Sermon: Whatever Doesn’t Proceed from Faith is Sin Romans 14:13-23

Whatever Doesn’t Proceed from Faith is Sin

Romans 14:13-23

Truth Taught- We must at times give up our freedoms to help our brothers and sisters in Christ persevere to the end.

Introduction

In our text today, Paul continues his teaching on how stronger and weaker brothers and sisters within the local church are to interact and encourage each other’s perseverance in the faith. To the weaker, never condemn the one who exercises freedom in Christ. To the stronger, never push your liberty on a weaker brother or sister.

Our text today is written specifically to the stronger Christian, showing them what responsibilities they have toward the weaker Christians. You may have determined last week that you were one of the stronger believers, so today’s text is just for you.

Prayer

Romans 14:13–23 (ESV)

13 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.

  1. Our Freedom Should Never Cause Our Brother to Turn Onto the Wrong Path

13 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.

The first point Paul makes is that we are not to pass judgment on another believer concerning their strong or weak faith nor their practices or beliefs when it comes to eating, drinking, or special days.

His language is powerful here. KrinowMake a decision about someone or something beforehand, to judge. The word and its derivative is really used twice in verse 13. He says do not make a predetermined judgment about the other brother or sister concerning their faith whether it’s weaker or stronger or whether their eating and drinking is sinful or not. Instead, make a predetermined judgment that you will never place a stumbling block or obstacle in the way of their faith.

So beloved, we must determine that we will never place or be a stumbling block to another believer’s faith. Instead, we must be the ones who help their faith along the path.

What was John the Baptist’s mission concerning Jesus? He was to make His path straight.

Mark 1:2–3 (ESV)

As it is written in Isaiah the prophet,

       “Behold, I send my messenger before your face,

who will prepare your way,

   the voice of one crying in the wilderness:

‘Prepare the way of the Lord,

make his paths straight,’ ”

Our goal as stronger believers is to help make the weaker believer’s path straight by not being an obstruction to their faith. The way we do this is by not being a stumbling block to their faith by not doing something that goes against their conscience, and yes, we are our brother’s keeper.

Are you doing anything that would hurt your brother’s or sister’s faith? We are about to discover there is much more at stake than we might think at first.

Beloved, we all have a responsibility to everyone else here.

  1. Our Freedom Should Never Cause Our Brother to Be Set on the Path of Destruction

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.

Let’s look at Paul’s reasoning to discover the real issue. He tells us that all foods are now clean. By clean he means ceremonially clean or holy in and of themselves. Last time we read Acts 10 where God told Peter that all foods are now clean, and all people are now clean so he should not call something or someone unclean if God has declared them clean. So, Peter should eat and go to the Gentile’s house.

Mark 7:15–20 (ESV)

15 There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.” 17 And when he had entered the house and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable. 18 And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, 19 since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) 20 And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him.

It’s probably this passage that Paul picks up on when he writes…14 I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself.

If we are simply talking about a certain type of food, we can agree with God that it is clean. But that’s not all there is to it is there? But it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. For a weaker brother who is struggling with this issue, if he believes it to be unclean, then it is unclean. Here is one of the few places where the subjective trumps the objective. Uncleanness is not, therefore, in the food itself but in the weaker person’s conscience.

In what way could my eating, drinking, and not celebrating special days destroy the one for whom Christ died.

Appollumito devote or give over to eternal misery in hell/to perish, to be lost, ruined, destroyed. /to destroy. 2a to lose.[1]

The issue and confusion stems from the modern church’s idea or perception of salvation. Jesus’ death provides all the believer needs to be saved. At the same time the believer needs to believe. Is this a work of God? Absolutely. We are called to believe and we must believe. What I’m getting at is there are means by which God will bring us to the end of our salvation. There are means He uses to get us to glorification someday.

I just want to be honest with you here. There are no mistakes in the Bible and there are no contradictions. I’m not entirely sure I completely understand this verse in light of the entirety of Scripture. It seems that Paul is saying that by me being a stumbling block to one whom Christ died for that that can somehow destroy his faith and cause him to spend eternity in hell. Now, in light of other passages we must conclude that ultimate destruction is not in mind here.

Romans 8:28–39 (ESV)

28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

31 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.

Since nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus, that means that someone’s stumbling block cannot separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. So, it cannot mean eternal or ultimate destruction. So, many scholars believe that a stumbling block can greatly hinder someone’s faith and progress in spiritual growth because it is a hindrance to their walking in good conscience.

