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We are not to judge. Not the beliefs, or actions of any other. We must evaluate all of that which is part of our surroundings and life in order to discern if we are living according to God or according to the flesh. If we find ourselves continually tempted to act in ways that do not align with what we know to be God’s idea of right, then it is our responsibility to change something to reduce the frequency of those temptations. Notice I said reduce – not eliminate. Temptations will always be present in this life. Only in Heavin, in Gods perfect light, will we be truly free from the snare of temptation.
If there are areas of your life that you KNOW are wrong, start today to prune them back and away from yourself.
If you don’t know how- reach out to someone who has had a similar experience & come away successful. Sometimes we don’t know, or think we don’t know, or simply don’t know that we DO know someone who has struggled like we are struggling. But I promise you – someone HAS!!! YOU ARE NOT ALONE!!!
If you are doing something you don’t believe is wrong, but EVERYONE around you says it’s bad, evaluate ‘it.’ Ask yourself these four questions:
- Am I hurting myself?
- Am I hurting others?
- Does the Bible say it is a Sin?
- Do I feel bad about it?
- Be careful with this this one.
- Be honest with yourself.
- This is where we often use justification, blaming or denial to make ourselves feel ok with our actions – even if we shouldn’t be ok with them.
If the answer to all of those is no, then it’s probably NOT sinful or wrong. God tried to protect us from this knowledge, but Eve’s sin resulted in us owning the double edged sword of the knowledge of good and evil. In each one of us an an ingrained natural sense of right and wrong. Whether we choose to acknowledge this inner voice is our choice – known as free will.
Now I’m not saying that if the answer to all 4 of these questions is ‘no’ then it’s fine. I CAN’T say this because Romans 14:10 says: “You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.” 14:19 gives us clear directions for these situations: “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and help each other become stronger Christians.”
When we are more concerned with aligning our actions to the service of God than the whims of man, temptations will be easier to put aside.
So today we are challenged by the Word to go into our world with clean conscience, focusing our thoughts not on the right or wrong doings of others, but rather on how to share the the Good News with those who need it. How they react is on them. How they spend eternity is between them and God. We’ll know we’ve done our part, striving to live so everyone whom we interact with can see the Glory of God radiating out from within us.
Yesterday we looked at perspective. How each of us must weigh our decisions based on our understanding of what scripture teaches, and what our conscience tells us.
Romans 14:20 goes on to say: “…but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble.” Verse 21 explains “It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall.” YOU may be able to hold your own in a drinking contest – but your bestie may get sick – or worse: act stupid or mean – when drinking. Therefore, when together it would be righteous of you to abstain from having even one drink so as to encourage your friend to do likewise, and in so doing make your time together all the more enjoyable.
This principle can be applied to pretty much anything:
- Don’t attempt an extreme bike ramp stunt if your friend is clumsy & wrecks just riding down the sidewalk.
- Don’t get a shake with your meal if your friend is trying to lose weight and has resolved to eat only salads.
- If you know a friend is not permitted to wear makeup by her parents, Don’t get your makeup out to apply AFTER she arrives to pick you up for the party, lest she be thus tempted to disobey her parents rules.
It becomes a matter of living for the benefit of more than just ourselves. To consider how our actions will impact the people around us. Each and every person is a leader. Whether you know it or not; whether you want to be or not….SOMEONE is looking at how you live your life. And more importantly, they are using what they see to help them make decisions about their own life. Often times we don’t even know we have influence.
So lets today, take Romans 14:21 and turn it inside out: “It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall” = Let all your actions and works be to the lifting up of our brothers and sisters. In striving to accomplish this we can hope to
- Have a POSITIVE impact on the world around us.
- Live in a sense of obedience rather than guilt.
- Give Honor and Glory to God
This being said, realize, we are ALL sinners and fall short of the Glory of God. We will all fail at this! At first, it may be often. But eventually, with practice, we can aspire to only fall short occasionally. Either way, don’t get hung up on the failures, but rather move forward to the next opportunity to succeed. Mistakes are only mistakes till you learn from them, then they become lessons.
Tomorrow we will take a look at what Romans 14 says about temptation and judgement.
With so many doctrines to sift through, so many denominations – some claiming to be the one true way, others professing to be a bible based church or new testament church. With society telling us one thing is right or wrong, and scripture telling us the opposite, and so many evangelist, preachers, and leaders giving us their interpretation of it all we must decide: Who is right? Who is wrong? How can I be sure?
