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. (
Followers of Christ are no longer slaves, but sons. Jesus promised, “Therefore, if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” (
John 8:36) We are
no more in bondage to sin, nor under the burden of law. Understand, however, that we are not free to
do what we want, but free to do what we ought.
Our liberty operates within the boundaries of the Lordship of Christ and
our love for Christians.
Paul addresses A PROBLEM THAT UNDERMINES UNITY (
Rom.14:1-6). The conflict that had arisen in the church at
special diets and sacred days. Positions
were stated, Scriptures were quoted, sides were taken, and unity was
threatened. The Devil uses the tool of
division to tear up churches. How does
such a breach in fellowship occur? Rome
With out lips we may confess that salvation in solely by grace, but if we aren’t careful we add to it a list of rules. Christians form their checklists and then we are back in bondage to legalism. When we try to impose our regulations on someone else, then disputes arise. Then, there were those who championed liberty who felt free to judge those who had a tender conscience and did not want to eat certain things associated with their former pagan ways. They insisted on their rights—and unity was threatened. Paul says that rather than impose our rules on others, or insist on our rights with others, we need to embrace our responsibilities to others. Augustine said it well: “In essentials unity; in non-essentials liberty; in all things charity.”
Paul announces A PRINCIPLE THAT UNDERGIRDS UNITY (
Rom.14:7-12). The overriding principle that guards the
Christian’s path and guides the church’s practice can be simply stated, “Jesus
Christ is Lord.” It is simple to say,
but profound in practice. All things are
moving to that ultimate end when every knee bows and every tongue confesses
that Jesus Christ is Lord.
Christ has the right to rule over us because of who He is—the Lord—and because of what He has done—save us. In this life, we are responsible to Him, and in death we are accountable to Him. Because of this, we must not use our liberty as a license to sin. Grace provides the means and the might for holy living—that is, obedience to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. On the other hand, we are careful about using our convictions to judge others for that Christian belongs to Jesus and not us. Christ is quite capable of directing them without our meddling.
When my sister and I used to get into an argument, we might point a finger at each other and say, “She started it; He started it!” Dad would answer, “And I’m going to finish it!” He did. Jesus sets the standards for His saints. He gets the final word to settle our disputes. Within the parameters of His Lordship and our love for others, we are free.