Sermon Notes: Romans 14

Big Idea: Keep the main thing the main thing.

We are at midterm elections. And we all need to know that both major parties are power players who will tell you what you want to hear to get your vote, and rarely actually do what they promise. 

We dare not sacrifice our ability to speak as prophets of God to our city, state, and nation by getting in the covers of a party. 

That does not mean we don’t vote and have some biblically informed positions we line up our vote with, but it does mean we are not owned by any political party that is presented to us. 

Populations can easily find themselves swept away with the flow of thoughts and ideas and the popular trends of the day that represent a culture that is in no way neutral. 

Lies abound in some instances in greater abundance than facts, and we can get caught up in those lies, and it’s not with one big thing but a slow boil of little things over time. 

As a result, Christians may find themselves swept up in the culture and not actively being agents of the kingdom of God. They may in reality be unknowing agents of polarization and even sin that can easily be disguised as “Christian”.

AND…we might find ourselves at odds with each other over agendas that are designed to divide the people of God. 

If we don’t have a comprehensive framework constructed on the majors of the faith that define our ethics and practice, we will find ourselves swept into a place where we have no gospel witness and find ourselves infighting rather than making disciples. 

We need to make sure we maintain the high ground of the cross from which we speak to all parties of power and not wrap the cross in red or blue or any other debatable idea and keep ourselves together with the cross as our unified message.

America is incredibly polarized right now, and Christians need to be careful we don’t get swept away in that polarization and ruin our ability to ask and answer the question: what if the whole church was the missionary? 

The reason is that the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world is coming, and he is coming not to die for sin again but to conquer and judge and welcome those who have believed in him by faith and held to the testimony of his Word. 

Therefore, what is a filter to help us keep the main thing the main thing?

Romans 14 will help us keep the main thing the main thing.

We won’t see great movements because we have a better spiritual widget. 

“Great worship services don’t change the world. Empowered and impassioned disciples do.” – Bob Roberts Jr.

This is because the good news of the kingdom produces disciples who are the salt of the earth and the light of the world and value God and his way above their own opinions on secondary issues and have the ability to discern what is secondary and what is primary. 

Paul writes Romans 14 to a church that is as diverse as you can imagine. There are Jews who have become Christians. 

There are Gentiles who converted to Judaism and then converted to Christianity. 

There are Gentiles who have converted to Christianity. 

And all of these are from more geographically diverse locations than you can imagine. 

  1. Some celebrate certain days as worship. 
  2. Some eat foods as worship and some abstain from the same foods as worship. 
  3. Some drink liquids others are opposed to them on religious grounds. 
  4. Some Love Rome and some despise Rome. 

Therefore, Romans 14 is a specific appeal to diverse people with diverse ideas and theologies to live together in peace on mission as one body as a practical outworking of the justifying work of Jesus Christ. 

How can we keep the main thing the main thing?

READ IT: Romans 14 

  1. Don’t quarrel over opinions. v. 1-4

Romans 14:1-4 (CSB) 1 Welcome anyone who is weak in faith, but don’t argue about disputed matters. 2 One person believes he may eat anything, while one who is weak eats only vegetables. 3 One who eats must not look down on one who does not eat, and one who does not eat must not judge one who does, because God has accepted him. 4 Who are you to judge another’s household servant? Before his own Lord he stands or falls. And he will stand, because the Lord is able to make him stand.

  1. We have to have the ability to know what is an opinion and what is something that needs defending.
    1. We need to be able to practice some theological triage:
      1. Tier 1: Deity of Jesus – if we don’t agree, we are on different teams.
      2. Tier 2: Infant baptism – we can disagree and still be on team Jesus, but we won’t be practicing the faith together in covenant fellowship. 
      3. Tier 3: Political agendas, Covid-19, Conspiracy theories that turned out to be true, your end times theology – We can have some differences and still be in covenant fellowship on mission together.
        1. If it’s tier three leave it be!!!!
  1. Whatever good tier three thing you do or think, be fully convinced in your own mind with a clean conscience. v. 5-6

Romans 14:5-6 (CSB) 5 One person judges one day to be more important than another day. Someone else judges every day to be the same. Let each one be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 Whoever observes the day, observes it for the honor of the Lord. Whoever eats, eats for the Lord, since he gives thanks to God; and whoever does not eat, it is for the Lord that he does not eat it, and he gives thanks to God.

  1. When we are convinced with a clean conscience, we are then to do what we do as worship to the Lord Jesus. 
  2. With all tier three things, set above it as tier one, the conscience of and unity with others you are in fellowship with.
    1. If you are unsure if it’s tier three, ask an elder, and be willing to learn. 
  1. Believe that opinions on debatable matters are not primary. Being unified on mission is primary. v. 7-9

Romans 14:7-9 (CSB) 7 For none of us lives for himself, and no one dies for himself. 8 If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. 9 Christ died and returned to life for this: that he might be Lord over both the dead and the living.

  1. It takes Bible volume and learned Holy Spirit wisdom to discern the difference between obedience to commands clearly written and adaptations to practices derived from a debatable opinion based on a debatable exposition of a few obscure passages of Scripture. 
    1. Smart is not the same thing as wise. Be wise. 
  1. Believe that each one of us will have to stand before the Lord and give an account of our opinions to God. v. 10-12

Romans 14:10-12 (CSB) 10 But you, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or you, why do you despise your brother or sister? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. 11 For it is written, As I live, says the Lord, every knee will bow to me, and every tongue will give praise to God. 12 So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.

