Skip Heitzig - Romans 13-14:13
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Father, thank you for an opportunity to gather together midweek. Thank you for the rainy day we've had, and may your word now water our souls as we gather. Lord, for that to happen, adequately, powerfully, we need a hunger and a thirst in our hearts for truth. For we recall that our Lord Jesus said, blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. They shall be filled. So Father, we need your wisdom. We long to hear your Spirit's voice speak amidst and through and over my voice. We pray, Lord, that you would speak tonight to your people, those gathered here, those gathered in places around the city, around the country, around the world who are tuning in. Thank you for the technology we have to broadcast from this place, that the word of the Lord may sound forth. Strengthen us, Lord, for days ahead. Strengthen us for the task to which you have called us in particular. May we be able to apprehend that for which we have been apprehended by Christ. In Jesus' name we ask, Amen.
You doing all right? Good. So we're in the book of Romans. And we have seen that Romans is divided up into four sections. And I go over these a lot. Because by the end of this book, which is in a couple of weeks, you're going to have this so down pat, you will never forget it. So the book of Romans is a Paul's incredible letter to a group of Roman believers. He longed to go to Rome. He finally went to Rome, not the way he thought he would go to Rome. But he wrote this letter. And in the letter, after his introductory remarks, Paul begins speaking in chapter 1, verse 18, all the way to chapter 3, verse 20, about the wrath of God revealed from heaven.
Then, from chapter 3, verse 21, all the way through to chapter 8, verse 39 is the next section, where he speaks about the grace of God. He sets the wrath of God out first, so that we can appreciate the Second great section, the grace of God, undeserved, unmerited favor. Then, beginning in chapter 9, verse 1, to chapter 11, verse 36 is the third great section, the plan of God. Then chapter 12, verse 1 to verse, to the end of the book, chapter 16, is, finally, the will of God. That's the section, we are in. And as we get into chapter 13, we get to a, for some, difficult little section of scripture. Because Paul tells us our relationship, the relationship of the Christian to the government, and what our attitude is to be toward governing authorities.
And automatically, when we hear that, when Christians, especially in America, hear that, we're sort of founded in this country with a hands off attitude when it comes to the government, a separation clause that we have in our Constitution. But he begins by saying let every soul be subject to the governing authority. When I was a kid, the motto in my culture, the motto in my brother's culture, I was a kid. They were teenagers. But I remember when the motto question authority became kind of the standard fare. What do you do with authority? Well, you don't believe it. You question it. You fight against it. You do your own thing. You challenge authority.
Here, are the apostle said, let every soul, your soul, my soul, our souls, be subject to governing authority. The difficulty is when you have a governmental structure that is not godly, which is most of the time. You see, when Paul wrote this, there wasn't a Democrat or a Republican in, sitting in Rome. There was not a Democrat. There was an autocrat, Caesar Nero, a tyrant, a despotic ruler. And yet Paul says, let every soul be subject to governing authorities. That government authority that Paul has in his mind, sitting in Rome, is the very one who will eventually take Paul's head off with an axe. Paul will be beheaded at the hands of Caesar Nero eventually. But Paul begins, let every soul be subject to governing authorities.
Now you know, the New Testament has, as its background that kind of tyrannical social structure. When Jesus was born, he was born into that structure, not just Caesar in Rome, but Herod in Israel. The Herod family, they ruled as tyrants. They ruled as despots. They ruled hand in glove with the Roman government. It was Herod the great who, in hearing that a King of the Jews was going to be born, or was born, in Bethlehem, that he ordered all the children two years of age and younger to be exterminated, all the male children to be decimated, to be murdered. Jesus was born into that kind of governmental structure. Now, when people discovered his claim, the reality that he was the Messiah, they had been anticipating the Messiah. But Jesus was not the Messiah they were expecting.
They were expecting a political ruler, a political rebel, somebody who would overthrow the Roman government, overthrow the social structure, set up the kingdom of God by force upon the earth. So Jesus comes on the scene. He is not what they expect. He doesn't come to bring social reform. He doesn't come to bring political reform. He does not meet their expectations. There was one occasion when the Pharisees and the Herodians came together. They both hated each other. But they came together to trap Jesus. The Herodians were loyal to Herod. They believed in supporting the Roman government. They believed in paying taxes to support that structure. They were very loyal to that Roman governmental structure.
