Build Up: Pursuing Peace in the Body of Christ

Romans 14
  /  March 3, 2024
Speaker: Jonathon Slagenweit

I’m inviting you this morning to turn in your bible to the book of Romans chapter 14. While you’re turning there, just wanna say welcome to each one of you and especially to our guests, and, our first time visitors. We have a couple back here, JR and Brenda Weatherald, new to the area.

And, so good to have them. Said they’re looking for a church and, just stopped by. And, so so good to have you folks with us. They have been they have been off doing ministry and work. And, it’s good to have you all back home.

And, so we welcome you back. Then it’s good to see Daniel Hester moved back into the area, and it’s so good to have you with us this morning. We welcome you, Daniel. And then it’s so good to have Sarah with us this morning, So I’m not even sure how we we came up with that, but, she’s Sarah, but make sure and tell Jenny you’re glad that she’s here. And, Romans chapter 14, we’re we’re actually breaking in on a larger section of scripture that Paul is is writing in.

The context to this, and I think it’s important for us to understand this, the context of Romans chapter 14 is really in the light of Romans chapter 12. So we need to keep that in its in its context that Romans chapter 14 is really an extension of Romans chapter 12, which is a section of scripture that deals with, entire sanctification. The purifying of our lives. This morning, what we’re we’re looking at is we talk about these passages of scripture that deal with our I coined this phrase last week, our one anothering, really is the heart of living out holiness. God never intended for our holiness to be lived in a test tube.

In fact, holiness can’t be lived out in a test tube. It requires our relationships one with another. John r w Stott made this observation. He said, holiness, is not a mystical condition experienced in relation to God, but in isolation from human beings. You cannot be good in a vacuum, but only in the real world of.

If you want to be on the backside of the wilderness in a cave. That’s not where holiness is lived out. It’s lived out in every day life as you live among people. As you live among people, which explains why over and over again in scripture, particularly in the New Testament, it describes the holy life being lived out with 2 words. One, another.

Keep that as a context for what we’re talking about this morning. In Romans chapter 14, I mentioned that we’re breaking into a section of scripture. Maybe it would be helpful for us before I read that. I was gonna do it afterwards, but I think it might be helpful for us if I do it now. Romans chapter 14 fits in the context I mentioned of Romans chapter 12, where Paul urges brethren to, become living sacrifices.

Holy and acceptable unto God, which is his reasonable act of worship. Being transformed by the renewing of our mind. And then the rest of Romans chapter 12, chapter 13, chapter 14, chapter 15 are our our transforming mind or transform mind, what it affects first and foremost? If you go back to chapter 12 and verse 3, it affects how we view ourselves. We’re not to think more highly of ourselves.

And then it begins to branch out from there and deal with how we live one another, or among one another. That’s the context to which we come to Romans chapter 14. I’m gonna invite you to stand with me as we read this passage of scripture and look at it together. In other words, it’s a vegetarian. Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth For God hath received him.

Who art thou that judgeth another man’s servant? To his own master he standeth or falleth. Ye shall be holding up, for God is able to make him stand. One man esteemeth one day above another. Another esteemeth every day alike.

Let every man be fully persuaded in his own. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord. And he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord, he doth not regard it. He that eateth eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks. And he that eateth not to the Lord, he eateth and giveth God thanks.

For none of us liveth to himself and no man dieth to himself. For whether we live, we live unto the lord and whether we die, we die unto the lord. Whether we live therefore or die, we are the lords. For to this end Christ both died and rose and revived that he might be Lord both of the dead and the living. But why does thou judge thy brother?

Or why does thou set it not thy brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. Shall confess to God. So then, every one of us shall give account to himself to God of himself to God. Let us not therefore judge one another anymore, but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.

I know and I’m persuaded by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself. But to him, that esteemeth anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. But if thy brother be grieved with thy me, now walkest thou not charitably, destroy not him with thy meat for whom Christ died. Let not then your good be evil spoken of. For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness and peace and joy and the holy ghost.

For he that is for he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God and approved of men. This is the verse that I want for us to focus on this morning the context of the entire chapter. Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and work of God. All things indeed are pure, but it is evil for that man who eateth with offense. It is good neither to eat flesh nor to drink wine, nor anything whereby thy brother stumbleth or is offended or is made weak.

Hast thou faith? Have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth. And he that doeth, and he that doubteth is damned if he eat because he hath eateth not of faith for whatsoever is not of faith is sin. I want to talk to us this morning about building one another up, edifying one another.

