Thursday DIVE – 21September2023

WELCOME and THANKS for joining us, once again.

This is another Thursday DIVE, when we go deeper … looking at some theological concepts, as well as some Biblical concepts.

Tonight, however, is going to be a little different … because we’ll be spending most of the time looking at a Biblical concept — the concept of BIBLICAL NON-JUDGEMENT, which has to do with the idea of not judging others in areas that the Bible does not address directly or clearlyareas where, in most cases, the Bible is silent.

It’s a topic that can be controversial … so we need to begin with prayer.


The title for tonight’s study:


Our text will be Romans 14:1-12 (NRSVue)   

Before we look at our text, however … a word about the CONTEXT of our text …

The CONTEXT of Romans 14 

In Romans 14, Paul is writing to a church that is divided and he is telling them that Christians should not endeavor to change one another to suit their preferences, but instead they (“stronger” Christians) should change their conduct so as not to offend “weaker” Christians.

      • Verses 1-12 deal with our responsibility to respect the convictions (and/or opinions) of one another rather than to revise them.
      • Verses 13-23 instruct us to refrain from exercising our own freedoms when they may/will harm another Christian.

That said, our focus will be on the first portion of Romans 14.  For the sake of our discussion (which will entertain varying views), we’ll look at three versions of our text …


Romans 14:1-12 (NKJV) Romans 14:1-12 (NRSVue) Romans 14:1-12 (NLT

Receive one who is weak in the faithbut not to disputes over doubtful things

For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables

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. 

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.

5 One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike.  Let each be fully convinced in his own mind.  


He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord[a]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. 

For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself.  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. For to this end Christ died [b]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 [c]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.”

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

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

Welcome those who are weak in faith[a] but not for the purpose of quarreling over opinions

 Some believe in eating anything, while the weak eat only vegetables. 

3 Those who eat must not despise those who abstain, and those who abstain must not pass judgment on those who eat, for God has welcomed them. 

4 Who are you to pass judgment on slaves of another?  It is before their own lord that they stand or fall.  And they will be upheld, for the Lord[b] is able to make them stand.  

Some judge one day to be better than another, while others judge all days to be alike.  Let all be fully convinced in their own minds.  


Those who observe the day, observe it for the Lord.  Also those who eat, eat for the Lord, since they give thanks to God, while those who abstain, abstain for the Lord and give thanks to God.  


For we do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves.  If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.  For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.  

10 Why do you pass judgment on your brother or sister?  Or you, why do you despise your brother or sister?  For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.[c]  11 For it is written,

“As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,
    and every tongue shall give praise to[d] God.”

12 So then, each one of us will be held accountable.[e]   

13 Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother or sister.   

Accept other believers who are weak in faith, and don’t argue with them about what they think is right or wrong.

For instance, one person believes it’s all right to eat anything. But another believer with a sensitive conscience will eat only vegetables. Those who feel free to eat anything must not look down on those who don’t. And those who don’t eat certain foods must not condemn those who do, for God has accepted them.

4 Who are you to condemn someone else’s servants?   Their own master will judge whether they stand or fall.  And with the Lord’s help, they will stand and receive his approval.

In the same way, some think one day is more holy than another day, while others think every day is alike.  You should each be fully convinced that whichever day you choose is acceptable.  

Those who worship the Lord on a special day do it to honor him. Those who eat any kind of food do so to honor the Lord, since they give thanks to God before eating. And those who refuse to eat certain foods also want to please the Lord and give thanks to God.

For we don’t live for ourselves or die for ourselves. If we live, it’s to honor the Lord. And if we die, it’s to honor the Lord. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.  Christ died and rose again for this very purpose — to be Lord both of the living and of the dead.   

