J. Gordon Duncan

Culture, Business, Fitness, Etc.

Walking in Love Part 3 – Do Not Destroy Your Brother

Part one of this series can be found here.  Part two can be found here, and the audio for this sermon can be found here.

My hope is that this series of posts could lead to greater church partnerships in the Garner/Raleigh area.  Feel free to join in the conversation.

20 Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats. 21 It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble.

Verse 20 is a command to the stronger brother about how they should walk in the freedoms in which Christ and scripture command.  Paul commands us not for the sake of food to destroy the work of God.  How in the world can food destroy the work of God?  Well Paul affirms again that all food is clean but it is wrong to eat in such a way to make another stumble by what you eat.  It is good not to flaunt your freedoms because in flaunting you might make a weaker brother stumble.

How do you know if something you are doing might cause another believer to stumble.  The good folks at 3rdmil offer this guideline.  To make a brother stumble, the activity performed must not be a sin in the way it is practiced by the stronger brother.  The activity performed must be perceived as a sin by the weaker brother.  Observing the stronger brother do what is right causes the weaker brother to feel it necessary to emulate him and thus violate his conscience.

Paul says to the stronger brothers, “You are free but not free to cause others to sin.”

22 The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves. 23 But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.

Now verse 22 is perplexing because Paul tell us that the faith you have, should be kept between you and God.  Did Paul just tell us to quit evangelizing?  No, the faith here that Paul is mentioning is the faith to walk in your biblical convictions.  If you the expression of your biblical convictions is going to cause another believer to sin, keep them to yourself.  As we’ve mentioned before, weaker stronger brother issues surround commands that God has given that one party understands and others don’t, but the principles of interaction should be applied in many areas.  Let me give you an example.

I used to have this truth meter and if I was speaking with someone and I heard them say something I disagreed with biblically, I would pounce.  Essentially, if I couldn’t change their mind with a quick, slightly sharp response, it was go time for a theological debate.  I shamed the name of Christ in this and lost several friends this way.  Now, when faced with theological error, I have a couple of questions I ask myself.  I think when should I address this topic and how should I address this topic?  Not every biblical disagreement has to be addressed at the moment.

Here is how to apply these principles:  Is their biblical error causing them harm in their day to day life?  If it is, then I need to address it immediately.  For instance, if I’m sitting at the coffee shop and someone tells me that they live in constant fear because they are afraid that God is going to take their salvation from them and send them to hell.  I think that is pretty important as their misunderstanding of the secure work of Jesus Christ is causing them day to day anguish.

The next question is how to I address it?  Typically I ask folks why they feel the way they do and in this case I would ask them what scriptures have informed their opinion?  When they tell me, and this kicker, I ask them if it is okay if I gave them a few other scriptures to consider.  Then we can have a peaceful exchange about something in which we disagree.  But not every theological issue needs to be addressed at the moment.  Typically issues like the people’s view of the end times, whether King Saul was saved, how Samson tied 100 fox tails together, and a host of other topics really can wait.

We should always humbly ask if we should contribute our view on issues before engaging.  The overarching principle that we need to consider is this:  Does their theological error lead them to sin or to despair.  If it does, then we should gently walk in those discussions remembering that we both can’t be right but we both can be wrong.  God and His scriptures alone is true.

Paul admonishes us in verse 23 that however we should walk this life of faith, we should walk it with firm conviction.  That doesn’t come from a strong will.  It comes from biblical study.  If you are presently practicing any aspect of your walk with Christ in doubt because you have not thought through the practices of your faith, you are sinning as every action not buffeted by faith is sin.  Folks, if you can hold your convictions tightly and I faith while giving the judgment of charity to others with whom you disagree, you will find that people of varying political, theological, and social convictions are at rest and at ease in your presence.

Folks, if we apply these verses corporately, not only will Sovereign King be a church of peace and unity, we will start a revival among the other churches in the area so that church work would become greater kingdom work.  SK will continue to be a confessional church with reformed and covenantal theological underpinnings.  We will continue to teach and shepherd according to those convictions.  But we will also be a church that is beautifully diverse in denominationally, racially, and socio economically.  Those things will happen only as we meet our application of Romans 14 with the work of the Spirit.

As God does that, then we can be a leader for other churches in the area.  We can lead them by serving them with no fear or spirit of competition. We can partner with other believers to display the unity and peace to which Jesus lived, died, and secured for His children.  It will take a big faith in a big God who makes big promises but delivers in a big way.

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March 2, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 2 Comments