Let’s pray together. Father, thank you for your spirit that is with us today. Your help that we have sensed in the service already as we have brought an offering of praise to you. We’re coming now before your word, words that are true, words that when taken and applied in our lives, and when we allow them to mingle in our spirit, can keep us from words that can help us to know the way in which we should go. Ways that we have And so I pray this morning, Holy Spirit, that your word would have power among us, shaping us and guiding us for your glory.

I pray it in Christ’s name. Amen. You may be seated. Someone once said that the measure of your new self, the new mind, as we talked about earlier in Romans chapter 12, is the degree to which you look away from yourself and then to Christ as your treasure. If Christ is more to you, then you are more.

If Christ is less to you, then you are less. Your valuing consists in your valuing of Christ. Building to this idea of building up the body of Christ comes within this context that you and I are called to live out holiness been to talk about where the rubber meets the road. How many of you would agree this morning that it would be really easy I’ll be I’m trying to debate how I should phrase this. I had somebody in my ministerial program when I was in college that said, pastoring would be great if it weren’t for the people.

The truth is, is that holiness, we would think, is easier lived out if it weren’t for out. If you were to just, kind of, dissect chapter 14 of Romans, you would notice that there are several themes that kinda flow through, this passage. Paul writes about weak and strong Christians. He writes writes about those who are free and those who are under bondage. He writes about judging one another.

He writes about peace and unity within the body of Christ. It all kind of converges. In verse 19, Paul says to us these words. I just want to read them to us again. Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace.

Hold that in your thought. Paul’s concerned that there is peace and unity within the body of Christ. And then he goes on to say in verse 19, he says, and things wherewith one may build up one another. One. Tool belt, a hammer, and some nails, and some wood, and let me build something.

What I love about building is you can go in, you can see what it, what it is. And it leaves for me. I can look at something and begin to see what it will look like. Downloaded an app onto my phone, that I worked with designing what the house would look like. And I can look at something and begin to see what it will look like.

So when Tanya and I started the process of building our house, I had downloaded an app onto my phone And then you could hit this little button and it became 3 d. And and you could hover all over this, and you could go through the rooms, and you could see what they’d look like. Add fixtures in the room. You could even adjust what the height of the windows would look like. It was, it was beautiful.

And I could and even with draw and even with draw and even with draw and even with draw and even with draw and even with draw and even with draw and even with draw and even with draw and even with draw and even with draw and even with draw and even with draw and even with draw and even the light coming through the windows, all of the features, I could see it. To understand it. Comes all of this, massive amounts of lumber just scattered all around before lumber just scattered all around. Before long, you’ve got a you’ve got a sub floor and then you’ve got walls and you’ve got sheeting and you’ve got a roof over knit together being built up. One one another up.

But he begins to pinpoint some things that are going to be necessary for that building. There are some challenges that you and I are gonna face to being built up. The first challenge I want you to notice is that we’re different. There are differences. Paul identifies that in 2 different ways.

He uses 2 illustrations. And then there are gonna be some people that don’t have freedom to eat meat. Paul is writing to a group of people that some have come and some of that meat they know is then taken into the marketplace and sold. And some of that meat they know is then taken into the marketplace and sold. And as a result of that, they can’t go into the marketplace and buy meat they don’t come from that.

And so they go into the marketplace. They realize hey, all of this belongs to God. It’s his. There’s no other God but God. And so they buy the meat, they eat it, they don’t have a problem.

But Paul cautions them that there are among them differing opinions and views and what to do. Do you eat meat or don’t you eat meat? In fact, Paul further digresses more in first Corinthians and deals with this subject even more. He summarizes, some of, that with within first Corinthians of the importance of what it looks like. This meat that’s been offered to idols, and those that are able to eat and some that are not able to eat.

Example of, he shifts from meat to using the example of days of the day over another. Some regard every day the same. Again, what’s he looking at? He’s looking at Jewish worshipers that have come up in the Jewish religion. And they’re looking back to their Jewish heritage.

They’ve got holy days, don’t they? High days, days that are separate. They’re set apart. And to those Jews, those are important days. You have to observe those days.

You’ve got pagans that are coming in. Every day is the same. What does it matter? Paul begins to point out that within the body of Christ, there are those who are stronger brothers and weaker brothers, have differing views, but they’re brought together. Let me just make an observation at this point.

