So then we enter Romans 14 with the knowledge of the situation. Paul is not writing here to correct, but merely to state what he believes to be true about the Christian life and in part as an encouragement to the believers to continue in such a way.
The discussion of Romans 14 is an echo of 1 Corinthians chapter 8, where the issue of the weaker brother is also discussed. Now at first, the surface issue very clearly appears to be about food. Whether or not it is lawful to eat meat or drink wine. These were serious areas of concern. On the one hand, you are to be different from the culture surrounding you; but on the other hand, these things are all part of God’s creation and we are free. Free by the grace of God to enjoy everything He has made.
Verse 1 sets up very clearly where the arguments arise from: “Without passing judgment on disputable matters.” Before going any further into the chapter you have to understand what the focus is on. There are many things which are clear and outright sins. We have the commandments and wisdom of our elders and the Holy Spirit, all which guide and direct us towards what is right. But not everything is so clear cut. There are definite gray areas. These could be music, dress, language – all characteristics of our culture, but also avenues towards which we may glorify God by what we choose, or cause our brother to stumble, or even sin our self. So when confronting disputable matters, the first item which you must possess is wisdom: wisdom to differentiate between what is clearly sin and what is a disputable matter.
Next Paul defines how such an issue, or gray area, must be approached. We must not look down on the person nor condemn them who, and here is the key to the phrasing, chooses differently than we do.
No two persons are going to agree on everything. Whether they are light or heavy matters, opinions define and shape us. We are who we are and act as we do because of the beliefs we hold. The stances we take on certain issues are not just words and theoretical stances; they begin to direct us if we truly hold to them. Here then, it is very clear that there are going to be disagreements.
But what effect are these disagreements to have on our relationship with that person. We will cover this more later, but look very carefully at what is said. “To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the LORD is able to make him stand.”
We are not the final judge on any disputable matter, God is. He knows the heart with which we engage in any and every action. And if we choose to do something disputable, it will be the LORD who continues to uphold our relationship with him.
Because v17-18 : “The kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men.”
Now we are beginning to dig a little deeper into the issue.