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Life of Paul Part 24 - Gray Areas Part 1

So What? / Lon Solomon
The Truth Network Radio
May 7, 2020 7:00 am

Life of Paul Part 24 - Gray Areas Part 1

So What? / Lon Solomon

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May 7, 2020 7:00 am

Christian Liberty.

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Okay well to study the Bible today.

Let's open the Bible together to the letter Paul wrote the church of Rome Romans chapter 14.

Now you know back in the late 70s when we were living over in Maryland Brenda and me but we bought a house and we were to save some money. We were having some friends help us move and know was we were there we get ready to move our living room and table 1 of the men that was helping us pull the drawer out to set it aside to move the table and inside the drawer, he saw a brand-new bright red, still wrapped in the cellophane deck of playing cards. What you think this guy had just found 75 pounds of cocaine in my drawer.

He went absolutely nuclear, and he began to berate me in front of everybody that was there. He began telling me that that I let the Lord down that I was a disgrace as a Christian that God was never gonna bless my life and finally I did the only thing that I could possibly do to calm things down. I picked the cards up, walked over to the trash can fill them in the trashcan. Well he calm down a little bit but you know he and I worked at the same place and said the safer years to come. Whenever we would pass each other in the hall that your brother never had a whole lot more to say to me after that different than a follower of Christ.

31 years and I've learned something I've learned that the meanest, nastiest, most emotional flights that happen between Christians have nothing to do with theology. They have everything to do with these gray areas like playing cards and were involved in the study right now. In Christian liberty and today were to start talking about gray areas and you know a lot of churches won't talk about this bill talk about one gray area or another specific gray area, but never hit the whole picture and this is really really important for us because if you know there are a lot of areas were working to have disagreements. As followers of Christ. How do we handle those things in a way that doesn't bust up our relationship bust up our friendship. Our churches this is really important. So I hope you'll enjoy this study. Hope it will be valuable for you and valuable for us as a church family. Now little bit of background we saw last week from acts chapter 15 that the Jerusalem Council reaffirmed the truth of Romans 52, which says, through faith in Jesus Christ, we have gained access into this gracious position in which we now stand as a follower of Jesus Christ. My relationship to God is a gracious one. I'm in a gracious position with God. I am a child of God in a way that the rest of the human race isn't here here today and you've never trusted Jesus is your real and personal savior. I like to say to you that this gracious position is something God would love to give you but the only way as you see from this verse that it's given to people is through faith in Jesus Christ. It's not offered under any other circumstances procure here and you'd like to become a child of God and move into this gracious standing with God you can do that but you gotta do it the way God says, through faith in Jesus Christ. Something about. For those of us were in the gracious position with God, as we saw last week. What this means is that my relationship with God as his child is not based on my human performance that God loves me unconditionally and that my relationship with him is based upon his grace is undeserved mercy that he shows me as his child. Romans chapter 6 verse 14 for we as followers of Christ are not under law we are not under a system of human performance. We are under grace and we also said last week that what this means is that as God's child, I have the liberty I have the freedom to act in any way I want to act without endangering the bond between me and my heavenly father because I'm his child and he loves me unconditionally. Now we also said last week that every once we become followers of Christ. Every issue in our Christian lives falls into one of two general categories and that our Christian liberty applies equally to both category category number one on the black and white issues.

These are the areas to which God week six blessedly in the Bible. Things like adultery, line stealing, pornography, premarital sexual activity, homosexuality, abortion, nonbiblical divorce, slander, gossip, cheating in school unethical business practices and we said last week. As sad as it makes God, and it makes God very said that we and I can do these things and God will still love us just the same in our eternal life will be just a secure we close last week by saying yes we have liberty in this area but there are five reasons God gives us in the Bible. Why on these black-and-white issues. He doesn't want us to use our liberty to exercise our liberty, but the summation of that is first Corinthians 1023 which says all things may be lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things may be lawful, but not all things are beneficial not they were to go on as we been today were going to want to talk about the other area into which all of our human actions may fall if it's not a black and white issue that it falls into the area we call gray areas. These are areas of the Bible where the Bible never speaks to this explicitly, you can look in the Bible, and you won't find a valid shelter.

