This passage of scripture in Romans 15, in context, is a continuation of the previous chapter, which addresses the subject of disputable matters among believers in Jesus Christ. It has to do with differences of belief with regard to matters of conscience and with respect to traditions, rituals, and religious ceremonies, but it is not addressing the issue of sin within the church.
So, in context, these “failings of the weak” are not in reference to sinful practices among believers. But, this does have to do with the subject of our freedom in Christ. For, much of the “law of Moses” was no longer in effect under the New Covenant, for the old law largely had to do with externals, rituals, and ceremonies. But, God’s moral laws never went away.
And, yet many people were still holding on to their traditions, rituals, etc., because it was always what they had practiced before. So, they were considered “the weak,” for they were not able to accept all that they were now freed from in Christ Jesus. And, even today, many Christians are still holding on to religious traditions which hinder them from fully experiencing all that God has for them, and that is leading many of them into sin.
So, we are going to look at today’s passage in a slightly different context, while still addressing the subjects of our freedom in Christ and differences in beliefs among believers based off traditions and practices handed down to us from our forefathers. And, religious traditions and practices that many Christians today are holding on to also have a great impact on their freedom in Christ, too. But, many of these current traditions, because of their nature, are leading many people down a path of degradation.
Romans 15:1-7 ESV
We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.
Traditions of Men
So, what are some religious traditions which have been passed down to us, in America, in particular, let’s say in the past 70 years? Well, for one, even in the protestant church of today, there are still many carry overs from Roman Catholicism and from Jewish tradition (Old Covenant), too.
For example, “the church” is regarded as a physical building, and that when we go into that building, we are now entering “the house of God.” Many “churches” still have physical Sanctuaries that they consider “holy ground.” Some people put their pastors up on pedestals and they consider whatever they teach as “the Word of God.” And, some pastors, too, think they are God’s voice to the people and that the people should believe that, too.
Also, the gospel message that has largely been taught in America, even in strong evangelical “church denominations,” has largely been diluted and reduced to “inviting Jesus into our hearts,” and thus we are saved, and heaven is guaranteed us when we die, no matter how we live between now and eternity. Even in churches, which were strong on holiness, they taught the same gospel message, although some did teach repentance, too.
Also, the relationship we, as believers in Jesus, have with him has also traditionally been minimized. I often hear believers talk about having their devotions each day, if they do have them at all, as the totality of their relationship with Christ, i.e. that their lives are theirs to live, but it is important that they give God some time out of their day, too.
The church (the body of Christ) joined forces with the US government for tax purposes, and they turned the gatherings of the church into businesses, and began marketing them like any other business. So, they began using marketing schemes to bring people into their gatherings, and they began to become more worldly to attract the world, and so they began to dilute the gospel to make it more appealing to the world, too, so as to not offend.
Many of them also promoted government worship, with the US flag at the front of the sanctuary, teaching us as children to vow fidelity (pledge allegiance) to the government with hand over heart, to sing patriotic songs, and to honor our soldiers as our heroes who are keeping us safe from harm. So, we had this idea that the government was truly of God, and so many of us just believed whatever they told us, or whatever political party our parents adhered to, what they told us.
And, too, we were taught to believe the news media, and whatever they told us, as well. So, we were preprogrammed to put absolute faith in the system of government and in the system of institutional Christianity and in the gospel which was handed down to us. But, so much of what we were programmed to believe as truth was, in fact, lies – many lies told to us in order to, in reality, lead us up to taking the mark of the beast.
Our Present Reality
Because we, as Americans, are largely gullible, we are easy prey for wolves in sheep’s clothing who here among the sheep to steal, to kill, and to destroy the flock, and the gospel of Jesus Christ, too. We, as a nation, have been lulled to sleep by TV, movies, the internet, social media, smart phones, games, news, and worldliness, and by clever deceivers in the government and in the church who are smooth talkers, and who give the people what their itching ears want to hear.
So, many people, including many Christians, are completely blinded to Satan’s evil plan to destroy the church, which has been under construction for a long time, one piece at a time, slowly, carefully and stealthily. And, now that plan is in place, or nearly in place, so that it can be carried out by Satan’s workers whose goal it is to persecute, with hostile intent, all who are true followers of Jesus Christ, but especially those who are proclaiming the true gospel of our salvation, for they want to destroy the gospel.
So, one of their tactics presently is to do all they can to discredit the true gospel and its messengers by turning darkness into light, and light into darkness. So, for those of us who are still preaching the gospel Jesus and his NT apostles taught, we should expect that there are going to be vicious attacks against us sometime in the near future, for some of this has already been going on, but I believe it is soon to get much worse.
This persecution that is soon to get much worse is rooted in Satan, whose goal it is to destroy all that is of God, but in particular Jesus Christ, and his gospel, and his servants and messengers. But, he has his own messengers to deliver it, too, and many of them are willing candidates to do his bidding because of what is in their own hearts – lust, lewdness, perversion, hate, pride, resentment, bitterness, anger, murder and sinful addiction.
They don’t want to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ, because it says that faith in Jesus Christ, which is God-given and God-persuaded, submits to Jesus Christ as Lord (owner-master), that it dies with Christ to sin and self, and that it lives with Christ (in practice, in conduct, in lifestyle) to righteousness (Rom. 6:1-23; Lu. 9:23-25; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Tit. 2:11-14).
It does not say we will never sin again, but it does say that only those who are walking (in practice) according to (in agreement with) the Spirit of God are those who have eternal life with God. For, it says, if we walk (in practice, habitually) according to (in agreement with) our sinful flesh, that we are going to die IN our sins because we would not die with Christ TO sin (Lu. 9:23-25; Rom. 8:1-17; Gal. 5:19-21; Gal. 6:7-8; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).
For, and this is real important that we get this, Jesus didn’t die on that cross merely to forgive us our sins and to promise us heaven when we die. He died to deliver us out of our slavery to sin and to empower us to walk in righteousness and holiness. He redeemed us (bought us back for God) with his blood that our lives would no longer be our own, to be lived how we want, but so we would now honor God with our lives, and he would be truly master of our lives and us his bond-servants.
Since the true gospel discerns truth from error, and it calls out sinful practices, and it confronts sin in sinful humans, and it calls for repentance and for walks of obedience with Christ, those who are intoxicated by sin, lust and worldliness do not want to hear the truth. So, they oppose the truth. Although, outwardly, some of them do put on a pretense of righteousness while secretly they are living in disobedience, and so some of them are secretly betraying and attacking the Lord’s servants.
And, the reason for this is that many are trapped in sin, and they feel the pressure of their addiction, so they will often lash out at those who are trying to help them to freedom, i.e. who are pointing the way to freedom from their addiction. But, this may be behind the backs of those who are sharing with them the path to true freedom in Christ. So, rather than telling the truth, which will set them free, they build more walls to keep others from seeing how bad they are, and so they destroy their own lives.
And, the institutional flesh-driven and market-driven church of today, with their cheap grace gospel, are just giving them permission to go ahead and kill themselves, in all honesty. So, please know the truth.
If we sow to please the flesh, from the flesh we will reap destruction (decay, death). But, if we sow to please the Spirit, from the Spirit we will reap eternal life (Gal. 6:7-8). Your eternal life depends on you knowing the truth and you putting the truth into practice. True grace delivers from slavery to sin. Cheap grace leaves you still in bondage to sin with no hope of eternal life with God.
Song: “I AM” (based off multiple scriptures):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RCXSKgh8z5E with lyrics