Preference? or Principles?

Romans 15:1 ESV

We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves.

We all have different convictions about things. Some of them are biblical, i.e. they are rooted in God’s moral laws, while others are more a matter of personal conscience and/or preference. And, some of those are rooted in religious tradition and practice, but they are neither wrong nor right.

For example, we may have convictions about the kinds of food we eat or the clothing that we wear or whether we should watch movies or not watch movies, etc. Food, clothing and movies are not immoral, in and of themselves, but they can be if we are being gluttonous, or if we are dressing immodestly and seductively, or if we are watching movies filled with all kinds of filth, sensuality and immorality.

If God has liberated us to not do certain things that we, perhaps, felt obligated to follow before, such as certain religious practices or rituals, then we are free to not do those things anymore. Yet, freedom in Christ never liberates us to sin against God and to disobey his moral laws. I want to make that perfectly clear! We are not free to lust, steal and murder, etc.

In this context (see chapter 14), the “weak” are not those who are failing morally. They are not those who are living in sin. They are those who, when coming to faith in Jesus Christ, had a difficult time letting go of certain religious practices they once followed but that, in Christ, they did not have to follow any longer.

We are not to stand in judgment over them if they can’t let go of certain religious practices, providing those practices are not immoral or sinful in nature. And, they are not to judge our freedom in Christ, either, if we have the liberty, in Christ, to not follow those same religious practices which have no effect on our salvation, one way or another.

So, if our convictions about certain things, which have no bearing on our eternal salvation, and which are neither moral nor immoral, in and of themselves, if they conflict with the convictions of other believers in Jesus, we are not to judge them, and they are not to judge us. But, we are to bear with one another and to accept one another in Christ, even though we have differences of opinion or conviction on matters unrelated to God’s moral laws.

Romans 15:2-3 ESV

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.”

Instead of nitpicking over things that really don’t matter, in light of eternity, and in light of God’s moral laws, we are to please one another for their, for our good, to build one another up in the faith. But, notice with me here that this pleasing of our neighbors is for their good. So, this is not about compromising our morals or the Word of God, i.e. the gospel of our salvation, in order to please other people, so that they will accept us.

For, if we are pleasing them for their good, it is for what is truly in their best interest, i.e. what is most beneficial for them, which is first and foremost that they believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of their lives, that they leave their lives of sin behind them, and that they follow the Lord Jesus in walks of obedience to his commands, which are for their benefit.

But, since this is talking about the family of God, they should already be doing that, though not everyone who attends a church gathering is truly saved from their sins and in relationship with Almighty God. So, even if someone claims to be a believer in Jesus, it is still for their good that they understand the truth of the gospel and that they truly come to faith in Jesus Christ, in truth, and according to the teachings of scripture.

We are to please our brothers and sisters in Christ for their good, which is the good of God, and to build them up. But, this building them up is not about flattering them or just patting them on the back and telling them that they are good, when they may not be good at all. Building them up, too, is not about feeding their pride or making them feel good about themselves when they are obviously still giving way to their sinful flesh.

The way in which Jesus pleased us for our good and built us up was that he gave his life up for us on that cross so that we could be liberated from our sinful addiction, and so that we could walk in holiness and purity.

So, to do what is beneficial for one another, and to encourage each other in the faith, we must, like Jesus, give of ourselves to sharing with people the truth which will set them free, and which will help them to walk in Christ’s holiness.

So, we are not going to pacify one another in their sins, nor are we going to be nitpicking over things that don’t really matter for eternity. But, we are going to be helping one another to walk in purity of devotion to Jesus Christ, for that is for our good, for our welfare, for what is best for us.

Romans 15:4-7 ESV

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.

Freedom in Christ Jesus is not a free for all to do whatever we want. We are not liberated from having to follow God’s moral laws. The New Testament is loaded with instructions (commands of God) for us to follow, as believers in Jesus Christ. And, we are instructed that to love God is to obey his commands, and that repentance and obedience to Christ are also essential to our salvation and eternal life with God.

But, we are not under the Old Covenant, and we don’t have to obey all those rules that the Jews of old had to follow. Jesus summarized the law for us in two laws, which are to love God with our whole being, and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. And, if we do this, we will obey God’s moral laws, and we will repent of our sins, and we will follow Jesus in obedience, and we won’t do to our neighbors what will do them harm.

Therefore, if we are loving God with our whole being, and if we are following his commands, and if we are loving one another as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us that we might be free of our slavery to sin, then truly we will also be living in harmony with one other.

But, this harmony, this union, this like-mindedness is first and foremost with Christ, and then with one another. For, we have to be united in mind and heart with Christ first, and then we can be united in mind and heart with those who are also united with Christ. But, there will be no unity and no harmony where there is every evil practice. For righteousness and wickedness do not harmonize with one another. So, we must stand strong in our faith and not cave to the world in order to harmonize with others.

So, the bottom line in all of this is that we need to be united with Christ first, and this unity with Christ involves repentance and obedience to his commands. Then, we must walk (in practice) according to his instructions for us, his church, in the power of the Holy Spirit now living within us. And, when we do this, we truly will be in harmony with others of like mind. But, in matters of personal preference, we must not contend with one another.


An Original Work / December 24, 2013
Based off Various Scriptures

The Word of God throughout taught.
Some people heard, but did doubt.
Still others had faith in Christ.
By grace He purified them.

They turned from sin
And they obeyed Christ.
He opened up their blinded eyesight;
Turned them from darkness
To the true Light;
Forgave their sin by His might.

He strengthened them in their faith.
He said, “Remain my faithful.”
He called them to obedience.
By faith, they were so grateful.

By faith, they were to follow Jesus;
To daily sit and listen to Him;
To have such faith
That mountains could move;
To love those whom He gave them.

Be on your guard; courageous.
Stand firm in faith. Be thankful.
Take up the shield of your faith;
Protect against all evil.

Do not move from
The hope that you have.
Your faith in Jesus let it endure.
Hold to the truth;
Your conscience be clear.
Endure with perseverance.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

One thought on “Preference? or Principles?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s