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Word from Scotland

    by Sandy Shaw

Problems Arise Over Diet and Diary
Date Posted: November 1, 2021

As we move into Romans Chapter 14 , remember that we are reading one long section on Christian behaviour - how we are to behave in the eyes of God - in the Church of Jesus Christ - and in the world - as we seek to be faithful disciples of Jesus - and good citizens in society.

Faithful disciples will be good citizens - as they present their bodies to God in the Name of Jesus - and as they seek to follow the teaching of The Word of God in the Power of The Holy Spirit.

We pay our tithes - taxes - and dues. We obey those who are over us. We make it a goal to owe no-one anything, except the love of God. We saw how that love is very practical and down-to-earth. It sounds good and easy - but in reality, it can be quite difficult - as we seek to show respect and honour to those over us and around us.

What Paul is saying in these verses is - to love with the Love of The Lord Jesus Christ is to observe the Commandments - to be aware of what is going on around us - to be awake to all of that - and alert - and cast off the works of darkness and put on Christ.

Cast off before trying to put on - or you will find He will not fit.

Now - when we come to Chapter 14 , we learn right away that there are believers who are weak and believers who are strong. Which are you?

Weak means - immature. Strong means - spiritually mature.

Differences of opinions can cause rifts - misunderstandings can even cause divisions.

As Christians, we have to live together - that is why we have this order - cast off, before you try to put on. Cast off - then, put on.

Cast off the deliberate sins - get rid of the doubts - don’t argue over minor points - these are the marks of the weak and immature. But put on Christ - and be pure and clean and holy.

In Rome there were Jewish believers and Gentile believers - and a problem arose over eating meat. Now it was a very real problem.

The meat had come to the shop after having been offered to idols in a pagan religious ceremony. Christians who had been pagans - and involved in all of that previously - had cast off all worship of idols - and in certain cases that meant having to give up eating meat and only eating vegetables instead. What is one to do?

In Arabia in a certain Prayer Meeting - Christians take off their shoes before going in - they have brought in this pagan custom. What is the visitor to do?

The Jews brought in many of the old Jewish laws. What was the Gentile to do?

In these verses Paul is dealing with problem of the diet and the diary.

The Jew would only eat Kosher meat - where the animal has been slaughtered properly under the supervision of a Rabbi - and the blood drained in a manner proper to them. On my visits to Israel with El Al your meal would be accompanied by a Certificate reassuring passengers that the meat was ‘proper’ – ‘kosher’.

Eating was a taboo - a scruple - a principle – and Paul deals with this..

When it came to the diary - the Jew had strict Sabbath regulations. We too have inhibitions and things we might frown upon which would be all right in some other culture.

Lord James Mackay attends the funeral of a colleague who just happens to be a Roman Catholic - and there is a split - and families all over the north of Scotland were sorely divided over this.

What are we to do to maintain the Unity of The Christian Fellowship?

Another one is total abstinence from alcohol. That can divide Christians. The Bible condemns drunkenness but does not condemn wine. We must grasp and understand the teaching of The Word of God on this - because there are those who are weak and immature and those who are spiritually strong and mature and can handle various differences.

And - to live together both must consider the others point of view. And - the weaker brother is often the one who has the most scruples! He is the one who would like a list of do’s and don'ts on every issue. He is the one who usually creates the most fuss when someone breaks one of the things on his list!

Some might regard him as the stronger brother - but that is not the teaching of The Word of God.

He is the weaker. He is the weaker in the faith - not faith. He has not had the proper teaching - so he is immature. If you have been rightly taught you will have fewer scruples.

You will have fewer rules and regulations regarding your Christian behaviour.

In Colossians Chapter 2verses 16 to 22 , we are shown how we have finished with such regulations like ‘touch not’ and ‘taste not’.

As a Christian you enjoy that liberty which only a Christian has - but then Paul comes in and says - Do not misuse or abuse that liberty.

“Almighty God, show us how we are to behave within the Church of Jesus Christ and how we can respect those around us who have different feelings and attitudes and behaviour patterns – show us how to live in fellowship without compromising those fundamental principles which are at the heart and centre of our ‘Christian Faith’. Teach us how to love those who may differ with us and from us – holding us firm and fast to what is written and revealed in Scripture – in Jesus’ Name.” Amen.

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Biography Information:

Alexander 'Sandy' Shaw is pastor of Nairn Christian Fellowship in Nairn, Scotland. Nairn is 17 miles east of Inverness - on the Moray Firth Coast - not far from the Loch Ness Monster!

Gifted as a Biblical teacher, Sandy is firmly committed to making sure that his teachings are firmly grounded in the Word.

Sandy has a weekly radio talk which can be heard via the Internet on Saturday at 11:40am, New Orleans time, at wsho.com.

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