Do Not Pass Judgment over Another, II. Suffering the Weak for the Sake of their Renewal

The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s (Rm. 14:6-8).

In Christian practice there exists two categories–that which is doctrine and that which is opinion. And though these two categories exist and have existed since the creation and more so since Christ fulfilled the ceremonial and civil requirements of the Law, their ends have ever been the same, namely to glorify God. Therefore whether one submits to doctrine or whether one submits to a certain opinion, it is to be done for the sake of the glory of God alone lest that which is not sin become sin.

For sin has never been rooted in particular practices, but it always has been rooted in a rebellious and self-glorifying heart. For when one sins, it is from the heart that he sins, for at that moment his heart’s desire is not to glorify God, but it is to please himself. Thus if anything is to be pleasing to God, it must be done from heart that seeks to honor him alone.

For this reason, the apostle writes elsewhere, “So, whether eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1Cor. 10:31). For the practice is not the end of itself, nor is its propagation, but the glory of God is to be its only end. So if one eats all foods, he is to do it to the glory of God; if he abstains from particular foods, he is to do it to the glory of God; if he drinks wine, he is to do it to the glory of God; if he abstains from wine, he is to do it to the glory of God. For around such things there is no law, for Christ has fulfilled the law concerning such things and has freed us from it, “in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Rm. 8:4).

The reason being, as the apostle says later in the chapter, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rm. 14:17). In other words, these things over which we quarrel the most have no correlation with the kingdom of God. For God is not concerned about the practices of our particular cultures or our traditions per se, but he is concerned about righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.

The apostle Peter writes, “[By] his divine power [God] has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence” (2Pet. 1:3). What Peter is conveying is that God has fully given to us all things to be godly in his sight and to glorify him through the knowledge of God in Christ. This knowledge has been made known to us in the person of Jesus Christ and in his Word which he has spoken forth from before the foundation of the world. For this reason, we are to fully understand that which he has given to us, viz. his Scriptures, and they alone are sufficient for our godliness. All other matters that the Scriptures do not address or to which they explicitly give freedom–all these do not pertain to life and godliness in and of themselves, but they do so in the heart of him who practices them. Therefore, in these things, one’s heart must be inclined to glorify Christ alone, and he must practice all things to that end.

For this reason, the Christian must do as the Lord commanded Joshua, “Meditate on [the law] day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it (Jsh. 1:8),” so that he might do as David did, viz. “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Ps. 119:11). For the Christian’s aim must be to glorify God by “the renewal of [his] mind” (Rm. 12:2) by the Word of God and to conform himself to the instructions therein for God’s glory, and so that he might distinguish what is lawful requirement and what is opinion. And it is for this end that apostle instructs the stronger in the faith to suffer the opinions of the weak, for they in their infancy have yet to meditate upon the word of the Lord and to be transformed by it. Therefore, rather than casting those out for their ignorance and their convictions based upon culture and tradition, we are to accept them so that they too might have a chance to grow in godliness by being instructed from the Word of God.

Categories: Fridy Night Bible Study

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