Who Are We To Judge
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 Ro 14:1 Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things.
 2 For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables.
 3 Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him.
 4 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.
 5 One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind.
 6 He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks.
 7 For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself.
 8 For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord's.
 9 For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living.

This section of Scripture from Romans 14:1 to 15:7 deals with the matter of receiving one another as members of the Body of Christ. In the days of the early church, you didn’t go through membership classes to belong to a church.



It was more a matter of hearing and believing this glorious Good News we call the Gospel, and consequently coming to faith by trusting in Jesus alone for your salvation,  being baptized and then continuing to grow with each other through the study of the apostles teachings, praying together, and in general, hanging out with each other.

No longer an island, you became a part of something much more larger than yourself, namely the Body of Christ.

When you received someone into the fellowship of the congregation it was because they had the same faith in Jesus Christ that the rest of you had. Some had stronger faith, some had weaker faith. Some had greater knowledge, some had lesser knowledge, But all had the essential faith of Jesus Christ as Lord of their life and Savior from their sins.

All such people were to be received into the congregation with open arms. Now there may come a time when members of a congregation fall into serious doctrinal error, or get involved in gross moral failure. Such unrepentant people are not to be received, not to be welcomed,  and the Bible spells out procedures for removing them.

But, when it comes to non-essential matters, those things which have no bearing on our salvation, the weaker, the less informed, are to be received. This is what Paul is about to address here in this section.

Ro 14:1 Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things.
This verse is a difficult read, and if I could paraphrase it, I would say something like, “Rather than get into a hot argument over non-essential things that a weak brother or sister is uncertain about,  welcome them into the congregation.”

In context, I think it’s safe to say that these areas of uncertainty are related to areas of the freedom we find in the gospel versus the restrictions of Old Testament Law. The trick for us today is to see how these things might apply to the church of the 21st century.

Let’s face it, most of us don’t argue about what is lawful to eat, or what day is the sabbath to be celebrated on. (I said most of us, there are still some who would argue these points.)  Paul, here,  was addressing some specific problems in the Roman church, yet   

2Ti 3:16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, So let’s see what we can learn from this today, here at Living Word.

2 For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables.

One of the interesting things about this matter is Paul’s labeling of the weaker in faith. The “weak” are those with the restrictions! We have this misguided notion sometimes that the one who obeys the most “religious rules” is the stronger in faith, but that is not true.



For those who cling to “legalism” have not yet tasted the fullness of God’s grace. They have not yet experienced the freedom that the gospel brings from these things. The responsibility of the congregation then is to gently lead and instruct the weak, so as to free them from the snare of legalism, that they may experience the true freedom in Christ.

One of the problems in the church at Rome was that it contained converted Jews and Gentiles.  The Jews had strict dietary laws, if you’d like we could turn to Leviticus 11 and read all that was considered unclean. (Camel meat, rabbits, catfish, and of course pork to name a few) The Gentiles pretty much ate whatever they pleased.

But this wasn’t about Jew versus Gentile, it was about coming to the realization that it’s not what goes into a man’s stomach that defiles him.  Mr 7:15 "There is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him; but the things which come out of him, those are the things that defile a man.

It was about realizing that what you ate had nothing to do with your standing before God. God receives us solely on the basis of what we believe about Jesus.

And some people struggled with this concept. “God said we better not eat these things in the OT, so we better not eat them!”  Even the Apostle Peter wrestled with the thought of eating that which is unclean.

When he was in Joppa the Lord appeared to him in a vision and showed him a whole sheetful of unclean animals, and said to Peter, “Rise, Peter, kill and eat.” But Peter said, “Not so Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.”

Don’t you just love the way Peter always told the Lord what to do? Perhaps we could learn from that. The Lord says, “Don’t have sex outside the bounds of marriage” and we say, “Not so Lord!” “Do not divorce! Not so Lord!  Marriage is between a man and a woman. Not so Lord!  

But Peter had this idea of unclean food deeply ingrained in his conscience. It was a hard freedom to get used to. Often this rejection of exterior things is especially evident among zealous new Christians.

Even today, for the zealous new Christian, secular books are discarded, sinful rock music is burned and destroyed, card playing ceases, dancing is forbidden, movies are taboo, and there better not be any beer in your refrigerator!

Is there danger in these things? There certainly could be some bad influences, and parents need to be aware of it, but do they in and of themselves have anything to do with your salvation?

No! So,  
3 Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him.
So, in modern day application,  you who enjoy a good movie or a good game of Sheepshead, or an occasional beer, don’t despise your brother who regards such activities as sin. The idea of despise here is to not regard him as a loser, a zero.

Watch your attitude toward him, and at the same time, don’t allow him to put you on a guilt trip, for that will lead to a split in your fellowship, and what we are concerned about here in this portion of Romans is the unity of the Body. People have a tendency to avoid that which makes them feel guilty. Non-essentials should not come between believers.

The warning for the weak in this instance, the one who legalistically avoids certain foods, or movies, or card games, or the occasional beer, is don’t judge those who engage in these things. Don’t criticize them in your heart as if they are going to be damned for what you perceive as their blatant rebellion.  (No one likes to hang out with the damned either.)

In defense of the “weak” here, let me say that sometimes the weak know they are weak, and therefore refrain from engaging in these behaviors and that’s okay. They know they can have a beer, but they also know that if they do, they might not stop and it could lead to the sin of drunkenness.

