Monday, May 28, 2012

Romans 14-15:6 – Bear with me

In Romans 14 and the first part of chapter 15, the apostle Paul addresses the believer's behavior. His focus is on "doubtful things". These are those daily decisions that don't necessarily fall under the "sin" category or the "spiritual" category. While some behavior's fit neatly into the category of the believer's flesh or the believer's faith, these behavior's fall into the category of the believer's freedom. For the church in Rome, these behavior's involved diets and days but for us today, the static tension between legalism and liberty includes a number of behaviors (see attached chart & explanation at the end of the lesson).


Romans 14:12 So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. 13 Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother's way.

So how do why know what is right when pondering "doubtful things"?

I . Our Conscience (Rom. 14:5b, 14, 22-23)

"Let each be fully convinced in his own mind (v.5b)…I know and am convinced of the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean of itself; but to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean (v.14)… Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. 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 (vv.22-23)" (NKJV).

Throughout the New Testament the Holy Spirit is seen counseling Jesus' disciples on the best path to take, and so it is in our lives. Likewise even the natural man has a moral compass, it's not perfect but many times it is a warning that we are treading on dangerous ground.

The Holy Spirit of God convicts us of outright sin (if He doesn't, then we are not saved Romans 8:9). He may also convict us, however, of things that appear to be "doubtful". Perhaps you struggled in your lost life with lust; so now even the most mild television programming causes you to struggle and draws you to sin. Perhaps certain secular music was the soundtrack to the sins of your past; so now you avoid it completely because of the emotional memories it stirs in your soul. Every blood-bought child of God is unique and comes from a different past; they each see life through a different lens and often hold different "convictions" about certain "doubtful" behaviors. Paul says that each one must be "fully convinced in his own mind" that his behavior in these things is fit before God.

II. Our Christian Brothers & Sisters (15:1-2)

1 We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification.

The word "scruples" in some translations says "infirmities", does anyone have some different for verse 1? Let me give you my own paraphrase of that verse.

"Those who are able, should bear with the problems of easily offended brothers and sisters, and not just accommodate our own opinions."

I am not very good at this historically at this because I was usually more focused on being right, than on being gracious.

The Christian life is not lived in isolation. One of the great joys of being a part of God's family is the fellowship we experience with other believers. Because of this, our "freedoms" often fall under the scrutiny of those with different sensibilities. Some Christians feel that wearing modest shorts is totally acceptable; while others think that ankles should be covered at all times. Some Christians have no problem drinking alcohol in moderation while others will not even eat food that has been prepared with it.
Even worship styles are extremely varied in the Body of Christ: electric, stoic, country, ancient, southern gospel, modern, progressive, classical.

There is a story that is often told of Charles Spurgeon. For years he saw nothing wrong with smoking; to him, it wasn't sin. He did it regularly in good conscience; until he found out that a tobacco firm was advertising "the brand that Spurgeon smokes!" From that day on he gave up the habit, because he felt he had given the wrong impression of the Christian life.

I wish it were easier to navigate the minefield of people's sensibilities but it's not. Sometimes we'll get it wrong. We'll follow our conscience and someone is hurt or offended. Rather than justify ourselves, or mount a logical defense, or challenge the offended brother to "get over it", we must empathize with the genuine hurt he or she feels and then respond with understanding. Afterward, we rest in grace, learn from the experience, and become wiser as a result.

The gift of freedom always comes in the plain wrapping of responsibility.

Galatians 5:13 says, "For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself'" (ESV).

If you are unwilling to surrender your liberty for the sake of your Christian brother, then your liberty has become your Lord.

III. Our Christ (Rom. 15:3)

3 For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, "The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me." (Psalm 69:9)

Things that may be no big deal to me can be huge to someone else, and everyone has those times when it seems everything is offensive, everyone is against you, and no one cares about your struggles.

69:1 Save me, O God!

For the waters have come up to my neck.

[I sometimes think David was Bi-polar because his highs and lows are so extreme. David endured some of the greatest offenses when Saul was trying to kill him; he also caused some of the greatest offenses when he murdered Uriah and stole his wife.]

2 I sink in deep mire,

Where there is no standing;

I have come into deep waters,

Where the floods overflow me.

[I didn't even know Israel has swamps but that is what he describes, he is sinking in the swamp.]

3 I am weary with my crying;

My throat is dry;

My eyes fail while I wait for my God.

4 Those who hate me without a cause

Are more than the hairs of my head;

They are mighty who would destroy me,

Being my enemies wrongfully;

Though I have stolen nothing,

I still must restore it.

5 O God, You know my foolishness;

And my sins are not hidden from You.

