Monday, June 8, 2015

Romans Chapter 14 Part Two

Romans 14:15-18

How should a Christian whose convictions allow him to eat everything respond to one with scruples against certain foods? In Christian love he ought to forgo his liberty in Christ to avoid being a spiritual hindrance to his spiritual brother. If he persists in exercising his liberty so that his brother is distressed (lypeitai, “grieved, hurt”), Paul concluded, then the Christian exercising his liberty is no longer acting (lit., “walking”) in love. Such persistence could cause the spiritual destruction of a brother for whom Christ died. I Corinthians 8:11-12 "And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?" "But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ." 
Paul tells just how important it is not to lead our weak brothers and sisters astray.
I Corinthians 8:13: "Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend."
This is some very good advice from Paul. We must not let our liberty in the Lord cause us to encourage someone else to go against their conscience.
Love will ensure that the strong Christian is sensitive and understanding of his brother’s weaknesses.
Destroy renders the word apollye, which often means eternal ruin. Here it may mean temporal ruin; a Christian forced to act contrary to his scruples, even though more strict than necessary, may find himself ruined by his wounded conscience (cf. 1Co_8:10-12). Persisting in one’s freedom could also result in his Christian liberty (what you consider good) being blasphemed (spoken of as evil, blasphēmeisthō). The stronger brother might destroy his testimony. The stronger brother says his liberty comes from God, but the weaker brother says it comes from Satan. True spirituality is not shown in the manifestation of liberty, but in the manifestation of the Spirit. True liberty may be shown by refraining from the exercise of one’s liberty. The stronger brother might disrupt the peace of the body, so he should fore go his liberty in the interest of peace in the assembly.
Such things should not happen. After all, food is not that important an issue (1Co_8:8); it is not the sum and substance of the kingdom of God. But… righteousness (upright living), peace (cf. Rom_12:16, Rom_12:18; Rom_14:19) and joy in (the sphere of) the Holy Spirit (cf. Rom_15:13) are essentials of Christian fellowship and harmony. I Corinthians 8:8 "But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse."
Galatians 5:22 "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith," 
What all three of these Scriptures are saying is that the abundance of the things God has entrusted to us do not make us right with Him.  The blessings that really count are the gifts of the Spirit that He entrusts us with.
“Joy in the Holy Ghost”: Another part of the Spirit’s fruit, this describes an abiding attitude of praise and thanksgiving regardless of circumstances, which flows from one’s confidence in God’s sovereignty.
A concerned believer insists on right conduct, harmony, and joy rather than forcing his own lifestyle on others. As a result the Christian who serves (pres. participle, douleuōn, “who keeps on serving as a slave”) Christ in this way — in Christian love, pursuing righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit — is pleasing (cf. Rom_12:1; Rom_15:1; Heb_13:21) to God and approved by men (in contrast with being evil spoken of, Rom_14:16). James 2:18 "Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works." James 2:19 "Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble." James 2:20 "But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?"
God expects us to use the gifts of the Spirit that He gives us. The power of the Holy Spirit is given for a reason. The reason is to make us more effective workers for God. It explains it perfectly in Acts 1:8
"But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth."
“Approved of men”: Christians are under the microscope of a skeptical world that is assessing how they live with and treat each other.

Romans 14:19-21

Continuing his emphasis on not hindering another Christian’s spiritual life, Paul urged his readers, Let us therefore make every effort (lit., “Let us keep on pursuing”) to do what leads to peace (lit., “the things of peace”; cf. Rom_14:17) and to mutual edification (lit., “and the things of building up one another”; cf. Rom_15:2; 1Th_5:11). Edify means confirming or building. In other words, instead of tearing someone down, build them up.
To Paul food and one’s personal convictions about it were not so important as the spiritual health of a fellow Christian and the work of God. Therefore it is wrong to insist on one’s personal freedom in Christ concerning food (all food is clean; cf. Rom_14:14, “no food is unclean”) and drink if it causes someone else to stumble (proskommatos, “a stumbling block”; cf. Rom_14:13, Rom_14:21). We touched on this earlier, but will just say again, here, that if the man thinks it is sin to eat whatever this is, then it is sin for him. He would be sinning against his conscience.
“that man who eateth with offence”, is speaking of the man who eats and gives offense. He is the one who uses his god given liberties carelessly and selfishly, offending his weaker brother.
Meat or drink or anything else should be put aside if it causes a brother to fall (proskoptei, “stumble”; cf. proskomma, in Rom_14:13, Rom_14:20). At times one’s Christian liberty must be relinquished for the sake of others. We see here, again, that whatever it takes to set a good example before our weaker brothers and sisters in Christ is what we should do. If they think it is sin to eat something, then in their presence we should not eat it either; just because they would feel we were sinning and if they end up eating, we are causing them to sin.
As Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “Everything is permissible — but not everything is constructive” (1Co_10:23). And “be careful… that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak” (1Co_8:9).