Thou shalt not anywhere in the Bible about these things. You say like one well like a plain car like playing the slots in Las Vegas buying lottery tickets going to the movies, dancing going out trick-or-treating on Halloween like listening to secular music, wearing short skirts are going to the mall on Sunday by drinking the beer smoking a cigar, get the tattoo were dying your hair purple like have an ear rings, nose rings like homeschooling versus public schooling like on one piece bathing suit versus two-piece bathing suits and frankly on this last one. I have a very strong personal conviction on that one. Which is why you will never ever see me in anything but a one piece bathing suit. Her strong now. What we really saying here what were really saying is that is it.

There are a lot of things in life that the Bible simply doesn't speak to them black-and-white terms so how do we as followers of Christ know what to do in those areas.

How do we develop our convictions in those areas.

What if we have a conviction in the area we come across a fellow Christian who has a very different conviction in that area. How do we relate to one another. How do we keep from busting up our friendships and busting up the work of God, how we do all of that and why do I have the convictions I have versus the one somebody else have this what we want to talk about over the next couple weeks, and here in Romans 14. This chapter is all about gray areas and how we relate to one another in the exercise of our liberty and gray areas. Look at verse one it says except him whose faith is weak without passing judgment on disputable matters. This chapter is all about disputable matters. It's all about gray areas.

Those areas were sincere Christians can have sincere differences of conviction with one another and there are two characters to key players in this chapter. The secret to understanding this chapter and everything God says about gray area behavior is to understand the definition of these two characters. The first one mentioned in verse one to call the week brother. The second one it's mentioned later in the chapter were going to call the strong brother. The Bible never uses that exact term word and use that term.

But before we define let's figure out first in this chapter. What is the strong brother in the week brother, what are they fighting about what they disagree with her with one another. Well, verse two says one man's faith allows him to eat everything but another man whose faith is weak eats only vegetables you go wow this is great to get a biblical commentary on vegetarianism, no were not. That's not the issue at all, let me tell you what the issue was in the ancient Roman world, much like in the Third World today wherever you go. If you want to buy a T-bone steak and going to the open meat market in their the media's just hang in there and you buy well in the Roman times.

Some of the meat in the meat market came from the slaughterhouse, but there were other pieces of meat that came the meat market that came out of idols temples out of idol worship. The animal he been killed. The blood and organs used to worship this island and they said the carcass off into the meat market to be sold so as a follower of Christ. Here's the problem. I walked out into the meat market to buy T-bone and I don't know where that piece of meat came from I don't know whether came from the slaughterhouse or whether came out of an idle sample which means I got a dilemma. Do I purchase to meet in the market and take the chance it came from some idol worship or do I simply never eat meat again which means I never take the risk that I'm supporting idolatry and possibly defiling myself to understand what they're fighting about now it's a gray area. There is no verse in the Bible that says thou shalt thou shalt not go to the meat market and so Paul in dealing with the specific issue here in first Corinthians 8 to 10 in dealing with that specific issue is going to give us principles that will work in dealing with any gray area issue.

Now let's look and see what the strong brother would say about this issue. Here he is. Verse 14 he says as one was in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself, that's a strong brother speaking first Corinthians chapter 10 eat anything in the meat market without worrying about where it came from because Psalm 24 the earth is the Lord and everything in it.

The strong brother says hey man, I understand every T-bone steak in the universe is from Almighty God. He owns every T-bone in the universe, and it doesn't matter where it went through before it got to me as long as I understand that and I give thanks to God for my T-bone.

It doesn't matter who touched it before me.

I'm thanking God for it.

So I furthermore the stronger brother would go on to say that my spirituality is based on what I do what I don't do anyway. First Corinthians 88 food doesn't bring us closer to God. We are no better. If we don't eat, and we are no worse if we doing the strong brother says hey I understand my spiritual walk with God depends on my heart where my heart is in the panel. What I do and what I don't do and it doesn't get measured by what I eat what I don't. This is the strong brother. He knows that as long as he seems thanks to God as long as he doesn't miss you something in God's creation. He's free to enjoy all of God's creation without any guilt.

