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Failings of the Weak

We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. Romans 15:1-2

kit: Oh the Places by Connie Prince

continuing:

For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. Romans 15:3-7

As often happens with chapter breaks, the continuation of a thought has been interrupted in the above passage (Rom. 15:1-7). The entire previous chapter (Rom. 14, but there were no chapters in the original letter/epistle) discusses what Paul means by “weakness.” He does NOT mean that we should be tolerant of the deliberate sins of professed believers (which would contradict everything Paul said in 1Cor. 5), but that we should “build them up” (believers with weak faith as to the freedoms he just discussed) according to the true knowledge of Christ. (Col. 1:9-10, Eph. 4:15-32, 2Pet. 1:3-15, 3:17-18, Titus 2:11-15)

Jesus will judge those who transgress their fellow believers by either forcing them or encouraging them to sin. (Gal. 6:1, Jude 1:17-23, Jam. 5:19-20, 1Pet. 4:1-5, Heb. 4:12-13, Rom. 2:6-11, Matt. 18:15-17) Having pure faith “like a child” does not mean immature thinking, but innocence as to evil. (Matt. 18:1-4, Rom. 16:19, 1Cor. 14:20, 13:11, Heb. 5:12-14) Like children, we trust our Father is always right and knows best, rather than needing to have all of the answers. We don’t need to see with our eyes what our Father is doing at every moment to believe that He is good, but we rest in our faith and knowledge of Him. (John 20:29, Rom. 8:28, Heb. 11:1, 1Pet. 2:19-25)

Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you. 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8

If we read the previous chapter (Rom. 14), we can see that those who are strong in faith should not insist upon exercising every freedom they have in Christ when around those who are weak if it will cause the weaker brother to be grieved or to stumble in some way. (Rom. 14:5-6, 14-15, 20-21) The examples Paul gave were things like whether to consider one day more special than another or what we eat and drink. He also discussed these freedoms in Col. 2:16-23. He doesn’t mean we’re “free” to do things he previously told us were NOT fitting for believers, such as commit sexual immorality. (1Cor. 6:9-20, Rom. 6, 8:13-14) As he regularly reminds believers, we’re free of the law with its rituals (such as circumcision, special days and eating restrictions). (Gal. 5:6-26, Acts. 15:10-11, 19-20)

For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Hebrews 10:26-31

But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good. 1 Peter 4:15-19

ALL can be forgiven and washed away upon confession to God (1John 1:9), but without repentance it’s like trying to wash the mud from a pig WHILE it’s rolling in a mud puddle. (2Pet. 2:22) Those who truly believe in their hearts are born of God and have His Spirit in them, enabling them to love Him more than their sin and this fallen world. (John 14:15-26, 15:8-10, 3:3-8, 1John 3:1-10, 1John 2:1-6, 15-17) God’s children are meant to behave as such, appreciating what their freedom FROM sin cost. (1Pet. 1:14-19, Isa. 52:13-53:12, Rom. 6, 7:4-6, Heb. 12, John 1:12-13, Rev. 21:7-8) We don’t obey out of fear of eternal punishment, but out of love, gratitude and respect/reverence. (1John 4:18, 2Cor. 5:14-15, 1John 5:3)

But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.” Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work. So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will. 2 Timothy 2:19-26

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