How is a Christian to act with regard to matters not explicitly addressed in Scripture? How is a Christian to conduct himself/herself in situations on which the Bible is silent? This is the question Paul addresses in Romans 14. We could as easily ask: “What is the nature and extent of Christian freedom” The NT speaks of three types of freedom: 1) Freedom from the condemnation of God (cf. Rom. 8:1); 2) Freedom from the compulsion to sin (cf. Rom. 6:14); and 3) Freedom from the conscience of other Christians. Paul is concerned with the third form of freedom. There are a number of issues on which the Bible does not provide an explicit “yes” or “no”. They are issues that do not affect our acceptance with God, i.e., they do not pertain to whether or not one is a Christian. They are what we might call secondary, as over against primary, issues. For example, is a Christian free to …
- drink alcoholic beverages in moderation?
- attend movies (whether PG, PG-13, or R)?
- watch TV?
- work on Sunday?
- eat food in a church building?
- engage in mixed swimming?
- play pool?
- play cards?
- smoke a pipe?
- wear makeup?
- wear jewelry?
- purchase insurance?
These are matters of conscience. They fall within the domain of Christian liberty. They are issues on which the Bible is silent. Unfortunately, some Christians insist on elevating their opinion on such matters to the status of divine law. They feel compelled to impose their convictions regarding the moral status of such practices on the conscience of other believers.
Sam Storms, Biblical Studies: Romans (Edmond, OK: Sam Storms, 2016), Ro 14:1–23.
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