Romans 14:17-23
 
Rom 14:17 (KJV)
For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

When Paul was discussing the situation concerning the eating of certain foods, he makes this statement under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. We are being told that the Kingdom of God is not found in things like food or drink, or anything external. The Kingdom of God, in this present age, is invisible to the world. The only time the world can see a glimpse of the Kingdom of God is when the church comes together on Sunday morning. The Christian is saved in their souls and the great manifestation of the Kingdom of God is not going to come until the last day when the believers receive their glorified spiritual bodies for eternity. Until then the Kingdom of God is dispersed all over the world. The Kingdom of God is not just a church or a denomination. For the Kingdom of God is made up of only the true Elect of God because it is only they which the Holy Spirit indwells. So the Kingdom of God at this time is found in the true believers who have received their resurrected souls and the present manifestation of the Kingdom is the works that the believer does motivated by their salvation.

Rom 14:18 (KJV)
For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men.

If we serve Christ in righteousness, peace, and joy, this means that we have become saved because the unsaved are still in unrighteousness and eventually their true nature will come out. If we are serving Christ, then it is acceptable to God. The word “acceptable” carries with it the meaning of “well-pleasing.”
(Mat 3:17 KJV) And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. God is well pleased with His Son and therefore He transfers that affection to the believer who is in Christ. The verse also states that when we serve Christ in that manner, then we are approved of men. The word “approved” carries with it the meaning of “acceptable.” Now it must be understood that those in the world will never approve of Christians, unless, of course, you have done something nice or good for them. Normally, there is always hostility between the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of
Satan. So this approval is not coming from the unsaved but is coming from the saved, especially those who are weaker in the faith. As young Christians will attach themselves to older Christians in the Faith as they are discipled.

Rom 14:19 (KJV)
Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.

With the thoughts of the previous verse in mind, we need to follow those things which make peace and not strife. The word “follow” carries with it the meaning of “to pursue.” When somebody is pursuing somebody else, they are following close as a police officer pursues a criminal. They never give up the search until the criminal is apprehended. This is the same way that we must be. We must always diligently seek those things which make peace until we have apprehended it as a way of life. Then not only those things which make peace but we must be careful that we do not compromise to make peace. We are told to “edify” one another. The word “edify” carries with it the meaning of “building up.” Everything we do must be for the purpose of edifying or building up one another because the world is right there to throw us down. Whenever we edify or build up someone, we are also building ourselves in the Faith.

Rom 14:20 (KJV)
For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence.

The food that we eat must never be eaten without a knowledge of what it could be doing to other believers. We are not to destroy the work of God in the life of a weaker believer. The word “destroy” carries with it the meaning of “demolish or bring to an end.” We do not want to hurt weaker believers to the point that they will no longer involve themselves in the work of the Lord or become discouraged. Even though in our minds, what we are eating is pure, nevertheless, for the weaker Christian’s sake, if it offends them then our actions are evil. Let us widen this principle a little because it is a very important principle in the general life of a believer. How many times do believers drink alcohol? When a Christian drinks, they may be casting a stumbling block before a weaker brother or sister. Whenever we do anything in this world, we must be very careful that we are not only sinning but that we are avoiding the very appearance of sin.
(1 Th 5:22 KJV) Abstain from all appearance of evil. There is a food and liquor store down the street from me where I go to buy milk on occasion. When I leave the store, I make sure that I do not place the milk in a bag. I want people to see I have purchased milk and not booze. I have the Lord’s name on my car and I don’t want to give the appearance of evil. So in all things we do in life, we must consider the possibility that we may be placing a stumbling block before a weaker Christian.

Rom 14:21 (KJV)
It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.

Since we must keep in mind the possibility that we are affecting negatively a weaker brother or sister, then it is better that we do not eat, drink, or do anything which could cause them to stumble. If a Christian is saved from drunkenness and then goes to the house of a Christian for a gathering, and there, beer is being served. That beer is causing that Christian to stumble and therefore those who are drinking it in his or her presence are sinning against God and may cause that person to once again get snared into drunkenness. This goes for anything which could cause a Christian to stumble.

Rom 14:22 (KJV)
Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth.

Here the question is asked if you have faith? Now the subject here is not of salvation but do you have faith in what you are eating or doing? If you do, then if your brother or sister stumbles with what you are doing, then you need to keep the faith to yourself so there will be no stumbling on part of the weaker brethren. If you are doing something which does not cause a rift in your own conscience because it is something that is not causing another to stumble, then you are happy. The word “happy” is the same word used for “blessed.” One of the great blessings of the Christian walk is the capability of helping another Christian grow.
(Prov 22:6 KJV) Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. We have seen this verse from Proverbs used many times concerning the training of children but we can widen the meaning, in that when we help train a new Christian in the proper way, then they will not depart when they are older in the faith, as many have done already. So training for a new Christian is very important and it is not only book training but practical training as well and that is why we are to never cast a stumbling block before any Christian, even those who are in the faith longer. A Christian who is saved for a long time does not necessarily mean they have matured commensurate with the years of being saved. Even a Christian who is saved for many years can be an immature believer, we never know and that is why we must walk according to the Scriptures.

Rom 14:23 (KJV)
And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.

On the other hand, the person who eats something but is not fully persuaded in their mind that they are doing the right thing, then it is not of faith. The word “damned” carries with it the meaning of “being condemned.” This does not mean this person has lost their salvation but it means they are condemned in their conscience and also in their actions. Since their actions may cause another to stumble, then those actions, which are not of faith, is sin. So we find that the believer can commit sin in the matter of not having confidence in what we are partaking of. Therefore, if we are not sure about something, it is better not to partake so we don’t cast a stumbling block before other believers. We must also realize that we must maintain a proper testimony before the world or else they will say that we are just like them. No Christian would ever want to be equated with acting like the unregenerate. Let our former life remain dead and live unto the Lord and be blessed.
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