6 Let not those who wait for You, O Lord GOD of hosts, be ashamed because of me;

Let not those who seek You be confounded because of me, O God of Israel.

[He confesses his fears, he confesses his sins, and here he confesses his hope that no one who seeks the Lord would be weakened because of him.]

7 Because for Your sake I have borne reproach;

Shame has covered my face.

8 I have become a stranger to my brothers,

And an alien to my mother's children;

9 Because zeal for Your house has eaten me up,

And the reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on me.

[Sometimes we are the offender and other times we are the offended. If we keep that in mind then you can see why this attitude of grace toward each other is so important.]


IV God's Purpose (Rom. 15:4-6)

4 For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. 5 Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, 6 that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

So, when faced with a decision that falls in the "freedom" category of Christian behavior we should ask ourselves, "Is this wise?" "Does this behavior feed my flesh or my faith?" "Does it exalt me or God?"

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Are there any matters of conscience that you are currently wrestling with?
  2. Is there a particular behavior that you treasure more than the encouragement of your brothers and sisters in Christ? If so, are you willing to lay it down for their sake (just as Christ laid down His rights and privileges for us)?
  3. How do you deal with a professional "weaker brother" (a legalistic person who is offended by almost everything you say and do).

Hand out explanation:

The title of the hand out is "The Believer's Behavior". It's important to remind everyone that our salvation is NOT earned; it is GRANTED by God's grace.

There are behaviors that clearly land in the "sin" column and feed our flesh; and there are behaviors that clearly land in the "spiritual" column and feed our faith. There is a grey area that exists between "sin" and "spiritual" that I have labeled "????". Things that are "doubtful" or questionable can draw you one way or the other. In other words, your behavior in the "freedom" category either feeds your flesh or your faith. Our freedom in Christ must be Spirit lead, always considering others. Do the freedoms you enjoy hinder someone's faith? Do the freedoms you enjoy help feed your faith? A famous question in Christian circles is, "Is ____________ a sin?"

Remember Romans 14:23 But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin.

So whatever you decide on the questionable things, you must exercise your Christian liberty in faith, for the good of others and the glory of God.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Romans 14:13-23 – Edifying or Stumbling

The diversity of the Church reveals the power of the Holy Spirit to bring dissimilar people into unity to build up the Kingdom of God. But all those different opinions and ideals also present unique challenges. The history of the church is filled with examples of conflict when those called of God, allowed self-interest to take precedence over God's purpose. Previously we examined the how our liberty in Christ presents opportunities for an even greater influence, if we use that liberty like Paul with an "all for the gospel" attitude.

But what about those who have already responded to the gospel? Too many times church members become internally focused; welcoming new believers with man-made rules that sound like this: "Glad you were saved, now get in line, do what you are told, and don't rock the boat". Not surprisingly scripture tells us God had something more edifying in mind when He called us to join the assembly of the elect.

Verse 13    "Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother's way."

Note the possible ways we can affect each other:

We can cause others to stumble, we can grieve others or even destroy them Paul is addressing both the weak-in-the-faith whose excessive caution might make them fearful and legalistic; and the strong whose love of liberty might make them callous and careless. He tells both sides to avoid judging the other.

Verse 14    "I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean."

Nothing is unclean by itself. Inanimate objects can be neither good nor evil because they do not have a mind or a will. They lack a capacity to do anything on their own. No foods are unclean, no days are unclean, no people are unclean.

The issue here is not only how does it affect me but if I do this, how will it affect my brother? Will what I do become a challenge to a virtuous faith filled life (make him stumble)? Will it grieve or even destroy him by encouraging him to sin? Every Christian has values, some are more mature than others. We should always think about the things we do and how it affects our brothers and sisters in the Lord. Is it really worth it to harm a brother or sister just so I can enjoy something?

Verse 15    "Yet if your brother is grieved because of your food, you are no longer walking in love. Do not destroy with your food the one for whom Christ died."

When a mature believer is in the company of someone who may not be as strong in the faith and they recoil from some perceived danger, the mature believer has a choice . . . love for their own pleasure or love for the other person.

"Destroy him" can refer both to the body, and to the useful ministry of a believer. Our neighborhoods are filled with people who had some connection to the church until they faced a stumbling block and were offended.

The general context of this passage is unity in the Body of Christ. Our failure to honor another believer's conscience can, at times, compromise our relationship with him. The origin of the church is our relationship with Christ, and the harmony of the church depends on our relationships with each other.

Verse 16    "Therefore do not let your good be spoken of as evil;

Verse 17    for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Verse 18    For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men."

