Accepting Christians Who Disagree With Us (Pt. 2)
May 31, 2020 Speaker: John Bell Series: Conscience & The Overlapping Authority of the Church and the State
Passage: Romans 14:13–15:7
Big Picture: The “strong” Christians must be careful not to cause the “weak” Christians to suffer spiritual harm by their insistence on exercising their liberty on disputed matters. For such insistence violates the essence of the kingdom, which is to manifest love and concern for one another.
“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)
8 tests that each Christian must face to indulge in a given activity (by John and Paul Feinberg)
- Am I fully persuaded that’s it’s right (Rom. 14:5, 14, 23)?
- Can I do it as unto the Lord? (6-8)
- Can I do it without being a stumbling block (13, 15 20-22)?
- Does it bring peace (17-18)?
- Does it edify my brother (19)?
- Is it profitable (1 Cor. 6:12)?
- Does it enslave me (1 Cor. 6:12)?
- Does it bring glory to God (1 Cor. 10:31)?
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.”