So let's bring it in the 21st century what was wrong. Brother sound like today will strong brother would sit down and play gin Rummy with his Christian friends because even though he knows that the cards are using Las Vegas to bankrupt people's lives. His attitude is hey there is nothing inherently evil in little plastic coated pieces of paper with numbers on the fact that their use somewhere in a wrong way. Hey, if I'm not using them in a wrong way upward is having some fun play in general me that's okay for me.

I'm not misusing these in plastic pieces of paper strong brother could walk in the blockbuster in a PG movie, even though he knows that somebody else might walk in there and read a much stronger R-rated movie as long as he does read he's like, what would you know I mean, I'm okay. Strong brother would dance with his wife or his girlfriend, and I feel a bit of guilt about a strong brother could have a glass of wine at dinner, a glass of champagne at a wedding. He could have a beer and a cigar while watching a football game on he could listen to oldies music.

Country music smooth J's as well as Christian music because he understands God made the harmonic scale music is not a spiritual issue with God.

All music is clean and the sight of God.

Strong sister could wear two-piece bathing suit at the beach.

Even though she knows that the people in Victoria's Secret where similar clothing. She's not in Victoria's Secret wearing some of that something as long as it's a reasonable bathing suit she don't have a problem. Strong sister could go and shop on Sunday at the mall because she understands that every day is the Lord's day, not just Sunday and if she shops on Monday and that's the Lord's day. What difference does it make if she stopped on Sunday that the Lord this is a strong brother, the strong sister they understand the liberty that they have in Christ and the Holy Spirit is giving them the freedom to exercise that liberty in this area that area or the other.

Now what about the week brother, let me say, don't forget, in using the word week here the Bible is not trying to say that this person is weak when it comes to their faith in Christ with the Bible single not affect some of these brothers are among the strongest and most committed followers of Christ you ever run into the weakness columns when it comes to the freedom of conscience they have to exercise their Christian liberty in this gray area or that gray area. When you repeat that there weak when it comes to the freedom of conscience.

They have, to exercise their liberty in one gray area or another gray area so first Corinthians 8, verse seven, Paul says not everybody has the same knowledge as a strong brother. Some people simply cannot eat marketplace need without worrying about the fact that it was sacrifice to an idle week brother's attitude is hey you know that meat came out of the idols temple. I can't shake the feeling that it's just innately defiled and if I eat it. It's going to defile me and by purchasing it. I'm endorsing and supporting the industry of idolatry. I can eat.

That means you write about. I just can't. I can and you know what friends.

The Bible says that when your conscience. My conscience puts a block up like that and says this is not an area where you can exercise liberty. Your week brother in this area. The Bible says for us to press through that and go exercise our liberty anyway. Soon it is wrong. Look at verse 14 it says if someone considers something to be unclean in his heart for him it is unclean. Verse 23. For whatever is not of faith is soon.

In other words, whatever you and I as followers of Christ can't do and feel completely right about completely good about completely pure about this something that we can have the faith that is absolutely okay before God to do it and guess what we shouldn't do. Here is the critical point I want to get when you walk out of here today. You and another follower of Christ can both do the very same thing in a gray area that another follower of Christ could go home go to sleep.

Never think about it again, feel fine about it and you could end up going home and feeling completely dirty and wrong about it and having to confess it before God, and it doesn't mean either one of you are less walking with God and the other one.

It means that sometimes in some areas.

God gives us the freedom of conscience to be a strong brother and sometimes in another area. He doesn't and we have no business doing those things. If we don't have the freedom of conscience to do it and let me say one more thing nobodies 100%. One way the other is no brother in the world is 100% strong or hundred percent week and you may have five areas of your life. Gray areas where your strong brother and sister and you go, man. I got no problem with any of them, but I got these five over here. I just don't feel right about doing and you may go out in the lobby and meet another Christian brother sister was an exact mirror opposite you, the five things you feel fine about they can't do in the five things you can do. They feel great about you understand what I'm saying and's not a spiritual issue. Would that mean anybody is a better follower of Christ in another person. It just means your weak or strong and that there is a once a week brother sound like you in our world today will if you got a with your week in the area going to movies and is a week brother you can't walk in a movie theater, and even see Bambi without feeling wrong about your supporting an evil industry and you just can't do it and you know what credit you talk somebody in who feels like that in the going to a movie still sit through the entire movie and feel guilty and feel wrong and I can go home and confess it to God that no business being there.

