Christian Love and Liberty

Christian Love and Liberty

Romans 14:1-23

In question are things to which there are not clear Biblical answers. These are problems which Scripture gives little to no guidance, or to which the rituals or ceremonies no longer have meaning.

In the church of Rome there were people from diverse backgrounds, similar to our nation of the USA today. It was pluralistic, and divided by many cultures. Some of the Christians were Jewish and had been subjected to many ceremonial laws and rituals. Just how was a Jewish Christian to view these matters now? These laws included certain meats which were not lawful to eat. Another culture was pagan and they worshipped idols and could eat the meats.

Becoming Christian, and not realizing the new freedom they had in Christ; they might feel guilt for not participating in the Jewish ceremonies, holy days, and no longer rejecting certain meats. They were still weak, and of an immature faith. They would also judge others for their lack of participation as well.

The pagan/Gentiles becoming Christians would forsake their idols they had worshipped, refuse to eat any meat that had been offered to those idols. Because of their immaturity they would pass judgment upon the other Christians who had the liberty to purchase the meat and eat it.

Paul addresses these issues in this chapter. For the immature Christian to participate in something they believe to be sin it is sin. For the mature Christian to participate in something they know will offend the immature Christian; it is sin. The mature Christian is at liberty to live for Christ, and will not be offended by the acts of others.

1.  The Christian in Love Receives the Weak (vv. 1-3).

Not for the purpose of argument. To love, strengthen, encourage, and teaching the doctrines and truths of God’s Word. If the one who does not eat does not judge the one who does eat, but the one who does eat judges the one who does not; which of the two is the mature one? It is the one who has not judged.

2. The Christian in Love Refrains from Judging the One Who is Bound (4-14).

We are all accountable to God. He is our judge. If I judge a fellow Christian a sinner because they have no conviction against drinking beverage alcohol, and they drink it in my presence or not, then, am I judging rightly? Only if they are drunk. My conviction is that Christians should refrain from imbibing in beverage alcohol, but it does not offend me, or cause me to stumble if others do.

3. The Christian in Love Restrains the Freedom Which May Offend the Weak (vv. 15-23).

One of the greatest acts of love is freedom which will not offend or harm others. New Christians may not understand some of the freedoms we have in Christ. We never have the freedom to offend weaker brothers and sisters in Christ. There is no law that can empower us to live a righteous life (Gal. 5:22-23). “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Cor. 3:17).

-Tim A. Blankenship

Treatment of Others

Believer’s Treatment of Others

Romans 12:9-21

Jesus told us, “By this shall all men know that you are My disciples, if you have love one to another.” John 13:35. There is no question about it God/Christ has established one Church – His Body. Those who are in His body love one another. It cannot be otherwise. No believer can love God and hate another. To say one loves God, and to hate another is hypocrisy.

To love God is to hate evil. Paul uses the word “Abhor”. The true believer will hate evil just as our holy and righteous God hates it. We will hate evil because we see evil as the hyenas. They are mortal enemies, and so should the Christian and sin be also.

1. Christian love is to be without hypocrisy. To say you love and do not show love is hypocrisy, and does nothing to aid or help the brethren in need. Christian love does not speak ill of another. Does not speak one way to one, and different way to the one spoken of. Christian love prefers others over self. (vv. 9 – 10).

2. Christian diligence. When a Christian sees the need of a brother/sister they will react to with haste to see that need is filled. They will act to the point of taking care of that need themselves when they are able to do so. Hospitality is caring for the needs of others (vv. 11 – 13).

3. Christian grace. Show grace to those who will persecute you (v. 14).

4. Christian rejoicing. We ought to rejoice when our brother/sister is rejoicing. We may not be able to always understand our brother’s grief, but we can still be sympathetic and weep with them when they are weeping. Never thinking of ourselves more highly, because we are not the one who is suffering; you will (vv. 15 – 16).

5. Christian treatment of the ungodly. There is no doubt Christians will have those who could be our enemies. However, our real enemy is Satan. He uses others to spew forth his venomous hatred of all that is godly.

* Therefore, it is good for us to remember not to do evil deeds against evil. Our first reaction is to strike out, but the nature of Christ in us enables and empowers us to love.
* The believer is to seek peace with all people. We know however, that is not always possible.
* We are to seek forgiveness for any wrong we have done; not hold a grudge, nor seek to avenge wrongs done to us. If we are bitter it is a sign of a lack of peace with the one we are bitter toward.
* If we seek to avenge a wrong done to us; eye for eye, tooth for tooth, life for life, then we enter the realm that belongs only to God and government. We must realize that God’s justice is far greater than our own. We need to keep in mind that in this passage of Scripture he is writing of the individual not society or government. God has given authority to human government to avenge (Romans 13:4). Vengeance belongs to God alone.

