Click here to join the effort!
To avoid unnecessary Contentions in the Church, from the Custom Jews and Gentiles, the Apostle directs this Chapter to the mutual Accommodation of each, in Things of small Moment.
Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations. (2) For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs. (3) Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him.
We shall derive great improvement from what is here said, with an eye to the spirit of accommodation, in things of small moment between Jew and Gentile, if we take occasion therefrom, to make use of the same kind of reasoning, in the circumstances which concern the weaker and humbler Christian. There are great diversities of gifts, the Apostle saith, in the Church; but it is the same Spirit, who divideth to every man severally as he will, 1 Corinthians 12:11 . And there cannot be a more beautiful or engaging character in life, whether minister, or people, than the man who kindly and affectionately accommodates himself to the several situations of those in the Church, with whom he hath to do. For it is a point, which should never be lost sight of, that all the souls of the redeemed are equally dear to Christ. And, what is equally dear to Him, should be also equally dear to everyone of his members. To bear with their infirmities, to watch over their weaknesses, to be gentle and forbearing, and in every department, to manifest the Spirit of Christ, while professing to be under the influence of Christ, is a blessed testimony of belonging to Christ; or, as Scripture beautifully expresses it: strengthening the weak hands, and confirming the feeble knees, Isaiah 35:4 .
Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand. (5) One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. (6) He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks. (7) For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. (8) For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's.
I pass by the several circumstances related within these verses, interesting as they are, to call the Reader's attention to what the Apostle hath said, of the lives of God's people not being to themselves, but to the Lord; and their deaths the same. And to be sure, nothing can be more blessed, than the consideration. If there was no other passage in the word of God, in confirmation of the union and oneness between Christ and his people than this; the glorious truth, as it is here expressed, would be a full testimony. The Church of Christ, and every individual of that Church, hath life in Christ, and that from all eternity. And what comes from Christ, must lead to and terminate in Christ. They have their being in him, they derive all from him, they live to him: and in their departure, they die not as others die who die out of Christ, for they sleep in Jesus. S o the Apostle expresses it, 1 Thessalonians 4:14 . And the voice John heard from heaven, when pronouncing them blessed, declared this as the cause of their blessedness: they die in the Lord. Revelation 14:13 . everyone of the seed of Christ, is part of Christ. Christ and his seed are one. For, saith the Apostle, speaking of the Church, we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones, Ephesians 5:30 . Reader! do not lose sight of it, for it is most precious! And see to it, that there be a correspondence in every part of conversation. He that liveth to the Lord, liveth on the Lord, making Christ the all in all; living to him, by lively actings of faith, upon his Person, blood, and righteousness: such will die in the Lord. For God the Father's Covenant love and faithfulness, God the Son's finished redemption, and God the Spirit's life-giving power; these are the same in life and death: and as the faithful live, so they die, rejoicing in hope of the glory of God.
For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living. (10) But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at naught thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. (11) For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. (12) So then everyone of us shall give account of himself to God. (13) Let us not therefore judge one another anymore: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way. (14) I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. (15) But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died. (16) Let not then your good be evil spoken of:
I cannot forego the pleasure it gives me, in calling the Reader's attention to that sweet Scripture, which so blessedly speaks, of the great end and purpose of all Christ's ministry upon earth, for his people. For to this end, (saith Paul,) Christ both died, and rose and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living. Precious Jesus! what proofs are here of thine unequalled love to thy Church? Thou art indeed, and justly so, the Lord of all; reigning in all, and through all the departments of nature, providence, grace, and glory. Eternal, Almighty, and Everlasting Monarch! Thy dead men shall live. Yea, thou wilt raise the dead in trespasses and sins, to the life of grace here: And, thou wilt raise the dead in Christ, to the life of glory hereafter. Blessed Jesus! And wilt thou not raise my soul now, during all the time-state of the Church, to be above all my dying frames and dead affections? Art thou not, Lord, risen and revived, that thou mightest be Lord both of dead and living ? Oh! for grace, daily to hear thy gracious and all-powerful voice saying : I am the resurrection and the life! he that believeth in me, though he where dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth, and believeth in me, shall never die! John 11:25-26 .
