Danny Brown (email@example.com) also published this material in book form. To purchase the book write to:
By Jesse G. Jenkins
As we approach a study of Romans 14, it is necessary that we remember it was written to the saints in Rome. It was not written to us, though it has been preserved for us. But it can not mean more or less to us now than it meant to them then. The message and application are the same now as they were then.
They had a problem. So, if we can identify their problem, we will know the application of Romans 14; for it was written to show them how to solve their problem. Thus, it shows us how to solve any parallel problem within a local church, but it was not written to solve a completely different kind of a problem within a local church, then or now! And it does not show us how to solve brotherhood problems; it was not written for that purpose.
If we can come to an agreement on this statement, we should be able to come to an agreement on the teaching and application of Romans 14.
So, let us identify the problem addressed in Romans 14. One was weak in the faith and one was not weak in the faith. But what is the meaning of “weak in the faith”? It is not weakness of conscience, for his conscience was so strong it would not allow him to eat certain meats. And his conscience was so strong it would condemn him if he did not observe certain days. When we determine the difference between the one who was weak in the faith and the one who was not weak in the faith, we will have learned what “weak in the faith” in this context means. The difference is really very easily identified. One was weak in his understanding of the faith relative to eating certain meats and observing certain days. The other understood that the faith made no distinction in either meats or days.
True, before receiving the Holy Spirit’s instructions, the one who would not eat certain meats thought it was a matter of the faith. Thus, to him it was a matter of conscience. But his thinking it was a matter of the faith did not make it so. God knew it was not a matter of the faith. And a very real purpose of Romans 14 was to get the weak in the faith to come to understand that the faith made no demands to abstain from certain meats and to observe certain days.
Therefore, the problem that Romans 14 was written to solve was a problem they were having over matters that were not of the faith, but matters about which God said both “yes” and “no;” thus matters of liberty. And just as surely as it was written to solve differences over matters of liberty, it is to be so used today to solve differences over matters of liberty. And just as surely as it was not written to solve problems over doctrinal matters, it is not to be so used today.
Their actions toward one another were for the one who was weak in his understanding of the faith to condemn the one who ate certain meats and did not observe certain days, and for the one who understood the faith in these matters to despise and set at naught the one who would not eat certain meats and did observe certain days. So, the weak was condemning the one who understood the faith and the strong was looking with disdain on the one who was weak in his understanding of the faith.
What correction did the Holy Spirit give? He told the one who thought eating certain meats was sinful and that observing certain days was required that he was wrong, i.e. he did not understand the faith. He told him that all meats were clean. Therefore, he was to understand this and stop condemning the one who ate certain meats and did not observe certain days. He told the one who understood the faith in these matters to stop despising and setting at naught the one who was weak in his understanding of the faith. Thus, if both parties believed the inspired instructions they came to agree that it was not wrong to eat certain meats and that observing certain days was not required. The fact that the weak in the faith now understood this is certain. One of two things is a fact: (1) after receiving inspired instructions from Paul, they now understood that it was not a matter of violating the faith for one to eat meat and that observance of certain days was not required, or (2) they flatly rejected and denied inspired revelation from the Holy Spirit. If they rejected and denied revelation from the Holy Spirit, Paul certainly would not have told the strong to receive them in that condition. If Paul had told those who received his inspired message to receive those who rejected it, then Romans 14 would be dealing with serious doctrinal matters, for rejecting and denying inspired revelation is certainly a serious doctrinal matter.
Now, that they had received Romans 14, they could all agree that eating meats was all right with God and that He did not require the observance of certain days. Therefore, the one who had been weak in the faith would stop condemning the one who ate meats and did not observe days, and the strong now understood that God did not care if some chose not to eat certain meats and to observe certain days as a matter of personal preference as long as they realized these things had nothing to do with salvation. So now, the strong would stop despising and setting at naught those who wanted to act differently than they in these matters. Thus, the purpose of the letter was accomplished – peace was established in the church at Rome. Let me impress upon your minds that Romans 14 was not written to tell them how to be behave if they rejected the Holy Spirit’s instructions. It was written to tell them how to behave now that they had received the Holy Spirit’s instructions. Yes, the Holy Spirit expected them to now understand and behave themselves accordingly.
Now that I have given a synopsis of the chapter, let us look at the text, New King James:
Verses 1-4: “Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things. For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables. Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him. Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls, indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.”
The one who understood the faith was to receive the one who was weak in his understanding of the faith, but not for the purpose of fussing with him about matters of liberty. Rather, he was to receive him for the purpose of working together peacefully. “Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.” (v.19).
One believed he could eat all kinds of meat, but he who was weak in his understanding of the faith ate only vegetables. The one who ate was not to despise the one who ate not; and the one who ate not was not to condemn the one who ate, because God received him since it was in harmony with God’s law for him to so eat. The Holy Spirit certainly would not tell one to receive another who was doing that which was sinful on the basis that God also received him in his sin. The reason that God received him and told the other to receive him was that he was acting in harmony with God’s law.
One may ask, since the one who had been weak in his understanding of the faith now understood that it was acceptable to God for him to eat meat, why did he still choose not to eat meat? I believe the answer to this is that even though he now understood the faith relative to eating meats, because of his personal background he had strong scruples that caused him to exercise his God approved personal preference not to eat. To illustrate, there was a man in a congregation where I preached in the early sixties who was converted from Seventh Day Adventism. He was taught all his life that it was a sin to eat pork. He now understood it was not a sin for a Christian to eat pork, but because of his personal background he had strong scruples that caused him to exercise his God approved personal preference not to eat pork. I have sat at the same table with him where everyone else ate pork. He did not judge us and we did not despise him. Just so, those who had been weak in their understanding of the faith now understood that it was not a violation of the new covenant for a Christian to eat meats. And he also understood that it was not a violation of the new covenant for him to exercise his personal preference not to eat meat when he no longer made it a matter of salvation and no longer judged those who did eat. They were told not to judge God’s servants by their own standards. They were not forbidden to judge another by God’s standards. In fact, it is a command that one do so: “judge righteous judgment” (John, 7:24) and “by their fruits ye shall know them” (Matthew 7:20). One stands or falls by how he treats God’s standards. As long as one is living in harmony therewith, God will make him stand, and a man condemning him will not change that.
Verses 5-6: “One person esteems one day above another, another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord, and he who does not observe the day to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks.”
The one who understood the faith knew that the new covenant has no holy days. The one who did not understand the faith thought the new covenant did have holy days. While Paul does not go into as much detail relative to days as he did relative to meats, we are to understand the same rule applies. They were to understand that one could, with God’s approval, choose not to observe a day or that one could, with God’s approval choose to observe a day as long as he understood it had nothing to do with his salvation. Therefore, he who chose to observe a day was not to condemn the one who did not observe a day; and the one who did not observe a day was not to despise and set at naught the one who did observe a day. Simply put, they were to receive one another because God received both. Each was to decide what he would do and then have no disputes with the other over it. He who chose to observe a day was to do it unto the Lord, and he who chose not to observe a day was to do it unto the Lord. Whatever choice one made, he was to do it to the glory of God: “whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). Certainly when one does that which the Lord requires, it is an “unto the Lord” service.
But even when that which one does is more than the Lord requires, it is an “unto the Lord” service. To illustrate, when a servant did more than was expected, it was still an “unto the Lord” service. Several years ago John Iverson was driving from Benchley to Rockdale each Sunday to preach. His car was old and whether he could make the trip each time was uncertain. L. R. Harding bought and gave John a very good car so he could make those trips without fearing a breakdown. Brother Harding’s service was beyond that required or expected, but it was certainly an “unto the Lord” service.
One may ask: since one now understood that God did not require him to observe any day, why did he still choose to observe a day? I believe the answer to this is that even though he now understood the faith relative to days, because of his personal background he had strong scruples that caused him to observe certain days. To illustrate, when I was a teenager, my Dad would not let my brothers and me play baseball on Sunday afternoon. He knew Sunday was not a holy day. And he did not condemn others who did play ball on Sunday. But he had strong scruples about doing such things on Sunday and chose his God approved personal preference for those in his house to abstain. So, whatever one chose to do – regard a day or not, eat or not – he was to do it unto the Lord.
