Christian Liberty And Unity (Part 2)
Topic: Unity Passage: Romans 14:1–15:13
Like the Jewish and Gentile believers in the first century church, we all come from different religious, denominational, and cultural backgrounds with different customs and traditions. We have different upbringings, different experiences, and testimonies all of which have colored our perspectives and influenced our preferences/convictions and conditioned us to believe certain behaviors and practices are right or wrong. The question is how can we all get along despite our differing perspectives, preferences, and convictions when it comes to matters the Bible neither commands nor condemns. Paul’s goal in this passage was to show how unity and diversity can coexist within the body of Christ. He provided THREE LESSONS that we all must learn in order to achieve and maintain unity with fellow believers. If we can learn to live out these lessons we will enjoy truer, closer, deeper, richer, sweeter, stronger fellowship with one another even though our personal opinions, preferences, and convictions may be different from one another.
1.) Instead of judging others, accept them (14:1-12)
A. God accepts us (vv. 1-3)
B. Christ is our Master (vv. 4-9)
C. God will be our judge (vv. 10-12)
2.) Instead of harming others, love them (14:13-23)
A. Don’t cause others to stumble (vv. 13, 20c-21)
B. Don’t force your personal convictions on others (vv. 14, 20b, 22a)
C. Don’t destroy or tear down others (vv. 15, 19-20a)
D. Don’t lose sight of the mission (vv. 16-18)
E. Don’t violate your conscience or someone else’s (vv. 22b-23)
3.) Instead of pleasing yourself, imitate Christ (15:1-13)
James 1:22 says, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” These questions are designed to help you apply today’s message to your life. We encourage you to thoughtfully answer these questions and discuss your answers with others. For more information about joining a Grow Group that uses these questions as the basis for weekly discussion, prayer, and accountability, please call the church office at (936) 582-1977.
- Based on your background, upbringing, experience, and testimony, what are some of the scruples or hang ups you have with any of the gray areas mentioned in the sermon (e.g. dancing, drinking, dipping, tattoos, piercings, entertainment choices, schooling choices, wardrobe choices, musical preferences, spending decisions, use of birth control and fertility options)?
- Do you regularly consider how your convictions and actions affect fellow believers? Can you trace any lack of unity in our church to how you express and exercise your Christian liberty?
- Read 1 Corinthians 8:7-13. Have you ever been guilty of causing another believer to stumble? Have you ever limited your freedom in Christ out of deference to a weaker Christian?
- Read Genesis 1:31, Mark 7:14-19, Acts 10:15, 28, 1 Corinthians 10:26, 1 Timothy 4:3-5, 6:17, and Titus 1:15. How should these verses inform or educate your conscience regarding things the Bible neither commands nor condemns?
- Read 1 Corinthians 9:19-23. How does Christian liberty relate to evangelism? How does your relationship with fellow believers affect your witness to unbelievers?
- Read Acts 23:1 and 1 Timothy 3:9. Have you ever violated your conscience by participating in activities you did not believe were appropriate for you? How did you deal with the guilt? What happens when you ignore your conscience (cf. 1 Tim. 1:19; 4:2)?
- Ask God to help you not be a stumbling block to others and to not allow petty, secondary matters distract you from the main mission of the church which is evangelizing the lost.
“A Christian is the most free lord of all, and subject to none.
A Christian is the most dutiful servant of all, and subject to all.”
Martin Luther, On Christian Freedom, 1520