For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. (18) For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men. (19) Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another. (20) For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offense. (21) It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor anything whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.
What a very precious Scripture this is, in conclusion of what had been said, concerning all the controversies of meat and drink? The Kingdom of God is not meal and drink. Here we have the decision. Meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse, 1 Corinthians 8:8 . How everlastingly disposed the minds of men have been, in taking up with anything short of the change of heart! This throws to the ground every attempt of compromise with God. Nothing short of the work of God the Spirit in regeneration, can bring sinners to God. It is the special, and peculiar office of God the Holy Ghost, to effect this blissful change. He convinceth of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment. And, by holding up to the sinner's view, the Person, work, and glory of Christ, and working in the sinner's heart, faith to believe the record God hath given of his Son; he gives grace, to possess an interest, in all the communicable rights of the Lord Jesus, which he wrought for his people; and thus renders the kingdom of grace here, leading to a kingdom of glory hereafter, the privilege of the whole Church. Reader! doth your experience correspond with the Apostle's, and is this kingdom in your esteem, righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost? If so, sweet to the soul is the testimony of God the Spirit by the Apostle. For he that in these things serveth Christ, is acceptable to God, in the beloved , and approved of men!
Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth. (23) And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.
I only detain the Reader at the last clause of this Chapter, to observe, in what a tone of the most solemn decision, the Lord declares by his servant, that whatsoever is not of faith is sin. We have a strong expression elsewhere, of the importance of faith, in the sight of God, when it is said, that without faith it is impossible to please God, Hebrews 11:6 . But here, the want of it is said to be sin. And what becomes of the multitude of services, alms-givings, charities, and benevolent institutions, unfounded in faith? According to this Scripture, it is not enough to say, they have no claims to divine favor; but they are exposed to divine wrath. For whatsoever is not of faith is sin, According to this statement, (and let it be remembered it is scriptural,) there can be nothing to escape the Lord's displeasure, however specious it may appear to men, but what is undertaken with an eye to God in Christ. Every act of the creature, as the act of a sinful creature, must partake of sin. And, it is by faith only in Christ, that the iniquity of our most holy things are done away, Exodus 28:38 . But, if there be no respect to Christ in any act and faith of acceptance in Him, it is sin: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin. Perhaps it may be said, that upon this statement, all the high sounding deeds of thousands, which have filled the world with their praises, and their monuments, will come to nothing. No doubt they will. But it is not enough, according to this Scripture, merely to say, that they will come to nothing; for if they be found unfounded in Christ, they will be proved to be sin. And what a reverse of circumstances will take place at the great day of decision: while many who have given almost their body to be burned on the score of charity, but without faith in Christ, will be found in their very alms-deed in sin; many who have given nothing because they have had nothing to give, but the prayer of faith; will be then acknowledged, as the poor woman was by Christ when on earth, to have given a costly offering. Reader! may you and I have grace, to form a right estimate in all things. Whatsoever is not of faith is sin.
Reader! In all the circumstances of life we may well bear with the weak in faith, and receive none to doubtful disputations, while earnest in the grand points of the cross to contend for the faith once delivered unto the saints. In meats, and drinks, and inventions of men, and carnal ordinances, there is nothing worth contending for. But while all outward things, though they make a great shew of will-worship, satisfy the unawakened; let it be my pursuit, the things of inward peace. For the Lord's kingdom is not meat and drink, but righteousness and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. Blessed Lord Jesus! grant that my life may be a life of faith on thee; and then will my death, be a death of security in thee; for living, or dying, I shall be thine. And to all the lesser circumstances of life, may my walk through the world, in the unavoidable intercourses of it, be conducted with love to thy people from love to thee. Never to wound one of Christ's little ones here below, much less to destroy his comfort, though nothing can destroy his everlasting happiness for whom Christ died. And do thou, dearest Lord, grant me increasing faith in thee, since all, and every act, without an eye to thee, and thy righteousness, is sin.
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Romans 14". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent