Romans 14:3-5  When Preferences Differ - Be fully Persuaded in Your Own Mind

Romans 14:3-5 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. 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. One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.

Before you can understand this passage, we must first examine the scope of this discussion. Paul is talking about what a person eats and on what particular day they choose to observe a holiday. One person eats meat sold in the market; the other person only eats herbs. One person wants to have church service on Saturday, and the other person wants to hold service on Sunday. I would imagine that in the church at Rome, there were Christians from a multiplicity of backgrounds. Some believers were Romans, Greeks, Jews, and more. Each one came with much religious baggage. The Jew had his fond memories of rituals, festivals, Sabbaths, and observances. The Greek and Roman remembered with deep remorse some of his holidays and sacrifices, much of which were intertwined with sexual immorality. Some of these Christians would eat meat that had been previously used in sacrifice at the pagan temple. This meat was less expensive, and they now realized that the pagan’s god did not exist. Conversely, other Christians choose to only eat vegetables. This preference would circumvent the possibility that they might eat by mistakes some of the meat sacrificed to a pagan god. They wanted all to know they had separated themselves from this former lifestyle.

Paul hears about this squabble. Paul has had to deal with a similar issue in the book of Colossians. Matter of fact, this discrepancy just about split that church. At Corinth,  there was an additional problem; they were eating meals sacrificed to idols and then having communion at the same table. Now the problem at Rome was a little different. Some thought it best to eat only herbs and others liked to eat meat. There is nothing wrong with either preference. The problem was when each person thinks they are sanctioned by God in their particular preference. The brother who thought he could only eat herbs felt he had the mind of God in this matter. He was confident that if everyone just sought God in this matter, God would reveal His purpose to them. The brother who wanted to eat meat was a little more spiritually mature, but he started acting as a child. He began despising his brother the vegetarian and cared little about his spiritual welfare. He positively knew that God does not care what a person eats.

Paul had no special scriptural revelation to share with them on this matter, and could not direct the church to the Old Testament verse for an answer. Paul did not want to push a liberty on a weak brother which might cause this immature person’s conscience to be defiled. Paul knew when a person ignores their conscience, it sometimes leads to depravity. This fellow actually thought God wanted him to eat herbs only, and Paul did not want to crush this person’s faith. Paul decided how to handle it. On subjects which God is silent, let each person follow their own conscience, and when two brothers have differing views, they should adhere to the following:

  • They should not judge or despise the other person.
  • However, they should be fully persuaded in their own mind what they believe to be right and wrong.
  • They should never violate their own conscience.
  • They should not allow the conscience of another to grant them liberty which they believe to be wrong.
  • They should be mindful not to cause their brother to stumble.

Paul wanted to make it simple. He decreed, Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. Wouldn't be nice if churches today followed this same advice. Instead of splitting a church over the color of paint to apply to the walls, they could have an opportunity to prefer the other party. What a novel idea!

Forgetting Those Things Which Are Behind

Philippians 3:13-14 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Forgetting those things which are behind. This is one of the most important admonitions we have in Scripture. First, do not let your past accomplishments for Christ, give you a false sense of security. Do not let your past labor for Christ be the indication of who you are in Christ today. If someone said to you, “prove to me you are a Christian”, how would you reply. Would you refer to a time many years ago and use that one experience to prove who you are in Christ today? No, I am not saying forget about the day you first accepted Christ, for that was a glorious day.  What I am saying is this: If there has been no change in your life since the day you first accepted him, if you are not continuing to change, if you are not wanting to change, you may have never really met Christ. For in meeting Christ, you have become a new creature and old things will  pass away.