Verses 7-9: “For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.”
No servant of God lives to himself or dies to himself. Whether one lives or dies, and everything in between, it is to be done “unto the Lord.” And when one so lives he is the Lord’s. Jesus Christ lived, died, rose and lives again that He can be the Christian’s Lord whether he lives or dies.
Verses 10-13: “But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written: As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then, each of us shall give account of himself to God. Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.”
Christ is the Judge. If a brother chooses to eat meats and not observe days, this is alright with his Judge so long as he does not use his liberty in a way to cause one weak in his understanding of the faith or one who has personal doubts to stumble. Therefore, it is wrong to condemn him in this. And if a brother chooses not to eat meat or to observe days, this is alright with his Judge so long as he does this as a personal preference and not as a matter of salvation. And it is wrong to show contempt for him in this. Each is going to give an account of himself to God. Therefore, the non-eaters were to stop judging the eaters. And the eaters were not to use their liberty in a way that would cause a weak brother to stumble.
Verses 14-18: “I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. Yet, if your brother is grieved because of your food, you are no longer walking in love. Do not destroy with your food the one for whom Christ died. Therefore, do not let your good be spoken of as evil; for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved of men.”
Paul got his knowledge that nothing is unclean of itself from the Lord. He is saying that under the new covenant no meat was unclean. But if one considered certain meat to be unclean, to him it was unclean. But now we have a problem that must be solved. How could anyone who understood the faith relative to eating meats yet consider certain meats unclean to himself?
We know that if one accepted inspired revelation he now understood no meat was counted unclean by God. And we know God would not tell the strong to accept one who flatly rejected inspired revelation. Therefore, those whom the Holy Spirit told the strong to receive now understood the faith relative to eating meats. So, how could he yet consider certain meats unclean to himself? I believe the answer to this is that even though he understood that not eating meat had nothing to do with salvation under the new covenant and that he must not condemn the brother who ate meat, his personal background would not let him in good conscience eat certain meats. To illustrate, the converted Adventist understood it was all right with God for a Christian to eat pork. But because of his personal background he could not in good conscience eat pork. The strong is told to show love for his brother, and even though he could eat meat in good conscience, he was not to so eat under circumstances that would cause a weak brother for whom Christ died to violate his conscience and thus fall. Eating meat is good, but to eat under circumstances that would cause a brother to stumble would be evil. The kingdom of God, and each citizen in His kingdom, is more important than eating and drinking. His kingdom does not consist of these mundane things, but it is righteousness, peace and joy in connection with the Holy Spirit’s revelation of the gospel. And he who serves God in righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit is acceptable to God and even men approve his life, for against such there is no law.
Verses 19-21: “Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are pure, but it is evil for the man who eats with offense. It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak.”
Both the eater and the non-eater are told to pursue the things that make for peace, namely, righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, for these things will not cause anyone to fall, but will build one another up in the faith. Even though all meats are pure, one is not to use his liberty to destroy the work of God, i.e., a soul He saved by the blood of Jesus. To do so would be evil. Therefore it is never good to use one’s liberty to eat meat or drink wine nor do anything that would cause a brother to stumble. And conversely, it is good to abstain from any liberty that would cause a brother to fall.
Before I proceed with the text, allow me to say a word about the “wine” of verse 21. I believe “eat meat nor drink wine” here is exactly the same as “eating and drinking” of verse 17. Thus, wine here is simply a mealtime drink. If one affirms wine here is an intoxicant, the burden of proof is upon him. I believe the context is against it.
Verses 22-23: “Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin.”
The man is blessed who will not use his liberty in such a way that will cause a brother to fall. To so use it is to condemn one’s self. Therefore, they are told to practice their liberty before God when it will not cause evil. Any man who doubts but goes ahead and eats violates his conscience and thus sins. And no one is to use his liberty when it will cause this.