Romans 14:22-23

Concerning personal convictions in areas where different views exist, Paul concluded, So whatever you believe about these things (lit., “The faith that you have,” or “Do you have faith?”) keep between yourself and God. A Christian must not insist on influencing a believer with tighter scruples to change his ways. Paul urges the strong believer to understand his liberty, enjoy it, and keep it between God and himself. The strong believer maintains a healthy conscience because he does not give a weak believer a cause to stumble.
It should be something “in his own mind” (Rom_14:5), for he lives “to the Lord” (Rom_14:8). Paul considered a Christian like himself who had a clear conscience on such matters blessed (lit., “happy”). On the other hand, a Christian who has doubts is condemned (perf. pass. verb, “stands condemned”) if he eats. If a Christian eats food or does anything when he has doubts in his own mind as to whether it is right or wrong before God (one who is “weak” in faith, Rom_14:1-2), his action does not spring from (ek, “out of”) his faith or trust in God and is therefore wrong. As Paul generalized, Everything that does not come from (ek, “out of”) faith is sin. This has to do with more than just food. Everything we do must be done through faith.
Without faith, it is impossible to please God. Abraham's faith was counted unto him as righteousness. This is true for us, as well.
Hebrews 11:6 "But without faith [it is] impossible to please [him]: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and [that] he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him."
The strongest Christian can bring harm to himself in the area of Christian liberty by denouncing or belittling the freedom God has given him, or by carelessly flaunting his liberty without regard for how that might affect others.
When the weak brother violates his conscience, he sins as “whatsoever is not of faith”, meaning the thoughts and actions that his conscience condemns. (which may be perfectly acceptable by God in others)
The principle is, “When in doubt, don’t.” The “strong” Christian (Rom_15:1) is wrong if he causes a weak brother to sin (by doing something while doubting, Rom_14:20), and a weak brother (Rom_14:1-2) who goes against what he doubts also sins (Rom_14:23).

2 Corinthians Chapter One Part Two

2 Corinthians 1:17

But Paul changed his mind about this itinerary (cf. 2Co_2:1), and his opponents said his vacillating was a sign of a fundamental unreliability, affecting not only where he went but what he said. Paul fervently denied this. He did not make plans in a worldly (i.e., self-serving; cf. “worldly” in 2Co_1:12) manner altering them for reasons of self-interest. Nor did he talk out of both sides of his mouth to further his own ends. He would explain the reason for his change in plans (1:23-2:2), but for the moment he was more concerned with the accusation that his message was equivocal or unreliable. It seems that, in the flesh, Paul had wanted to come to Corinth, but Paul had not followed the wishes of the flesh. He had been led by the Holy Spirit to go to other places. Paul was not his own man. He went where God sent him. When the Lord sent Paul somewhere, Paul just said, Yea Lord.
The Greek words that introduce this question call for an indignant, negative answer. Paul declared that he was in no way operating as a vacillating, fickle, unstable person who could not be trusted.
There is no nay when speaking to the Lord. We just say nay to the flesh. Some of the people in Corinth highly criticized Paul for not coming by to see them and answer personally some of their complaints.
He affirmed that his “yes” and “no” words to them really meant what they said.

2 Corinthians 1:18-20

The source of stability for Paul in his ministry was God Himself, who is faithful, and the message Paul preached was no less certain than God. Since Paul did not vacillate in his message (Yes and No, 2Co_1:18), he did not vacillate in his plans either (Yes, yes and No, no, 2Co_1:17). Paul is saying, that he preached the same thing to them all the time. He was not preaching to itching ears, but to the best of his ability bringing them the true message of God. Paul was not wishy washy with his message. He gave the same message every time to them.
Paul said what he meant and did what he said, unless there was a compelling reason to change his plans.
The only time he appeared to be giving another message, was because he was trying to get them to listen to the gospel message. He did honor their customs as much as he could to get himself in to preach to them.
At the heart of that message was the person of Jesus Christ who completely affirms all God’s promises to people. The only proper response to God’s message is Amen (lit., “let it be so”). It was this response of obedience to God that brought Paul and Silas and Timothy to Corinth in the first place and caused them to exalt Christ among the Corinthians in the synagogue (Act_18:5). The message of salvation is the same every time. It does not matter if Paul brings it, or Silvanus, or Timothy. The only thing that varies at all is the observance of their customs.
The firmness of Paul’s statement and his use of Jesus’ full title, indicates that the person and work of Christ were under attack from the false teachers at Corinth. The proof of his truthfulness with them was the truthful gospel which he faithfully preached.
In Christ the promises to Abraham and David are fulfilled (Rom_1:3; Rom_11:5; Gal_3:16) and the Law was brought to an end (Rom_10:4), a truth apparently contested by Paul’s opponents (cf. 2Co_3:1-18). God is unchangeable. Whatever God has promised in His Word will definitely be.
All God’s Old Testament and New Testament promises of peace, joy, love, goodness, forgiveness, salvation, sanctification, fellowship, hope, glorification and heaven are made possible and fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
“Amen" means so be it. There are no promises of God that will be changed. Paul reminded them that they had said a collective “yes” to the truth of his preaching and teaching.
Nevertheless this message proclaimed by Paul and his associates resulted in the Corinthians’ salvation and in turn brought glory to God.