They don't have that liberty of conscience, though some people are are weak when it comes to alcoholic beverages. They can't even do a champagne toast at a wedding. They gotta have sparkling cider or nothing. They just can't do it. They just is just they don't have the freedom of conscience to do it. Some people are weak when it comes to dance and they can go to wedding and dance with their wife or their husband or boyfriend or girlfriend. Even if Glenn Miller's plan they can do some people are weak when it comes to music that can only listen to Christian music. Nothing else is allowable for them.

This is the week brother he's just as precious and he's just a special in the Lord's side as the strong brother. He's just as much on his way to heaven as a strong brother, but he either doesn't understand the marvelous liberty that God's given him in Christ or if he understands it in a Z.

The spirit of God is not giving him the freedom to live it out in his conscience. We all understand what were talking about here now want to close with two questions. Question number one is lawn okay let's say I'm a week brother in some area of my life. What made me that way I get to be that way. Why am I that way. Well, there are three forces that make us weak in areas of our life, and you may be a combination of all three of them, but here they are your week brother. I guarantee one of these three things is true of you for someone is our upbringing, meaning our parents are home life. Our church exposure is a child, even the location in which we were raise.

I mean if you were raised going to a legalistic Baptist church in a small town in rural Georgia where every week the preacher preach hard against one gray area in the next week he preached hard against another gray area. If you grew up going to a church where people don't smoke or custard drinker to hang around with them which do you grew up with parents who will wonderful followers of Christ, but they really didn't understand and exercise liberty in much of their Christian life if that's how you grew up that my friend Juergen have a lot more weak areas in your life today than if you were raised by non-Christian parents in Southern California and you gave your life to Christ as a senior at Berkeley.

Are you with okay that's part of now number two course number two that makes weak brothers is our early Christian training our early Christian formation, meaning that when we first come to Christ.

The people who mentored us, the people who shaped us in our early Christian life. The church we went to the pastor.

We studied under the a Christian leader that we looked up to and try to model our life. After these people have an enormous influence on how we end up being the Christian life. How we end up approaching gray areas. The convictions we end up developing. They have a huge impact on us because were we were open were formed were being formed and were letting them do the formatting and were going to end up mirroring a lot of what they think number three if your week brother.

I am in some areas of our Christian life. It's very possibly because of our background before we became followers of Christ. What I mean by that is, areas of life where you and I had very strong ungodly sinful behavior before we came to Christ. Usually, if not always, when we come to Christ.

The spirit of God immediately makes those weak areas in our life and friends.

This is a blessing, listen to me because what God is trying to do is protect us if you had a huge gambling problem before you came to Christ.

I'll bet you when you come to Christ you're not going to feel comfortable playing the lottery going to Las Vegas or play in general me with your friends. Why, because God's trying to protect you from being drawn back into something that ruined your life if you came to Christ with an alcohol problem before you came to Christ, I guarantee you you're not going feel comfortable walking in a barn having a beer and watching the football game after work with your friends because God's trying to protect you from something that almost ruined your life if you were promiscuous as a young lady before you came to Christ, I guarantee you as a young follower of Christ you have a real problem with short skirts and skimpy little bathing suits and if you were involved in the occult before you came to Christ, you are going to have a real problem when you become a Christian, going to movies about the occult and going out trick-or-treating on Halloween.

This is a blessing from God. He's trying by not giving us liberty in certain areas to protect us from getting drawn back in the things that even as followers of Christ could ruin a lot and if your week brother and some area. One of those three or combination of those three forces is why you are last question lawn.

Okay, I hear what you're saying but can a week brother ever change. It was strong brother and some area of life.

I mean, I sense that my convictions are change and I'm beginning to feel like it's okay to do some things that I used to think I couldn't do in my going liberal my backslide. What's happening to me will know you not necessarily going liberal backsliding. This is a very common phenomenon that happens all the time and there are two reasons why sometimes weak brothers end up becoming strong brothers and sisters, let me tell you why. Reason number one is that sometimes we just begin to experience a broader scope of what God is doing in the world. I mean we moved from rural Georgia to Washington. We start attending a different church we start studying the Bible we start appreciating that there are some liberties. Nobody ever told us we had we been we hang out with a different bunch of friends to see liberty differently.