The Pharisees did not believe in paying taxes, hated the Romans, hated the Herodians. And yet, on one occasion, they got together, and they were both on the same side. Because the enemy of my enemy is my friend. So the Herodians and the Pharisees came together to trap Jesus. And they said, we'd like to know the answer to this question. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not? They thought they had him. Because if he said no, don't pay taxes, it's a tyrannical government, then they say tax evasion. He's not obeying the laws. And the Romans would, and the heroines as their proxies, would be not in favor of that, and would want to arrest him and kill them based on that.
And if they said, yes, you should pay taxes to Cesar, and you should do whatever Herod says to do, then the Pharisees would have a case against him. So they came to Jesus, asking him the question. And he answered it masterfully, so much so, they dared not ask him any more questions. He said show me a coin. He looked at a coin. And he said, well, whose mug is on this coin? Whose face is on here? Whose inscription? And they said Caesar's. Gave them the coin back. Said good. Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God. That's how he answered that question, so wisely. But again, he was not what they expected.
Let every soul be subject to governing authorities for, here's why, There is no authority except from God. And the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Well, we have trouble with that. It means that the policeman who wrote you a ticket last week because you were speeding was sent there by God. The governor, the president, the Congress, the house, the prime ministers of a country, the kings are put there ultimately by a sovereign God.
Now, we have to rest in that, as much as we may not like it. Go back to, not literally, but go back in your mind to the book of Daniel. In the book of Daniel, we are told that Nebuchadnezzar came and attacked Jerusalem. And it says, in verse 2 of chapter 1, the Lord gave Joakim the King of Judah into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar. Ultimately, God assumes responsibility for the plunder, takeover, and burning of the city of Jerusalem, which he predicted through his prophets, because of the falling away the apostasy, as we have been discussing on weekends, of the nation of Israel.
When Nebuchadnezzar was King of Babylon, and he put a statue in the plane of Dura, and commanded that everybody bow down to, it and three of the Hebrew children did not do it, we are told also that during that era, that Nebuchadnezzar walked around his palace. And he looked over Babylon. And he said, is this not the great Babylon which I have built?
And something happened to him. He started growing his nails out like claws. His hair started growing out. He started eating grass like an animal. Started going crazy, living out on the field. The dew of heaven, for seven seasons, passed over him. And Daniel came to him and said, until you realize that the most high rules in the kingdom of men and places over it whomever he chooses. And, in the book of Daniel, it says God puts over them the basest of men, the worst sort of politician. So when you go, I hate that politician, the Lord might use them to put him over you.
I know it's a bitter pill to swallow. But again, keep in mind that when Paul wrote this, Caesar Nero, Herod the Great, those were the bad actors. But they were in place as governmental authorities. And Paul says, there really is no authority except from God. And the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore, whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God. And those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.
Now to be subject uses a very important word. He uses a military word... It means, in a military context, you get underneath in your ranking before your commanding officer. In a non-military context, it suggests the bearing of a burden or the voluntary carrying of a load. So I think the idea is this. Understanding the ultimate sovereignty of God, get in line under his jurisdiction and show support, with your heart right before God, to governmental authorities. Whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God. And those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works but to evil.
Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. And here's a phrase I do have problems with. But I believe it. For he, that is the ruler, the Herods, the Cesar Neros, you can fill in the blank. I'm not going to do that. But you can put in any politician, modern or present or past. He is God's minister. Wow. The word Paul uses, we get the word deacon from, servant from, God's servant, God's minister, is the same word that the apostles use in describing an officer of the church, a minister, a servant. He is God's minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid. Be afraid. Be very afraid. For he does not bear the sword in vain. That is, he has weaponized for a purpose. For he is God's minister and avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. Therefore, you must be subject not only because of wrath, but also for conscience sake.
Shortly after the flood, right around Genesis chapter 9, is when most Bible scholars will say God established, God began to Institute human government. After the flood, God gave the mandate that whoever sheds man's blood, by him, blood must be shed. Or you shed that man's blood by, whoever shed that blood is guilty. And a capital punishment would be the consequence.