6. Do good things to and for those who mistreat you. If he/she is hungry give them something to eat and drink. If you see a bad neighbor’s cow in the road, open the gate and put it back in his pasture. Bake a cake and take it to them. These kind acts may just gain you a brother or sister and maybe both, in Christ.

7. Contrary to what some and many may think there is much more power in love than in hate. Trying to overcome evil with evil only adds fuel to an already blazing fire. Love has a calming affect. “Overcome evil with good.”

Day 88 – The Christian and Discernment

It has been said that the best way to identify a counterfeit is to really know the real thing.  It has been told to me by one who has experience as a teller that banks train them to get the feel for the real paper money, and when a counterfeit passes through their fingers it is almost immediately identified.  Do they study the counterfeit?  Not at all.  They get to know the genuine article.

There is a great illustration, even parable of sorts to that thought for the Christian.  I used to spend a lot of time studying  different religions; and I find no fault in doing so; but to use great caution, and know the true God and His Son Jesus personally.

My reading today began in the First Epistle of John the apostle; and ended with Revelation chapter 2.  The Epistles of John have been called “Love Letters” to the Christians; if they have not been, maybe they should be; because the First one is all about Christian love; first for God and His Son Jesus, and second the Christian’s love one for another.

In the First Epistle John covers much about love, loving one another, and he also deals with discernment in chapter four.

“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.  Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.”  1 John 4:1-3 (KJV)

To hear some professing Christian leaders speak today you would think that any belief is alright, and get you to heaven; as long as you have “faith”.  John nails it down to what one believes about Jesus Christ.  There is strong implication in the above text that John is viewing Jesus as Deity “come in the flesh”.  God came down to man in the form of a man.  John says anyone teaches that is of God; if not they are not of God.  It is sad to say there are some religions, Christian cults who believe that Jesus came in the flesh and is deity; but they add to that by teaching that all of us can become Christ, and be gods.  That is a distortion of the truth.

My friends do you know Jesus, the one and only Son of God, who became flesh, dwelt among us, died for our sins, was buried, and bodily rose from the grave; and is now seated at the right hand of God the Father?  God has no other sons, but those who are born again through the blood of Jesus Christ.

In Second John he writes of the “doctrine of Jesus Christ”, and most likely is referring to His being God in flesh; warning,

“Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.  If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: for he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.”  2 John 9-11

In Third John he writes of a man in the church who loves dominating others, even prohibiting  John even from speaking in said church;

“I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.  Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God.” 3 John 9-11

A man name of Diotrephes is the guilty party.  Sometimes it is sad to admit but there are folks who call themselves Christian and pastor, bishop or elder who endeavor to dominate other people in the church.  Diotrephes was an evil man, keeping even the apostles of Jesus Christ out of the church, and excommunicating all who favored them.

I also read Jude.  Jude is believed to have been the half brother of Jesus, though he calls himself, “The servant/slave of Jesus Christ”.  In verse 11 he writes,

“Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.”  Jude 11

If you would like to read more study on the book of Jude follow this link.

Mentioning three Old Testament personalities in this one verse; Cain the brother of Abel whom he killed and rejecting the way of God;  Balaam who led the enemy of Israel to cause them to sin; and Korah who was a rebel along with Dathan and Abiram, against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness journey (Numbers 16).  Still we see the need for discernment in the Body of Christ.

In the Revelation of Jesus Christ chapters one and two we see Jesus revealing Himself to John the apostle while he is being held prisoner on the isle of Patmos for his faith in Christ and preaching the gospel of Christ.  Oh, if there is ever a truer presentation of who Jesus is it is here.  Jesus says to John,

“I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending,’ saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.”  Revelation 1:8

“I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, 11 Saying, ‘I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.'” Revelation 1:10-11 (KJV)

And in verse 17 He says again, “Fear not; I am the first and the last”.  No one can honestly say that except they be the incarnate Son of God, God in flesh.  Know Jesus and you will be able to discern the true from the false.  Know the Word of God and you will know the Living Word of God.  Remember what John wrote in John 1;

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”  John 1:1

“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” John 1:14

God has given us the ability, and power to be discerning; practice it for your life’s sake, for the Church’s sake; mostly for the sake of Jesus Christ Himself, and His glory.

-Tim A. Blankenship