10 So why do you condemn another believer[a]?  Why do you look down on another believer?  Remember, we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. 11 For the Scriptures say,  

“‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,
‘every knee will bend to me,
    and every tongue will declare allegiance to God.[b]’”

12 Yes, each of us will give a personal account to God.

13 So let’s stop condemning each otherDecide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall.  

Who are the “weak”?  Why are they considered “weak”?  Note what William Barclay, a Scottish theologian, says in his commentary on ROMANS

“Such a man is weak in the faith for two reasons:  (i) He has not yet discovered the meaning of Christian freedom; he is at heart still a legalist and sees Christianity as a thing of rules and regulations … and (ii) He has not yet liberated himself from a belief in the efficacy of works.  In his heart, he believes that he can gain God’s favour by doing certain things and abstaining from othersBasically, he is still trying to earn a right relationship with God, and has not yet accepted the way of grace, still thinking more of what he can do for God than of what God has done for him.


The church at Rome was arguing about what was being eaten and what days were being observed (Romans 14:1-6), and Paul was inviting them to look past their divisive, either/or thinking to the larger picture of being true to our individual consciences as led by the Holy SpiritBy understanding how to handle different perspectives, convictions and opinions, we can improve our relationships with one another and create a loving environment in our church home.  One key is to avoid focusing solely on one side of an issue, to the point that we get “stuck,” unable to change and unwilling to hear another point of view.  Hearing does not imply agreeing, it shows honor and respect for another that you are interested in them as a person, and you are desiring to hear a different point of view.  

Some in the church in Rome were committed vegetarians, and others were despising them for their personal conviction (Romans 14:1-4).

We need to consider how we may have fostered judgmental attitudes within our churches over issues that involve personal conviction and personal liberty.

Rather than persuading others to our own point of view, we’re encouraged to think how we can respond in the most loving way toward those who differ from us.

Part of this loving response requires us to approach differences inside and outside the church by embracing paradoxical differences that are part of our human existence.  But how?

  • We need to learn how to ask better questions.  Rather than rushing to defend or persuade, we serve others better when we embrace curiosity and assume that others have good reasons, maybe even personal convictions, regarding their choices.  Saying, “Tell me more about that,” is a good start, and learning the skill of reflective listening can help us understand the real issue behind the problem.

Lastly, we must understand why God thinks judgmental attitudes need to be addressed rather than personal practices or choices.

  • We are responsible for our own choices and the ways we express our personal convictions and worship of God.  (Romans 14:4, 6, NRSVUE).

God understands our unique wiring and looks at the heart’s intent.

  • We belong to God, and our actions are held within the sacrifice of Christ.  (Romans 14:7-9, NRSVUE)

Our unity within the church is not based on personal practices, but rather, on our inclusion in the Triune God relationship.

  • Loving acceptance is the answer to the paradoxes we face in human life and relationships, and our response is gratitude and praise to God.   (Romans 14:11, NRSVUE)

Acknowledging the freedom in Christ we have helps us offer others the same freedom and grace to express their love for the Father, Son, and Holy SpiritWe can trust in God’s goodness and grace, knowing that the Holy Spirit is leading each person into greater intimacy with God.

Paul demonstrates in Romans 14:1-12 that judgmental attitudes toward others’ different choices won’t promote the vision God has for humanityLoving God and others begins when we work to build loving acceptance of people within our relationships and our church.

Call to Action:  When faced with a conflict at home or work, instead of responding with a black or white answer, consider …

  1. first asking God to help you see the person as he sees them – as someone created in his image.
  2. Then start by asking the question, “Tell me more,” or, “Help me to understand.”
  3. As the person explains, listen quietly, asking God for wisdom, and then practice reflective listening to see if you’ve understood them.
  4. If needed, take time to think of a loving response that can address the issue so that all involved feel heard and loved.

This is part of the new commandment, to love others as Jesus loves them.




Appendix 1

Appendix 2

QQQ … from a sermon by Bob Deffinbaugh …

While two Christians may disagree over whether or not a Christian should drink wine or eat only vegetables, no Christian should dispute the fact that lying, stealing, and immorality* are sin.  These are biblical and moral absolutes.  No two Christians should differ over the virgin birth or the deity of Christ, the physical resurrection of our Lord or the substitutionary atonement.  These are doctrinal certainties.

