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Living My Faith Before God and Man

socialmedia@cityrise.org September 20, 2021 sermons, cityrise, Crosspoint Church - Bellaire, Good News, Roger Patterson, romans,

The following is a manuscript of the sermon presented by Dr. Roger Patterson on Sunday September 19, at our Crosspoint Church – Bellaire campus. To view the sermon in full, please visit our YouTubpage.

We are going to pick up on part two of chapter 14. Apparently, there was a significant struggle happening in the church of Rome that was causing a great disruption. It had to do with those who were freer in their faith than others, and how their actions in their freedom were causing others to stumble, question their own actions and become weakened in the faith.

Last week we saw how to live our lives with other Christians with whom we disagree.

Remember our Outline?

Those Devoted to the Lord…

  1. Accept One Another
  2. Live by Faith with a Clear Conscience
  3. Leave Judgement to God

I want to build from that, as Paul continues his message to a church full of Jews who had come to Christ but brought their tradition and observances along with them, as well as a church full of Gentiles who came out of pagan idolatry and were walking in a great deal of freedom.

In some ways, their freedoms were causing others to stumble.

Let’s read the text, then I’ll share with you my outline for today.

Romans 14:13-23

Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. 14 I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. 15 For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died. 16 So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. 19 So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.

20 Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats. 21 It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble.  22 The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves. 23 But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.

Now, I want you to notice verse 18 with me, as it is easy to miss it when you are hearing about what you eat and drink and what you should do and not do.

Notice Romans 14:18.

Romans 14:18

Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. 

Remember, last week, we saw that we aren’t always going to see eye to eye. And as Paul continues to discuss the freedoms and responsibilities we have to one another; he throws this verse in about being acceptable to God and approved by men.

Definition: To be “Approved by men” is to be RESPECTED or HONORED. It’s to live in such a way, that even if someone doesn’t agree with you, they RESPECT you, the way you came to your decision, the way you have lived with integrity, etc.

But, keep in mind, we won’t be approved by men all the time.

But the greater task is being “ACCEPTABLE TO GOD!”

Definition: The word ACCEPTABLE means pleasing.

Application: So, we can live in a way that is pleasing to God and in a way that is not pleasing to God.

And this verse says, “Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable…”

In other words, if you live this out, you will be pleasing to God.

So, naturally the question is, what are we to live out? This leads me to my outline today.

How can we live out our faith to be acceptable to God and approved by others?

  1. Don’t spend energy judging others
  2. Don’t create stumbling blocks for others
  3. Don’t make the Kingdom of God about trivial matters
  4. Pursue righteousness, peace, and joy
  5. Pursue that which brings about peace in relationships and builds another up

Let’s look at these briefly today.

How can we live out our faith to be acceptable to God and approved by others?

I. Don’t spend energy judging others.

Look at verse 13a.

Romans 14:13a

Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer…

Now, we talked about this last week, so I won’t spend much time on it. But, as we saw last week, the Apostle asks us, essentially, “Who are we to reject those whom God has accepted?” We aren’t to place ourselves above others and look down upon them in judgement.

Instead, we are to remember, we will have to give an account.  And, in that judgement we face, we want to hear Jesus say to us, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

We want to be pleasing.

So, if you need it again… “Don’t spend your energy judging others.”

Transition: So, our first point today, is a point of review.

What’s the second part of this verse though? What else is Paul saying to the church?

How can we live out our faith to be acceptable to God and approved by others?

  1. Don’t spend energy judging others
  2. Don’t create stumbling blocks for others
  3. Don’t make the Kingdom of God about trivial matters
  4. Pursue righteousness, peace, and joy
  5. Pursue that which brings about peace in relationships and builds another up

II. Don’t Create Stumbling Blocks for Others

Look with me at verses 13-15.

Romans 14:13-15

Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. 14 I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. 15 For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died. 

Now, look also at verse 20-21.

Romans 14:20-21

Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats. 21 It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble.  

Here we have the tension between liberty and responsibility. If we want to live lives that are pleasing to God, we won’t:

  • Abuse our freedom – notice, this says that nothing is unclean in itself. Paul says, “I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus…”

In other words, I know that I know. Paul has a knowledge that gives him a clean conscience.

But did you know that knowledge, less love, only puffs up?

1 Corinthians 13:2

 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 

Application: You see, today, on Facebook, on Reddit, on Twitter, or Tik Tok…you have all sorts of Christian people claiming freedom…I’m free to do this…I’m free to do that.

And the truth is, “Yes, you are correct. You are free within the bounds of the law, to do this or do that!”

Yet, what we don’t see on Facebook, on Reddit, on Twitter, or Tik Tok… are all sorts of Christian people claiming LOVE!

I can have all these special powers and knowledge and faith – but if I lack love, I am nothing!

Paul was free…but he didn’t want to leave love behind.

See this in verse 15.

Romans 14:15

For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died. 

If your “free” actions are causing another to stumble and you are doing it anyway, your actions can be destructive. This word carries with it the idea of causing one to fall away from the faith. Recall, Paul has been addressing the strong and the weak.

And if we are strong, and in a position where our conscience isn’t bothered by our actions, then we must ensure that we don’t hurt someone else with our actions.