2 Corinthians 1:21-22

Those who speak the “Amen” in response to the gospel message experience firmness and security in Christ. At the moment of belief God anoints each believer with the Holy Spirit so that like Christ (Christos means “the Anointed One”), he may glorify God by his life (cf. Mat_5:16). Paul is reminding them, again, that it was God who called him. It was God who anointed Paul to preach. Notice that they, like Paul, had been established in the Lord Jesus. Christians are in Christ, and He in us.
Romans 3:24 "Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:"
Jesus is our Redemption. He is our life. Christ’s saving work of grace stabilizes believers and places them on a firm foundation in Him.
Romans 8:2 "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death." Paul says that his ministry is not in his own power, but in the anointing of God.
John wrote that believers receive this anointing from God (1Jn_2:20, 1Jn_2:27). It is a pouring out of the Holy Spirit on the believer, reminiscent of the anointing of priests with oil.
A further consequence of the Spirit’s presence is the seal of ownership (cf. Eph_1:13-14) which also is accomplished at the moment of faith. A seal on a document in New Testament times identified it and indicated its owner, who would “protect” it. So too, in salvation, the Holy Spirit, like a seal, confirms that Christians are identified with Christ and are God’s property, protected by Him (cf. 1Co_6:19-20). It was probably this thought that caused Paul to describe himself as a slave of Christ (Rom_1:1; Php_1:1).
A third work of the Spirit at salvation is His confirmation that what God has begun He will complete. Present redemption is only a foretaste of what eternity holds (cf. Rom_8:23), and the presence of His Spirit in our hearts (cf. Rom_5:5; 2Co_5:5) is like a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. Romans 8:23 "And not only [they], but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, [to wit], the redemption of our body."
11 Corinthians 5:5: "Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing [is] God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit."
We Christians are actually citizens of heaven. We are waiting for that day, when we will go there to live. In the meantime, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit of God as an earnest on that promise to us. The Holy Spirit of God is the seal of promise to the believer in Christ. It just assures us of our adoption into the family of God.
1 John 4:13: "Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit."
1 John 2:27: But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.
For Paul’s critics to attack his authenticity was equal to tearing down God’s work as well as the church’s unity.
These last seven words are a translation of one Greek word arrabōna, a down payment which obligates the payer to make further payments. The same Greek word is used again in 2Co_5:5 and Eph_1:14 (cf. “the firstfruits of the Spirit,” Rom_8:23).

2 Corinthians 1:23-24

Paul had earlier begun to explain his change of plans (2Co_1:15). There he had mentioned his “message” (2Co_1:18) in connection with his own integrity, which led to his digression in 2Co_1:19-22. He now returned to explain his altered plans.
He understood that his changed plans had caused a problem in Corinth. This is evident from the strength of his declaration, I call God as my witness (cf. Rom_1:9; Php_1:8; 1Th_2:5, 1Th_2:10). With a solemn oath (with God as the Judge) Paul staked his life on the truthfulness of his explanation which followed. It was out of consideration for the Corinthians, a desire to avoid disciplinary action (to spare you) that Paul had deferred his visit. Paul did not want to come to Corinth while they were doing so many things in the church that was displeasing to God. Paul, perhaps, would have reprimanded them so harshly, had he been there in person, that it might have made it difficult for him to minister there and have the best results.

Paul did not come earlier because he wanted them to have time to repent of and correct their sinful behavior. He waited instead for a report from Titus before taking further action, hoping he would not have to come again, as he had earlier, to face their rebellion.
Paul, in this entire letter, is trying to clear his own name of false accusations placed against him. Had Paul come and been terribly upset by what he saw, he might have caused some to leave the church. He did not want that to happen.

Even though he had great authority as an apostle (2Co_10:2-8; cf. 1Co_5:4-5; 1Ti_1:20) Paul was reluctant to wield it. He did not lord it over their faith, that is, domineeringly take advantage of the fact that they came to faith in Christ through him. Dictatorial means can produce compliance but not the obedience that comes from faith which he sought. 

Authoritarian domination is often the manner of false apostles and the kingdom they serve (cf. 2Co_11:13-15), but it was not the way of Christ (Luk_22:25-27) nor of those who stand in His stead (1Pe_5:3). Paul assured the Corinthians, We work with you (lit., “we are fellow workers”; cf. 1Co_3:9); he did not work against them or over them. Paul is explaining, in this, that it is not like it was in the Jewish temple where the high priest had so much power. Christianity is an individual thing. When a person receives the Lord Jesus Christ as his Savior, it is very personal. The relationship is between the Lord and that person.

It is not for Paul, or any other minister, to decide whether you are in good standing with God, or not. That is between you and God. He can, however, instruct you on good sound principles of Christianity. You are saved, or lost, by the amount of faith you, as an individual, have. Paul will rejoice with you at your salvation, but it is your salvation and no one else's. There is only one Judge as to whether we are saved or not.