So human government is considered by theologians to be what's called common grace, common grace. Common grace is a term that refers to God's blessing or grace or favor on humanity that is not purely salvific. That is, not for salvation purposes. Breathing air is a common blessing, a common grace. The beautiful rain, the ability to appreciate nature, common grace.
Jesus put it this way. The sun shines on the just and the unjust. The rain falls on the just and the unjust. That's common grace. We commonly enjoy it together, whether you're saved or not. Government, though it can be a burden, is given, is seen as a common grace. Because it has a twofold purpose, number one, to protect the community, and number two, to punish criminals.
So, next time you get pulled over by a police officer, and they notice that you've been doing 25 miles over the speed limit the last few miles, and they're going to write you a ticket, no warning, a ticket, you really should thank them. You should thank the officer. Because the officer is writing you a ticket pulled you over because he is there to protect your life. He understands, obviously, you don't. You and I, when we get pulled over, we're too dumb to protect ourselves. So that's why we hire it out. And the police, whom we hire, are there to protect your life. So thank the officer for stopping you, and writing the ticket, and watching over the community. They're part of the common grace, the common blessing.
You know what's worse than a bad cop? No cop. If you were to defund the police, as some proposed you should, we should, you probably wouldn't make it. If there were no police on the streets, you probably wouldn't make it home from church. Eventually, that would be the case. There would be total anarchy without laws and without those to uphold those laws, enforce those laws. It's part of common grace, common blessing, God's minister.Now, I will say this. When I was younger, I did not think this way. We had, where I lived, right down the street from us, a couple of police officers, CHPs, California Highway Patrols who just loved their job, a little too much. Loved the authority it brought, and in particular did not like motorcyclists. Well, my brother Bob and I were riding motorcycles up and down the street every day for months, for years, not always abiding by the law. We were kids.
So at age 13, 14, 15, I'm already riding a motorcycle in California, on the streets. The officer would pull us over, we felt unduly hassle us, that began a very uneasy relationship that I had with law enforcement. It wasn't good. To this day, because of all those altercations I had, to this day, whenever I see a black and white, a police officer, a Sheriff, a state trooper, I white knuckle the steering wheel. I grab. It's instinctive. I may be doing under. And I look down. And I go, I'm doing the speed limit. Now, that's not always, not even often. But when that happens, it's like... right?
The first time I got pulled over in a car, I was 15, I had my learner's permit. Didn't have a license. I was pulled over by California Highway Patrol in San Bernardino, California. And he said, can I see your license? I didn't have a license. Again, I had a learner's permit. So he said, and now, that was illegal, what I was doing, right? Pulled me over, and he said, can I see your license? And I said, officer, I forgot my license at home. He said, are you of age? You have a license? I said, yes sir.
Now I'm unregenerate at the time. I'm unsaved. So give me a little bit of a break. You expect an unsaved person to act unsaved, and I acted very unsaved. So I lied. I said, I have a license. He goes, OK. What's your address? I told him my correct address, my parents' phone number, very confidently. And he said, OK, I'm going to check. I'm going to check our records. If you're lying, and you don't have a license, you're in big trouble. I said, sure. No problem. Go ahead. Call my folks.
Now, I was hoping, dare I say even praying, that wouldn't happen, which it did not happen. But here was the kicker for me at the time. I got pulled over. And he said, do you know how fast you were doing? I said, sir, I was doing the speed limit. He goes, that was the problem. He said, you're impeding traffic. In other words, he said, and he explained this to me, you need to go the flow of traffic. If you are in this left lane and you are slowing down, that's, you're slowing the flow of traffic. That's dangerous. We call that impeding traffic.
Now, probably only in the state of California do you get a ticket for going to slow. Because I notice a lot of people in New Mexico impede traffic all day long, and it seems to be sort of the fare. But there, was a problem. Here, if you do the opposite, you'll get a ticket. That is, I don't know why I even shared that. It has nothing to do at all with this message, except I'm confessing my sin to you, that I had an uneasy relationship with police officers. Now I thank God every time I see them.
Therefore verse 5, you must be subject, not only because of wrath, not only because you'll get in trouble, not only because you might get a citation, not only because you might go to jail. If you commit a severe enough infraction, but also for the sake of your conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes. Ooh. Now, Paul, now you're getting really close to home here.