We can look at the areas of their differences and say, how petty? You’re frustrated about the day of the week? What you do with a particular day of the week? How many of you have argued with another believer over differing views? No, no, we do have differing views.

Some of us, you may be a vegetarian, you may be a vegan, you may, be a carnivore. All right? Cow, was nourished by the grass. That’s the only salad you’ll ever. Views and there’s there’s fracturing within the body over food, but then I have to stop and I have to say, how many times do we, today, in 21st century, over non essential issues begin to divide and fracture and tear one another down.

You see, Paul’s gonna get here in in chapter 14 and verse 20, where he cautions them, he says, don’t tear one another down. That’s exactly what’s happening in the body. There’s these differing views that one eats meat, one doesn’t, one regards a day above another day, another, regards every day the same. And all of a sudden, as a result of their differences, there’s there’s problems. They’re at odds with 1 another.

And here’s where the odds come. It’s the second challenge that Paul deals with. Did you catch that in our reading? It’s really easy whenever you hold a certain position to become a judge of others in that area. Let me just give you a little illustration of that before we move on from I am old enough to remember life before the Internet.

Am old enough to remember life before the Internet. That makes me old now. But I remember when the internet first came out and my parents had gotten the internet, and I had gotten into some material that I shouldn’t have gotten in to. And I remember meeting my parents in the driveway when they got home, and I said, you guys need to know some things. And some point, shortly after that, they cut the Internet off.

All we had was Juno email. Brother Armstrong, do you have your Juno account? Yeah. He still has Juno. Only person in the world that still has a Juno account is in our church.

Oh, wait. There’s more. Oh, I’m sorry, brother Parker. Boy, I just ruined the message. My parents got rid of the Internet.

My parents got rid of the internet. And there was a period of time where the Holy Spirit started working on me as as just a young man. And let me just pause here long enough to say that to those of you that are young people, God talks to you even as young people. My prayer is is that you will have ears to hear the spirit of the Lord when he speaks to you, even as a young person. The Holy Spirit began to talk to me about the fact you don’t have any business on on the internet.

You know, that was true for a number of years until the Lord gave me victory over that. But you know what one of my challenges was that I dealt with? I went to college. And when I got to college, and again, internet wasn’t but really about 5, 6, 7 years old open to the public. One of the things that was a part of freshman orientation was computer, use in the library.

And I remember sitting there wrapping my righteous robes around me saying, shame on all of those people getting on that godforsaken wicked thing. It wasn’t quite that strong. But there was a part of me that felt self righteous and smug. I don’t get on there. You know why I didn’t get on there?

Because I was a weak brother that didn’t have the strength to get on there, But it was really easy for me to become a judge of others. The same way people on the other side can become a judge and say, what are you talking about? Now, the internet isn’t inherently wrong in and of itself. Amen? The truth to that is amen.

It’s not inherently wrong. Are there wicked things in it? Absolutely. There are. And so one of the things that you and I need to understand, we may have freedom to get on what we have to understand.

Somebody who doesn’t have freedom to get on, we don’t judge that. Judge not one. And so Paul reminds us If you have your bible still open, I want you to look at this. He’s just talked about the brother who eats and the brother who can’t eat. And then in verse 3, Paul says, the one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat.

And the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him. For God has accepted him. And then I want to stop and say, accepted him who? Him. Thank you, Sister Ravenscraft.

She just mouthed both. That means, Church, you and I need to understand in the body of Christ, there are some brothers in Christ who are strong in the faith. And God has given them freedom and liberty to do things that some within the body of Christ who are weak cannot do. But God has accepted both. Now, here becomes the rub.

Paul says, don’t judge one another. Stronger brother, don’t look at your weaker brother and say, I don’t know why you struggle over that. You need to just get over it. And the weaker brother is not to go to the stronger brother and say, shame on you. You shouldn’t do that.

I don’t do that. You shouldn’t do that. Shame on you. You shouldn’t do that. I don’t do that.

You shouldn’t do that. Amen? You and I must keep in mind that there is a difference between biblical truth, personal convictions, and personal preferences. In the body of Christ, there are some things that are not allowed because biblical mandate says, thou shalt not. That’s true for everybody.

But within that framework, there are some things that the Holy Spirit will come to us individually because God is a personal god and he’s gonna say to you, you’re weak in this area, brother. You’re weak in this area, sister. Don’t do this. The Bible may give freedom to it, but the Holy Spirit may say, but not for you. Are we okay with that?