Christians must have priorities, but at times, we have a way of majoring on the minor things. Churches have been divided over insignificant things when compared with the vital things of our faith. . . things like the location of the piano, the color of the carpet, the serving of snacks in Sunday School, the songs we sing, and when and how the offering should be taken.

It's not the externals but the eternals that should be first in our lives. If each of us would yield to the Holy Spirit, and major in living a godly life and really loving others, we would not see dissension, disrespect or disputes in the church.

Verse 19    "Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another."

To edify is to build up, meaning God expects every one of us to make the church a better place for more people. Both the strong believer and the weak believer need to grow. The strong needs to grow in love, and the weak needs to grow in knowledge. The essence in Christianity is not found in external matters. It is what proceeds from our hearts that make us who we are. What is our focus . . . is it people's preferences or are we adding value to them through real Christian growth, righteousness, peace and joy.

Verse 20    "Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are pure, but it is evil for the man who eats with offense.

Verse 21    It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak.

Verse 22    Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves."

Young Christians or those who Paul calls the-weak-in-the-faith, need the kind of fellowship that will protect and cause them to grow. As they mature in the faith, they can help other believers grow also.

There may be times that a mature believer, in his heart and conscience, knows it's okay to do something, BUT if he is in the presence of a less mature believer, and it would cause that person to stumble in their walk with the Lord, the mature believer, out of love for the Lord and that person, should choose NOT to do it.

There are certain truths that all Christians must accept because they are the foundations of the faith. But areas of honest disagreement should not be made a test of fellowship. Do not try to force YOUR convictions on everybody else. No Christian can borrow another Christian's convictions, because unless he can hold and practice them by faith – he is sinning. Our liberty in the Lord should never hinder the work of God in the lives of others.

Verse 23    "But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin."

We should remember that some Christians are stronger in their faith than others. Also remember, there is always someone stronger than YOU.

While we, out of compassion, limit our freedom for the sake of someone else's weakness, another Christian is doing the same for us. Or do you think you are the most mature person in your church? I hope not. That's a SURE sign of spiritual weakness. Everyone has room to grow. We should learn to maintain balance in our lives. The key here is there are moral principles that are universal, then personally were have convictions that are just as important in our own conscience but not as universal as our morality. It takes a mature person to put our own preference BEHIND the good of others. It takes supernatural grace for us to give others the freedom to be different without suffering our condemnation. It takes love to let others simply be who they are. If we find ourselves thinking less of another believer because he or she enjoys something that may be distasteful to us, we are most likely the weaker-faith person in that relationship.


  1. Why is it important not to judge each other in matters of personal conviction?
  2. Why don't we all have the same convictions?
  3. If convictions can be different, why are they still important for our own conscience?
  4. If convictions can be personal, how can morals be universal.
  5. Which of your preferences could cause another to stumble?


Monday, May 14, 2012

Romans 14 1-12 - Convictions and Liberty


In the 2nd half of the Book of Romans, we have been studying our response to the gospel. In Romans 10 we confess and believe; in Romans 11 we trust in the sovereign calling of election; in Romans 12 we begin to worship by serving God especially in church, being living examples of renewal, while trusting in the justice of God. In Romans 13 we focused on submitting to the authority of God, loving our neighbors and recognizing the urgent need to put off immorality and put on Christ walking in His righteousness. This week we will look at the danger of becoming lawmakers; people who project their own convictions onto other believers, and judge those who disagree.


1 Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things.

[It's easy to see that as the churches grew they increased in a diversity of backgrounds and opinions. In Romans 12 we saw that an essential attitude, that God uses to incorporate such a diversity of gifts and callings into one unified body of Christ, is humility. Some new believers especially those trained in the Law, found the Spirit lead liberty of Christian living a little hard to swallow. Paul calls these people "weak in the faith", as they are still making the transition in their own minds from the Law to Grace. Here we are told to receive the weak into our fellowship, but not to get caught up in disputes that are now more about personal conviction than real commandments.]


2 For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables. 3 Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him.

[If you lived as a Jew in an idolatrous city like Rome it would be a constant struggle to observe the dietary laws of the Old Testament while shopping in local markets targeted to serve the ethnic and religious majority, rather than the Jewish minority. Some of these Jews, who had become Christ followers, were still practicing very restrictive diets to compensate for their "unclean" surroundings.


The "strong" would agree with Romans 6 that "you are not under law but under grace". This is an important doctrinal point, because if the Law could save you then the death of Christ would have been unnecessary. (Galatians 2:21). So the "weak" are still learning this, but the "strong" are told that in all humility they should not despise the "weak". Likewise the "weak" are not to judge the "strong" because "God has received him", meaning they are righteous in Christ without the works of the Law.]