We marry some wonderful person who's not hollow like we are in all these different things and they begin slowly to shove us in the direction of more liberty. This happens all the time where we begin to phase out of our weakness because we begin to experience more what God is doing in the world, that's perfectly normal and that's perfectly okay. The second reason is because sometimes when we are weak in that area because God's trying to protect us, sometimes as we grow when we mature, those things that used to be a serious threat to us years ago.

The just not a threat anymore, and God feels that now he can loosen up. Give us more freedom and let us exercise more liberty because these things on a threat down the road. They used to be, you know, when I came to Christ.

31 years ago I had been involved in so much ungodly behavior that basically when I became a Christian, God gave me the Christian liberty to do absolutely nothing. I have the liberty to do nothing. I mean that sincerely. I was weak in every single area of my life and you know why that was a good thing God was trying to protect me. Everything was a threat to me. When I first became a follower of Christ. Now you know 31 years later, honestly, God is loosened up on some of those things and some things I could never have felt right about doing 31 years ago I can do now and I feel fine about because it is not a threat to me anymore, but I'll tell you there's still some areas of my life where I'm still a week brother. I was very much involved in the occult.

When I was dropping LSP and doing a bunch of drugs before I came to Christ and to this day I do not have the liberty of conscience to go to movies that deal with that. I've never seen both the guys I've never seen the exorcist. I can't do that I could never get near a Ouija board or do any of that stuff. I'm still a week brother in that area.

God is never in 31 years given me the liberty to loosen up in that area. My life and maybe you're a follower of Christ to came out of a background with some real problems and it may be. As you grow and mature. God may give you some liberty in the future that you don't have right now and that's perfectly okay God saying hey you're growing that's a good thing well and summarize what we learned today we learned that strong brother is a person who understands their liberty in these gray areas and who the spirit of God gives them freedom in their conscience to exercise it in a particular area. A week brother is a person who either doesn't understand their liberty, or even if they understand it intellectually, the spirit of God. For whatever reason has not given them the freedom to live it out in a particular area of life we all understand that you need somebody who can do something you can't do we have to be very careful we don't brand them as me and backslidden liberal uncommitted. I mean all these nasty words we throw in people friendly, just maybe a strong brother were your weak sister and it may be just that simple.

Understand what I'm saying and we need to talk next week about some of the ways that we relate to one another at some of the questions we want to answer.

Next week is how should number one strong and weak brothers relate to each other in areas where they passionately disagree, I mean if your church member who has a strong conviction against playing cards and you walking the church and see the youth pastor playing poker with the teenagers.

What are you supposed to do and may God help in what is that you pastor supposed to do with that by what we need to know the answer to that question pay question number two is there ever a time when God calls on a strong brother or sister to limit their liberty. I mean, some of us here to walk out and go a hot dog man strong brother in that area. Hey man, you know, I do whatever I want one. Hello HomeAway women, this chapter doesn't consist of just three verses.

This chapter consists of 23 verses and the other 20 are all about telling strong brothers how to limit their liberty for reasons of advancing the kingdom of God. So if you're strong brother. I invite you to be back next week because God didn't finish talking to you.

You are only halfway through) were only halfway there.

So no man question number three. Finally, is what I don't want just tell us what's right and wrong and will do will no no no no I can't tell you what I friends I can only tell you what my convictions are that the Spirit of God is given me because I'm me.

I can give you some biblical principles to go by when you got to seek God on the convictions that work for you.

I can answer the third question will do the first to house that we hope to see you next week Douglas whispering for. Thanks for talking to us today about areas. Write down where we live. Frankly, areas a lot the churches won't talk about but we need to talk about the more because those very same churches often are carrying the scars of nasty mean and emotional conflicts that came out of people not understanding what were teaching Lord my prayer is that you would take what what the Bible is teaching us in this area and that you would teach us what it means to be gracious and loving and unified, both as as friends and his family and as a church family.

We interact with people who just don't see things the way we see it web liberty is that we don't have what we need to know how we react to one another and so continue to mature us as followers of Christ continue to teach us how to handle these differences in a biblical and godly way that enhance our unity and it further the work of God, we commit ourselves in this a continuing series to you in Jesus name, amen

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