Paul had many accomplishments, and he pretended to put stock in all 7 of them: As an unsaved Jew, he could rightly relish in all 7. As a redeemed believer, he could recount six of these accomplishments without shame, but one of them brought him tremendous regret and self-loathing. Paul was

  1. Circumcised the 8th day
  2. Of the stock of Israel
  3. Of the tribe of Benjamin
  4. A Hebrew of the Hebrews
  5. A Pharisee
  6. Zeal in persecuting the church
  7. Blameless as pertaining to the law

For you see, before he was redeemed, he was zealous in persecuting God’s church and was responsible for putting many Christians into prison. Paul said forgetting those things which are behind. I believe he could easily forget six of these but forgetting he prosecuted the church of God was a constant struggle. Paul was not only encouraging the Philippians believers to forget the past; he was again reminding himself to do the same. Only if we were more like God, when he forgives he forgets. Stop letting past failures detour your progress in following Christ today.

But what I want to do today, is to offer some of the best advice one Christian and give to another Christian. Forget those who have harmed you in the past. While this could relate to so many areas of abuse, I would like to focus on just one. Put out of your mind those who you respected and loved who caused you harm. Forget about those spiritual fathers and mothers who gave you advise; you followed that advice, and you now believe that advice to be detrimental. You trusted that person, and they let you down. You now look back on that portion of your life with remorse and regret. Remembrance of your past actions, clouds your present thoughts and steals your future dreams.

Paul says, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before. The words forgetting and reaching are both in the active tense. This means something you continue to do. You may have forgotten about unpleasant memories in the past but continue to forget about them in the future. Just as you continue to reach forth to those things which await you, continue to forget those memories which haunted you in the past. I like to define forgetting as willfully neglecting to remember.

The Thessalonians Were Shaken.   II Thessalonians 2:1-2.

The Thessalonians were troubled and confused in their thinking. They thought the Day of Christ or the Day of the Lord was at hand. In the verses that follow, Paul proceeds to outline events, which must take place before the Day of the Lord will come. The underlying question is why were they troubled and shaken? Had someone deceived them? There is much speculation on this subject. Many would say the Thessalonians thought they had missed the Rapture. Others would suggest they were again confused about the resurrection of the dead (I Thessalonians 4). Hymenaeus and Philetus, 2 Timothy 2:18, may have persuaded some the resurrection was past. Regardless of reason, they were shaken.

Paul begins by stating the following: The Day of the Lord was not impending; the final apostasy would need to take place first, and that he was not the author of the letters they had received. Paul then notes the possible sources of their confusion. He plainly states that they should not be shaken by spirit, word, or letter that the Day of the Lord had come. He makes it clear, if they receive a letter bearing his signature, and it stated the Day of the Lord is imminent or already took place, do not believe it. If someone says, I heard Paul deliver this teaching in Corinth, do not believe them. If someone says, I heard Paul deliver a prophetic utterance concerning the immediate return of Christ to judge the earth, know that it is a lie. Why? Paul had not changed his doctrinal position on when the Day of the Lord would take place. Paul had previously taught them that before the Day of the Lord could place, there would be a falling away (an apostasy), and the man of sin would be revealed v 3. The falling away suggests a specific happening rather than just a general state of lukewarmness or gradual apostasy. There will be some kind of global defection in turning from the word of God and turn to something else. I believe this defection will lead right into the embracing of the man of sin, the antichrist. It is very possible that some future event will be the impetus for both. The event will shatter the faith of most and will leave them open to believe the lie of satan.

Did the Thessalonians believe they had missed the rapture? Due to persecution, did the Thessalonians believe that they were already in the tribulation and the 2nd Coming of the Lord was about to happen? Were they questioning whether they misunderstood the order of the catching away of the saints and the return of the Lord in judgment? We could speculate much, but I would like you to remember this. These Christians only had some of the Old Testament books (maybe). The Old Testament scrolls were housed in the Synagogue. Paul’s letters were not on the internet or in general circulation. They relied on what they had been taught. Paul was only in their city for a short time. He preached in the synagogue for 3 Saturdays and then was sent away by the brethren to Berea. They had his first letter, but that letter does not establish a time line for rapture and the 2nd coming of Christ. John did not write the book of Revelations until about 40 years later. Realizing this, I understand their confusion. Even with all 66 books in the Bible, scholars differ greatly on the timing of future events.