As a pastoral staff, we talk about not giving anyone anything to talk about. We don’t want to create a stumbling block for someone to come to faith. We know that we must live above reproach. But, this isn’t just for ministerial staff. It’s not just for clergy.

As followers of Jesus, we are to live above reproach. We aren’t perfect. But we seek to be blameless – where we aren’t intentionally walking in rebellion and sin. We need to seek to be blameless.

  • Consider your freedoms – what you eat or drink; what you wear; how you opine about your politics online; how condemning or judgmental you might sound on an online forum.
  • Ask – does this create a stumbling block for a new believer if they saw me:
    • Drinking this?
    • Wearing this?
    • Saying this?
    • Advocating for this candidate or party’s platform?

We may have freedom, but if we lack love, we are nothing, and we might just hinder someone else’s walk.

Transition: What’s the third principle in answering the question…

How can we live out our faith to be acceptable to God and approved by others?

  1. Don’t spend energy judging others
  2. Don’t create stumbling blocks for others
  3. Don’t make the Kingdom of God about trivial matters
  4. Pursue righteousness, peace, and joy
  5. Pursue that which brings about peace in relationships and builds another up

III. Don’t make the Kingdom of God about trivial matters

Notice this in verse 17a.

Romans 14:17a

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

How easy was it in the early church to get off topic?

The Jewish Christians wanted to preserve much of their tradition, and some wanted all of the Gentiles to also embrace it, as Gentile converts to Judaism had to do.

The Gentile believers felt free to eat meat sacrificed to idols…at least the mature ones did. But this might have created a stumbling block for young gentiles who were still drawn back to idolatry and pagan worship.

As the Apostle Paul is addressing liberty and responsibility, he is also saying to them, “The Kingdom of God is so much bigger than what you eat or drink!”

Illus: I remember when I was going back and forth to Fort Worth as I would take my doctoral seminars, thinking that all I hear about up here on this seminary campus is the conflict between the Baptists here at the seminary and the Baptists at the Baptist building in Dallas.  You see, the Texas State Convention board was in Dallas and the seminary was in Fort Worth. And there were significant battles going on.

I remember thinking, “Man, I just want us to be building the kingdom. All of these politics and all of this fighting is for the birds!”

It’s so easy to get caught up in the third and fourth level matters and lose sight of the gospel of the kingdom and the Great Commission to go to the nations with this gospel.

Quote: Kirby Follis said last week in his message…

“As long as we strongly disagree on what is unimportant, we are robbing precious time, energy and focus from agreeing on and doing what is important.”

So, if we want to please the Lord, let’s not make the kingdom of God about trivial matters.

Transition: Instead, we should… Pursue righteousness, peace, and joy.

How can we live out our faith to be acceptable to God and approved by others?

  1. Don’t spend energy judging others
  2. Don’t create stumbling blocks for others
  3. Don’t make the Kingdom of God about trivial matters
  4. Pursue righteousness, peace, and joy
  5. Pursue that which brings about peace in relationships and builds another up

IV. Pursue Righteousness, Peace, and Joy

Romans 14:17b

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Instead of the temporal things, Paul makes sure the church understands that the kingdom of God is about:

  1. Righteousness – The Kingdom of God is about the church evangelizing the lost – taking the good news of salvation to the nations.

Romans 3:21-22a

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.

  1. Peace – The Kingdom of God is about enjoying peace with God. For when we were in sin, we were God’s enemies. But now, if we are in Jesus Christ, we have peace with God. And as we go to the lost, we proclaim peace with God is available to all who believe.

Romans 5:1

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Peace with the Father comes to us through the Son. And the Spirit of God testifies with our spirit and deposition joy in to our heart.

  1. Joy in the Holy Spirit – the kingdom of God is a matter of walking in the joy of the Holy Spirit.
  • It’s not the way of License, where anything goes – Romans 6.
  • It’s not the way of Legalism, where I have to follow all these rules – Romans 7.
  • It’s the way of Liberty – the way of the Spirit – from Romans 8, where we see these amazing truths.

Romans 8

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

God’s love is poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, and this produces a joy in us. That’s a joy much better than the temporary pleasures that go along with a sense of License. That’s a joy that is very different than the self-satisfying pride that we feel when we boast in ourselves. It’s a joy that wells up from within through the Holy Spirit, as we will see in Romans 15.

It’s a joy that overflows.

Romans 15:13

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

This is what the kingdom of God is about.

Pursue these things! Enjoy these things! Share these things!

Lastly…

How can we live out our faith to be acceptable to God and approved by others?

  1. Don’t spend energy judging others
  2. Don’t create stumbling blocks for others
  3. Don’t make the Kingdom of God about trivial matters
  4. Pursue righteousness, peace, and joy
  5. Pursue that which brings about peace in relationships and builds another up

 

V. Pursue that which brings about peace in relationships and builds another up

Romans 14:19

19 So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.

The term mutual upbuilding refers to the fact that both parties in a relationship need to be growing. Growing relationships are full of growing people.

The context here is the strong and the weak.

Quote: Warren Wiersbe states…

“Both the strong believer and the weak believer need to grow. The strong believer needs to grow in love; the weak believer needs to grow in knowledge. So long as a brother is weak in the faith, we must lovingly deal with him in his immaturity. But if we really love him, we will help him to grow…The weak must learn from the strong, and the strong must love the weak. The result will be peace and maturity to the glory of God.”

 

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