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Lesson 13: Christian Living *

Introduction: We come to the last study in our series on the book of Romans. This book is a blessing! As a practical matter, we will end with Romans 14 and not be able to cover that last two chapters of Romans. One of my favorite chapters in the Bible is Romans 14. Perhaps it is because it allows us to be "holy hypocrites" - in limited circumstances. The great thing about this chapter is that Paul schools us on what is really important in our life for Christ. Let's dig into our study of the Bible and learn more!

  1. Vegetables

    1. Read Romans 14:1-2. Why would being a vegetarian have anything to do with a weak faith? (Read 1 Corinthians 10:18-22. The issue was weather meat sold in the marketplace had previously been offered to idols. Who could tell? We can see why some Christians would be concerned about eating meat that might have been offered to an idol.)

      1. Read 1 Corinthian 10:23-26. What does Paul say is the proper solution for this concern? (Go ahead and eat the meat. What Paul continues to say in 1 Corinthians 10 reflects what we are studying in Romans 14.)

      2. Skim over Acts 15 to remind yourself of the controversy being debated and resolved in the early church. Then read Acts 15:23-29. What did the early church decide regarding the issue of eating meat offered to idols? (It was one of the few specifically prohibited things!)

    2. Let's look again at Romans 14:1. If we are correct that the issue is avoiding eating meat offered to idols (and it is hard to imagine the issue could be anything else), what does Paul call this issue? ("Disputable.")

      1. How can Paul call "disputable" an issue that was decided by the church in a formal meeting to resolve the controversy over circumcision - and apparently other matters like eating meat offered to idols? (Let's just hold this issue in our mind and see if we can resolve it later as we study the rest of this chapter.)

    3. Read Romans 14:3-4. Why should a Christian accept the one who acts inconsistently with a decision made by the leaders of the church in a formal session? (The key to this must depend, in large part, on the statement in Romans 14:1 that the issue is "disputable." I would think that if the church formally decided an issue, it was not disputable. But, this is part of the mystery that we need to resolve.)

      1. What is the main conclusion that we should reach from reading these verses in Romans 14? (Not to be judgmental. Not to show contempt toward those who disagree with us.)

  2. Holy Days

    1. Read Romans 14:5. I consider Saturday to be the true Sabbath of the Bible, a day more sacred than the others. Is Paul talking about me? Am I being corrected? (If you read older Bible commentaries(meaning around 100 years old) you will find Bible scholars of the day who are Sunday keepers arguing strongly that Paul is not talking about the weekly day of worship. They did not want Christians to stop showing up at church on Sunday! What these scholars argued, and I believe is correct, is that the Old Testament holidays and feasts were also considered sacred days. Since those holidays and feasts were tied to the sacrificial system that was fulfilled at the cross, they would fit Paul's definition of a holy day that is a "disputable matter." I do not think that keeping the weekly Sabbath is disputed anywhere in the Bible - but that is another study.)

    2. Read Romans 14:6-8. If we disagree about disputable matters, what rule does Paul say applies? (We should do what we think the Lord permits and be grateful. The goal in everything is to live a life that brings glory to God.)

      1. What if a person argues that a matter is "disputable," and the argument for the "dispute" is that times have changed and the Bible is irrelevant to resolving the issue? (That kind of argument raises the question of whether the person making the claim does so "to the Lord." It might be that some do not really care what God requires of us.)

  3. Relationships

    1. Read Romans 14:10-12. Whose judgment should concern us? (God's judgment. We need to be careful about judging others, and we should treat with respect those who disagree with us on disputable matters.)

    2. Read Romans 14:13. If we think we are right about something, what is wrong with "laying down the law?" By that I mean enforcing those things that we think are what God requires? (The problem is creating a "stumbling block." Another Christian is growing in faith and may not understand God's will very well. We must not discourage that person from continuing on the Christian journey by being judgmental.)

    3. Read Romans 14:14. What is the rule if you believe that you must not eat meat offered to idols or that certain holy days must be observed? (If you think that, then you must do what you believe is right.)

    4. Read Romans 14:15-18. We can clearly see that Paul is in favor of eating meat and paying no attention to the holy days observed by some. What is the obligation of someone who has the same views as Paul towards those who disagree? (Avoid getting into a conflict over your differences on disputable matters.)

      1. Look again at Romans 14:17. What is central to the Christian life? ("Righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." What is not central is "eating and drinking.")

      2. Let's revisit the issue that I told you to hold in your mind at the very beginning of this study. How can Paul call "disputable" the formal decision of the Church to prohibit eating meat offered to idols? (It is a matter of "eating and drinking," not a matter of righteousness, peace and joy. This gets us back to part of our study last week. Read Romans 13:9-10. This teaches that the purpose of the Ten Commandments is to show love to others. We need to always keep in mind what is important (an attitude of love and creating peace and joy) and what is not (rules about eating, drinking and other technical matters).)

    5. A Christian should always be open to re-examine his or her beliefs. What reason is there to believe that the Sabbath is not a technical detail, like eating and drinking? (Recall that the big things are love, righteousness, peace and joy. In Genesis, the Sabbath celebrated God's work of creation. In Exodus, the Sabbath celebrated the creation and a day of rest. In Deuteronomy, the Sabbath celebrated the rescue from Egyptian slavery. At the cross, Jesus rested in the grave on the Sabbath to celebrate His defeat of sin and His rescue for every person who accepts Him. It is hard for me to imagine an issue more connected to love, righteousness (by faith), peace and joy!)

    6. Read Romans 14:19-22. What should you do if a new (or weaker) Christian thinks you should not eat or drink something and you, a mature Christian, thinks that is just fine? (This is where we get to be "holy hypocrites." Paul tells us don't eat or drink the disputable thing. I believe he means in front of the weak Christian. Instead "keep it to yourself.")

      1. What does this say about the discussion of disputable matters in your Bible study group? (Keeping it to yourself is good advice - especially when you will cause a weaker Christian to stumble.)

      2. What about helping someone to become more mature in their faith? What about bringing them to a more reasonable conclusion? (Read Romans 14:23. We need to remember that unless the person is convinced on the point, it is still sin for him. So, beware!)

    7. Read Romans 15:1-4. What should be our final conclusion about this discussion of disputable matters? (The goal is to build others up. We need to sacrifice our own (mature, correct) views to lift up those less mature around us. In disputable matters, the true goal is to show love.)

    8. Friend, has this study of Romans changed how you think about the law and right living? Paul teaches us to look higher. Look at whether your actions are promoting righteousness, love, peace and joy. If you have not focused on this in the past, will you ask the Holy Spirit to change your attitude?

  4. Next week: We begin a new series on stewardship.
* Copr. 2017, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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