want to study was Romans 14. In working through Romans this year, I've certainly covered some difficult teachings. Doctrines that challenge, convict and confront. Doctrines that cause all sorts of clashes between believers. So after wading through chapters like Romans 1-3 and 5-6, or chapter 8 or even the huge chunk of 9-11, you'd think that the application chapters would be a simple checklist of read and obey. Suffice it to say, Romans 14 has been my own personal waterloo. Being true to blogger personality, I'm committing my thoughts to post for the challenge, conviction and confrontation that this study has been. It'll take me a few days to work through it all. Your insight is welcome as well.
Some of the other doctrinal challenges that Romans provides cause great divide amongst Christians. Things like election, predestination, sovereignty and so on. For my own case, although I believe that scriptural context in the whole counsel of God gives clear teaching on these issues, I'm also keenly aware of my inadequacy to completely nitpick apart the inherent mysteries of the fullness of God on every single detail. I'm actually free to be humbly ignorant regarding God's infinite knowledge in those BIG doctrines. I can cling, and do cling, by faith to the character of God to be perfect, just, and righteous in each thing to each person regarding each event.
However, Romans 14 was particularly challenging for me because it seems to deal with a "lesser" thing--that of how Christians are to relate to one another. Wretched body and nature of flesh that I am, I want to claim ownership of understanding for how these details work. Commonsense wants to step in and persuade that as a Christian, certainly I know how to treat others. It's the simple matter of "do not judge" and "act in love."
Aye, there's the rub! "Do not judge" has no more simpler meaning than "act in love" because culture, and its pervasive effect in Christian culture, has diluted and warped the meanings outside the scriptural boundaries. Before I take that train too much farther though, the other big thing that Romans 14 is addressing is that of "disputable matters." Complication only increases because what one Christian considers a disputable matter is another's truth and vice versa. The disputes as to what is a disputable matter have not only morphed over the Christian age, but have launched tentacles into the doctrinal debates as well.
Paul could only be shaking his head at us, if he knew the quandary in which we've become mired.
So this is where I'm at, trying to answer legitimate questions about when the Bible says "to judge" or "not to judge," when the Bible says to "act in love" or "speak the truth in love" all regarding the issue of disputable matters that can be as inherently different with each believer as her genetic code.
Enter sanctification. For as much as a blessing it is for the law to reveal sin thereby causing one to realize the need for Christ, it is likewise a blessing whenever Scripture reveals a believer's lack, deficiency or misunderstanding. Wishing a Bible chapter did not tell me my mistakes is a fruitless and arrogant mistake. Therefore, spoonful of sugar or not, I desire to take my correction from Scripture. To God be the Glory!