Chapter 15:1-7: “We then who are strong ought to bear the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification. For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me. For whatsoever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scripture might have hope. Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God.” The strong is told to be so concerned about the weak that he will respect his scruples rather than please himself. Whether one is strong or weak, he should have the disposition to please his brother and to edify him. Jesus is our example and he has shown us that we ought to deny self for the benefit of others. Each is told to follow His example and be concerned for the souls of others. Now that they had received inspired instructions they could have one mind in these things and thus glorify God. Thus, they are told to receive one another to the glory of God just as Christ has received all who will respect and walk by His instructions. Please underline the fact that they were told to receive those whom Christ received. If a non-eater should have had the disposition that he was going to reject the Holy Spirit’s new covenant instructions about meats and direct his life by the instructions of the law, would Christ have received him? Galatians 5:4 answers: “You have been estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by the law, you have fallen from grace.” Therefore, it is certain that the ones the strong were told to receive now understood that the meat rule under the old covenant did not apply. And it is certain that they now accepted the Holy Spirit’s instructions that whether one ate meat or not had absolutely nothing to do with his salvation, except as related to conscience on the one hand, or to offense on the other.
Having shown what Romans 14 does teach, I want to direct your attention to some things it does not teach.
One brother said that a proper understanding and application of Romans 14 would solve all brotherhood problems. But even he will not accept the consequences of his statement, for he categorically denies that Romans 14 can be properly applied to some brotherhood problems, i.e., any moral or doctrinal issue. Furthermore, Romans 14 was written to show a local church how to solve local church problems over matters that were liberties. It was not written to solve brotherhood problems.
The purpose of Romans 14 was not to show a local church how to solve problems that were over doctrinal matters. The closest that any can come to showing that it was, is to show that some who did not understand the faith thought things that were liberties were things of the faith.
True, Romans 14 does mention some things that are doctrinal. To illustrate: if the non-eater kept on condemning the eater and if the eater kept on despising and setting at naught the non-eater, they would be disobeying a command from God. And brother, that is no indifferent thing to God. And the command to the strong not to eat meat under a circumstance that would cause a weak brother to stumble is doctrinal. And the command to pursue things that make for peace and edify one another is doctrinal. These are things that very much matter to God. But the fact remains that the purpose of Romans 14 was to correct a local church problem over a practice that God did not care if they did it or did it not.
The view that if Romans 14 does not deal with matters of the faith, it is of no practical value is totally absurd. Romans 14 tells us how to handle matters that may matter to us but do not matter to God. And if obeyed, it will go a long way toward keeping peace within a congregation.
Some have made lists of things in their teaching of Romans 14. These lists are worse than useless; they cause confusion. Every list has things that are matters of liberty and things that are matters of the faith. Some think some of the things that are matters of liberty are matters of the faith and some consider some things that are matters of the faith to be matters of liberty. When saints at Rome agreed on what was a matter of liberty, their problem was solved. And when saints today agree on what is a matter of liberty, they can understand that anything that is a liberty is not to be held as a matter of the faith – a matter of salvation. And they will, on the one hand, stop condemning those who differ with them on liberties and on the other hand, they will stop despising those who differ with them on things about which God says both “yes” and “no.”
Another places on his list, continued fellowship with a brother with whom he disagrees on the subject of divorce and remarriage. While I believe I may have fellowship with a brother with whom I disagree on the subject of divorce and remarriage, I do not believe Romans 14 is the passage to prove it. In 1965, I moved to Odessa, Texas to work with the Westridge congregation. After about six months, I preached three sermons on marriage, divorce and remarriage. One of the members came to me and told me that he differed with me relative to the non-Christian being subject to God’s marriage law. He agreed to study with me about this issue. I found that he was well versed in what I called “The Fuqua Position.” We had several studies. But I could not convince him that he was wrong. Should I have then severed fellowship with him, and should I have tried to get the congregation to withdraw from him? I did not do it then and under the same circumstances, I would not do it now. But Romans 14 was not proof for my continuing fellowship with him. After several face to face studies, this brother observed that we really had not made any progress. He suggested that we stop the studies in my office and study our differences by way of the mail. I agreed. And neither of us disturbed fellowship in that local church over it. After several written exchanges, this brother saw his error, and he has for the last thirty-seven years been teaching the truth on the subject. He has even used my series of outlines on the subject in his class teaching. Consider my lack of love and concern for this brother’s soul, yea, consider the tragedy to his soul if I had marked him off because he disagreed with me on the subject of divorce and remarriage! I believe I acted in a way that pleased the Lord. But Romans 14 is not the proof that I did. Passages that tell us to be longsuffering and to help a brother overtaken in error, such as Ephesians 4:1-3 and Galatians 6:1, are my proof for my behavior in this matter.
