Romans 15:1-3 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.’”
This particular section of Scripture is a continuation of the previous chapter. Remember that when the book of Romans was written, it was written as one complete letter. It did not have chapters and verses. Those came much later. So, when interpreting Scripture, we must read verses in context.
Thus, this is not saying that we are to bear with the sins of the spiritually weak, who are failing morally and spiritually, or with the sins of those who are Christians in name only. We are not to tolerate deliberate continuation in sin by those professing faith in Jesus Christ (1 Co 5; Gal 5:16-21).
What this is talking about is that we are not to condemn those who have a difference of opinion or belief about things which are not sinful in themselves, which are not morally wrong. These are things which are more a matter of personal preference.
These are matters of personal conviction, usually having to do with the way people were brought up and having to do with traditions which they hold sacred but which are not opposed to God or to his moral standards. They do not feel free to let these go, although they are free to do so.
So, even though we have the freedom to not hold on to those old ways of doing things, we should not condemn those who are not where we are. But again, this is not talking about sin. This is not saying that we should be patient with those holding on to sinful practices who profess Christ.
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.”
The Scriptures are given to us to instruct us in the ways of God, and to teach us to walk in the ways of the Lord and to obey him in thought, word, and deed. But we are not under the Old Covenant as the Jews of old were, so we don’t have to obey all the ceremonial, liturgical and ceremonial laws.
Jesus, when he lived on this earth, summarized the prophets and the commandments into two laws, the first of which is to love God with all that we are and to love our neighbors as ourselves. And the New Testament teaches us that to love God is to obey him.
So, we still have to obey God. We still have to do what he says. But we do it now in the power and working of God’s Spirit living within us. And we obey all of what is repeated under the New Covenant which was taught God’s people under the Old Covenant. For, God’s moral laws have not changed.
Now, one thing the Scriptures do stress over and again is harmony, unity, and oneness with Christ and then with all those who are also united with Christ in thought, word, and deed. But the emphasis here is that this is first and foremost unity with Jesus Christ.
For, the world and the worldly church are also stressing unity and oneness, but it is not with Christ, but with the world and with human marketing schemes for how to grow their “churches,” i.e., businesses. But they will try to guilt-trip us into uniting with them, so we need to be aware.
For, the goal of biblical unity is that we glorify God in all that we do, whereas the other unity has more to do with the glory of man or the glory of people in high up positions who are NOT leading us to unify with Christ and with his teachings and with his goals and purpose for our lives.
So, we are to welcome other believers in Christ as Christ has welcomed us for the glory of God. So, this doesn’t mean we accept or that we tolerate worldly Christian philosophy and practices in order to be welcoming of worldly or nominal Christians. We follow Jesus and his example.
Romans 15:8-13 ESV
“For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written,
’Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles,
and sing to your name.’
And again it is said,
‘Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people.’
‘Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles,
and let all the peoples extol him.’
And again Isaiah says,
‘The root of Jesse will come,
even he who arises to rule the Gentiles;
in him will the Gentiles hope.’
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”
We, like Christ, are to serve others, but we are to do so for the glory of God. So, this means that we don’t compromise morality or truth or our walks of faith in Jesus Christ in order to serve others or to show them kindness. We never change who we are to blend in with those we are around.
If we want the unsaved to be saved, then we need to be living godly and holy lives, pleasing to God, in all genuineness and consistency, and we must not be compromising with the world in order to “win the world,” for what are we winning them to? Not to the Jesus of the Scriptures!
We need to remain true to God and to the Scriptures, and we need to be those who walk in integrity and who live what we preach. Now, it doesn’t mean we will be perfect, but it also means that lack of perfection is never to be used as an excuse for continued, willful and habitual sin.
For, Jesus Christ died for us on that cross that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness. This is our hope! We must no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave his life up for us. And we must honor our Lord with our bodies, for he died to set us free.
Shine Jesus Shine
By Graham Kendrick
Lord the light of Your love is shining
In the midst of the darkness, shining
Jesus, Light of the world, shine upon us
Set us free by the truth You now bring us
Shine on me
Shine on me
Shine, Jesus, shine
Fill this land with the Father’s glory
Blaze, Spirit, blaze, set our hearts on fire
Flow, river, flow
Flood the nations with grace and mercy
Send forth Your Word, Lord and let there be light…
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