Because of this, you also pay taxes. For they, this is those government tax collectors, they are God's ministers. Now, it's really difficult to swallow. Now, he's saying the IRS are God's ministers. For they are God's ministers. And notice, attending continually to this very thing. That I agree with. They do attend continually to this very thing. There's no end to the creative ways they come up with to tax us.
Rendered therefore to all their due, taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, so pay your taxes. Don't try to sneak anything over when you fly somewhere in your suitcase. Pay the custom. Payee the tribute. Fear, to whom fear, honor, to whom honor. So we are to support the government, basically by paying our taxes and by giving them respect. Now, once again, consider the background the New Testament was written in. Israel, for example, the tax structure was far more burdensome than our own. In Israel, the Roman government, and all over the Roman world, exacted what was called the poll tax.
Number one, the poll tax was a tax for everybody alive from age, if you're a male, age 16 to age 65. If you're a female, like age 14 to age 65, that was called the poll tax. It is a tax on you breathing. For you just being alive, you paid the poll tax. Then there was an income tax on top of the poll. Tax the income tax was a 10% flat tax. Then there was a ground tax. You were taxed on use of roads, the use of bridges. Then there was a cart tax. If you had a cart with wheels on it, you were taxed, depending on the number of wheels you utilize, whether it was one wheel, like a wheelbarrow, two wheels, four wheels. The more wheels, the more tax. There was a fish tax on top of all those. The fish tax was, if you lived by the ocean, or you lived by like the Sea of Galilee, you were taxed per fish you caught in your net. You were taxed for that.
On top of that, you paid a ground tax. Or did I mention the ground tax? OK, so the ground tax was, if you grew grain, you had to pay the government 10% of whatever you grew. If you grew wine, like in vineyards, you would pay 25% tax. So there was tax upon tax upon tax. And yet, Paul says pay your taxes. Give them respect. Render to all they're due, taxes to whom taxes are due, custom to whom customs are due, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.
Now, before we get into the next section, we have to ask this. OK, I understand what Paul is saying. But is there ever a time when you disobey the government? You don't honor them. You don't obey them. Is there? Of course there is. We find that in the scripture. Book of Daniel is one of them. I just mentioned it. When Nebuchadnezzar built that huge statue and commanded the whole world bow down, three Hebrew fellas decided not to do that.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego said we're not going to bow down to that false idol. He said, well, if you don't bow down, we're going to throw you into the fiery furnace, and you'll be dead. They said, listen. Our God is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace. And even if he doesn't, not going to bow. So they disobeyed government orders.
In Acts chapter 4, Acts chapter 3, there was a healing of the lame man at the gate beautiful in the city of Jerusalem. Peter and John were there, used by God to do that. They were brought on trial before the Jewish Sanhedrin. The effect of that healing was so great, it says 5,000 men believed in Jesus that day. So it created quite a stir in Jerusalem. Peter and John stand trial. And they say, by what name, and by what authority have you done this? And Peter said, if we're being called into question because of a good deed done to a lame guy, be it known to you that by the name of Jesus of Nazareth, whom you killed, whom God raised from the dead, does this man stand before you whole.
And they say, well, we're passing a law in Jerusalem. No one can ever speak in the name of Jesus, use that name like you have. Nobody can do that from now on in the city. They were let go. They went right back out into the temple courts and preached again, were arrested again, put in prison overnight. And angel sprung them from jail. They went right back out and did it again.
They were arrested again in chapter 5, brought before the leaders. Leaders said, didn't we give you the command, the order, the law, that you shouldn't speak anymore in this name? They said, well, whether it's right in the sight of God to obey you more than men, you decide. But as for us, we must speak what we have seen and heard. And then he said, we must obey God rather than men. We have to.
So when the government trespasses a law that interferes with the laws God has told us to keep, with the dictums, dictates, things God has told us to practice, when the government says you can't do that, they infringe upon not just constitutional right, but what God tells us, we disobey. So being a good Christian means being a good citizen until being a good citizen means being a bad Christian. So there were times when this became problematic. Put yourself in the shoes of you live in the South in the 1850s. You're a plantation owner, a Christian plantation owner. You have working under you people conscripted as slaves. You morally feel this is wrong. Biblically, you feel slavery is wrong. But it's the structure that is set up. And you want to feed your family. And you feel the angst, the pull, in your culture, but in your Spirit.