One brother said that some put continued fellowship in a local church with adulterers in Romans 14. Personally, I do not know anyone who does that. Oh, I know some who say a local church can fellowship some whom I believe are living in adultery, but whom they do not believe are living in adultery. Our difference is over what constitutes living in adultery, not over whether the adulterer is to be fellowshipped.
Some say that a situation where brethren differ over matters of the faith is exactly parallel to Romans 14 because in Romans 14 the non-eater thought eating certain meats was a sin; thus to him it was a matter of faith. But this is totally illogical. This makes what man thinks parallel to what God says. How could a situation where brethren differ over the faith be exactly parallel to a situation where brethren differ over liberties, even if some do not recognize their liberty? Surely, all can see that what one thinks is not parallel to what God says. The situation in Romans 14 was that brethren differed over what one thought was the faith and the other knew was not the faith. The one who did not understand the faith, practiced what he thought was the faith and condemned the one who did not join him in his practice of abstaining. Then the one who understood the faith set at naught the one who did abstain. This is the situation Romans 14 was written to correct; thus, the instructions of Romans 14 fit this situation. Consider:
1. Eating or not eating is approved of God.
2. Neither was to make his choice a matter of salvation.
3. Neither was to condemn the other for his choice.
4. Then they were to receive one another for God received both.
Now consider a situation where brethren differ over a matter of the faith. One thinks the kingdom has not been established and will not eat the Supper, because he knows Christ placed the Supper in the kingdom. The other knows the kingdom has been established and does eat the Supper. The one who does not understand the faith practices what he thinks is the faith and condemns the other who will not join him in his practice of abstaining. Then the one who does not join him in his practice of abstaining sets at naught the one who does abstain. The instructions of Romans 14 do not fit this situation. Consider:
1. Eating the Supper is approved; non-eating is not.
2. The one who understands the faith is to make his choice a matter of salvation.
3. The one who understands the faith is right in condemning the other.
4. The one who eats the supper is not to receive the one who does not eat; he has rejected the faith.
Further, if the two situations are exactly parallel, then since God told the non-eater that he need not change his practice of not eating meat, but that he must change the purpose for abstaining, God would tell the one who was wrong on a practice that is of the faith that he need not change his practice, but that he must change the purpose of that practice.
Some condemn others for using Romans 14 to continue fellowship with one who teaches error on marriage, divorce and remarriage. And they are right in this, for to so use Romans 14 is a misapplication of the passage. But then those who so condemn others use other passages to continue fellowship with one with whom they disagree on marriage, divorce and remarriage. What is more, some even use Romans 14 to justify their continued fellowship with one with whom they disagree on marriage, divorce and remarriage. So while there is disagreement on the application of Romans 14, the practice is pretty much the same. Who is going to make the rule for all as to what differences on marriage, divorce and remarriage will sever fellowship and what differences will not? You do not want me making that rule for you and I do not want you making that rule for me. I want you to be charitable enough to let me consider the circumstances of a case and come to my own decision about continued fellowship, and I had better grant you the same right. Please understand that I understand that what I have just said will not apply where God has made a rule. His rules are not flexible. But to determine what error believed, but not practiced, is to sever fellowship is in the final analysis going to have to be settled by each individual and by each congregation, and most likely on the basis of the particular circumstance in each case. Some want others to be charitable enough to allow them the decision to continue fellowship with one whom they believe privately teaches error on what I call “the mental divorce theory.” That is:
A man puts away his wife for some cause other than adultery.
The wife did not want the divorce.
The wife was willing to restore the marriage at any time.
The husband some time later committed adultery.
The wife can now put her husband away for adultery and have the right to remarry. But then they are not charitable enough to allow others the decision to continue fellowship with one that believes and privately teaches that the alien sinner is not subject to God’s marriage law. Why this? Actually the mental divorce error will cause many more brethren to sin than will the sinner non-amenable error. I suggest that it should not be the particular error one believes, but does not practice, that should determine fellowship, but rather what he does with it. If he pretty much keeps it to himself and is willing to study the question, I do not believe I have to sever fellowship. But if he presses it, I personally, do not believe I can continue to fellowship him.
