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Romans 14:13-23

Let love Win

  • Jean Marais
  • Sunday Night Messages
  • April 28, 2024

This week we are continuing with our study of Romans 14, which is, in essence, a continuation of last week’s study. It continues with the theme set up by Paul in Romans 12:1, urging us to present our bodies as living sacrifices.

When you offer your life as a living sacrifice, God transforms you – how does He do that? By renewing your mind. When you came to Christ, you came out of the world, but you brought a lot of the world with you. That’s what God wants to transform. 

  • Sermon Notes
  • Scripture

Let love Win
Romans 14:13-23
April 28, 2024

      This week we are continuing with our study of Romans 14, which is, in essence, a continuation of last week’s study. It continues with the theme set up by Paul in Romans 12:1, urging us to present our bodies as living sacrifices.

      When you offer your life as a living sacrifice, God transforms you – how does He do that? By renewing your mind. When you came to Christ, you came out of the world, but you brought a lot of the world with you. That’s what God wants to transform.

      When God says that He transforms us by renewing our minds, it suggests change. It suggests that our mind is made new; old thoughts and old ways have to go. But there’s the rub. Many people are set in their ways and don’t like to change.

Illus – Just challenge people on any topic. How to raise your children, or how to handle finances. For example, it is interesting when there is a debate going on any topic on a television show. All parties on the panel usually believe they are right, although they don’t agree with one another.

      The difference with a follower of Christ, is that we do not build our lives on the opinions of others. We build our lives on the word of God. He becomes the highest authority we adhere to.

      Paul likens it to looking in a mirror, seeing spinach in your teeth or mustard on your face, and then doing nothing about it. James gives a similar admonishment in his letter…

James 1:23-24, If anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was.

Illus – “He is like a man…” He used a word that means “a male.” A man will only glance at a mirror, but a woman will behold in a mirror. Women may even have a series of mirrors they use to get started in their day.

      The two greatest commandments God has ever given are that you are to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. The second greatest is like it; you are to love your neighbor as yourself.

      This chapter is, as we saw last week, about how to honor God with how you live your faith in your everyday life – whatever you do, do it by faith and honor to God. But it’s also about loving your brother.

      In Paul’s day when he wrote this letter, but also in modern times, people live out their faith differently. Some, in all faith and in honor to God, have many freedoms. Others, in all faith and in honor to God, have many restrictions.

      Again, we need to clarify that we are not talking about things that are clearly sinful. We are talking about areas in which the bible does not give clear direction and things are open for interpretation.

      Each one of us will give an account of our lives to God in how we lived out our faith. But can we not therefore respect our brother? We need more grace with each other. Don’t judge your brother or regard your brother with contempt; he will give his own account to God.

      Do you have convictions by faith? Great. But don’t look with contempt at others who don’t have your identical convictions for there is a spiritual principle that is higher – love your brother.

I. Walk According to Love

  • This is the guiding principle over all these verses.
  • Paul turns it around. He says that instead of judging your brother, rather be determined not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in your brother’s way.
  • So do whatever will help your brother on his journey of faith.
  • Paul uses food as an example in these verses many times as it was extremely relevant at that time because of the influence of Jewish law.
  • Verse 15 – If because of food your brother is hurt, you are no longer walking according to love.
  • Paul says that he is convinced that nothing is unclean in itself, but to him who thinks something is unclean, it is. We talked about this last week. If someone would eat something that he thought was unclean, it would bring him under condemnation feeling that he was disappointing God.
  • But then if you, in the context of this example, are convinced that there’s nothing wrong with eating pork, would, just to prove a point, eat it in front of that person, it would not be an act of love towards your brother.
  • That thing might be the obstacle that pushes him away from faith. That’s why Paul says do not destroy with your food him for whom Christ died.

Illus – In all cultures there are things that are allowed, and things that are offensive. In some cultures, it is considered good manners to break wind after dinner. It compliments the chef.

  • Some things can maybe be overlooked, like the previous example, but some things offend people on a much deeper serious level.

1 Corinthians 9:19-23, For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more. To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.

  • Paul is not talking about sinning with them, but to be able to relate to them to win them for Christ.

John 13:35, “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

A. Don’t offend your brother

  • We need more grace with each other. Don’t judge one another, Paul says, instead, extend grace and don’t put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way.
  • Talk about putting a stumbling block in a brother’s way, here’s an important, but sensitive example…

Illus – Let’s take the dress code of a Christian woman.  Some parents ask Andrew if he addresses modesty in the dress code with the teenagers, seeing that it looks like nowadays anything goes. The way the world dresses today is literally without restrictions.  A Christian woman can say, well, I have the freedom to wear anything, or the lack of anything, I want. It is not my problem if a man cannot keep his eyes to himself! The question is rather, do you want to be a stumbling block? Is that the type of attention you want? Does it glorify God? Is that a heart of love and compassion, or is it a sign of a heart that wants to be right and make a point? By the way, the type of ‘advertisement’ you put out will attract a certain type of ‘buyer’.

1 Corinthians 8:9, Take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.

  • Paul then brings up food again; if, by faith, you have freedom to eat all things, then don’t flaunt your Christian liberty, but respect others who, by faith, have more restrictions.
  • In Paul’s day, there might have been some meat that was sacrificed to idols. Paul knew that idols were nothing, but this became a big issue…

1 Corinthians 10:25, 28, Eat anything that is sold in the meat market without asking questions for conscience’ sake… But if anyone says to you, “This is meat sacrificed to idols,” don’t eat it for the sake of the conscience of the one who informed you.