4 Who are you to judge another's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.

[Here again humility is helpful. Are fellow believers here to serve me or to serve God? God is our Master and Judge, whether our personal convictions were helpful or not will be judged by God. So if I have a strong conviction against something like easting fast-food, I am not to judge others by my personal standards, because it is highly unlikely to be the same standard that God will use to judge all people.]


5 One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks.

[Another topic of conviction is the day of worship. This one should be easy to grasp for we still have denominations in this age who dispute over the day of worship. To Jewish converts of Paul's day it would be a very natural thing to continue to worship on the Sabbath; but to Gentile believers Saturday was just another day. Verse 6 points out that it is not the day that is important but that your day of rest and worship is dedicated to and focused upon the Lord.


Some of the larger churches in the country offer many service times just to accommodate their huge numbers, and those services usually start Saturday evening with one or two services, and continue through Sunday with several more service times. In that example even the same congregation could have different days of worship, and probably individuals who prefer one day over the other.


Now if you are thinking "Wait, Sunday is the Lord's day; that is when Jesus arose from the grave and that is when we should worship". But really in scripture there is no set day on which we are commanded to worship. The Corinthian church was apparently meeting on Sunday (1 Corinthians 16:2), but other mostly Jewish communities probably kept Saturday as their day of worship. The important thing is that we assemble together for weekly worship, and that you personally make time for rest and worship with your church family.


So whatever we eat we give thanks to God for it, and whenever we worship we worship together in all sincerity and reverence.]


7 For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. 8 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.

[What were we without the grace of God? We were condemned by our own works. All of our preferences, choices and decisions had landed us on the path to destruction.


1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's.


We have the liberty not to be rebound to a law of man's invention; but what will we do with that liberty? If I exercise liberty only to satisfy my own desires then how is that different from the self-serving works for which I stood condemned, before grace was extended to me? The proper exercise of Christian liberty is to follow after Christ, seeking good works for God's glory.]


9 For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living. 10 But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. 11 For it is written:

"As I live, says the Lord,

Every knee shall bow to Me,

And every tongue shall confess to God." (Isaiah 45:23)

[How many people willingly claim Christ as their savior, and ignore Him as their Lord? Being a servant, seeking to please our Master is not something often promoted in the high-self-esteem culture, but this paradigm of Christian service is what was described in Romans 12:

1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.


Here again we see how pride and arrogance lead to divisions in the church as people judge each other (by our standards not God's), and show contempt for each other. But if we exercise Christian liberty in humility and love, seeking the will of God, our fellowship will be to the glory of God.]


12 So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.

[We have the liberty to follow our convictions so that we can worship in good conscience. But each of us will give an account of himself to God, as to how we use this liberty. As an example to us, Paul tells how He used this liberty.


1 Corinthians 10:23-24

23 All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify. 24 Let no one seek his own, but each one the other's well-being.


Paul judged his own exercise of liberty holding each activity to these standards:

  1. Is it helpful?
  2. Does it edify?
  3. Does it promote the well being of others?


1 Corinthians 9:19-23

19 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; 20 and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; 21 to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; 22 to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. 23 Now this I do for the gospel's sake, that I may be partaker of it with you.


So if Paul wanted to witness to vegetarian Jews who worship on Saturday, He would follow their customs so that his own preferences would not even be an issue or a potential hindrance to some hearing the gospel. Likewise if Paul was preaching for meat eating Gentiles and the local church met on Sunday, then he would observe those customs as well. He cared more for the souls of men, than his favorite foods, or mode of worship. More than anything he loved reconciling men to God through sacrifice of Christ.



  1. In what way are those bound to their own traditions considered "weak" in faith?
  2. How does humility help the "weak" and "strong" worship in unity?
  3. What traditions do you hold that you would find hard to surrender for the gospel?
  4. What are some things that are "lawful", but might not be beneficial?

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Romans 13 8-14 Neighbors and Time


We have been studying our response to the gospel. In Romans 10 we confess and believe; in Romans 11 we trust in the sovereign calling of election; in Romans 12 we begin to worship by serving God especially in church, being living examples of renewal, trusting in the justice of God, and trusting in the authority of God.


8 Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.

[Now some have used verse 8 as a command that Christians should never borrow money. But I see it continuing the thought of verse 7 which was to fulfill all your obligations to the government. So flowing from verse 7, verse 8 is about fulfilling your obligations to your neighbors. Pay you debts, when they are due; don't be delinquent in any responsibility. The exception is love, because love is the obligation you never finish paying.]


