Whatever Is Not From Faith Is Sin
Ro 14:20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are pure, but it is evil for the man who eats with offense.
21 It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak.
22 Do you have faith? Have it to yourself 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 he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin.
Ro 14:20 Do not destroy (do not tear down) the work of God for the sake of food. (For the sake of non-essential items) (How many of you know that you are a work of God? How many of you know that you are a work of God in progress?
The work began when He deposited the Holy Spirit in you at your baptism, and it continues as long as you cooperate with Him as you receive His means of grace and seek to respond rightly to His Word.
Php 1:6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;
Most baptized Christians do not need any help from others in tearing down the work that God began in them at baptism. We have a strong tendency to self destruct as we give in to the world, the devil, and our flesh.
Here Paul tells us that we ought not to break out the wrecking ball and use it against others because of such non-essential items as diet. God’s work proceeds at God’s pace....not ours, and both individuals and congregations can be destroyed when we wrongly handle the non-essentials.
“All things indeed are pure, but it is evil for the man who eats with offense”.
Again, we see that indeed all non essential things are pure by themselves, but they become evil when their use is flaunted before a weaker brother. As we mentioned last week, this flaunting causes the weaker brother to judge the one doing the eating and puts him in danger of the judgement.
The loving thing to do then is to abstain from these non-essentials in the presence of the weaker Christian in order that he may not stumble, be offended, or made weaker in their faith.
21 It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak.
If this is the case, even if we can’t explain why such stumbling or weakening takes place wouldn’t it be better to refrain from these things? Why would a stronger brother drink that beer, mow his lawn on Sunday, or invite the weaker brother to the movies, if any of those actions would cause the weaker brother to stumble and do damage to his faith?
So if you have found freedom in the non-essentials in the gospel, keep it to yourself! There are many “china shop” new Christians and they don’t need a bull running loose in their store. They need patience and love. This is the method God has chosen for them to come to the light of the truth and be made strong in the areas of non-essentials.
Think about it. How do the weak become strong in faith? What causes them to be convinced of what is true and what is not. How does anyone become strong in anything? By working out. By putting what has been revealed to them into repetitive action.
I can’t lift weights for you, you have to do that yourself. And I can’t do the non-essentials for you either in order to make you a stronger Christian. And every time I flaunt my Christian liberty in the non-essentials, I am like the old comic book Charles Atlas ads. Kicking sand in your face.
God says, to the stronger, “don’t kick sand.” Come alongside and show the weaker brother the pathway of patience and love. And as the weaker brother continues in the Word of God, his faith will eventually be strengthened in these matters as well. But it’s something that has to be worked out between he and the Lord via the Holy Spirit working in the Word.
As for you, let your voluntary restriction be viewed by God and God alone. He will work in that selfless act of love to help set the weaker free.
22 Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. (Now some people might take this passage and say, “See I told you that I don’t need to evangelize!” Some people have actually used this passage to justify silence on behalf of what they believe. It’s that old idea of “Let’s not force our religion on others.”
Well Jesus never told us to force our faith on others, but He did tell us to share our faith with others.
Mt 28:19 "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
Mr 8:38 "For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels."
No, what Paul is talking about here is your convictions concerning non-essentials. Keep those between you and God.
“Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves.”
Blessed is he who ever submits his faith, his convictions and his actions to the Word of God. Blessed is the one who does not mistake his own judgment for God’s judgement. Always check it out in complete accordance with God’s Word. Don’t make the mistake of latching onto one verse that seems to justify your position and then ignoring the rest of God’s Word.
We’ve already used an example of that here today. Should we use v22 to justify our silence in the matter of spreading the gospel, or should we look at the context and also compare it with the rest of the clear teaching of Scripture?
Some have used Mark 16:16 to justify “believers baptism.” They say “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved.” Therefore belief must come first, then baptism. But if that’s the rule for interpreting Scripture, then we must use it elsewhere as well.
What do you do with the Great commission which says. Mt 28:19 "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
20 "teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.
It is just the opposite! Disciples are made by baptizing, (they are enrolled in the school) and then they are taught.
The proper way to look at Mark 16:16 is to say that it does not specify the order of events only the necessity of both qualifications. If I were to say to a class of confirmands, “Those of you who are 15 years of age and know the catechism may be confirmed” No one may infer from that remark, that all confirmands must first be 15 years old and then know the catechism in order to be confirmed.
I am only stating the requirements for confirmation and the same is being said in Mark 16:16. It is not about the order, it is about the requirements.
23 But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith;
Now we have a new problem. The weaker Christian has not been thoroughly convinced that such eating or participation in non-essentials is allowable, but he decides to join in the activity anyway. Perhaps through peer pressure or for whatever reason, he decides to participate even though he has doubts.
Such participation condemns him even though it is not in the strictest sense sin against the Word of God. Why is he condemned? Isn’t that a little strong?
No! Because “.for whatever is not from faith is sin”
Or as Heb 11:6 says, “Without faith it is impossible to please God.”
You see, to waver in participating in non-essential activities, and then give in, is to act on doubt rather than conviction. Let’s follow such action out to it’s logical conclusion.
If God’s Word has not absolutely convinced me that my action is right, but I act anyway, I am really saying, “it doesn’t matter then God what You say. I will take my chances and do it anyway....after all, so and so is doing it and it isn’t affecting them adversely.”
Everyone else is doing it! Therefore I will do it too. DO you see the danger in that? DO you see why this is such a big deal? What happens if we get churches that are run by peer pressure? If it starts in the non-essentials it won’t be long before it will find it’s way to the essentials as well.
All our actions should be confidently appropriate according to the conviction of God’s Word. This does not give us license to sin! We cannot say, well God hasn’t convinced me that divorce is wrong, or abortion is wrong, therefore I will divorce or I will abort.
