Liberty and Conscience

Scripture: Romans 14:7-8 -  “For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself.  For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord.  Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.”  

A renowned gospel preacher once declared that if he was ever marooned on a tropical island and could have only one book of the Bible with him, it would be that of Romans.  One doesn’t have to read very far into that part of the Scripture to identify with his choice:  it is most informative about what it means to be a Christ follower; it contains the famous “Romans Road,” a pathway of verses that even a new believer can use in presenting the gospel of Jesus Christ.  (Romans 3:10, 23, 26; 5:8, 5:12; 10:8, 9, and 13) These verses are relatively easy to understand for one whose heart is opened by God’s Spirit.  (1 Corinthians 3:6) Even so, another seemingly overlooked chapter has become one of my favorite in this wonderful Book:  Romans chapter 14.

While there are many specific, rather “black and white” behavioral principles  in the Word of God, (e.g., the Ten Commandments, the command to love the LORD our God with all our heart, all of our soul, and with all our mind and strength, and our neighbors as ourselves,  (Mark 12:29-31), just to name very few), Romans chapter 14 seems to magnify our Lord’s grace in its recognition of the various levels of growth in different individuals’ Christian walk.  The Word teaches that each person is to be “fully convinced in his own mind. (v. 5)  “He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord….” (14:6)  

A thoughtful recognition of the different levels and stages of growth within the body of Christ should restrain us from becoming dogmatic about areas of Christian living that are not as sharply defined as those mentioned earlier.  There may be some “gray areas,” again where Scripture is not so “crystal clear,” and other Christian believers’ observances may be slightly different from that of our own little group.  The bottom line is presented in verses 10(b) and 12:  “For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ,” and “each of us shall give account of himself to God.”  Areas such as what one eats, (Rom. 14:3), what day they’ve consecrated for worship (v. 5), and all of our behavior, should be performed with conscience toward our Savior.  The entirety of Romans chapter 14 seems to be summarized in verse 22(b)—Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves.  But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin.”  

PRAYER:  Dear Father, thank You for the liberty Christ Jesus died to give us; only lead us to that place where we consistently live with a Christ-honoring conscience, as described in Your Holy Word.  Amen!

(by Sis. Denise Diggs)

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