And then, you hear that the South in which you live is going to wage war, military war, against the union, the northern states, over this issue. What do you do? Do you, they want to secede from the Union, the South. Do you cross over enemy lines and now live in the North, and fight for the North? Or do you stay in the South? What do you do? It's a moral dilemma. Christians dealt with this during that era.
Here's another example. You're living in the 1930s in Germany. You're a Christian businessman. The leader of the country is seemingly very promising, Adolph somebody. Oh, Adolf Hitler, right, right. Adolph Hitler, the Chancellor of the Third Reich, sees promise in you and wants to promote you. But you understand his ideology toward the Jews. And as a believer, that's untenable. to you. What do you do? Those are things that people, that believers, dealt with during that era. So there are times when we are called to disobey government. But the general rule is, you don't be, you're not to be subversive. You're not to be a rabble rouser. You're not to stir up trouble. You're not to always be against the government. You don't want to be known for that.
So verse 8, he continues, owe no one anything except to love one another. Don't owe anybody anything. But owe everybody love. Love everyone. For he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not bear false witness, you shall not covet, and if there's any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying. Namely, you shall love your neighbor as yourself.
Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law. Now, when Paul says owe no man, don't owe anybody anything, he doesn't mean, as some people have said this means, he's not forbidding you to have a credit card, or to have payments for a house that you're going to eventually pay off in 15, 30 years, or a car payment. That's not what it's referring to.
It's, because if it were, you'd have to deal with a lot of texts that say it's OK to do that, like Exodus chapter 22, which is laws governing borrowing and paying back. So there were loans that were taken out in Israel. Or the words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, it says, if somebody asks you for something, give it to him. If he wants to borrow something from you, let him. Now Jesus wouldn't say that if borrowing and lending was prohibited.
But the idea here is, don't overburden yourself to the point where you can't pay it. Don't over borrow. Don't overbuy. Sometimes, we want to buy something. We can't wait for it. And so we get behind in payments. You want to have a good record going forward, to show that you are a responsible child of God. Because Ben Franklin said, creditors have better memories than debtors. Good wisdom. You take something out on credit. Yeah, I'll pay it off. And you may forget. They will not, and they will compound the interest, as some of us well know. But you'll notice that he says that we have the duty to love one another. And then he lists some of the commandments.
Now, what he is listing is from what's called the second table of the law, the law of Moses, the Ten Commandments, had two tables. The first for, the second six. The first four dealt with our relationship with God. The second six dealt with man's relationship to mankind. Paul is making a very important statement, a statement that Jesus underscored, that if you live by the law of love, you'll fulfill the law of Moses.
If you love somebody, you're not going to kill them. If you love somebody, you're not going to covet. If you love somebody, you're not going to rip them off. You're not going to steal from them, et cetera, et cetera. So there were Ten Commandments. Jesus comes along and turns them from negative into positive, and reduces them to two commandments.
He said, love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. On these to hang all the law and the prophets. So instead of thou shalt not, thou shalt not, thou shalt not, Jesus said, well just do this. Love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength. Love your neighbor as yourself. You'll keep it all.
Then he really reduced it down to one when you gave the golden rule. Do unto others as you would have others do to you. Now again, it's put in the positive. Love, verse 10, does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law. Now I just want to touch on something, if I can briefly. And I say if I can, like you're going to say, no you can't.
But you'll notice in verse 9 how he sums it up with that summary verse I just mentioned. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. What does that mean you shall love your neighbor as yourself? And the reason I ask that is because there has come a teaching. I've heard it over the last couple of decades. But it resurfaces every few years. And it goes like this. If you really want to love your neighbor, you have to first begin by loving yourself. You won't be able to love others until you are in love with yourself.
