This sermon was preached at Progressing Pilgrims at Niddrie Community Church on July 20, 2018. You can listen to the audio here (32 minutes) or read the manuscript below.
Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions. 2One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only.3The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him. 4Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
5One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind. 6He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God. 7For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; 8for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. 9For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.
10But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.
11For it is written,
“AS I LIVE, SAYS THE LORD, EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW TO ME,
AND EVERY TONGUE SHALL GIVE PRAISE TO GOD.”
12So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.
13Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this—not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way. 14I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. 15For if because of food your brother is hurt, you are no longer walking according to love. Do not destroy with your food him for whom Christ died. 16Therefore do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil; 17for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18For he who in this way serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. 19So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another. 20Do not tear down the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are clean, but they are evil for the man who eats and gives offense.21It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles. 22The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. 23But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin.
Tonight, I’m going to do something a little different. Instead of working through the verses one at a time, I just want to hit three big ideas from Romans 14. Then we can discuss any questions you have about the chapter.
- What is your only comfort in life and in death?
- What is your chief purpose in life and in death?
- How should we relate to other Christians?
— What is your only comfort in life and death?
— If you’re a Christian, your only comfort in life and death is that you are not your own, but belong—body and soul, in life and in death—to your faithful Savior, Jesus Christ.
Look with me again at the end of verse 8.
“…Therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.”
If you are a Christian, you belong to Jesus.
He owns you in death.
Secondary school teachers, idiots on TV, foolish philosophers who pretend to be scientists, these dingles want you to believe that you stop existing when you die, or at least that death is some great unknown.
They’re dead wrong.
In death, Jesus owns you.
You still exist in death. Jesus doesn’t own a single nonexistent thing.
And death is not a great unknown. In death, you will go to be with your Owner. To be absent from the body is to be present with your Lord. And you will be happy.
Christian, Jesus owns you in life.
You don’t own yourself. You’re not in charge of your life.
Your passions don’t own you. You no longer follow your passions.
Your past sins don’t own you. You’re no longer a slave to sin.
The Devil doesn’t own you. He’s no longer your daddy.
The world doesn’t own you. You’re not of the world.
Jesus owns you in life.
How can this be? How is it that such a good King could claim you as his own?
Look at verse 9.
“For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.”
Christian, Jesus claims you as his own because he died for you. Before God you are no longer a scumbag worthy of the pits of hell. Jesus took your sin to himself and paid for it on the cross. He freely gave to you the perfect record of his obedience to God.
Your sins are paid for and forgiven. If you believe, you are right with your God.
And, as promised from long ago, Jesus rose from the grave and has claimed you as the spoils of his victory over Satan, sin, and death.
Have you ever heard the word “catechism”? A catechism is a tool used to help people understand Christianity. It’s a series of questions and answers covering the main points of the faith.
One good catechism is the Heidelberg Catechism.
Right from the beginning it asks our first question tonight.
This is the answer it gives:
“I am not my own, but belong—body and soul, in life and in death—to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ.
He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood,
and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil.
He also watches over me in such a way
that not a hair can fall from my head
without the will of my Father in heaven;
in fact, all things must work together for my salvation.
Because I belong to him,
Christ, by his Holy Spirit,
assures me of eternal life
and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready
from now on to live for him.”
If you’re not a real Christian, then you have no real comfort in life or death. Folks look for comfort in buying stuff, in sex, in drugs and drink.
But it’s all as fake as Nicola Sturgeon’s patriotism.
Folks look for comfort in suicide, but it isn’t to be found there.
Real comfort in life and death is only found in Christ.
That’s the answer to the first question. Now, for the second.
If you are not your own, but belong to Christ, then…
Question: What is your chief purpose in life and death?
Answer: Your chief purpose in life and death is the glory of God.
Look at verses 6-8.
“He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God. For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord…”
What are the two repeated phrases in these verses?
“For the Lord”
“Gives thanks to God”
To live for the glory of God is to gratefully spend yourself for him.
Everything you think, feel, and do is to be in trust and obedience to God. It’s to be conformed to his purposes alone.
You are to eat your food in obedience to God.
You are to go to work in obedience to God.
You are to lead your wife and submit to your husband in obedience to God.
Why do you do what you do, down to the little details of the day? Are you living in faith and obedience to God? Don’t just assume you are. Don’t think you are because you feel like you are. Our feelings aren’t the most trustworthy things.
To live and die gratefully for God, you actually need to know the Bible. If you know the Bible, you’ll be able to know if you think, feel, and do the right things for the right reasons.
Live well now. Live for God now. Your life will be over before you know it.
If you’re not a real Christian, this should be difficult for you to hear.
Yes, it means that your life has been wasted and is being wasted, like rubbish.
Look at verses 10 and 11.
For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.
For it is written,
“AS I LIVE, SAYS THE LORD, EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW TO ME,
AND EVERY TONGUE SHALL GIVE PRAISE TO GOD.”
Each one of us will go before the judgement seat of God. How do you think that will go for you, if you’re not a Christian? Do you think it’s going to go well for you before the Perfect Judge?
You won’t be able to raise your eyes. You won’t be able to open your mouth and make a defense. Every moment of your life will have been a rotten stench of offense to the Judge’s nostrils. He will have good fury against you and will cast you into outer darkness, where the flames never go out and the worm never dies.
It’s only the kindness of God that sinners are here tonight to hear of Christ before it is too late. Jesus died and lived again. Trust him. Believe in him. You will be forgiven. He will give you his life so that not only will Judgement Day go well for you, but every day until then can be lived well, for his glory.
Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved.
Last Question: How should we relate to other Christians?
Final Answer: We should try to live at peace with fellow Christians and build one another up, helping each other live well for Jesus.
Look back at verse 19.
“So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.”
We want to stand together in the truth and our love for Christ. We want to daily become stronger in the faith.
But every church you go to is going to have a mix of weak and strong Christians. Not everyone will equally understand Christianity.
There are some beliefs that Christians must agree on in order to belong to a church together.
We have to agree on how we know what we know.
We have to agree on who God is, Father, Son, and Spirit.
We have to agree that we have all sinned against him and deserve death and hell.
We have to agree on how man is saved, only by the grace of God, trusting only in the finished work of Christ on our behalf.
We have to agree to swear our allegiance to Jesus in baptism and in eating the Lord’s Supper together.
But Paul says there are other things we can disagree on and still be in a church together.
In the church in Rome, some thought that it was still important to observe the old Jewish feast days, like the Passover or the Feast of Booths. Others understood that these days were meant to prepare us for the coming of Christ. Now that Jesus has come and died and rose again, the purpose of those days has been fulfilled. They are no longer necessary.
Some thought that old Jewish food restrictions were still in place. Others in the church understood that Christians can eat all foods.
Paul doesn’t tell the Christians to simply agree to disagree. He doesn’t tell them that there aren’t answers to be found in the Bible.
With agreement and strength as the long-term goal, Paul says that those who are already strong in these areas need to be patient with their weaker brothers. Those who are currently weak in these areas are not to condemn the strong who disagree with them, as if Christians are the masters and judges of the souls of men.
While this kind of disagreement continues, strong and weak are to act in strict obedience to their own consciences. We will all answer to God for our conduct. Anything we do not done in faith is sin against God.
These disagreements are not unimportant. But we all grow in faith and knowledge at different paces. And while we help build each other up in strength, we shouldn’t be impatient or arrogant.
Christians belong to Jesus.
The point of life is the glory of God.
We should walk in faith, patient and humble towards one another.