Romans 14:21-23

Verses covered in this passage:

  • Romans 14:21
  • Romans 14:22
  • Romans 14:23

The Apostle Paul writes to the world-renowned believers in Rome, the center of the world at that time, in order to answer a slanderous charge made to them against Paul and his message. Paul’s detractors claim his emphasis on faith overturns the law. Paul says that ” just living by the law” does not achieve personal justice before God, while “just living by faith” does. Paul then demonstrates what a just life looks like: harmonious living with Jesus as the leader. Paul also makes clear the choice a believer has: to walk in faith and the power of the resurrection and experience resurrection life, or walk in sin and unnecessarily experience the negative consequences.

Paul continues to demonstrate what living righteously by faith looks like. Part of that is living as an example for others and taking into account their consciences and where they are in their lives. Being able to see their perspective and discern what is in their best interest. Sometimes we might limit our own freedom in order to benefit our brothers and sisters in Christ.

      Christians should not do things that may cause other believers to stumble. If believers cannot do something in faith then they should not do that thing.

If a fellow believer thinks that it is wrong to consume a particular substance, then we should not participate in that thing around or with that believer. It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles. The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. To demonstrate this, Paul uses the example of food and wine. Back in Paul’s time, some food was seen as unclean and thus a food that believers should not partake of. Paul states that even though none of these foods are unclean (verse 14), it is still wrong to eat these foods around believers who think the opposite. There are two reasons for this. First, if a believer does something without faith, then they should not do that thing—it would be sinful of them if they did. He who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin. Secondly, if there is a weaker believer in the faith who sees something as sin even though it is not declared a sin in the Bible, those believers who are stronger in the faith should not condemn that believer but should instead avoid that “thing” too.

If doing something hurts the conscience of the Christian who does it, he should give up that action. If doing that same thing does not hurt our conscience, but hurts the conscience of a fellow believer, why would we want to harm them? We should, instead, refrain from that action or substance when in the company of the weaker believer. This is so that those stronger in the faith do not tempt their fellow believer to do something apart from their own personal faith (verse 23). We do all of this so as to create harmonious and righteous living together as believers, which God has called us to (Romans 12).

Biblical Text

21 It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles. 22 The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. 23 But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin.

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