And once you learn to love yourself, then you're equipped to love your neighbor. And I've even heard this, and equipped to love God. You can't love God, they say, unless you love yourself first. Because we're told to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. So you begin with self-love, and then you love God. Then you love your neighbor. Well, I'll answer that by saying, first of all, never is there a commandment in the Bible to love yourself. Two commandments are given by Jesus, not three. He didn't say, love yourself, and then love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and then love your neighbor as yourself. That's never there.
And then, second, when it says love your neighbor as yourself, it's because it presupposes the love your, love your neighbor as you love yourself, that's the presupposition. The presupposition of the truth is that you already do love yourself. And because you already love yourself, and everybody on Earth knows that we all love ourselves, based on that, love others with that same kind of care, that same kind of interest that you have in yourself.
Turn that outward to others. It presupposes that everybody already does love yourself. So loving yourself is not the solution. Loving yourself is the problem. And yet, this teaching has come into the church. We're going to teach you how to love yourself, so that you can love others. You already love yourself. Paul said, if you didn't love yourself, you wouldn't nourish your flesh. You wouldn't eat. You wouldn't put perfume on. Somebody's dressed up nice, and in perfume. Oh, I hate myself. Really? I couldn't tell.
So it's a presupposed fact, and often the very root of the problem. So love your neighbor as yourself. Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law. And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to wake out of sleep. For now, our salvation is near than when we first believed.If you were saved 20 years ago, you are 20 years closer to have them than you were then. I know that's pretty obvious.But I do believe, first of all, I do believe we're in the last days. I'm not going to make any prediction. That's been done to the detriment of the church for years. But Paul always believed and taught, and the New Testament teaches, the imminent return of Jesus Christ. And for us, our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent. The day is at hand. Therefore, let us cast off the works of darkness. Let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly, is in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in licentiousness and lewdness, not in strife and envy. Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lust.
Paul is using a picture, a word picture that was familiar. A Roman soldier would get up and would strip himself of his common clothes, and put on his battle gear. And then at night, he would put off his battle gear and put on his sleeping clothes, et cetera. So the idea is, let's likewise strip ourselves of the things that are wrong and hold us back. And I love this. Put on the Lord Jesus Christ.
Put on Jesus. Invite Jesus everywhere you go during the day. In fact, ask yourself, if I know that Jesus is sitting next to me during this activity I'm about to engage in, would he approve? I'm going to invite him. I'm going to not just bring him in. I'm going to put him on. When you put Jesus on, you'll find he's a perfect fit. He fits you perfectly. And you'll find it to be a perfect fit in every situation. So like the soldier who would put off the works of darkness and put on his armor for the fight, put on Jesus in every situation.
Now, in chapter 14, as we get into this, Paul continues this practical section. But he is going to be dealing with what we would call gray areas of the Christian life, OK? There's no specific that's right, that's wrong. But it could be right. It could be wrong, depending on who's doing it and for what reason. The boundaries aren't as clear.
So you'll notice this. Receive one who is weak in faith, but not to dispute over doubtful things. For one believes he may eat all things. But he who was weak eats only vegetables. Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat. Let not him who does not eat judge him who eats. For God has received him. Who are you to judge another's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand. For God is able to make him stand. There are issues that are secondary issues. They're not issues of salvation. They're not issues of major points of doctrine, like the death of Christ, the character nature of Christ, of God, et cetera. They're secondary things. Dieting and days of worship are a couple of them.
Here's what's interesting about this. In the context of this chapter, the week brother, the week sister, is the legalistic brother. Usually, we would think, well, a weak person just sort of is just going to eat whatever he wants, does whatever he wants, worship whatever days they want. But a strong believer is somebody who has those strict parameters of this and that.
That does not seem to be the context here. The stronger believer receives the weaker, more legalistic believer who's hung up on diet and hung up on days of worship.Receive, that is receive into fellowship, one who is weak in the faith, but not to dispute over doubtful things. So don't bring them in and then pointer finger out, and corner them, because you're there to straighten out their life. No, just keep the essentials essential. You love Jesus. You working in fellowship with him. You keep the basic tenets of the Christian faith. And then, when it comes to diet and days, you receive them in the faith. You receive them in the corporate faith in which we have.