It just doesn’t work that way. God’s Word is unchangeable and it clearly states that He hates divorce and He hates the spilling of innocent blood, and if you claim to be a Christian, if you claim to love God, why would you do something that He hates!
Who has the greater sin here in the matter of non-essentials? Is it not the ones applying the peer pressure to get the person to go against their conscience. Luther once said, “It is not safe to do anything against conscience” Why do you think he said that?
He said it because the conscience knows law! Whether it’s the law of the Bible or the law of the land, or the law of accepted social behavior, the conscience is aware of it. And because the conscience is affected by all manner of laws and social taboos, not solely by the Bible, it is not to be trusted.
The only thing that can be trusted in the matter of conscience is that which is affected by the Word of God, because the Word of God is truth! The other thing about the conscience which is noteworthy is that the conscience is not so much into promises as it is into law.
The conscience’s dealings with the gospel are always reduced to, “is this right or wrong?” Is this correct that Jesus died and rose again from the dead that I might have eternal life simply by believing it?
When the conscience is set free by believing the gospel truth, then it is free to be correctly convicted of that which is right and that which is wrong in Scripture. This readjustment of what is right or wrong doesn’t necessarily happen overnight. It takes time and the stronger brother must be willing to give it.
Whatever is done in faith, that is, in the conviction that God’s Word is true and right pleases God and gives Him glory. Therefore if one is uncertain, one should wait. Acting on uncertainty is telling God that you are basing your actions on your feelings, or the feelings of others and not on His Word.
This is a great sin! And it goes back to the very first temptation of man.....Did Eve act out of doubt or conviction? She acted out of doubt didn’t she? ”........did God really say????” And so those who would turn this Book into a collection of fables, those who cast doubt on the authenticity of Scripture, those who hint that this is not the God-breathed Words of God are knowingly or unknowingly in league with the devil.
Anything done apart from faith is worthless. There is no deed so perfect in itself that it can please God. And there is no deed so insignificant that it cannot please God when it is done in the name of Jesus, that is in the name of faith.
Mr 9:41 "For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink in My name, because you belong to Christ, assuredly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.
When the heavens opened up and God spoke of His Son in the NT, He never said this is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased because He did this or that. He was pleased for the simple reason that He was His Son.
So it is for every good deed done by a believer, God is not pleased because of the deed, He is pleased because of your connection to Jesus! He is pleased with you for the sake of Jesus and for nothing else.
You may make a mistake in determining what God desires you to do. You may misread, or misapply God’s word and his will out of ignorance, but sins of doubt are more damaging because thay are in his face. I don’t care if I’m wrong, I’m going to do it anyway. And repentance is the cure for all such sins,
In the Christian life only that which is produced by faith is true fruit of a Christian life, and this is what is acceptable to God all else is sin! Augustine said, “All virtues of the heathens are still sins,”
Why did he say that? Because they are not based on the conviction that there is a God who so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.
Let me show you something that might surprise you concerning Judgment Day. It’s found in Mt 25. This is the Day in our Lord will return and the books will be opened and all people will have their works displayed.
Mt 25:31 "When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory.
32 "All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.
33 "And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.
34 "Then the King will say to those on His right hand, 'Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
35 'for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in;
36 'I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.'
Now remember, the books are opened for all to see, and look how the righteous reply.
37 "Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?
38 'When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You?
39 'Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?'
Why are they replying like this? Because none of their works are written in the Book. All that is seen in the ledger is the white page of the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Because the righteous have put their trust, their faith in Christ alone.
If they did anything, it was done because of their faith in Christ. And so since they are in Christ there is no record of their deeds because the Father looks at their ledger and all He sees is Christ.
40 "And the King will answer and say to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.'
The proof of their faith was not necessary to be put in black and white, for they were in Christ, and if they were in Christ and He in them, such love of the least would be a natural part of their identity.
On the other hand,
41 "Then He will also say to those on the left hand, 'Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels:
42 'for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink;
43 'I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.'
Notice how the unbeliever answers.
44 "Then they also will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?'
The unbeliever points to the ledger and says, “See, look, all the good I’ve done is listed here, but that is the problem, it is all the good he has done. It was all done apart from faith in Christ and shows up as sin. “Whatever is not from faith is sin.” And the very record on the books indicate that they never had true faith in Christ.
45 "Then He will answer them, saying, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.'
46 "And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."
What a sad day for those who thought they were doing all the right things. What a sad day for those who thought their good deeds would count for something. On the Last Day, your good deeds will be a testimony against you, because they were done apart from faith in Christ.
So how is your faith this morning? Every single one of you had faith poured into your heart at your baptism. What have you done with that precious gift from God? Have you neglected it through hard hearted sinful living?
Have you been apathetic toward His Word? Have you cast His Word aside and sought to live according to popular opinion and peer pressure. Have you acted in spite of your doubts? Or have you acted with conviction according to the Word of God.?
Right standards and convictions are the work of the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit who convicts the world of sin. (Jn 16:8) It is the Spirit who regenerates or causes a man to be born again. (Titus 3:5) It is the Spirit working in the Word of God that converts a sinner.
Heb 4:12 says, “For the Word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
SO the point of all of this is we need to get into the Word. Faith (or conviction) comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. (Rom 10:17) Work out your Holy Spirit convictions before God with the aid of the Holy Spirit.
People don’t change their convictions because you tell them to. You don’t change your convictions because someone else tells you to. If you do, you are setting yourself up for doctrine by peer pressure.
People change when God tells them to and He tells us how to change in His Word. And although He may use others to speak His Word to you, the bottom line changing agent is the Holy Spirit working in His Word.
Know that and know why......Whatever is not from faith is sin.