Okay so one of the funnier verses (to me) in Romans is when it talks about faith from the perspective of food in chapter 14.
Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. 2One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. 3The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him.
So it took me a bit to realize that perhaps those who eat vegetables do so because the meat might be unclean or offered to idols, not necessarily for the nutritional benefits vegans and vegetarians go for nowadays…
5One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. 6He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. 7For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. 8If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.
Okay, so a more liberal man might argue using this verse to defend whatever they want! I mean think about it, does this verse give us free reign to live as we wish the Christian life?
Context, people…read in context…
13Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way. 14As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food[b] is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean. 15If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love.
There we go, do not stumble another brother…and we’ve heard this before, and now we know exactly where it comes from, Romans 14!
22So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves. 23But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.
We’ve heard a brother in Christ say many times, “If it’s questionable, or if you’re not sure if it’s okay, don’t do it.” That made sense to me, since we are commanded to walk on solid ground as Christians. But this verse takes it to a whole new level – if you are doubtful of whether it’s okay or not, then the fact that you doubt it’s cleanliness and do it anyway makes it a sin, get it?
Some would say that this is a conservative view of life, and I must qualify that the presence of doubt does not merit inaction on that doubt. Indeed, we are called to seek God out in times of doubt, to discover His will in the matter. However, let us be like the man who stares at himself in the mirror – not narcissistic, nor fleetingly, but rather searchingly. In this case, let us look our doubts eye to eye, and search as to whether they arise from our selfish desires, or from our pursuit of Christ.