apostolic: of or relating to the Apostles of Jesus Christ. What did the Apostles teach and practice?
Romans 14:22-5:3a NLT - 22 You may believe there’s nothing wrong with what you are doing, but keep it between yourself and God. Blessed are those who don’t feel guilty for doing something they have decided is right. 23 But if you have doubts about whether or not you should eat something, you are sinning if you go ahead and do it. For you are not following your convictions. If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning. 15:1 We who are strong must be considerate of those who are sensitive about things like this. We must not just please ourselves. 2 We should help others do what is right and build them up in the Lord. 3 For even Christ didn’t live to please himself…
Let’s review a modern example: true Christian freedom does not flaunt your liberties by posting them all over social media nor does it attack online those who believe in a lifestyle you consider unnecessary or foolish. The mature Christian is expected to keep some things to themselves in private. Furthermore, there are some Christians who claim they are exercising liberty when in reality they may be exercising worldliness and indulging in sinful foolishness. True Christian liberty is considerate of the convictions of others who disagree. Spiritual maturity does not try to publicly and purposely flaunt, offend, or mock. Those with true Christian liberty are called to follow the example of Jesus by not seeking to please themselves but to please God and to build up His church. We are all hopeless without the grace of God and the work of Jesus Christ. Grace is a higher standard than outward rule-keeping. Consider what saving grace does:
Titus 2:11-12 NIV - For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age…
Do we really think the Holy Spirit is going to encourage us to indulge our sinful nature while allowing us to call it grace or Christian liberty? Saving grace empowers us to live a life that will be different from this world - empowering us from the inside out (rather than forcing rules on us from the outside in). Repentance (true life change) and grace demand that even those who believe in extensive Christian liberty will not conform to the pattern of a God-rejecting world.
Romans 12:2a ESV - Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.
So what is the conclusion of the matter regarding the apostolic holiness standards in Romans 14 & 15?
- Be considerate of those who genuinely believe in the need to live by more outward rules or standards to please God. Do not look down on them or mock them for simply trying to please God since He accepts their faith in Him. Act in love so as to not purposely flaunt your freedoms or unintentionally shipwreck their faith.
- Don’t condemn those who may be living in good conscience before God but who exercise more freedoms than you are personally comfortable with. They will stand before Him. He is their Judge, so let that free you from the burden (or anxious compulsion) to judge them in debatable lifestyle matters.
- Promote unity in the church and not division. Build one another up in faith, love, and hope in the Lord Jesus, never tearing them down or causing them to lose faith in God. Help one another grow in grace.