had followed earlier, and thus may be reluctant to change when they become saved. Unless these are specifically enjoined or prohibited in the Word of God, older believers should receive them into fellowship without argument or criticism.

Romans 14:2 For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs.

eateth herbs. One particular cause of disagreement in the early church was whether a Christian should purchase and eat meat that previously had been sacrificed to pagan gods. This particular problem is one not ordinarily faced by modern Christians, but the principle is the same for all manner of other questions (smoking, dancing, holidays, dress styles, music genres, etc.).

Romans 14:3 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.

not judge him that eateth. In all such matters, “let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind” (Romans 14:5) concerning his own conduct, while at the same time refraining from criticizing fellow believers who are of different persuasion. If Scripture speaks clearly on a certain practice, however, then that should govern, not varying human opinions about it.

Romans 14:4 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.

Romans 14:5 One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.

Romans 14:6 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.

Romans 14:7 For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself.

Romans 14:8 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.

Romans 14:9 For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living.

Romans 14:10 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.

judge thy brother. Three times in this chapter (Romans 14:3, 4, 10) we are commanded not to judge fellow believers on these doubtful questions. See also Matthew 7:1-5.

judgment seat of Christ. Believers will be judged, not for salvation, but for rewards (2 Corinthians 5:10).

Romans 14:11 For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.

Romans 14:12 So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.

give account. There is only one thing that is absolutely sure to happen to every person—each one will have to face God some day. Not even “death and taxes” are certain for everyone, but meeting God is (note Amos 4:12; Hebrews 9:27; etc.). Believers will meet Christ at His judgment seat to receive rewards or loss of rewards (2 Corinthians 5:10; 1 Corinthians 3:13-15), while unbelievers will meet God at His great white throne for consignment to the lake of fire (Revelation 20:12-15).

Romans 14:13 Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way.

Romans 14:14 I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean.

nothing unclean of itself. To the believer, saved by grace through faith in Christ and His provision of full forgiveness and justification, all things are legal. Note such assurances as Titus 1:15, 1 Corinthians 10:23, and Galatians 5:1, 4. Nevertheless, since he should now desire to live and die as unto the Lord (Romans 14:8), this should clearly affect all his behavior and make him very different from those yet unsaved.

Romans 14:15 But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died.

Romans 14:16 Let not then your good be evil spoken of:

Romans 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

not meat and drink. There will, indeed, still be eating and drinking in the future kingdom (e.g., Matthew 6:25; Revelation 22:2), as there is in its present phase, but its essence is now and shall always be spiritual, not material.

Romans 14:18 For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men.

Romans 14:19 Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.

Romans 14:20 For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence.

Romans 14:21 It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.

any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth. Although any given practice is permissible for a Christian (if not precluded by Scripture, in which case he should abstain from it, even though he would not forfeit his salvation by doing it), he should be willing to give it up if it might injure the faith or testimony of a fellow Christian. There are a number of other Biblical guidelines to help us in making informed decisions about doubtful things. See note under Romans 14:23.

Romans 14:22 Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth.

Romans 14:23 And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.

damned. This does not mean eternal damnation, but only “condemnation,” or “judgment.” Both God and the believer himself (Romans 14:22) condemn this doubtful act if he does it against his own conscientious scruples, even if a supposedly more mature believer assures him it is all right.

not of faith. Although all things are, indeed, legal for a true Christian, he will try to do only those things which please his Lord. When he encounters questions not specifically mentioned in Scripture (e.g., smoking, movies), he should consider the various Scriptural principles that are given as guideposts to help him make such decisions. One of those is given in this verse, namely, he should be able to do it in full confidence that it is pleasing to Christ. Some of the principles, with typical supporting Scriptures, may be noted as follows:

The act has positive value and is, without question pleasing to the Lord (Romans 14:23; 1 Corinthians 10:23; Colossians 4:5);

The act is consistent with our new life in Christ (Colossians 3:1-4; 2 Timothy 2:4; 2 Corinthians 5:14-15);

We can sense the positive leading of the indwelling Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19-20; Galatians 5:16-18);

The act will not diminish our Christian influence (Romans 14:13, 21; 1 Corinthians 8:8-13; 1 Thessalonians 5:22);

The act does not pose a danger of our becoming addicted to it (1 Corinthians 6:12; Ephesians 5:18; James 1:14-15);

It can be done consistently with the example set by Jesus (1 Peter 2:21; xTerm 2:6; Philippians 2:5);

It can be done in confidence that it brings glory to God (1 Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 3:23).

This is certainly not an exhaustive list of relevant principles or appropriate Scriptures, but is at least indicative of what to look for.