The Fatal Mistake of Failing to Yield

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 Ro 14:13 Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother's way.
 14 I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean.
 15 Yet if your brother is grieved because of your food, you are no longer walking in love. Do not destroy with your food the one for whom Christ died.
 16 Therefore do not let your good be spoken of as evil;
 17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
 18 For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men.
 19 Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.

Statistics reveal to us that failure to yield the right of way is the primary cause of 20% of all accidents that result in injury or fatality. Failure to yield can be fatal, and as we open up this portion of Romans today, Lord willing, we shall see that failure to yield in the Body of Christ can also be fatal.

Do you read this portion of Romans and catch yourself wondering, ....”who cares?  C’mon Paul, let’s get on to some weightier items here. What does it matter concerning what we eat and drink? This may have been a problem in Rome, but it doesn’t affect us today!

But you know, on one hand I wish we would see some of these problems pop up again in the church. At least it would be a sign that people are bothered by something! .....even if it is a non-essential. If you study revivals through the ages, one of the common denominators seems to be an obsession with non-essentials. An immediate rise in misguided pietism.  

With revival, people start reading their Bibles and they are so hungry to be obedient to God that many times they carry their obedience too far, and make up rules that just aren’t there. TV’s are given away,  liquor is poured down the drain, rock albums are smashed, and so on.

Granted, their zeal is misplaced, but at least it’s zeal! And this zeal carries over into the essentials as well, and that’s a good thing! And so they are zealous for the unborn. Zealous for the sanctity of marriage, zealous for biblical sexuality, zealous for evangelism, zealous for tithing, and other good things of Scripture.

So sometimes, especially on the heels of revival, this matter of the non-essentials is very relevant. But sadly, we haven’t had a true revival in the church since the 70's and 80's. Unfortunately, we have become so far removed from revival that even many of the essentials are slipping away.
And this too is a pattern in the history of the church.

So let’s assume that we are riding a wave of revival and these non-essential items begin to pop up. Movies are forbidden, drinking just one beer is a sin, and you better not get caught cutting your lawn on the Sabbath, or taking your kids to see Santa!  What does it look like when these things become issues in a congregation?

As we talked about a couple of weeks ago, the problem occurs, when the weaker brother condemns those who participate in such activities and the stronger brother, regards the weaker as an absolute loser or a fool. This is part of what Jesus was talking about in His sermon on the Mount:

 Mt 5:22 "But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, 'Raca!' shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, 'You fool!' shall be in danger of hell fire.
 (NKJV)

In this instance the weaker brother is angry at the brother who has an occasional beer, there is no biblical cause for anger here because an occasional beer is alright, it’s drunkenness that is the sin. In his self-righteous anger, he has judged him,  and is now in danger of judgement himself.  And the stronger brother is in danger of hell fire because he considers the weaker brother a fool.

So, this “failure to yield” is serious business, because it is connected with the eternal destiny of the souls of men. and that’s why Paul spends so much time on it in this epistle.  Consider the very first word of our text today:

“Therefore” Remember, whenever you see a “therefore” in Scripture, you must look back to see what the “therefore” is there for. And in this instance we see in v12 that we will all one day have to give an account to God.

Ro 14:13 Therefore (Because we are all going to have to give our own individual account to God) let us not judge one another (in the non-essentials) anymore,

Why is that important? Because if we are going to condemn our brother, (which is what the word “judge” means here. We are playing with serious fire. Remember the account you need to give? “I’m with Jesus?” Then God asks Jesus, “Is that true?

Well guess what, if you are condemning your brother, you are not loving your brother and if you’re not loving your brother, you’re not loving Jesus.

 1Jo 3:10 In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother.
 (NKJV)

 1Jo 4:20 If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?
 21 And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.

So this condemnation by the weaker and the stronger brother is connected to judgement! Salvation is at stake! Because your condemnation is evidence of a lack of love for your brother and that is evidence that you are not really known by Jesus.   “Depart from Me for I never knew you.”

So what are we to do? First of all admit that it is sin, confess it, and then turn from it. Allow yourself to be caught in it, don’t gloss it over. And instead of setting ourselves up for situations that may lead to harsh judgement against each other....

“but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother's way.

By the way, the idea of causing to fall here is that of a bent sapling. You’ve seen this in those old corny westerns and Tarzan movies. A man or animal is walking along and steps in the snare, the bent sapling is released, and the animal or man is caught and left hanging upside down. This is a little more serious than a corny western for this trap is fatal.


What happens if I use my Christian freedom to slug down a beer in front of my brother who regards that as sin? I’ll tell you what happens,  I have effectively lured my weaker brother into the trap of judging me and thereby placed his soul in jeopardy.......   But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.