Were the Thessalonians being exploited? To this question the answer is an emphatic, yes. Beware of any new teaching that causes you to be shaken and troubled in your faith. Shaken - as in an earthquake when all comes falling down around you. Troubled - as in agitated and confused, unable to concentrate on other matters. Which one of Paul’s teachings was being questioned; had he changed his mind? I believe the Thessalonians were troubled concerning when or at what time-slot in future history the Day of the Lord would take place.

The Day of the Lord I Thessalonians 5:1-11

The day of the Lord comes as a thief in the night. The day of the Lord is used 19 times in the Old Testament and 4 times in the New Testament. This phase is always used in conjunction with judgment and doom. Paul says the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night. Just as a sleeping person is unaware that their house is being robbed, so shall the day of the Lord arrive on those who are in spiritual sleep. The world will not be expecting the return of Christ. The day of the Lord will surprise the ungodly just as a person is surprised when doom arrives only the day after he thought all was at peace and all was safe. The coming of Christ will not be announced.

1Thessalonians 5:1 But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. 2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. 3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. 4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. 5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. 6 Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. 7 For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. 8 But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. 9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. 11 Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.

Paul says to the Thessalonians, that they were not in darkness that "this Day" should overtake them as a thief. They were not in darkness; they were of the light. They should not be sleeping or drunk but should be watching. Both those who are sleeping and those who are drunk, are unaware when a thief breaks into the house. The day of the Lord will not overtake or surprise a true Christian, for a true Christian will be sober, watching, and looking for His return. So, what will happen on that "Day"?

Next, Paul tells them in verse 9 they have not been appointed to wrath. What is being referred to when Paul says wrath? Is this God's wrath poured out on the earth during the tribulation, or is this the eternal wrath of God which awaits all those who reject God's salvation? Paul is not specific. We will have to let other passages of scripture help to answer these questions, but in my opinion, this is a very important subject to study and understand.

So, when does the day of the Lord take place? Christendom is divided when it comes to answering this question. First, some will say "Day" refers to the coming of Christ at the end of the tribulation. This would mean then that Christians will go through the tribulation and the rapture will take place just before the Battle of Armageddon. Another would  say, this passage is an exhortation for all believers to be ready for the rapture which takes place just before the seven years of tribulation starts. This would mean then that Christians would not be on the earth during the tribulation. Finally, others will suggests that the churchs goes through half of the tribulation, but it is raptured out before God begins to pour out his wrath on mankind during the last portion of the tribulation.   What do you think?

When Facts in the Bible Seem to Conflict

John 7:40-43 Many of the people therefore, when they heard this saying, said, of a truth this is the Prophet. Others said, this is the Christ. But some said, Shall Christ come out of Galilee? Hath not the scripture said, That Christ cometh of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was? So there was a division among the people because of him.

You are studying a subject in scripture and the facts seem to conflict. You ask yourself the question, have I found an error in the Bible? When this happens and it will, here is some good advice. Take a breath and restudy the subject. If you cannot come to a satisfactory conclusion, move on to another subject, and look at this subject afresh some other time. You have missed something.

We all know 1+?=4. You are sure the addend "1" is correct and you believe the other addend is "2". However, when you add the two numbers together the sum is "3' not "4". If you are positive, the number "1" is correct, you are half way home to solving this conundrum. Bottom line is this; either the integer 2 is incorrect or the answer 4 is a false assumption.

In John 7: 40-43, the Pharisees found themselves in this same type of predicament. They knew when the Messiah came he would do great miracles, and they also  knew the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem of Judea These are two Old Testament prophecies which could not be altered. Here is the problem. They knew (thought) Jesus was born in Galilee, and these fact just did not add up.

Miracles + Bethlehem = Messiah              Miracles + Galilee = Imposter

So, what was the problem? They had one of the facts wrong. Christ was not born in Galilee, but he was born in Bethlehem. What amazes me most is that they did not do a more thorough investigation and determine where he was born. Better yet, did they want to know the truth? So, if you run into a brick wall, stop, take a breath, restudy the facts and ask this: What have I missed, and, am I willing to change an opinion or assumption if the change is based on Biblical fact?