Romans Podcast Expository Files 2018 Berkley - Page 42



Romans ~ In Matters of Opinion, Tolerance
Rom. 14
In approaching Romans chapter 14, it is important to have clarity up front:
Nothing in this chapter hints at being soft or silent about sin. Consider, in
the final chapter of Romans, Paul is clear: “…watch out for those who cause
divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught;
avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own
appetites and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naïve,”
(Rom. 16:17,18). So, if Paul says – about these kind of people – “Avoid them,”
but he says in Romans 14, “receive him” or “welcome him,” you know that
those we are to “avoid” are in a different class than those we are to
“welcome.”
Knowing that going in, what are we to make of Romans 14? We are to read it
with strong emphasis on the context. The context is, people who may be very
different from us, but they are not guilty of sin.
For instance, there were Jews who over many generations had developed a
“religious” menu different from common Gentile practices. It is not likely they
suddenly changed their eating habits when they were baptized. So long as they
didn’t impose their personal diet on Gentiles, they were to be tolerated (even if
“knowledgeable” Gentiles consider them too restrictive in their diet). If there is
no sin or imposing your personal habits and preference on others, there is no
need for a fuss!
Here’s an example. I know a man who, each year, celebrates his “new birth day”
(the day he was baptized into Christ). He doesn’t insist anyone observe it with
him. He doesn’t contend that everybody should do it. He observes that annual
day by devoting himself to prayer, Bible reading and reflection. He makes it a
point to share his faith with his family on that day. He doesn’t have to do that.
It is his personal choice. Whatever we may think of it, we are told in Romans 14
“not to quarrel over” such matters.
“So then, let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding,” (Rom.
14:19).
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