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I WOULD NEVER DO THAT!
Intro: The church of Jesus Christ is made up of individuals at every possible level of spirituality. There are those who are fully aware of the freedom and the liberty that they enjoy in Jesus and they live accordingly. On the other end of the spectrum are those who walk in fear of becoming defiled with the contamination of the world and they live accordingly. If that were the end of it, there would be no problem. However, those who realize and enjoy their liberty in Jesus are constantly being judged by those who think they live too loose of a life. While those who are strict in their application of biblical standards are constantly being criticized by those who have adopted a looser standard. One group is called liberal and compromisers, while the other group is legalistic and harsh.
Paul seeks to find a balance in the verses we have read this evening. You see, there are some things in life that are crystal clear! The Bible is plain when it tells us that we should not drink, use drugs, curse, commit adultery, kill, steal, lie, etc. These things are beyond debate and people who practice such things are sinners. That is not my judgment, but that is a clear statement of the Word of God. However, there are other areas of life that are not so clear. For instance, how long should a man’s hair be? Should men wear beards and mustaches? Should women wear pants? Should Christians watch TV? Should believers go to the movies? You might be surprised to hear it, but these are issues that people struggle over every day of their lives.
Tonight, Paul gives us some insight into handling these doubtful areas of our lives. At the very least, he helps us to know how to deal with that brother or sister in Christ who has a different opinion than ours. That is the subject matter that I want to address as I preach for a while on the thought, I Would Never Do That! Notice the truths that are revealed here.
I. v. 1-4 WE ARE TO AVOID FOOLISH JUDGMENT
A. v. 2 We Are Commanded To Recognize Our Christian Brother Paul speaks of a situation that was prevalent in the early church. There were Gentiles who had been saved out of extreme paganism. These people had turned their backs on idolatry, and would not dare go anywhere near anything associated with that lifestyle. On the other hand, there were Jews in the early church who had been shown, through the Gospel, that they had the liberty to eat meats, even if those meats had been sacrifices to idols. They knew the idols weren’t real and that the meat was just that: meat! (Note: This is an issue dealt with by Paul, at length, in 1 Cor. 8:1-10:33.) Of course the focus of these verses is the weaker brother, that one who is more easily offended by the practices of another. We are to understand that there are people all around us who see things differently than we do. We need to recognize that fact! In other words, we are not the only dog on the walk, and what others think about the way we live our life matters! Not everyone is going to agree with your standards or mine and that is OK!
B. v. 1 We Are Cautioned To Receive Our Christian Brother Some people would like to shun those believers who are weak in the faith. Why? The main reason is that they have all kinds of hang-ups. You see the problem with the weaker brother is this: He has never come to terms with the liberty that he has in Jesus Christ. He is so afraid of getting dirty that he places standards upon his life that are more restrictive than those placed there by the Bible. As a result, he comes to believe that he the stronger brother and that everyone around him should live up to his standards. This causes problems for those who have to live with this kind of person. Paul’s thought here is that we are not to turn the weaker brother away from our fellowship, but we are not to allow his self-imposed standards to dominate our lives. In other words, his restrictions should not be allowed to cause division or disunity within the church family.
C. v. 3-4 We Are Challenged To Respect Our Christian Brother If we are not careful, we will allow our differences to drive a wedge between us. If I think you shouldn’t do a certain thing and you do it anyway, I have to be big enough in the lord to over look it for unities sake! You see, there are some things that are worth dying for, things like doctrine, the Bible, etc. They are worth standing for, even if it makes the rest of the church mad as the devil! However, there are some things that nothing more than mere personal opinion. These kinds of things must never be allowed hinder the unity of the church! Paul gives us two thoughts that will help us in this area.
1. v. 3 We Are To Respect His Principles Whether a professing believer agrees with us or not is not the issue! Whatever convictions he may hold concerning some activity of life, they are his and he has every right to them. I may never agree with him or see it his way, but I am not to despise him, (to say he is no account; to hold a lower opinion of), nor am I to judge him, (to make a declaration regarding his spiritual condition.) I may not agree with him, but I am still to respect Him, and give him room to live his life as the Lord leads him!
2. v. 4 We Are To Respect His Position The whole idea of this verse is that none of us is God! We didn’t save this brother. We don’t keep him saved. We don’t lead him and he does not answer to us! If his life is not an issue to God, why should it be one to us? So, regardless of what you think about what another believer does in his or her life, ultimately, they are not accountable to you or to me!
(Ill. There is a sense in which we are all accountable to one another. However, in this matter of dealing with things that are not clearly defined by the Bible as being either right or wrong, we are accountable to no one but God!)