And what happens when the weaker brother goes public with his campaign to wipe out all beer drinking in the church? The stronger brothers find him repulsive and the bond of brotherly love is broken and he has been snared just as sure as the other. All because of a non-essential.

.........But whoever says, 'You fool!' shall be in danger of hell fire.  1Jn.3:15, Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

14 I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean.

Paul has been convinced by the Word of God that the non-essentials are not an issue. Now the weaker brother has something in black and white to help set him free from his legalistic prison.  But Paul leaves it at that. His hope is that one day the Holy Spirit will work in that declaration and free the weaker brother.

Until that happens though, until the light goes on, until the weaker brother ceases to consider the non-essentials, essential, they will remain essential to him. And if you continue to flaunt your freedom before his face, you are not walking in love, you are walking in sin! You are luring him into a deadly, faith destroying trap. Because in his weakness, he will continue to judge you.

15 Yet if your brother is grieved because of your food, you are no longer walking in love. Do not destroy with your food the one for whom Christ died. (Do you see how important it is be loving on each other rather than condemning each other?)

16 Therefore do not let your good be spoken of as evil;

In verse 16, Paul wants us also to consider the effect such condemnation has on those outside the church.

“Therefore, because of this condemning of one another within the body of Christ over non-essentials. The goodness of brotherly love, the self-evident righteousness, peace, and joy that should belong to the local Body of Christ, has become a cat fight.

And instead of the world seeing the beautiful characteristics of the Body of Christ and desiring to be a part of it, (as Jesus desires for His church) .  Joh 13:35 "By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."
 (NKJV)
We find a bunch of people who claim to be sanctified bickering over eating and drinking, and length of hair, and the beat of a Christian song, and what hymnal we should use, and how do you spell Alleluiah, and what color carpeting should be in the sanctuary.

Who wants to be a part of that? These bickerings become fodder for the unsaved in which to have a field day! The Beautiful Body of Christ becomes a laughingstock, and God is blasphemed.  And God hates it!

 Pr 6:16 These six things the LORD hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him:
 17 A proud look, A lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood,
 18 A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that are swift in running to evil,
 19 A false witness who speaks lies, And one who sows discord among brethren.
 (NKJV)

God hates those who would sow discord among the brethren.

17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

The kingdom of God isn’t about who’s right or wrong in the non-essentials. It’s about walking in the Spirit. What does it mean to walk in the Spirit? Life in the Spirit is the path of yielding. Oh, would revival break out in our homes and churches if we would just be willing to yield to others!

We are not only to yield to the Spirit, (who produces righteousness, peace, and joy, but we are to yield to the weaker. What a contradictory way to live! Yet when you think about it, (as you should during Lent) Christ did it for us when He died on the cross! Who was the stronger at Calvary?

In spite of jeers and taunts. He did not call down the legions of angels that were at His disposal. No He yielded to the weaker. And thank God He did, or where would we be today?

We talk about giving things up for Lent, and usually these are material things, but if you had to, could you give up having a beer in front of a weaker brother? Could you give up your long hair? Your style of worship? Whatever it is that is causing the weaker brother to judge. Could you give it up in light of what Jesus gave up for you?

Stop arguing about the non-essentials, and start seeking to live righteously! Display the peace and joy freely given to you by the Spirit! When the matter of non-essentials comes up. Try this. Both of you who are in disagreement. Go to the foot of the cross. Look around. Where are the non-essentials now?

18 For he who serves Christ in these things (in righteousness, peace, and joy) is acceptable to God and approved by men.

Who could find fault from the outside of such a congregation? A congregation that exhibited the righteousness of God and shared peace and joy.

 19 Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.

The idea of pursue here is to “follow hard after.” If you ever saw the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid you have a great visual of what it means to pursue. The posse that pursued them never gave up, they were relentless. This is the way it should be in the Body of Christ.

We need to relentlessly pursue peace with one another. We are to do all we can to eliminate the non-essentials as a source of division. What are the things that make for peace? Look for common ground and if you can’t find it, again, go to the foot of the cross, because the ground is level there!

 No one is better than anyone else. No one is worse. No one is richer, no one is poorer, we are all the same sinners in need of a Savior.


What are the things that edify? To edify is to build up. So we need to relentlessly pursue those things which will build each other up. Bottom line for building up? Scripture! As we get into Scripture and share Scripture with each other within the Body of Christ, God uses those words to build up our faith.

 Ps 127:1 Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it;

And so we edify or build using His materials........the Word of God!

As we close today, what have we learned?  I hope we have learned that in the areas of non-essentials, the Spirit led believer yields. I hope we have been suitably frightened about the dangers of not yielding. I hope we have seen that as we learn to yield, the fruits of righteousness, peace, and joy begin to emerge in the Body of Christ.  This makes the church attractive to those outside and isn’t that what Jesus calls us to be?

 Joh 13:35 "By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."