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    August 27, 1896

    “Studies in Romans. Living for Others” The Signs of the Times, 22, 34.

    E. J. Waggoner

    In our study last week we learned that the members of the church of Christ are not judges one of another, but fellow-servants of one common Lord. We are not taught that it is a matter of indifference whether or not we keep the commandments of God-quite the contrary, since we are all to appear before the judgment seat of Christ, and be judged by them-but we are taught that in those things concerning which the law of God does not speak particularly, one man’s ways are as good as another’s. We learned even further that even one who may be faulty with respect to an express commandment, is not to be dealt with harshly, and condemned. Such a course can not help one, and, besides, we have no right to do so, since we are but servants.SITI August 27, 1896, page 531.1

    We now come to the study of the continuation of the same subject, in Romans 14:14-23:—SITI August 27, 1896, page 531.2

    “I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him that esteemeth anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died. Let not then your good be evil spoken of; for the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men. Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another. For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offense. It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor anything whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak. Hast thou faith? Have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth. And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith; for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.”SITI August 27, 1896, page 531.3

    In order to save time and space we will omit the question on the text, leaving each reader to question it for himself. Study each statement carefully, and consider its connection, as well as the general subject, and what is stated elsewhere in the Bible concerning the same thing. As many errors arise from careless reading of the Bible, and from hasty conclusions from detached statements, as from willful perversion of the word. Possibly many more are the result of lack of proper thought than of deliberate willfulness. Let us therefore always take heed how we read.SITI August 27, 1896, page 531.4

    Clean and Unclean

    The apostle says, “I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him that esteemeth anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean.” If we consider well the subject under consideration, we shall not wrest this scripture from its connection. The thing presented from the beginning of the chapter is the case of a man with so little real knowledge of Christ that he thinks righteousness is to be obtained by the eating of certain kinds of food, or by not eating certain things. The idea clearly conveyed by the entire chapter is that it is by faith, and not by eating and drinking, that we are saved.SITI August 27, 1896, page 531.5

    A little consideration of the question of clean and unclean food will help us much. There is a strange idea prevalent, to the effect that things that were at one time unfit for food are perfectly wholesome now. Many people seem to think that even unclean beasts are made clean by the Gospel. They forget that Christ purifies men, not beasts and reptiles.SITI August 27, 1896, page 531.6

    There were plants that were poisonous in the days of Moses, and those same plants are poisonous now. The very people who seem to think that the Gospel makes everything fit to eat, would be as much disgusted at the thought of eating cats, dogs, caterpillars, spiders, flies, etc., as any Jew would have been in the days of Moses. Instead of finding that a knowledge of Christ reconciles one to such a diet, we find, on the contrary, that it is only the most degraded savages who make use of them for food, and such a diet is both a sign and cause of degradation. Enlightenment brings carefulness in the selection of food.SITI August 27, 1896, page 531.7

    Now there is no one who can imagine the apostle Paul or any other person of good sense and refinement eating everything that he could possibly find on earth. Although most people think themselves wiser than God in the matter of eating and drinking, there are, as there always have been, certain things universally held to be unfit for food. Therefore when the apostle says that nothing is unclean of itself, he evidently confines his remark to those things which God has provided for man’s eating. There are people whose conscience is so poorly instructed that they fear to eat even of things which God has given to be eaten; just as there are some who forbid the eating of “food which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving.” 1 Timothy 4:3.SITI August 27, 1896, page 531.8

    So when the apostle says, “One believeth that he may eat all things,” it is evident that the “all things” does not include filth. The idea evidently is that one believes that he may eat everything that is fit to be eaten. But another, having for instance the thought that some of those things may have been devoted to an idol, fears to eat of them lest he should thereby become an idolater. The eighth chapter of 1 Corinthians makes this whole subject plain, as it runs parallel with the fourteenth of Romans.SITI August 27, 1896, page 531.9

    This throws light also upon the subject of days. Since the apostle evidently confines his remarks concerning food to that which it is allowable to eat, it is more clear that those days which may be considered as all alike are those days only which God has not sanctified to himself.SITI August 27, 1896, page 531.10

    The Nature of the Kingdom

    “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” Over that kingdom Christ has been set as King, for God has said, “Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.” Psalm 2:6. Now read further the words of the Father to the Son, whom he has appointed heir of all things: “Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever; a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.” Hebrews 1:8, 9.SITI August 27, 1896, page 531.11

    A scepter is the symbol of power. Christ’s scepter is a scepter of righteousness; therefore the power of his kingdom is righteousness. He rules by righteousness. His life on earth was a perfect manifestation of righteousness, so that he rules his kingdom by the power of his life. All those who own his life are subjects of his kingdom. No other thing but the life of Christ is the badge of citizenship in the kingdom of Christ.SITI August 27, 1896, page 531.12

