Accepting Christians Who Disagree With Us (Pt. 1)
May 24, 2020 Speaker: Series: Conscience & The Overlapping Authority of the Church and the State
Passage: Romans 14:1–12
Big Picture: Both “strong” and “weak” Christians need to stop condemning each other because it is the Lord, and he alone, who has the right to assess the believer’s status and conduct.
“Conscience” definition: Conscience is our consciousness – our awareness, our sense - of what we believe is right and wrong. The word does not appear in Romans 14, but the concept does. The word “conscience” appears in 1 Corinthians 8, in a similar situational context.
Twelve principles on how to disagree with other Christians in disputable matters (J.D. Crowley)
- Accept those Christians whose faith is weak and who disagree with you on disputable matters (14: 1-2).
- Those who have freedom of conscience must not look down on those who don’t (3-4).
- Those whose conscience restricts them must not be judgmental towards those who have freedom (3-4).
- Each believer must be fully convinced of their position in their own conscience (5).
- Assume that others are partaking or refraining for the glory of God (6-9).
- Do not judge each other in these matters because we will all someday stand before the judgment seat of God (10-12).
- Your freedom to eat meat is correct, but don’t let your freedom destroy the faith of a weak brother or sister (13-15).
- Disagreements about eating and drinking are not important in the kingdom of God; building each other up in righteousness, peace, and joy is the important thing (16-21).
- If you have freedom, don’t flaunt it; if you are strict, don’t expect others to be strict like you (22a).
- A person who lives according to their conscience is blessed (22b-23).
- We must follow the example of Christ, who put others first (15:1-6).
- We bring glory to God when we accept one another as Christ has accepted us (7).
Definition of legalism: “The tendency to regard as divine law things which God has neither required nor forbidden in Scripture, and the corresponding inclination to look with suspicion on others for their failure or refusal to conform.” (Sam Storms)
How to become a legalist (Mark Driscoll)
- Make rules outside the bible
- Push yourself to try to keep those rules
- Castigate yourself when you don’t keep those rules
- Become proud when you do keep the rules
- Appoint yourself judge over other Christians
- Get angry with Christians who break your rules, or who have different rules.
This short sermon series is indebted to Andy Naselli’s excellent book “Conscience: What It Is, How To Train It, And Loving Those Who Differ.”