Some have said that the main thing that Romans 14 was written to correct was an attitude problem. While there may have been an attitude problem, I do not believe it was the main problem. The problem was that some did not understand the faith relative to eating meats and observing days. When the non-eater sincerely believed that the eater was sinning when he ate meats, he would certainly condemn him for it. And that within itself does not indicate a bad attitude. And when the eater knew that the non-eater was making a law where God had made none and was binding it on others, he certainly would “set at naught” the lawmaker. And that within itself does not indicate a bad attitude. When the non-eater came to believe and accept the Holy Spirit’s instructions, thus understood the faith relative to eating meats, he would stop condemning the eater. And when the non-eater stopped condemning the eater, the eater would stop setting at naught the non-eater. Therefore, the problem would be solved and peace enjoyed. The problem Romans 14 was written to correct was a problem they were having over matters that were not of the faith, but matters of liberty, which problem was brought about because some did not understand the faith relative to eating meats and observing days.
It is a mistake to go to Romans 14 to try to prove a practice right. Whether a practice is right or wrong must be proved by what God has said elsewhere. Once a practice is proved to be right, then we can properly use Romans 14 to determine how we treat each other when we want to handle those liberties differently. But to use Romans 14 to determine how we treat each other when we differ over the Holy Spirit’s revelation is a misuse of the passage. And to use Romans 14 to determine how to treat one who is in sin is a misapplication of the chapter.
Bear with me as we take another look at the church in Rome. Brother Non-eater thought it was a sin to eat certain meats. Loving his brethren, naturally he tried to teach them and even told them they were in sin for so eating. This caused trouble. Paul’s inspired letter caused Brother Non-eater to learn he had been wrong about meats. What was he to do? He was to stop condemning the one who ate meats; and if he wished, he could continue to abstain from eating meats, as a personal preference. Paul said this was his right. In fact, if his conscience had not yet caught up with his intellect, he should abstain. And Brother Eater is told to receive and not to look with disdain on Brother Non-eater. In this way, the church at Rome had peace. This is exactly what Romans 14 was written to achieve. And to quote Mark Roberts: “A better understanding of Romans 14 will help us tolerate each other when we should, and fight error when we must.”
In conclusion, I want to emphasize that if brethren would clearly define how they are using words, it would help considerably in our effort to understand one another and to make peace.
When one uses “matters of indifference,” he should clearly identify whether he is speaking of indifference to God or to man. While the ideal would be for God and man to have the same mind about what is indifferent, that is not always the case. Before the non-eater received the Holy Spirit’s instructions, eating meats was indifferent to God, but not to the man. After receiving the inspired instructions, the non-eater understood that eating meats was indifferent to God and had nothing per se to do with salvation, but it was still not an indifferent matter to him.
When one uses “faith,” he should clearly say whether he is speaking of the faith, i.e., the Holy Spirit’s revelation, or of conscience. If a thing is a matter of the faith, it is important that all respect it. If a thing is a matter of faith in the sense of conscience, it is important that the one with whom it is a matter of conscience respect it. And it is important that others respect it in the sense of not influencing that individual to go against his conscience.
When one uses “conscientious scruples,” he should identify whether he is speaking of scruples based upon the faith or based upon one’s personal preference because of background circumstances. The converted Adventist had absolutely no conscientious scruples about eating pork as related to the faith, but he did have conscientious scruples as related to his background circumstances.
Brethren, let us not contribute to further confusion and division by our ambiguity in the use of words.
I offer a final word to help us keep Romans 14 set in its proper perspective. To apply Romans 14 to moral and doctrinal things it to say that one who practices moral and doctrinal error is to be received:
1. If he is fully convinced in his own mind (v.5).
2. If he considers it clean (v. 14).
3. If he has faith to self before God (v. 22).
4. If he does it unto the Lord (v. 6).
5. If he gives thanks to God for it (v. 6).
Brethren, surely none of us thinks the above is instruction for dealing with moral and doctrinal matters.