When I was still living at the beach in California, I remember I was out in my front yard one day. I've used this analogy before. But my mind went back to it this week. I was in the front yard. I don't remember what I was doing. But I think I was either cleaning the salt off my wetsuit or waxing my surfboard, one of the two. But I was in the front yard. And I'm working. And I see a shadow of a person stop right in front of me. I looked up, and I kid you not. There was a man in a flowy white robe with a beard and long hair. Well, I'm a young Christian. What am I to think?
I think, this is it. He's come for me personally. I mean, here he is. And I almost wanted to say, what is it, Lord? But I looked up to him. And I said, hello. And his first, the first words out of his mouth was a question. He goes, do you eat meat? Pardon me? Hello. What is your name. Nice to meet you. I mean, that's kind of a common thing you first say. Not do you eat meat. But do you eat meat? And I said, well yeah, from time to time, I eat meat. If I can afford a good hamburger, I'll pick it out and eat it.
And then he went into a little tirade about how that I, as a follower of the Lord, should not eat meat. And it was just really hung up on diet. And he seemed to be very rigid, and very strong, quoting this, and quoting that. He was somebody weak in the faith, if he was in the faith at all. I didn't have that long of a conversation. He got mad. When he found out that I didn't mind eating a hamburger, he sort of stormed off after that. In the New Testament, unlike the Old Testament, there are no dietary regulations. There's no kosher pallet or menu. There are not specific days of worship that you are bound to, like in the Old Testament. You rested and worship on the seventh day, the Sabbath. That does not seem to be the case in the New Testament.
You remember Acts chapter 10. Peter's on the rooftop in Joppa. He sees a vision all these animals, let down on a white sheet before him. And the Lord says, Peter, rise and eat. And Peter goes, not so, Lord. I've never touched anything common or unclean, as if to say, I've only eaten kosher my whole life. God said, what I've cleansed, don't call common or unclean. Now, he didn't know that what he was getting out was not diet per se, but admitting Gentiles, whom he called common and unclean, allowing people of faith into the church, the same basic principle. So there aren't the same kind of regulations as in the Old Testament.
Receive when I was weak in the faith, but not to dispute over doubtful things. One believes he may eat all things, right? That's a lot of us. Now, you might not want to eat certain things because of what it does to your physique, or your hips, or your weight, or your complexion. But other than that, you probably don't have a religious hangup on it. Somebody else says, he who is weak, eats only vegetables.
Let not him who let not him who eats despise him who does not eat. And let him who does not eat judge him who eats, for God has received him. Who are you to judge another man's servant? I've always found it interesting that there seems to be a kind of worldliness in circles, in Christian circles, that I would describe as geographic worldliness. So among fundamental Christians in America, they would say, we don't drink. We don't smoke, right? We don't chew. I don't smoke. I don't chew. I don't go with girls that do. You know, we have our little set of things that we say. If you do that, that's worldly. Drinking and smoking would be on the list.
And yet we might eat to the point where it's unhealthy, and we're obese. We don't have a problem with that, because I'm not eating, or I'm not drinking or smoking. You might break the speed limit. But I'm not drinking or smoking. You might do a lot of things that are wrong and sinful and worldly. But I'm not drinking and smoking.
DL Moody loved Charles Haddon Spurgeon. Read his sermons. Always wanted to meet him. I remember reading this story, and it just, I loved it. So on one occasion, Moody was in England, had the chance to visit with Spurgeon. Knocked on the door. And wouldn't you know it? The one who answered the door was Moody's hero, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, in the flesh. He opened the door. His hero was there. The problem was, Spurgeon had a big old cigar hanging out of his mouth. He loved cigars. He was a cigar smoker. He found no problem doing that. So, open the door. Good day! Hello! That was really more Australian. And Moody was shocked. He looked back. And he instinctively pointed at Spurgeon and said, how can you, as a man of God, do that? And Spurgeon was witty, and he was quick. He quickly looked at DL Moody, who was quite rotund, quite large physically, he's a fat man. And when Moody said, how can you as a man of God do that, he patted Moody on the belly and said, the same way you, as a man of God, can do that.
