Exercise of Freedom Rom 15:1-7
Apr 13, 2021 // By:Dave // No Comment
Exercise of Freedom
last week we read about a type of christian who mixes convictions founded upon scripture with personal convictions (gray areas), treats them with the same level of authority and expects others to abide by those same convictions
simple example is a local assembly that insists everyone dress to their best to attend sunday church
(my first experience was having to wear a two piece suit, with tie, in an upstairs room bible study with no AC in the middle of summer, breaking out with eczema being told this was pleasing to God)
I was a born-again believer, guided by the power of the Spirit of God and I was stumbling all over the place emotionally and intellectually with this dilemma.
Does God tell us that we have to dress up for Sunday ?
We are asked for our best, but our manner of dress has little to do with out best (does scripture not tell us not to focus on external adornment but internal humility and beauty of the heart ?)
I was exposed to a form of legalism (told to please God by adhering to a set of rules that even God did not edict)
personal convictions elevated to scriptural authority creates a type of person that we talked about last week, and now, into this week
what was that person called ?
a weak christian
weak ἀσθενέω, astheneō, v. [1.1 + 4964]. to be weak, ill, powerless
used 32 times in NT
in the gospels, (used twice) it is used in reference to the flesh being unable to resist temptation
(Matt 26:41, Mark 14:38)
a third time is in Acts 20:35 “helping the weak”
2-3 occasions in the epistles is also refers to physically weakness
most of the occurrences in the epistles, it means something different (approx 25)
It is a key term in Paul’s exploration of the meaning of human frailty.
The flexibility of the concept is seen in its broad application.
- A believer’s faith can be “weak” (Ro 14:1-2), keeping him uncertain about the freedoms won for him by Christ. Such a person is to be accepted by others, and his failings borne with (15:1).
- a weak, frail, or faulty conscience may unnecessarily trouble a believer (1 Co 8:7-13).
The conscience is faulty when it either
- is unable to discern accurately what pleases God or
- is unable to guard its possessor against making choices God disapproves of.
let me use a metallurgical example.
Steel is an alloy of iron and carbon containing less than 2% carbon and 1% manganese and small amounts of silicon, phosphorus, sulphur and oxygen.
Steel, when properly made, is very strong, yet can be made with varying degrees of flexibility so it does not snap.
if impurities in the iron are not smelted away during the refining process, those impurities leave weak spots in the final product where it cracks or snaps during use.
a weak mind, has some scriptural convictions (iron), mixed with human convictions (impurities) with reduces the overall strength of the mind to the lowest element (the impurities)
a chain is only as strong as it’s weakest link
Why does Paul (through Paul, the Spirit of God) call this person with a conviction about eating meat “weak” ?
(weak because they have not attained full strength of freedom in Christ)
Today, we take the friction between those who are free and those who are not free and look at the solution
1 Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves.
2 Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification.
solution = mindset = edification of the other person = love your neighbor
Paul says “we, who are strong” including himself in the strong category
is this being prideful to call himself strong?
not at all since his definition of strong means “free in Christ”
3 For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me.”
From psalm 69
alright, that’s the second time Paul has used this word “please”
and we have a hint at what he means by the contrasting statement of reproaches meant for us fell upon Him (Christ)
what does it mean to please others not ourselves ?
please (246x) G0700 (18x)
743  ἀρέσκω, areskō, v. , to accommodate (to make space for, space or necessities)
Phil 2:6 “did not count equality with God as something to be grasped but lowered Himself…”
Matt 26:53 Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels?
He surrendered the exercise of His power and freedoms for the sake of others
(He did not surrender the actual right to a given freedom or power, just released His exercise of that thing.)
His Godhead did not change
His Sonship did not change
His nature did not change
His exercise of freedom and power was “held back” deliberately, intentionally, for the sake of love.
4 For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
There is so much here to unpack in this verse:
“whatever was written in earlier times” what is that? the 39 OT books were written for our instruction (and he is speaking to NT believers)
this means God is telling us that the OT is for our instruction as well as those who lived when it was written
“so that through perseverance and the encouragement of scriptures we might have hope”
what is perseverance ? (through that which is severe)
how Can perseverance, by itself, cause hope?
We endure hard times but that alone does not produce hope
No it must be combined with scripture
James 1: 2-3. Tells us that the testing of our faith produces endurance How ?
2 Timothy 2:12
If we endure, we will also reign with Him;
If we deny Him, He also will deny us;
Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.
For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.
1 Corinthians 13:7
bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
those who endure to the end shall be saved
5 Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus,
6 so that with one accord you may with one [c]voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
so God provides the perseverance and the encouragement does so so we may be of the same mind as Christ our Lord and glorify the Father with one united voice.
is anyone noticing that part of the perseverance is meant to help us bear one another ?
Why would we need supernatural power to bear one another, to persevere with one another ?
let each one of us look in the mirror for 30 seconds and try to convince ourselves that the body of Christ is getting a prize with us !
a mustard seed of honesty reveals we understand why those around us need God’s power to love us !
7 Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted [d]us to the glory of God.
We are to accept one another, just as Christ accepted us (and for the same reason)
Christ did not die for us because it gave Him comfort , did He ?
No , He laid down what He could have claimed as “rights’ to love those who had none, and to give us a way and a time ta learn what freedoms awaited us.
How are we to love each other ?
the same way Christ loves each of us
(and by the same power)
Why do we love each other ?
It glorifies our Father, builds up our brothers and sisters, and proves we are what we claim to be