“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).
“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.
“I will keep on obeying your instructions forever and ever. I will walk in freedom, for I have devoted myself to your commandments” (Psalm 119:44-45, NLT).
Don’t laws control you? Then, how do laws set you free?
Psalm 119 is a Hebrew acrostic poem. There are twenty-two stanzas, one for each successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Each of the eight verses within each stanza begins with the Hebrew letter named in its heading. The unifying theme of the Psalm is love for and obedience to God’s Law or Word.
“Then God gave the people all these instructions: I am the Lord your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery. You must not have any other god but me.” (Exodus 20:1-3, NLT).
This verse is the preamble and the first of the Ten Commandments in Exodus Chapter 20. The Ten Commandments are sort of an executive summary of the expanded terms of God’s covenant with the Israelites in Chapters 21-23.
The terms of the covenant specified the behavior the Israelites were expected to demonstrate if they were to be in a covenant relationship with God Almighty. The first four commandments (vs. 2-11) described what our behavior should be in relation to God while the remaining six commandments (vs. 12-17) described what our behavior should be in relation to other human beings.
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20, ESV).
In this powerful declaration, the Apostle Paul tells the Galatians of his own life experience as an example to demonstrate that trying to gain justification by the law only exposes not exonerates sinfulness.
“And Jesus said to them, ‘I ask you, is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to destroy it?'” (Luke 6:9, ESV).
Luke 6:1-5 describes how once when Jesus and His disciples were walking through grain fields on a Sabbath, some of His disciples plucked and ate some heads of grain.
Some Pharisees considered plucking grain on the Sabbath as forbidden work and challenged Jesus on the matter. The penalty for profaning the Sabbath was death (Exodus 31:14), so this was a pretty serious charge made against Jesus’ disciples by the Pharisees.