B. Don’t be easily offended

  • Paul says, in our Christian maturity, we should not offend our brother, but our maturity of faith should also cause us to not be easily offended. Some people you don’t try to offend, but they easily take offense over everything. It is very difficult to work with such a person.

Illus – Nowadays people can get easily offended. I think it is part of our consumer-driven society. People even get offended in church. From the sound volume to the AC, to the worship, to the style of teaching.  Even not getting a meeting with the pastor when they want it. A pastor friend of mine has a great story about this…

  • Taking offense shows something about your own spiritual maturity. People can try and ‘give’ you offense, but it is your choice if you ‘take’ it.
  • Whenever you feel offended, it is a great growing opportunity. What makes you feel offended? Is the situation attacking your feeling of worth? Do the person’s actions make you feel disrespected, or insignificant? Is it a matter of pride, or entitlement?
  • The reason taking offense is displeasing to God is that it’s destructive to relationships. Families, friendships, and even churches have been divided by people taking offense. In the end it hurts you too, as it can lead to anger and bitterness.

Illus – That reminds me of a story I heard Pastor Rich tell about some famous church splits in Centerville, Georgia…

  • Some people become “offended” as a way of getting others to do what they want. It becomes a manipulation tool. It makes one think of a toddler throwing a tantrum.
  • We should have the heart of Christ. We are above these things. Did Christ take offense when they nailed him to the cross?

II. Pursue the Things which Make for Peace

  • The key word there is “pursue.” It means to make a real effort; to make this important; pursue with all diligence the things which make for peace.
  • This is about loving your brother and it comes out of our relationship with God. God values people and He wants us to respect one another.

Romans 12:17-18, Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.

A. This is acceptable to God and approved by men

  • The kingdom of God, Paul says, is righteousness, peace, and joy. God is pleased when we pursue these things.
  • Righteousness – because we are not made acceptable to God by the keeping of laws, we are made righteous by God Himself who gave to us the righteousness of Christ as a gift. Your assured relationship with Christ anchors you. If you then do something ‘under the law’ because of your love for your brother, it doesn’t affect or define you.
  • Peace – “My peace I give to you,” Jesus said. There is a calm confidence in Christ that is unflappable and undisturbed in the irritations of the moment. We can be at peace and be peacemakers grounded in this.
  • Joy – because joy comes from a delight that finds purpose and meaning in life. Joy comes, not because of circumstances, but because of who we are in Christ. Don’t lose your joy over irritations in life.
  • We have Joy in the Holy Spirit. In other words, the Spirit of God lives in us. He is the surety of our salvation, knowing that, for all eternity, we cannot be separated from God. We have that eternal hope that is the foundation of our joy.
  • Paul also says that he who serves Christ in this way will be approved by men. In other words, there is something very desirable in people who are peacemakers, who are willing to yield their rights in respect to those who genuinely struggle with an issue. The peacemakers will be called sons of God (Matthew 5), because you are displaying God’s character.

B. Pursue building up one another

  • In other words, pursue, seek for ways to bless other people; to edify and build them up.

Ephesians 4:29, Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.

App – Even truth can be hurtful. Sometimes it is not what you say, but how you say it. Wrap truth and logic in love.

James 3:10-11, from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water?

  • For some people this is a radical concept, and they say, “Look, this is just the way I am, okay?” They have a fast ‘mouth response time’. Actually, that’s who you used to be, and perhaps still are, but the question now is who will you become?

Illus – Some people are under the false assumption that who they are is somehow locked into their genetic code and they have no choice but to live out the disposition given to them. This may be true of alligators and hyenas, but there is something much higher at work in those who are in Christ Jesus.

Illus – I have seen the hardest men with the hardest hearts change to men with a soft heart that gets tears in their eyes when they speak about what Jesus has done, I have seen the most fearful timid women be changed into wonderful, Christ assured women who are still gentle but affirmed by Christ.

  • In Christ, you are a new creation, a brand-new man. You have a new Father. You are in a new lineage. You can radically change. The things you used to do, you don’t have to do any more. Sin no longer has authority over you. In Christ, you have authority over it.
  • It is about how you see your identity. From this new identity, you can treat others differently as well.
  • Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. God is love and when you build your life on the principles of His kingdom in line with the heart of Christ, you can also love – even the unlovable.

Illus – People act out of their past, and their hurt. It is like when an animal has been caught in a snare…

  • Many are held hostage by their past, their beliefs, their hurt, their insecurities, and they act out of that. God loves them. God wants to set them free.
  • I always ask God to help me see people the way He sees them.
  • I remind myself that their lashing out might not be at me personally.
  • We need to rise above that and love them through it, because it is something inside themselves that is holding them hostage. Christ wants to set them free.
  • By loving people past their actions is how the love of Christ is revealed to their hearts.
  • This is how Love wins.

Romans 14:13-23    NASB

13 Therefore 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. 14 I 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. 15 For 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. 16 Therefore do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil; 17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 For he who in this way serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. 19 So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another. 20 Do 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. 21 It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles. 22 The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. 23 But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin.


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