9 For the commandments, "You shall not commit adultery," "You shall not murder," "You shall not steal," "You shall not bear false witness," "You shall not covet," and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

[I've noticed in Paul's letters multiple times where his teaching closely mirrors the teaching of Jesus on the same subjects; this is a perfect example.


In Matthew 22 Jesus was challenged by a lawyer for the Pharisees with the question, which is the great commandment. Jesus' answer listed two: love God, and love your neighbor. Then in verse 40 he concludes that these two commandments embody all of the Law and the Prophets. In connecting these two He reveals that God is the silent partner in every relationship we have. Adultery breaks the marriage covenant with your spouse and with God, remember marriage is the analog of Christ's relationship with the church. Murder kills a person but also violates the sacred trust of human life we have with God. People who steal are saying God cannot supply my needs. Those who proffer lies act as though God cannot hear them; and those who covet say that God does not have the right to bless whoever He wills.


In modern culture people say sometimes love hurts; but they are using the definition of affection whose focus is to satisfy me. This passage uses the agape love that is selfless which is why verse 10 says "love does no harm". "Love your neighbor as yourself" means that every gift of God I might desire for myself, I would also want for my neighbor. Once you cast aside selfishness, most relationships can be healed pretty quickly.]


11 And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. 12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.

[Now we shift the discussion from neighbors, to time. Most people don't like waking up to alarm clocks because of the loud abrupt noise that wakens us from sleep. In college I was so sleep deprived that I had my stereo on a timer set to come on every morning, this was my backup in case I slept through the alarm clock.


This passage sounds the alarm, saying "do you know what time it is"? It's time to wake up! Sleep here is a metaphor for moral laxness. Each day we are closer to Christ's return and/or our own death. Salvation is getting closer, but the final stage of our bodily transformation does not take place until the end. Salvation begins with the immediate down payment in our endowment of the Holy Spirit. Then it continues in a life of good works driven by the sanctification of the spirit. But what happens when instead of walking in Christ's righteousness we slide back into immorality? We endanger our own lives, and the souls of those who we could be leading to Jesus. Get up and change your clothes, stop walking in darkness and put on the armor of light. In John 8:12 Jesus said He was the "light of the world", and that His followers would not walk in darkness.]


13 Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. [Here are some things to avoid, any kind of intoxication whether from drinking, pills or smoking, and the revelry or crude partying that seems to go hand in hand with intoxication. I was really surprised how tame and well behaved the Harley Owners Rally was this week. My brother-in-law Bob told me that place was like a Baptist convention. Other things to avoid include:

Lewdness, the old King James calls it chambering, refers to sexually defiling the marriage bed.

Lust or wantonness, means your mind is always on your own flesh and the desire to satisfy it. Think strip clubs, pornography and things like that, should all be avoided.

Strife we have talked about recently, a contentious mind that seems to be constantly offended and ready to fight.

Envy or jealousy, always comparing yourself to others thinking you are entitled to anything you see, these are false measures of value. God will not judge us by what we have or by comparing us to other people. Our value is in the life we are given, the costly salvation paid for us, and the people around us that we love and serve.]


14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.

["Put on the Lord Jesus", sounds like you are wearing your favorite team Jersey. Why do we wear things like that? We like to identify with a team, to say that "I am a part of the competition". At the Harley Rally it was easy to distinguish that group from all the others in the Stockyards, they were all wearing the riding gear, like they could jump on their bikes and take off at a moment's notice. Do we wear Jesus the same way? Are we always ready for action, for spiritual battle, or do we get bogged down with moral laxness?


Some use Christian liberty as an excuse for a self indulgent lifestyle and sink into a false sense of rest thinking the time of judgment is far away but that is not so. Jesus said His coming will be like a thief in the night; sudden, unexpected, and final. "Make no provision for the flesh" is a very pointed command because immorality has such a corrosive effect on our spiritual life.


When we studied the Book of Acts, we looked at the council of Jerusalem. There we had a battle for the focus of Gentile believers. Would they be shackled to the 613 Laws of Moses, or would they be led by the Holy Spirit. In the end the Apostles gave them two things to avoid; idolatry and immorality. With those two prohibitions they were freed to seek after Jesus, and the two great commandments to love God and love your neighbor.]



  1. Do you think verse 8 forbids all borrowing?
  2. What is the obligation we never finish paying?
  3. How is your salvation now nearer that when you first believed?
  4. Why do you think "night" and "darkness" are so often used as metaphors for sin?
  5. How can we better "put on the Lord Jesus"?



Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. Hold firmly to the word of life; then, on the day of Christ's return, I will be proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work was not useless. (Philippians 2:14-16)