    But with what was Christ anointed King? The text last read says that it was with “the oil of gladness.” Then gladness, or joy, is a necessary part of the kingdom of Christ. It is a kingdom of joy, as well as of righteousness. Therefore it is that every subject of that kingdom must be filled with joy. “A gloomy Christian” is as much a contradiction of terms as “a cold sun.” The sun is for the purpose of shedding the warmth of which it is composed; so the Christian is for the purpose of diffusing the peace and joy which is a part of his nature. The Christian is not joyful simply because he thinks that he ought to be, but because he has been translated into the kingdom of joy.SITI August 27, 1896, page 531.13

    “He that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men. Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.” He who in what things serves Christ? Why, he who serves Christ in righteousness, and peace, and joy. Or, as some translations have it, “He that thus serves Christ.” God accepts such service, and men approve. Not only do Christians approve such service, but unbelievers are constrained to approve. The enemies of Daniel were forced to bear witness to the uprightness of his life, when they said that they could find nothing against him except in the law of his God. But that very statement was an approval of the law of his God, obedience to which made him the faithful man that he was.SITI August 27, 1896, page 531.14

    Unselfishness

    Peace is a characteristic of the kingdom. Therefore those who are in the kingdom must follow the things which make for peace. But selfishness never causes peace. On the contrary, selfishness is always the cause of war, and inevitably produces war if it is persisted in. Therefore the subject of the kingdom must always be ready to sacrifice his own desires and ideas in behalf of others. The unselfish person will give up his own ways whenever they interfere with the peace of another.SITI August 27, 1896, page 531.15

    But do not forget that the kingdom of God is righteousness as well as peace. Righteousness is obedience to the law of God; for “all unrighteousness is sin” (1 John 5:17), and “sin is the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4). Therefore, although by the laws of the kingdom one must necessarily up his own wishes in order not to interfere with the feelings of others, by those same laws he is precluded from giving up any of the commandments of God. Obedience to the law of God is that which makes for peace, for we read: “Great peace have they which love thy law.” Psalm 119:165. “O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments! Then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea.” Isaiah 48:18. Therefore he who is so “charitable” as to give up any portion of the law of God because some people are displeased with it, is not following the things which make for peace. On the contrary, he is rebelling against the kingdom of Christ.SITI August 27, 1896, page 531.16

    This again shows us that the Sabbath of the Lord is not under consideration, as one of the things which are to be held as matters of mere personal opinion. The Christian has no option with regard to that. He must keep it. It is not one of the days which the subject of the kingdom may disregard if he wishes. It is one of the things that are obligatory. But there are things which one has the right to do if he wishes, but which he is not obliged to do. For instance, a man has the right to eat his food with the fingers, if he wishes to; but if that annoys his companion, the law of Christ requires him not to do so. And thus it appears that the law of Christ alone, will, if carefully heeded, make a man perfectly courteous. The true Christian is a gentleman in the best sense of that word.SITI August 27, 1896, page 532.1

    There are many things that are allowable, which some people with faith that is weak, because it is uninstructed, think to be wrong. Christian courtesy, as laid down in the fourteenth chapter of Romans, requires that the better-instructed person should regard the scruples of his weaker brother. To roughly ignore those scruples, although they may be destitute of reason, is not the way to help that brother into a wider liberty. On the contrary, it is the way to discourage him. “It is good neither to eat flesh, not to drink wine, nor anything whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.”SITI August 27, 1896, page 532.2

    Thus it becomes evident that the fourteenth chapter of Romans is simply a lesson in Christian courtesy and helpfulness instead of teaching that the Sabbath, or anything else that pertains to the commandments of God, may be disregarded at pleasure. Consideration is to be shown for “him that is weak in the faith;” but the one who is offended by the keeping of the commandments of God, has no faith at all.SITI August 27, 1896, page 532.3

    The Limitations of Conscience

    “Hast thou faith? Have it to thyself before God.” Faith and conscience pertain to single individuals. No man can have faith for another. No man can have faith enough to serve for two. The teaching of the Roman Church is that certain ones have had more faith than they needed, and have been more righteous than was necessary, so that they can divide with other people; but the Bible teaches that it is impossible for any man to have faith than will serve to save himself. Therefore, no matter how well one man’s faith may be instructed, no other man can be judged by it.SITI August 27, 1896, page 532.4

    We hear a great deal in these days about the public conscience. We are often told that the conscience of one man is outraged by the course of another. But it is with conscience as with faith, no man can have enough for two. The man who thinks that his conscience will serve for himself and for somebody else, has mistaken selfish obstinacy for conscience. It is this mistaken idea of conscience that has led to all the horrible persecutions that have ever been perpetrated in the name of religion. Let Christians all understand that conscience is between themselves and God alone. They are not at liberty to impose even their freedom of conscience upon another; but by the laws of the kingdom of Christ, they are obliged even to refrain at times from exercising their own freedom, out of consideration for others. That is to say, the man who can walk fast, is to help along his weak brother, who is going the same way, but more slowly. But he is not to turn around to please somebody who is walking the other way. E. J. W.SITI August 27, 1896, page 532.5

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