They know they could see that movie, but it might trigger some impure thoughts that may lead to impure actions, so they voluntarily decline to go.  As long as they realize that having that occasional beer or attending a movie is not going to condemn someone to hell, they are in good shape.

4 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.

As a professing Christian, you have a Master, you are God’s slave. You and I must answer to Him and Him alone. He has given us His Word and he has given us the Holy Spirit to enable us to stand on Judgement Day. God is able to use the Word and the Holy Spirit to make us stand in His good graces on that Final Day.

Jesus said in John 12:48, The one who rejects Me and does not receive My words has that which judges him. The Word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.

At this point it would be wise to remind you again that these areas of judgement, spoken of in this portion of Romans, have to do with the non-essentials of salvation. The church has an obligation and a charge from God to judge false teaching and immoral behavior in the camp.

1Co 6:9-10 GW  Don't you know that wicked people won't inherit the kingdom of God? Stop deceiving yourselves! People who continue to commit sexual sins, who worship false gods, those who commit adultery, homosexuals,  (10)  or thieves, those who are greedy or drunk, who use abusive language, or who rob people will not inherit the kingdom of God.

These are matters of salvation and must be dealt with by the church.

Now, Paul moves onto another non-essential.

5 One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike.

There were many special feast days in the OT. and of course the Sabbath was observed on Saturday. But with the advent of the gospel, these days saw their fulfillment in the person of Jesus Christ. They were no longer necessary, no longer required.  Church attendance on Sunday or any other day is not necessary for salvation.

As Keith Green used to say, going to church doesn’t make you a Christian anymore than going to McDonalds makes you a hamburger. A Christian attends worship services because he wants to! I drove here in my car this morning, but I was driven here by the Holy Spirit who has given me a longing to come here for worship and fellowship and encouragement and teaching.


Is it wise to set aside days for remembrance and celebration? Is it wise to rest one day out of seven? Definitely! Is it necessary for salvation? Nope. The beauty of this passage, is for the person who has been set free by believing the Gospel, every day is precious! Every day is special!
Every day is a day that the Lord has made! And he rejoices and is glad in it.

The danger of this passage is that people who esteem certain days above others often become “duty bound” Christians. You know, as long as I attend church and observe Ash Wednesday, Lent, Advent, and so on, I’ll be okay, when in reality such observances have nothing to do with your salvation.

We will be observing Ash Wednesday this week. Why? We simply want to spend some time reflecting on our Lord’s season of Passion. I assure you that your attendance or lack of attendance will have nothing to do with your salvation.

6 He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks.

Whether observing days or eating foods, all thanks and glory go to God! If you attend Ash Wednesday services, then thank the Lord for His passion and this special way of remembering it! If not, thank the Lord for His daily reminders of His passion for you.

Thank You Lord for whatever food my conscience is allowing me to eat! Thank You Lord for the amusements and diversions that You allow me to enjoy!

 1Th 5:18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
 (NKJV)

Is thanksgiving a regular part of your life? Or do you wait until the last Thursday in November? Do you ever stop and thank the Lord along the snowmobile trail? Do you ever thank the Lord for the great pick-up basketball game? Or the round of golf? Or a good afternoon of gardening or sewing, or painting, or paintball, or just reading a book?

That’s what we’re talking about here. Whatever your conscience and the Word of God allows you to do! Do it with thankfulness and with glory given to the Lord!

7 For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself.
 8 For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord's.
 9 For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living.

In Rosenius’ commentary on the Book of Romans, He says, “A Christian has no right to waste his life.”
What did he mean by that? He meant that we are not our own, but belong to Him who created, redeemed, and sanctified us. We no longer live for ourselves but rather for Him, giving priority to His honor, His will, and His cause.

The Bible tells us that we are not our own, that we were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. (1 Cor 6:19,20)

If there be any rule for the Christian, let it be guided by this principle. We belong to Him!

Understand that we are all projects. He is not done with us yet. He is continually working through His Word and the Holy Spirit to conform us to the image of His Son.  As we submit to Him and His Word. He will get us to where He wants us to be. He will show us what is essential and what isn’t.

Our lives should be “to the Lord.” if we can get to that place, the convictions and corrections will take care of themselves.

It was after the resurrection of Jesus and before His Ascension. Jesus had met the disciples after they had gone out fishing. He had just told Peter how he was going to meet his end  and we read that Peter was following Jesus and he turned around and saw that John was following too.


So he asked Jesus, “But what about this man? (John) and Jesus said, “If I will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.” In other words, “Peter, you just make sure that I am the Lord of your life. It is not essential for you to know John’s end. Let me worry about John.”

I am His Lord.....not you.  This is how it must be with the non-essentials of the Christian faith.

If Hobby Lobby or Chick Filet closes on the Sabbath, that’s there business. If so and so refuses to eat meat on Fridays, that’s their business. If someone else likes to have an occasional beer, that’s their business, and if someone refuses to play cards....that’s their concern.

Just remember that as God has been graceful toward us, we need to be graceful toward others. We are not yet at the same place in our level of Christian maturity. And in the non-essentials we need to give each other room to grow.

And may this gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ set us free from the tyranny of the non-essentials.