* immoralityincluding, but not confined to, sexual immorality –>  adultery, homosexuality, LGBT-related activity, fornication, watching pornography, bestiality, etc.


Appendix 3

Paul is not condemning all judgment.

    • Rather, he is dealing with the subject of judging others on non-essential matters.
    • He is arguing against judging others in areas where the Bible gives no commands.

Paul did, at times, pass judgment.

    • Romans 16:17-18 … Paul warned against those who “create dissensions and hindrances”. Verse 18 is based on a judgment.
    • 1 Corinthians 5:1-6 … Paul corrected the Corinthians because they did not judge a man in the church who was sinning blatantly.  Notice vv.3-4a.
    • Galatians 1:6-9 … Paul was not tolerant of the damnable doctrinal error of the Judaizers.

So on moral issues where the Bible gives clear commands or on essential doctrinal truth, we would be wrong not to judge others.

That said, in areas where the Bible gives NO commands, or is not clear, we must be gracious and tolerant with those who differ with usWe are not to judge them or treat them with contempt.

  • What might some of those areas be?
    • What about eating pork, shrimp or crab? (see Romans 14:2)
    • What about going to church services on Sunday/Saturday? (see Romans 14:5)
    • What about drinking wine/beer? (see Romans 14:21)
    • What about dress length?
    • What about body parts exposed?
    • What about voting?
    • What about giving blood?
    • What about taking a vaccination?
    • What about smoking?
    • What about buying CashPot?
    • What about betting on a horse in a race?
    • What about investing in the stock market?

**Editor’s note:  I realize this kind of discussion may be risky … but I’m trusting that we are mature enough to understand that I’m not encouraging anyone to sin.  Notice Hebrews 5:11-14.


  • Is any of the following activities sin?
  • eating pork, shrimp or crab? (see Romans 14:2)
  • giving blood?
  • working on Saturday? (see Romans 14:5)
  • drinking wine/beer? (see Romans 14:21)
  • wearing a short miniskirt?
  • voting?
  • taking a vaccination?
  • smoking?
  • betting on a horse in a race?
  • buying CashPot?
  • What about investing in the stock market?

Is it possible that something can be sinful for one person, but not another (doing the same thing)?

  • It depends on how the different persons view sin … what each considers to be sinful.
  • It depends on whether they agree on what the Bible says about sin.
  • How does a person sin, according to the Bible?
    • 1 John 3:4 … doing what is against the law  … Exodus 20:13-16 …
    • James 4:17 … not doing what is right … Exodus 20:12 …
    • Romans 14:23 … doing what might be sinful, but one is not sure …
      • Colossians 3:15 … “peace of God … in your hearts” = result of a clear conscience

Why would someone not be sure if something is sinful?

  • The Bible is silent on the matter.

Why would a person think something is sinful IF the Bible doesn’t say it is?

  • Relatives and friends of the person … school … church
  • The conscience of the person



So,  how do we answer the questions asked earlier …

  1. When is a “sin” not necessarily a sin?
  2. Can two persons be committing the same act and one be sinning while one is not?


  1. when the “sin” is not addressed as a sin in the Bible
  2. Yes … if one is committing the act with a clear conscience, whereas the other does not.  Put another way, one believes the act is OK because the Bible doesn’t say whether it is wrong or right … and the other believes the act is sinful (or is not sure if it is sinful or not).
    • Romans 14:23 … doing what might be sinful, but one is not sure …
      • Colossians 3:15 … “peace of God … in your hearts” = result of a clear conscience

The POINT:  You could be looking at someone do something and think the person is sinning – because you believe the act is wrong – BUT the person is NOT sinning (because s/he does not believe the act is wrong).

In that case, the following passage is addressed to you …

Romans 14:4-5    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.  5 One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike.  Let each be fully convinced* in his own mind

* fully convinced — without any doubt whatsoever

Paul is saying, in effect, that … Since Jesus is Lord and we all will give an account to Him, we must not judge other believers in areas where the Bible gives no commands — in matters that are non-essential.  Leave judgment to God, because He sees the heart (intent); we can’t.  







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