II. v. 5-9 WE ARE TO ASPIRE TO FAITHFUL JUDGMENT
A. v. 5 In The Matter Of Convictions Now Paul turns his attention to the matter of worship days and holy days. Some people elevate one day above another and tell us “this is the day you are supposed to worship. However, Paul tells us that whatever day we choose to worship, we are not to violate our conscience. We are to listen to the Spirit in our hearts as He leads us from matter to matter. There are some things that are simply not clear! In those issues, I have to base my decisions about what I do solely on what I feel in my conscience. If I am bothered about doing it, I am sinning when I do it. If I can do it and can honestly do it “as unto the Lord, then it is all right! We are not to violate our personal convictions!
B. v. 6 In The Matter Of Consecration This verse reinforces the idea I just stated. In every issue that arises in life, I need to ask myself, Is this something I can do to honor God? Does this honor Him? Or does it dishonor Him? Can I do this with a clear conscience? Does it even contain the even slightest hint of wrong or evil? Can I really say that this glorifies the Lord? These are valid questions they should be used to determine that which we allow or disallow in our lives. (Ill. I Thes. 5:22; 1 Cor. 10:31; 1 Thes .5:18) If the spirit of these verses cannot be maintained in doing whatever it is you are thinking about, then it would be wrong for you to do it!
C. v. 7-9 In The Matter Of Consequences Regardless of whether we are a weak Christian or a strong Christian, there are consequences for the choices we make in life. Paul mentions two realms in which there are consequences to expect.
1. v. 7 The Earthly Realm The idea is this: not one of us is an island to him or herself, people are watching you. By your life, they will either be helped in their walk with God, or they will be hindered in that walk. There are certain things that it would be perfectly lawful for me to do this evening; however, to do them would result in other believer stumbling in their faith. Therefore, I must refrain from doing things that are lawful for the sake of the brethren. There are several verses in the Word of God that back this up: Mark 9:42; 1 Cor. 8:9-13; 1 Cor. 10:23-24. What is in view here is a life of love! The Christian who walks in the love of God for his fellow believer will always put other’s needs ahead of his own, 1 Cor. 13:4-8; Phil. 2:4.
2. v. 8-9 The Eternal Realm While the spiritual growth and life of our brother is of vast importance, there is a concern that outweighs that: we are reminded that above all else, our lives are to be pleasing to the Lord! We are His, 1 Cor. 6:19-20, and as such, we have no rights over how we live our lives. The overarching consideration should always be: How does this fit into the plan of God for my life? Whether we grasp it or not, whether people teach it or not, Jesus is Lord! His function as Savior cannot be divorced from His function as Lord! In the final analysis, He is the only One we have to please. If we live lives that honor Him, He will take care of the rest of the situation for us.
III. v. 10-12 WE ARE TO ANTICIPATE FUTURE JUDGMENT
A. v. 10a Judgment Is Restricted Here - While we walk on this earth, may we always remember that we do not have the right to play God in the lives of our brethren and pass judgment on them. If a brother is living in open sin, and is violating clear biblical standards, then we have an obligation to speak to him about his life, Pro. 27:5-6; Pro. 17:10; Psa. 141:5. If we are convinced that they are in the wrong, then we are to pray for them and trust the Spirit of God to speak to their hearts. However, if the power of God is on their life, then maybe we are more concerned about that thing than God is! Therefore, let us learn to keep our self-righteous judgments to ourselves!
B. v. 10b-12 Judgment Is Rendered There One day that brother that we think is such a compromiser will stand before the Lord and he will give an account of his life to the Lord that saved him. Than, the accounts will be settled. Then he will be dealt with properly. There, he will either be blessed, or he will suffer the loss of reward, 1 Cor. 3:10-15. On that day, he will get exactly what is coming to him, no more and no less! However, just as that brother will stand before the Lord, so will every single on of us! It may just be that we will find out that everything was not as we thought it was either! It will be a day of perfect reckoning and just accounting. Therefore, may the Lord help us to learn to avoid judging the brethren and concern ourselves with living the right kind of life before the Lord. One day we will answer to Him and one another!
Conc: With all this truth in our minds, it might be good to remember the words of Paul in Philippians 2:12, “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. If I am going to judge a life, let it be my own life! If I am going to be a blessing to my brothers in Christ, let me not seek to do it by setting myself up as their judge and jury, but rather let me love them, pray for them and live my life in such a manner that I am blessing to them and not a hindrance! Have you been guilty of imposing your standards on other believers? Have you been guilty of setting up your own little kangaroo court from which you rendered judgment on everyone else’s life? We have all done it from time to time! Sadly, some do it all the time! There is a cure for this problem and it is called repentance. The help you need to be a pleasant Christian and a blessing to the church is found in Him. If there is that need this evening, then this altar is open!