  1. Believing I will give an account should cause me to curb my opinions and check up on how I classify my belief system (in tiers). 
  1. Decide to never put a stumbling block in front of anyone in the fellowship or judge anyone in the fellowship based on their faithful practice of loving God. v. 13

Romans 14:13 (CSB) 13 Therefore, let us no longer judge one another. Instead decide never to put a stumbling block or pitfall in the way of your brother or sister.

  1. Paul’s whole argument in Romans 14 leans on a keyword he uses twice here in verse 13: “krino” and it is translated as “no longer judge” and “decide”.
    1. The difference in each use of the word in verse 13 is in the “mood” of the verb.
      1. “No longer judge” means that in our present circumstance, let’s not pass sentence on each other’s conscience based practices that are rooted in their faith in God.
        1. NOTE: We are not talking about breaking biblical commands. We are talking about issues way down the line. 
        2. This means we allow for lots of applications from different places of faith in God without judging each other. 
      2. “Decide” means, based on the finished gospel work of Jesus, never cause stumbling or hindrance with conscience based issues.
        1. This is a commitment to know the commands of the Bible distinct from faithfilled personal practices of Biblical principles.
          1. Example: Voting and political leanings.
          2. NOTE: These things should be enjoyably discussed and gently worked on in deeply rooted loving relationships inside the fellowship NOT contentious demands that everyone adopt my “thing” or they are inferior to me. 
  1. Let each person have their own biblically informed conscience and make unity the goal NOT a secondary opinion. v. 14

Romans 14:14 (CSB) 14 I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself. Still, to someone who considers a thing to be unclean, to that one it is unclean.

  1. Love by not grieving others in what we approve. v. 15

Romans 14:15 (CSB) 15 For if your brother or sister is hurt by what you eat, you are no longer walking according to love. Do not destroy, by what you eat, someone for whom Christ died.

  1. You can read in the place of “eat”, “promote”, or something similar.
    1. If we hurt others by promoting questionable things, we fail at love.
      1. A culture of “personal rights” often does not consider others first. 
    2. Be careful in what we promote. 
  1. Be willing to bypass something you enjoy or have a conviction about because in bypassing those things sometimes, we guard what is good from being spoken of as evil because we used it to bludgeon or convince or make a brother or sister feel guilty about something that is a matter of opinion. v. 16

Romans 14:16 (CSB) 16 Therefore, do not let your good be slandered,

  1. I used to read this passage like this: “I’m not letting you talk about bacon like that!”
    1. That’s not it.
  2. By giving up my right for the other, I guard what I enjoy against being the focus of what is good versus evil.
    1. If we push our opinions on people, we run the risk of that opinion becoming seen as bad because of how we forced it on people and anyone’s response against having something forced on them is to see what is forced as bad. 
    2. So, don’t do it!
  1. Pursue righteousness, peace, and joy for everyone because these are kingdom of God goods. v. 17-19

Romans 14:17-19 (CSB) 17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 Whoever serves Christ in this way is acceptable to God and receives human approval. 19 So then, let us pursue what promotes peace and what builds up one another.

  1. Romans 12:17-18 (CSB) 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Give careful thought to do what is honorable in everyone’s eyes. 18 If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

10. It is better to abstain publicly from anything good that could hinder the work of God in a fellow church member who has a different conviction. v. 20-21

Romans 14:20-21 (CSB) 20 Do not tear down God’s work because of food. Everything is clean, but it is wrong to make someone fall by what he eats. 21 It is a good thing not to eat meat, or drink wine, or do anything that makes your brother or sister stumble.

11. It is ok to keep some good things private. v. 22

Romans 14:22 (CSB) 22 Whatever you believe about these things, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves.

  1. It’s not hypocritical to enjoy some good  and holy things as gifts from God in private with your family and super close friends that might not be suitable for everyone. 

12. Live by faith that is rooted in God’s word because if it’s not done in faith, it is sin. v. 23

Romans 14:23 (CSB) 23 But whoever doubts stands condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith, and everything that is not from faith is sin.

  1. The Bible gives the people of God enormous freedom to apply God’s word as we are on mission, therefore, we must know God’s word, be convinced, then live by faith and let God sort out reward on that great and glorious day of reward when our faith becomes sight. 


I can hear uncle Screwtape telling Wormwood to make Christians think they are on different sides of political, social, cultural and theological squabbles and get their attention off each other being more important than themselves and then get them to stew over and blab on about foolish arguments that only ruin the those who hear so that many watching and listening stumble from THE Way. 

  1. Keep the main thing the main thing.
    1. Don’t stray from contending for the gospel of the kingdom to become evangelists for opinions based on debatable theories and arguments destined to fall under the coming King of the universe or be corrected by the King when he comes.
      1. 2 Timothy 2:14 (ESV) Remind them of these things (gospel truths), and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers.
      2. 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 (CSB) 1 When I came to you, brothers and sisters, announcing the mystery of God to you, I did not come with brilliance of speech or wisdom. 2 I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 I came to you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. 4 My speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of wisdom but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5 so that your faith might not be based on human wisdom but on God’s power.

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