So what you eat or what you smoke, it might be unhealthy for you. But it doesn't make you far or near, in terms of your relationship with God. So you receive one who is weak in the faith. Why? Because they're in the faith.Now, he goes on. One person esteems one day above another. Esteems every day alike. Let H be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day observes it to the Lord. He who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, he gives God thanks. He who does not eat to the Lord, he does not eat and gives God thanks. For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. If we live, we live to the Lord. If we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord's. So the debate is, well, which day is the right day to worship? Which is the real Lord's day?
Well, if you're in the Old Testament, the day to worship is what day? Saturday, actually, sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. That's Shabbat. That's the day of rest. That's the day of worship. That's the Lord's day. In the New Testament, there really isn't such a day. It became a practice of the early church to meet on Sunday, the first day of the week, because of what it stood for. So the seventh day of the week speaks of a finished creation. The first day of the week speaks of a finished redemption. And because Jesus rose on the first day of the week, sealing that redemption, early church members worshipped, met together, on the first day of the week.
But every now and then, I'll have a Sabbatarian, that is, somebody who says you have to worship on Saturday, not Sunday. Get a hold of me and go, you know, and kind of corner me, and say, you worship on Sunday. I believe Saturday is the only day to worship. I say, well, I invite you to our Saturday service. You're welcome to come. You have a Saturday, you have a Sabbath service? Well, we don't call it a Sabbath service. But it begins at 4 o'clock. And then 6 o'clock, you can come, 6:30. And if somebody says, well, I don't believe in worship on Sabbath. I believe on Sunday. Well, let me tell you about the two services we have on Sunday.
Now, I love the way Paul handles this. He doesn't say, this is the right day of the week. He just says, let each be persuaded in his own mind. Figure it out inside here, your head, your heart. So for me, Sunday is the day to worship. So is Monday. And, by the way, so it's Tuesday. And then Wednesday, obviously, because here we are, then Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, every day is a day to worship. And I think it's dangerous to take one day and say, this is the Lord's day. Because when you only say this is the Lord's day, you are inferring the rest of the days are yours. And none of us lives or dies to himself. We're his. He bought all of us. All of our time belongs to him.
So I'm persuaded in my mind that every day is exactly the same before the Lord, that we should worship him every day of the week. So the Sabbath didn't change in the early church. They met on Sunday, the first day of the week, because it spoke of a finished redemption. For none of us lives to himself. No one, none of us dies himself. Verse 9, for to this end, Christ died and rose and lived again, that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. But why do you judge your brother, or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ, the word bema seat, the raised platform often used in the Olympics to give rewards to the runners. Paul, in 1 Corinthians 9, said, don't you know that all of us who, all those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize. So run that you might obtain it.
So we will be judged before Christ and given rewards in the kingdom based upon our faithfulness to what God has called us to do now. We're saved by grace. You go to heaven not by your works, but by his finished work, right? We know that. But your position in the kingdom is determined by your faithfulness to what God has called you to do. Two different issues completely, bema seat of Christ.
For it is written, as I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me. Every tongue shall confess to God. So then each of us shall give an account of himself to God. He's quoting Isaiah 45 to show the universality of God's sovereign jurisdiction, and to use the verse to say this. You're going to give an account one day for yourself, not for anybody else, not for your husband, not for your wife, not for your adult children, not for your neighbor, not for the Christian down the street that you need to straighten out.
You won't give an account for them. You will give an account only for yourself. And you'll give it to God, not to a committee, not to your neighbor, or not to anybody else, but only to God. That's the point of this. That's the thrust of it. Each of us shall give an account of himself to God. Therefore let us not judge one another any more, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or to cause to fall in our brother's way. Certain things we have the freedom to do might actually be an impediment if others see us do them. Now, when it comes to diets and days, let each be persuaded in their own mind.
But there is a caveat. There is a consideration that might change our involvement in certain things. And to understand what that caveat is and that little condition, we'll have to wait for next week. Because we are out of time. We're at that time. So I'm going to let it hang right there, and we'll finish chapter 14 and get into chapter 15 next time.
Father, thank you that we have free from the law, the law of Moses, as well as the law of sin and death. Thank you that our names are written in the lamb's book of life. Thank you that we are not more righteous because of a diet we keep, or of a day upon which we worship. For Christ, as Paul wrote, Christ is the end of the law to everyone who believes. I pray, Father, that you would strengthen us and use us. We ask it in Jesus' name, Amen.