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DOUBTFUL DISPUTATIONS


The Question:

How do you handle differences in opinion about doctrine?


The Answer:

Since the Church was founded it seems that Christians have had great difficulty in agreeing on what behavior is acceptable for Christians. There are some things that are undeniably sinful, such as murder, adultery, idolatry, lying, stealing, etc., and this article does not address these issues. There are other areas that are not so easily decided in terms of black or white - those "gray" areas that seem to cause so much conflict in Christ's Body. What does the Bible have to say about eating meat, drinking wine, observing holy days, or other areas not specifically covered by the New Testament? What is allowed? What attitude should we have towards our brothers and sisters who disagree with us?

The main scripture passage that deals with these issues is Romans 14:1-15:13 and the principles are not as cut and dried as what you might think. In fact, the governing principle according to the Apostle Paul, is not what YOU think, but what your brother or sister in Christ thinks!

AREAS OF CONFLICT MENTIONED

1. Eating Meat vs. Only Vegetables (Romans 14:2-3; 6; 14-17; 20-21; 23)
2. Observances of a Holy Day (Romans14:5-6)
3. Drinking wine (Romans 14:21)
4. ETC.: Gray areas not covered by any New Testament commandments (Romans 14:21; Colossians 2:16-17; I Timothy 4:3)

GUIDING PRINCIPLES FOR CHRISTIAN CONDUCT

  1. Accept your brother (or sister) for whom Christ died, even if his (her) faith is weak. (Romans 14:1,15; 15:7)
  2. Do NOT pass judgement on disputable matters (Romans 14: 1); keep your opinions about them to yourself and God (Romans 14:22).
  3. You are not your brother's (sister's) judge or master: God is. (Romans 14:4, 10). Recognize that Jesus is YOUR master (Romans 14:7, 8).
  4. Study each disputable matter and be fully convinced in your own mind (Romans14:5). If you have doubts about the matter, do not do it, for whatever is of doubt is sin. (Romans 14:23).
  5. Whatever you decide is right for you, use it as an occasion for thanksgiving to God (Romans 14:6-7; I Timothy 4:4).
  6. We must each give an account before God for our OWN actions. (Romans 14:10-12).
  7. Do NOT put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way, or do anything to cause him to fail (Romans 14:13, 16, 20, 21).
  8. No food is unclean of itself (Romans 14:14; I Timothy 4:3-5).
  9. But if what you eat (or drink) distresses your brother (sister), you are no longer ACTING IN LOVE and could DESTROY your brother (sister) for whom Christ died. (I Corinthians 10:32-33; Romans 14:15).
  10. . Service to Christ in the Kingdom of God is not eating nor drinking, but righteousness, peace and joy (Romans 14:17-18); which pleases God and brings approval from men. Doubtful disputations bring false guilt, insecurity and anxiety, confusion and strife.
  11. . Make every effort to do what leads to peace (Romans 12:17-18; 14:19).
  12. . Make every effort to do what leads to mutual edification (building up, Romans 14:19).
  13. . Our goal should not be to please ourselves, but to please our neighbor for THEIR good to build THEM up (Romans 15:1-4; I Corinthians 10:23-24); using Christ and the scriptures as our example. This takes both endurance (Romans 15:4-5); and encouragement from the scriptures and from God.
  14. . Strive for a SPIRIT OF UNITY as this glorifies God (Romans 15:5-6) and brings praise to Him (Romans 15:7; I Corinthians 10:31).
  15. . Christ, as our example, became a SERVANT to both the Jews and Gentiles (Romans 15:8-13).

There are probably thousands of gray areas that can lead to Doubtful Disputations in our everyday walk with Christ. We need to be prepared to ALWAYS respond in love and remember NOT to be judgmental now matter how convinced we are that we are right.

DON'T BE A PHARISEE!!!

"May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." (Romans 15:5-6)

Father God, help us to be loving in all our ways, and to be tenderhearted towards our brothers and sisters for whom Christ died. Speaking the truth in love, let us draw together in the unity of the spirit as members of the Body of Christ, encouraging one another as Your coming draws near.
In Jesus' Name, Amen.


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