God has given us means to final salvation.

He’s given us perseverance-

Mark 13:13 (ESV)

13 And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.

Spiritual Warfare-

Romans 8:13–14 (ESV)

13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.

We must not be hardened by sin-

Hebrews 3:13–14 (ESV)
13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.

I think part of the reason some of these verses are difficult to understand is that they go against something in our thinking that’s wrong. Salvation is not like a pill we take that changes us immediately but a sanctifying process begun by God whereby He grants us means to the end. We are saved, we are being saved, and we will be saved provided we were really saved to start with.

The means Paul writes about here is the weaker brother’s conscience. When a stronger brother goes ahead and eats something that the weaker brother thinks is unclean and encourages the weaker brother to also eat, then the stronger brother is teaching the weaker brother that it’s okay to do something your conscience tells you is wrong. When this happens, it places the weaker brother on a path that greatly hinders his perseverance and faith. To go against conscience, Martin Luther said, is neither good nor right.

  1. Our Freedom Should Never Be the Cause of Our Own Destruction

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.

The real issue here goes past eating and drinking or abstaining from those things. The real issue is the Kingdom of God, righteousness, peace, joy, and walking in love with each other. Rather than pursuing freedom and Christian liberty at the cost of someone else’s faith, we must pursue the greater things, things like the Kingdom of God and the building up of their faith not pushing your agenda to their detriment. To push your Christian liberty when you know they are tempted to go against their conscience is to make your own salvation come into question. A true Christian walking in love with their brothers will never push their agenda if that hurts their brother’s faith. To help our brother we must, at times, forfeit freedom because their soul is more valuable than your liberty.

Giving up your freedom and rights is very Christ-like. Notice all Jesus gave up to be our means of salvation . . .

Philippians 2:3–8 (ESV)

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

  1. Our Freedom Should Never Cause Our Brother to Act Against His Conscience Outside of Faith

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.

The punch line of the text is verse 23. So beloved, if we are the cause of our weaker brother to go against his own conscience even though it’s technically in itself okay to do this thing, we have caused, encouraged, and had something to do with our brother’s sin. It’s sin for him because he has eaten something he views as unclean and went against his conscience and did so not from faith but from either peer pressure, the fear of man, or just simply wanting to fit in. Further, he’s done this because in his mind now he’s gone beyond what his conscience has told him. His eating is sin because he’s not eating in faith and not giving thanks to God but doing so against his convictions. Also, the stronger brother is eating in sin because he is not eating in love, peace, joy, and for the Kingdom of God’s sake but is eating in pride and arrogance. The clean food has become unclean for both and both sin when they eat it. 22 The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God.

So, remember uncleanness is not in the food but in the conscience and in the motivation. Now there are two souls in peril.

1 Timothy 1:18–19 (ESV)

18 This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, 19 holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith,

To go against conscience is to make shipwreck of our faith.

I’ve seen people push their agendas to the point of hurting the faith of someone else. I’ve been around Christians who always seem to have to have the last word, who think they’re always right, who have to have everything their way etc. They have done these things and harmed someone else’s faith.

We must not ever flaunt our liberty or push our agenda if it hurts someone else’s walk with Christ.

Application

Are there things we do or do not do that can hinder someone else’s faith?

To claim Christ and to claim to be a Christian and yet behave a certain way can be a hindrance to someone else’s faith.

I’ve seen Christians’ faith hindered when other Christians lacked consistent church attendance.

Why should I come every week when so and so doesn’t? They’ve been Christians longer than I have. I was in a church once where some of the deacons only came once and a while. This greatly hindered the faith of others.

What about our giving or lack of giving? When those who seek to serve the body by diligently counting the money, keeping track of the finances, paying the bills, etc. see a Christian who should be giving but isn’t or should be giving a whole lot more but isn’t. Is that encouraging their faithfulness in that area?

What about someone who does not have a ministry? Is that encouraging others to minister?

Things we do or do not do affect others; it can encourage their faith or hinder their faith. It can be a great means of perseverance or a means of shipwreck.

 

*Resources Used:

Romans by Christopher Ash

Romans by Douglas Moo

Romans by John Stott

Romans by John MacArthur

Outline of Romans by Steel and Thomas

 

[1] Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.

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