15 They demonstrate that God’s law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thoughts either accuse them or tell them they are doing right. — Romans 2:15 NLT
Romans 2:10-16 NLT It is said that on a dark night with no obstructions, the human eye can see the flickering flame of a candle up to a distance of thirty miles. How is this possible? Even the smallest of lights will dispel darkness. This is true of that quality that we refer to as “good”. Good dispels evil. As Edmund Burke put it: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Even those who have never read God’s law or those that say there is no God know this is true. All humans innately know the difference between good and evil. For most humans, it is natural to choose to do good whether they believe in God or not. That innate knowledge (we call it the conscience) that God has put in the heart of a human is what prevents total chaos from occurring on the earth. Even those who have never read the Bible or heard the Gospel know the difference between right and wrong. That knowledge becomes more real and more powerful when we receive the Holy Spirit. An atheist can only be an atheist because his/her beliefs are based on a wrong assumption. If the foundation is faulty, then the whole house will crumble. So, good men and women, let us build our house on a solid foundation of truth, light our candles and be a shining light in a world of darkness and evil. Only God knows how much darkness each of our lights will penetrate, just let your light shine.
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. — 1 Peter 3:15, 16 NIV
In the Old and New Testament, the word “heart” refers not to the physical organ, but to the center of all of our life processes. The “heart” is the seat of our minds, emotions, and wills. Therefore, it refers to our thought patterns, our attitudes and our desires. Our thoughts become actions which become habits which become our lifestyle. The things and/or people that we spend the most time thinking about, in reality, are the things that control our lives. This is characterized by the following verse:
45 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. — Luke 6:45 NIV
Revere can be defined as “honor, look up to, or put on a pedestal”. A throne is a pedestal and our “hearts” are the center of our lives. So, if we revere God, we honor Him by putting Him on the throne of our hearts and make Him the center of our lives. Our decisions and thus, our lifestyles, will be examples of the Person we love and admire the most. We will want others to follow our Leader. In light of all this, we need to spend the majority of our time thinking about our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. If we do this, we will “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” We need to do this with love, gentleness and respect. Just as our checkbooks show the patterns of our physical lifestyles, so our conversations show the patterns of our thought life and our spiritual lives. It is a law unto itself:
5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. — Romans 8:5 NIV
So, let us, along with the Psalmist, ask God to create a clean heart in each of us. We need clean hearts if we are going to fulfill the sole purpose for which we were created and that is to glorify God.
31 Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. — 1 Cor. 10:31 NKJV
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
Doesn’t the crowd in Jerusalem that day kind of remind us of ourselves? Aren’t we always pointing fingers at others and trying to justify why and when we do what we do? Jesus pointed out some of the things that they and their ancestors had done on the Sabbath. Under the law, if the eighth day after birth occurred on the Sabbath, you would have to violate Moses’ law by working on the Sabbath or not circumcising the male child on the correct day. That is why Jesus said:
27 Then Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is Lord, even over the Sabbath!”–Mark 2:27,28 (NLT)
Jesus asks them to look beneath the surface, in other words, look into the situation and determine why the person is doing what they are doing on the Sabbath or any other time. Jesus has set us free from the law and now we live under grace. If we are led by the Holy Spirit, our conscience will determine if our actions are right or wrong. No law is required
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32 Do not cause anyone to stumble,whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— 33 even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.—1 Cor. 10:31-33 NIV
Every word that we say and every action we take has an effect on everyone in our circle of influence, whether that circle is small or large is not the question. Every thing we do and/or say should be seasoned with love, kindness and mercy. Otherwise, how can our words and actions glorify God? If we exhibit the fruit of the Spirit, we will not be a stumbling block to those around us. Notice that Paul says he “tries” to please everyone in every way. We are not to violate our conscience simply to please someone, that would be a sin for us and a stumbling block for them. We are not to seek glory or earthly rewards for ourselves. Instead, we live a lifestyle that glorifies God and builds up our rewards in heaven. But when there is a conflict of conscience, every choice we make must please God and not man.
3 For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, 4 but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. 5 For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness. 6 Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others,–1 Thess. 2:3-6a ESV
23 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. 24 No one should seek their own good, but the good of others. 25 Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, 26 for, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.”— 1 Cor. 10:23-26 NIV
We are born with a free will, but as we get older we realize that our choices are controlled by our fleshly desires. If we wish to be truly free, we need someone to free us from the bondage of sin and fleshly desires. Jesus came to do just that, When we accept Him as our Savior and Lord, we are free indeed and can choose to do whatever we please. We have the right to do anything, but we will soon learn that that attitude is not pleasing to God because He realizes that not all things are good for us or the body of Christ. Some choices are destructive and harmful to ourselves and others. As we mature in our spiritual walk, we start to understand that our love for Him should constrain us from making those bad choices. Yes, we can eat anything and we can do any thing. But are those choices beneficial to us and the Kingdom? The Kingdom of God is not about our fleshly desires, it is about serving others. We should show our love for God by loving others and showing that love by our actions.
17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18 because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.–Romans 14:17,18 NIV
7 However not all men have this knowledge; but some, being accustomed to the idol until now, eat food as if it were sacrificed to an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled. 8 But food will not commend us to God; we are neither the worse if we do not eat, nor the better if we do eat. 9 But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if someone sees you, who have knowledge, dining in an idol’s temple, will not his conscience, if he is weak, be strengthened to eat things sacrificed to idols? 11 For through your knowledge he who is weak is ruined, the brother for whose sake Christ died. 12 And so, by sinning against the brethren and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ.13 Therefore, if food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause my brother to stumble.—1 Cor. 8:7-13 NASB
Paul continues his narrative on whether or not we, as Christians, are free to eat meat sacrificed to idols. The point he is making is that when we exercise our liberty in Christ Jesus, we need to be sure that others are not offended or misled by watching us. Though we have the knowledge that we have liberty because Jesus Christ died to set us free from the law and from sin, others do not have that knowledge. They are accustomed to not eating meat sacrificed to idols because that is what the law has taught them. Just as some of the disciples still taught that you had to be circumcised because they did not yet have the understanding of their freedom in Christ. We, being the stronger, should then give up our freedom to do certain things. Not because the action itself is a sin, but because it causes our brother or sister to stumble and we have sinned against them. Any sin against anyone is a sin against Christ. So we should use our knowledge, spoken in love, to edify our brothers and sisters and not to harm them.
8 Now concerning things sacrificed to idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge [a]makes arrogant, but love edifies. 2 If anyone supposes that he knows anything, he has not yet known as he ought to know; 3 but if anyone loves God, he is known by Him. 4 Therefore concerning the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know that [b]there is no such thing as an idol in the world, and that there is no God but one. 5 For even if there are so-called gods whether in heaven or on earth, as indeed there are many gods and many lords, 6 yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.—1 Cor. 8:1-6 NASB
We all possess knowledge, some less, some more. Knowledge can be defined as facts, information, skills or awareness of a situation. Knowledge is neither good nor evil in and of itself. We determine whether it is good or evil by the way we use it. It can be evil if we allow our knowledge to cause us to be prideful. We can have an abundance of knowledge and yet be misled because we have not asked for wisdom to apply that knowledge to our daily lives. In this case, knowledge of the law said they should not eat meat that had been sacrificed to idols. We know there is only one true God, so sacrificing to idols is sacrificing to “nothing”. Use your liberty in Christ Jesus to eat or not eat the meat unless the eating of the meat causes a brother or sister to be offended. If you can eat it with a clear conscience and give God the glory because all things come from Him and through Him we live, then eat.
21 It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles. 22 The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. 23 But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin.—Romans 14:23 NIV