Right and Wrong
by Josh Hunt
You are God's expert on your group. Not me. Not your pastor. Not your denominational leadership. You. It is you God has called to love and serve and teach this group. It is you who will stand accountable before God someday. (Now there is a scary thought; thank God for grace.) In any case, there is (as is often the case), more material here than you can possibly use. Tailor it to meet the needs of your group. For example, if I taught a singles group I would spend a lot of time on why God wants believers to marry believers and how it is in your interest to do so. For a singles group, it might be worthwhile to spend the entire hour on this issue, whereas, for a couples group, it is a non-issue. I try to provide you more material than you can use, and am confident you have lots of good questions of your own. Tailor the lesson to meet the needs of your group. Every verse does not have to be discussed. The goal is to be disciple making teachers, not to cover the material.
This is a fascinating passage because it flies in the faith of what we naturally assume. We assume that the more holy we get, the more straight laced we become. Paul has a thing or two to say about this. Fascinating.
|Weaker in Faith||Stronger in Faith|
1. Romans 14:1-15:4
Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters.  One man's faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables.  The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him.  Who are you to judge someone else's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
 One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.  He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God.  For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone.  If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.
 For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.  You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God's judgment seat.  It is written:
" 'As surely as I live,' says the Lord,
'every knee will bow before me;
every tongue will confess to God.' "
 So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.
 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way.  As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean.  If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died.  Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil.  For 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.
 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.  Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble.  It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.
 So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves.  But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.
[15:1] We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.  Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.  For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: "The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me."  For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
2. If you are not comfortable with this approach, feel free to divide them on the left and right, or whatever. You are God's expert on how to teach your group.
3. A curious result of this little exercise is the fact that those strong in faith (more spiritually mature) apparently have fewer taboos than those weak in faith. It is a sign of weakness, not spiritual strength to have a lot of things that you can't or won't do.
4. Don't erase the grid; you will use it again.
5. 1 Cor. 8:9-13
Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak.  For if anyone with a weak conscience sees you who have this knowledge eating in an idol's temple, won't he be emboldened to eat what has been sacrificed to idols?  So this weak brother, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge.  When you sin against your brothers in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ.  Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall.
6. This is a common misapplication of this principle. Note that the weak brother, in this instance is not tempted to participate, they are just offended that someone else is having some fun. This is the sin of the perpetually weaker brother-a kind of on-purpose weaker brother.
7. 1 Cor. 10:23-11:1
"Everything is permissible"--but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible"--but not everything is constructive.  Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.
 Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience,  for, "The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it."
 If some unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience.  But if anyone says to you, "This has been offered in sacrifice," then do not eat it, both for the sake of the man who told you and for conscience' sake--  the other man's conscience, I mean, not yours. For why should my freedom be judged by another's conscience?  If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for?
 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.  Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God--  even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved. [11:1] Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.
8. 2 Cor. 6:14-18
Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?  What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?  What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people."
 "Therefore come out from them
and be separate,
says the Lord.
Touch no unclean thing,
and I will receive you."
 "I will be a Father to you,
and you will be my sons and daughters,
says the Lord Almighty."
9. Marriage and business partnerships are two.