Some things that we just have personal preferences. Like whenever you’re driving on the interstate and you’re driving slower, move over to the slow lane. Had to get on my soap box for just a minute. What are we talking about? God accepts the stronger and the weaker, and we dare not become judges one of another.

Why? Why don’t we become judges? Because of what Paul tells us is the result of that. When you become a judge, you tear down one another. Grant Osborne said that the weak and the strong must stop focusing on winning the debate and center on building each other up in Christ to achieve peace and a united worship and joy in Christ.

Amen and a united worship and joy in Christ. Amen? It’s so important within the body of Christ that the stronger and the weaker come together, stop judging one another, which tears each other down, and find ways that you and I can build one another up. And the teaching and admonishing one and The danger is, is that we don’t deal with the log in our own, and so we’re beating everybody up in our process of trying to take the speck out of the other brothers. When you become judges and take my seat, listen to me very carefully this morning.

When you and I begin to judge one another, we are actually trying to dethrone Christ and take his position, or dethrone God and become that position. That’s exactly what Paul says. Paul says, why are you doing this? All of us are going to stand before God. All of us are going to give an account of God.

That’s not your responsibility. Let me just tell you this morning, I am glad I’m not your I’m thankful that there’s a God in heaven that knows all things and he knows us personally. He’s the one that will judge us. And so, Paul says, listen, within the body of Christ, they must come together, and you must not destroy each other through your judging. Build 1 and then And Paul says, let us not therefore judge one another any more, but judge this rather.

Here’s what we’re Judge put judgment on this, that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother’s pathway. Don’t become the stumbling block that causes the weaker brother to fall. Don’t become the stumbling block in the stronger brothers way that would cause him to be, weakened or or to stumble and fall. Stare. It’s Paul’s saying if you really love your brah.

And it’s full context of what we’ve been talking about the last couple weeks, loving one. -Loving one. -And it’s full context of what we’ve been talking about the last couple weeks. Loving one. -Love, Loving one another.

You will put judgment aside and do what is necessary to help build one another up. That may mean for the stronger brother who has liberty, for the sake of the weaker brother who doesn’t have liberty, he constrains himself. And that means for the weaker brother who doesn’t have liberty, doesn’t seek to bind the one who is free. And so the call for us this morning, is that you and I are supposed to seek to build one another up. We’re to lift one another up.

Stop our judging and seek to build each other. And seek to build each other up. Means that the strong who has liberty and the weak who does not have liberty, looks for ways not to tear each other down, but looks for ways to build each other up, even if it means that we set things aside. Let me let me just share with you some some, scripture from 1st Corinthians chapter 10. Again, 1st Corinthians chapter, 8, 9, and 10.

Paul’s dealing with the same idea of building one another up lawful, but not all things are all things are lawful, but not all things will build. Nature. Let me Let me just reread that last part. Let no one seek his own good but the good of his neighbor. You know, when we live out holiness, one to another, a part of that will be that you and I will set aside what we may have freedom or liberty to do for the sake of the weaker brother to help him grow in Christ.

Not to hinder our brother in Christ. There are some things that I don’t do in my life, not because scripture says I can’t, Amen. I may have liberty, but it doesn’t give me license to do it. I may have freedom to do it, but it doesn’t mean that I do it, because I could be the reason that a brother or sister in Christ stumbles. Because of my freedom.

I think I’ve shared this before. I remember President Stettler telling the story of preaching a revival out in the Midwest. He was preaching to a a group of people that they had differences as it related to neckties. There was half of the group that didn’t wear them. There was half of them that did.

Eye. And he said, I’m, I just want to make a statement right up front, because I want everybody to be clear. He said, I realize that, there are some in this group that does not wear neckties. And there are some of you that do. I have taken my necktie off, he said, because I don’t want to hinder the message and the gospel for those that would be offended.

But I want you to know, if you ever see me somewhere else and I have a necktie on, I’m not trying to live a double standard. I just I wanna remove every hindrance in this group from the gospel going forward. Tell you something, it takes a strong Christian who is willing to set aside their freedoms for the sake of not hurting or hindering another brother or sister in Christ. I’m just gonna let this as a question for you to think about. What is it in your life that you may have freedom to do that might be a stumbling block to another that the Holy Spirit is saying to you today, you you need to reconsider how you live out your freedom among them.

