“I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive” (Romans 16:17-18, ESV).
In the Book of Romans the Apostle Paul offered several theological discussions about Christian living. In the previous post in this series from Romans (see Pusillanimous Christianity), we learned that Christians don’t need to be afraid of the future. If your hope is in God and God is in control of your life, then you have nothing to fear because God is in charge of your future.
In Romans 16 Paul continues the lesson about becoming a mature, grown-up Christian. He said that when a Christian is immature and naive, he or she is susceptible to being deceived.
That’s because there are persons that claim to be Christians, who even teach other Christians, but think more about themselves and stroking their own egos than they do about serving Jesus and helping Christians grow spiritually.
“For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4, ESV).
The Book of Romans provides several theological discussions about Christian living. In the previous post in this series from Romans (see Punctilious Christianity), we learned that Christians shouldn’t let their personal convictions cause someone else to question the legitimacy of their faith.
In Romans 15 Paul continues this lesson on not allowing your personal convictions to cause a Christian brother or sister to stumble.
Paul makes a distinction between the weak and strong Christian and then declares that the primary characteristic of a strong Christian is not to please yourself but to conduct yourself in a way that strengthens your brother or sister.
After all, that’s what Jesus did: “For Christ did not please himself” (vs. 3).
“The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.“ (Romans 14:3-4, ESV).
The Book of Romans provides several theological discussions about Christian living. In the previous post in this series from Romans (see Corporeal Christianity), we learned that Christians should accept responsibility for their own spiritual growth and development through bible study, prayer, meditation and godliness.
Moms are generally scrupulous about the behavior of their children. They want their children to be well-behaved. As Christians we want to be well-behaved for God, but in Romans 14 the Apostle Paul establishes that Christians are not “Mom” over the behavior of other Christians.
Punctilious means to show great attention to detail or correct behavior, which is probably a good thing when you apply it to yourself. But, the Punctilious Christian of Romans 14 exhibits an unwarranted amount of attention and compunction for the correct behavior of other Christians!
“But put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires” (Romans 13:14, ESV).
The Book of Romans provides several theological discussions about Christian living. In the previous post in this series from Romans (see Convictionless Christianity), we learned that God’s Law is, in fact, relevant and binding on our lives as Christians. So, we serve God through adherence to His commands!
In Romans 12 Paul admonished Christians not to live in conformance with this world but live according to God’s Law and God’s will. Then, in Chapter 13 this admonition about godly living became a stern warning about corporeal Christianity. Because of the immediacy of our salvation (Christ may come or we may die), we must not live out our lives in this world trying to fulfill our human desires.
Paul said salvation has brought light to our darkened souls so we must cast off the works of darkness–drunkeness, sexual immorality, quarreling and jealousy–and put on the armor of light.
“Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code” (Romans 7:4-6, ESV).
Some interpret these verses and others in Romans 7 describing how the Law aroused sin in our bodies to mean that God’s Law was a temporary or provisional arrangement–a relic of Old Testament times.
They suppose that since Christ came there is no Law binding upon us. (When we say God’s Law we mean the ethics or ethos of God’s character typified in the Ten Commandments and other Old Testament moral and ethical regulations.)
If I may use a theological term, such thinking is a form of antinomianism.
Antinomianism refers to the belief that having received grace, Christians are ethically free to live whatever lifestyle they choose.
“But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you” (Romans 8:10-11, ESV).
Do you ever want to get past all the doctrine and opinions and traditions of Christianity and get to the basics of what it means to be a Christian?
Well, here it is! The bottom line. The who, what, how, and why of being a Christian rolled into a couple of verses!
Two verses that in just a few words and phrases provide such a profound and succinct explanation about Christianity.
“For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s trespass…. For if, because of one many’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus,Christ” (Romans 5:15-17, ESV).
I have two friends whose backgrounds and Christian experience are completely opposite from one another. One of my friends yielded to God at a young age and has always lived for Christ as long as he can remember. My other friend ignored God and lived a very degenerate lifestyle well into his adult life. His degenerate way of life led him to despair and his despair eventually led him to Christ
Which one of my friends is more guilty before God when he came to Christ? The one whose personal sins are the greatest?
Sometimes, we think that to become a Christian or “get saved” a person needs to repent of all their personal sinfulness. If that is true, then the more sinful you are before you get saved, the more you need to repent, which would mean, conversely, that the less sinful you are before you get saved the less you need to repent.
The fact is that it cost God the same to redeem both my friends. God has the same investment in both of my friend’s salvation–the death, burial and resurrection of His Son, Jesus.