The Struggle is Real

  1. Message:  In Romans 14 Paul told the church not to argue about “doubtful issues”. I don’t believe the context here is that the issues themselves were doubtful, but more so that the issues in question caused doubt in their salvation. He told the church to welcome weak believers and explained the importance of loving them well by not engaging in these arguments or doing things that might be considered wrong in the eyes of the weaker believers. One of the major topics of their time was food items. Paul was clear that nothing was considered unclean to eat, but because of the background some of these believers came from they felt convicted about certain foods and because of this conviction, their consciences would have been violated if they ate them. A violated conscience causes doubt and destroys intimacy with God. Because our walk with God is about the condition of the heart, we have to be careful that we don’t violate our own conscience and that we don’t knowingly damage anyone else’s either. This is the love that is required of us that we read about yesterday.
  2. Command: Don’t make a taboo sin list or argue with anyone else about their own personal convictions. Pay attention to the things that take my heart in a negative direction and use wisdom.
  3. Promise: My personal convictions are between God and me and God will talk to me about them as long as I surrender my heart.
  4. Warning: Making a taboo list causes me to revert back to a law system where I no longer pay attention to God speaking to my heart. Instead I focus on a set of rules where I am sure to violate my conscience and find loopholes for myself.
  5. Application:  In today’s culture food is not so much the taboo topic of Christians, but there are plenty of other things that might violate our consciences depending upon our own background. When I first got saved, I wrestled with secular music initially because I had some misguided teaching that listening to any secular music was wrong. I felt convicted of this and I really struggled with letting go of secular music because it had an emotional hold on me. I believed that there was a spirit behind all music and that if that spirit was not God than it was evil and it carried over to the listener. This is very similar to the issue that these weaker Christians Paul described had with food. Many of them had an issue with eating food that was offered to idols because they saw it as tainted. I grew past my general judgment that secular music is sinful and though I feel free to listen to it, my preference is usually worship anyway because of what it does for my heart. I still believe there are certainly some spiritual influences behind all kinds of things and we should be careful not to open ourselves up to them by playing around with sin, but I no longer carry a fear of catching evil spirits. Looking back I can see where it was probably good for me to separate from secular music for a while because of the emotional hold it had on my heart. I have since identified now that certain songs can take me back to moments of my life. These memories can cause my mind to emotionally dwell on places of my past that are not beneficial to my life now, so I pay attention to this. The songs themselves are not sinful or wrong, but for me these certain songs can cause an emotional response that has the potential to take my heart somewhere it should not be. There are lots of things in my life that I have shut the door to for the sake of my own heart, but I now understand that we all have different things and there is no particular taboo list that applies to us all. We can’t hold anyone else to our personal convictions, and nobody else should hold us to theirs. I have never had an issue with alcohol so walking into a bar or having a drink does not cause any kind of a temptation for me, but it could really cause problems for people who have had past or current struggles with alcohol addiction. Loving the people around me means being mindful of things that could cause an internal struggle for someone else. I don’t talk anyone else out of their own convictions and I don’t hold anyone else to mine.

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