Liberty does not equal our license to do what our freedom may allow. If you’re walking in holiness and love, you desire unity and the building up of the body more than you desire your freedom. Amen? Amen. Amen.

Oh, dear. Now there’s there’s a powerful, powerful truth for us to consider this morning. And that is is that God has knit us together in all of our differences and all of the things that we may have freedoms and we don’t have freedoms to do. He’s knit us together as one. And he wants for us not to tear each other down.

And so he says to you and I this morning, stop judging one another and seek for that which is peace and the building up of one another. There have been too many people who have been run off or caused to sin because good hearted Christians have tried to write what they think they need to do and have caused them to stumble and fall. There have been a lot of people who are new in the faith, maybe weak in the faith, that good intentioned, I believe, people have run them off as a result of what they may feel they need to do. They’ve tried to put on them and judge them and have run them off. And what the Holy Spirit is saying to you and I this morning is, seek for peace.

The building up of one another. Don’t tear one another down. The mark of spiritual maturity, Henry Blackaby says the mark of spiritual maturity is a willingness to sacrifice personal comfort in order to strengthen other believers. Paul says in verse 19, so then we pursue. This is something that you and I have to, we’ve got to work.

This is not something that just comes by osmosis. It just doesn’t come by happenstance. This is something that you and I have to pursue after to This is something that you and I have to pursue after to build one another up and not allow we live in a world that, that exacerbates differences. Don’t we? That exacerbates differences.

You know, there used to be a time in our political system that you could easily get a majority vote in the house or back into the 1990s when President Bill Clinton, set up, I think it was Sandra Day O’Connor to be elected on, It wasn’t Who was it? Somebody Brit Bader Ginsburg. Set her up to be elected on to the Supreme Court. 93% of our senators voted for her. Now you come into the modern era and you can’t even I mean, they’re bickering to the point of trying to run guys like Kavanaugh into the ground, destroying their character.

Bitter contention. Can I tell you something? That has come right into the charity. Right in the charity. And it’s right in the charity.

And it’s right in the Is it Divisive or Divisive? I’ve been told I say it wrong. Tomato, tomato, whatever. Right? We’ve become so divisive and divisive and fractious.

And Lord, keep us from tearing each other apart. There are too many casualties as a result of our differences and are judging one another that’s torn us down. Paul says, pursue, set aside things that you need to set aside so that you don’t cause a stumbling block to your brother. If you have your Bible still open, you’ll notice this in chapter 15. We didn’t read it, but really chapter 14 feeds right into chapter 15 verses 1 through 13.

But I’m just going to read the first part. We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak and not please ourselves. There was a couple from hope, sound, and, I don’t know, rough background. The guy had been a drug addict, but God had done a work in his life. Both of He and his wife, they were growing.

Somebody got a hold of them in the church. Began to lay some things upon them That didn’t belong on them. They were still growing in their faith, weak in the faith. That couple today is divorced, Their lives wrecked. You know, there’s an example right here in this church.

I should’ve asked. I should have asked. Jim Stanley has told on numerous occasions in our in our small group, in our, Sunday in our Sunday morning bible study. This church right here, when he and Rita came, loved on them, cared for them. And when sister Rita got saved, she came out of a Catholic background.

And do you know this church loved on them and accepted them? Brother Parker put sister Rita in positions where he could and watch them grow. Today, Jim and Rita are a vital part of the ministries right here in easily. Is the power of lives that are transformed, that build the kingdom of God. And I believe what the Holy Spirit is saying to us today.

And if we’re going to live out holiness, Church, you and I, and I say, Lord, help us today. And you and I have to pursue peace and the building up of 1 and a But Lord, help us to have people like Jim and Rita Stanley. Let’s stand together. Father, this morning, the word that you have given to us is to pursue peace among us are strong. There’s some among us that are weak.

There’s some that, among us, are strong. There’s some among us that are weak. There’s some that have greater convictions and some who don’t have as strong of convictions accepted us all. Father, would you forgive us for the times that we’ve been judgmental? One to a nice Those that have had liberties, those who don’t and call them legalists and those who have who don’t and call them legalists and those who were greater convictions have looked at those who don’t and called them liberal, wounded one another.

Forgive us, Lord. Help us father to be people who pursue to build one another up. We’re a part of your body. Help us not to have an autoimmune disease that causes us to wound ourself. But oh, may you build us up in the most holy for your glory.

I pray in Jesus name, amen.

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