Here is the answer I have found – from scripture. I’m not saying I’m absolutely correct, or my understanding is the only one that you should use to evaluate ANY circumstance you may find yourself in. As I examine the scripture of Romans 14 and other key verses, you will hopefully see why I make this disclaimer.
Just like the colors we see are actually just our interpretation of what is not really there <if you don’t know what I mean, google “color and how we see it” or go to http://tinyurl.com/pzykga4> So is the food we eat, or the day we reverence God merely a reflection of our interpretation of the word of God adapted to the enactment of our daily lives.
Paul explains in Romans that we MAKE things sinful when we believe them to be sinful and then go forward with the intent to indulge, partake, entertain, act on, and or live in the said sinful way. Romans 14:20 says “….All food is clean” meaning if God put it on the Earth & made it edible – which I believe God made all things on the Earth – then it is clean. If YOU can eat it & it not become sick, then do so, if you so desire, knowing God made “it” for you to partake of and be may stronger by. However, if something makes you sick – such as sugar for a diabetic, or a food allergy – stay away from those things. Not just for your physical well being, but also out of obedience to God, because God made you just as you are (Psalm 139:14) – even if that means you are not to eat chocolate – or fish – or bananas.
Come back tomorrow for the rest of this topic, and what Romans 14:20 says about our actions in relationship to other people.
Thursday I heard myself saying “ It would take an act of God to get me to regularly attend that church.” When questioned as to my passionate statement I explained that I knew first hand that the church ‘officials’ had presented a young woman with a letter decreeing she was no longer a member of that church, and thus no longer welcome to attend worship services with them. Her crimes were cited and she was asked to sign the letter in agreement that she would cease attendance there. I, having fully taken on the thoughts of our ‘doctrine’ do not believe in a membership to any one church or denomination. I believe when Christ died on the cross for us, He died for ALL of us, and when we accept this salvation, our names are written in the book of life. End of story. How can anyone pass judgement on another to the point of revoking their right to hear the gospel? How can this possibly line up with what God has called us to do – to share the good news? How can this church, these people think they have the right to make such a decision? How can they not see the broken heart, the lost spirit, the compelling young girl who longs simply for acceptance and love? How can they turn their backs so coldly and still call themselves Christians? How, How, How?
I was worked up. I was upset. I was beside myself with the audacity of the situation. NO, I WOULD NEVER be a regular attendee of such of congregation!
Friday morning I woke up at 5, began my bible study out of my daily devotional and found myself in Romans, reading chapter 14. And you know what I found? I found how wrong I WAS Thursday. I had been passing judgement on those whom I felt had no right to pass judgement. In my attempt to grasp the scripture, I had allowed anger to overcome my thoughts and cloud my judgement, leading me to commit the very sin I had been so mad at THEM for committing. What a hypocrite I was!
Romans 14 has an answer for this as well: verse 22 says “22 So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves.” And conversely Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he condemns. Each one of us must evaluate every aspect of life and make decisions about right and wrong, good and evil. verse 5 says “5 One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind.” THEN verse 12 “So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.” Finally 23 directs “ But whoever has doubts is condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.”
This is where I get the understanding that we must each decide for ourselves that which is holy and that which is sinful. We have a instruction manual in the bible, but we must use the brains – and other resources God gave us – to interpret the instructions. We will find as we grow in our faith, and our biblical knowledge, that our understanding will change. We will find errors in our thinking from before. We will find places where we were very wrong – tho we may have been basing our thoughts on scripture, or christian teaching. It’s all a matter of interpretation. We must be always open to a new perspective so as to prevent ourselves from falling into the trap of false understanding, to prevent ourselves from following false profits. To prevent ourselves from worshiping false idols. As soon as we think we know EXACTLY what the RIGHT answer is, this is when we should start asking questions, because it is quite possible our answers are what we want them to be, rather than what we know they should be, or what God wants us to see.
For so long I have been encouraged to write my thoughts and ideas so as to share them with the world…….
And for so long I have drug my feet, giving excuses, busying myself with daily activities, telling myself all the reasons why I couldn’t.
Then it happened, I had an experience, followed by a bible study, which led to an epiphany so strong, I HAD to write it down and share it. Over the next few days I will share with you the details of these things and my observations related to them. I thank you in advance for starting this journey with me, and prayerfully ask that God lead my life and my writing to help us all grow stronger in our convictions regarding Christ as our Savior.