When I finished the study on Romans 14: 1-4, I ended with verse four, but I noted that I would return to that same verse when we continued. Here it is.
Romans 14:4 NASB Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master, he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
I have no polite way of reading this passage, “Who are you to judge the servant of another?”
Paul might as well have said, how dare you! The context of the sentence has everything to do with the often hateful differences that we have with other Christians.
If we are “servants of another,” The question then is, who does that Christian belong to?
It is certainly not you or I, as they most certainly belong to God. I thought for a second about using the word unquestionably instead of certainly, but there are many of us “Christians” that should NOT use that term Christian to define themselves in any way. Why say something so harsh? Because the people I am thinking about either produce no fruit or the fruit is rotten on the vine.
Paul continues to talk about differences.
Romans 14:5 NLT In the same way, some think one day is more holy than another day, while others think every day is alike. You should each be fully convinced that whichever day you choose is acceptable.
This verse makes a mountain of sense if you can envision the Jewish believers conflicting with the Gentiles in the same body of believers. The Jews, who adhere tightly to their festivals and traditions, hold to the High Holy Days, and rightfully so. The Gentiles, know nothing of the Holy Days, but we could stand to learn and understand the meanings they carry. Why? Because God is still holding to them.
The next verse almost comes across as informational, and yet it is not.
Romans 14:6 CJB He who observes a day as special does so to honor the Lord. Also, he who eats anything eats to honor the Lord since he gives thanks to God; likewise, the abstainer abstains to honor the Lord, and he too gives thanks to God.
The sentence above speaks of honoring the Lord, whether you are eating or not. This observance is not about eating; it’s about our relationships with people.
Romans 14:7 NASB For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself;
Some might think this life is all about me, but it is NOT.
What does the scripture say?
In Him, I live, and move, and have my being. (Acts 17:27,28).
I chose to leave a part out.
“He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn’t live in man-made temples, and human hands can’t serve his needs—for he has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need. From one man he created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries.” (Acts 17:24-26 NLT)
You have nothing without His empowerment
[Empowerment came when He placed that one man on the earth and gave Him dominion. We read that story in Genesis as though it was a momentary command, and it was not; dominion was placed in the heart of humankind, just as solidly as the drive for sin was in the garden.]
Do we find this train of thought anywhere else?
“by loving the LORD your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days, that you may live in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.” (Deuteronomy 30:20 NASB)
The LORD directs our steps, so why try to understand everything along the way? (Proverbs 20:24 NLT)
Our lives are in his hands, and he keeps our feet from stumbling. (Psalms 66:9 NLT)
Where does that leave us?
Romans 14:8 NLT If we live, it’s to honor the Lord. And if we die, it’s to honor the Lord. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.
Another translation of verse 8.
“It’s God, we are answerable to—all the way from life to death and everything in between—not each other.” (MSG)
The word that Paul used for Lord intrigues me because it is not what I am accustomed to seeing.
The Greek word is kurios and means he to whom a person or thing belongs, about which he has the power of deciding. It also means the possessor or owner.
If you are going, to be honest, this thought process gives many of us grief. Why? Because we think we are in control, and we are not, and virtually every car commercial emphasizes the gratification of your achievements. Why do you think David says things like this:
“LORD, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered—how fleeting my life is. (5) You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand. My entire lifetime is just a moment to you; at best, each of us is but a breath.” Psalms 39:4-5 NLT
So what are you doing when you take King David’s attitude?
You are giving the honor back to God.
The next verse is somewhat challenging.
Romans 14:9 AMP For Christ died and lived again for this very purpose, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.
Why do we believe that this heroic story that someone will come back for us, with the express purpose of bringing us into His kingdom, is real? Because Jesus did just what He said He would do. He died, rose, and lives for this very purpose, to be the Lord overall. The author of the letter to the Hebrews (Jewish believers) tells us that He is seated even now as Lord.
We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. (Hebrews 12:2 NLT)
Here is that word Lord once again, but this time Paul uses a variant of the Greek word kurios when he says kurieuō. This variant means to have dominion over. Previously, we saw God as the possessor; here, He is the ruler who has complete dominion. Again, this word dominion could give some people angst, as many have been dominated by someone. This is where you have to ask, as you have gone on this journey to find the nature and character of God when you saw Christ in action, what did you see? Love. How could you struggle with love, a love so great that He laid down His own life, so that we could live?
What does it mean to be the Lord of both the living and the dead?
This is not a trick word, dead means dead, as in a corpse. King Solomon tells us, “For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope: for a living dog is better than a dead lion. For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not anything, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. (Ecclesiastes 9:4-5 KJV)
Solomon did not use the word nekros; he used a Hebrew word that means something comparable, dead. How and why would Paul talk about Jesus being the Lord over the dead if this truly means corpses? So there has to be something more.
So wait a minute: Christ died, and yet death did Him no harm.
Through Christ, you have come to trust in God. And you have placed your faith and hope in God because he raised Christ from the dead and gave him great glory. (1 Peter 1:21 NLT)
Jesus, in His introduction to John, says this,
When I saw him, I fell at his feet as if I were dead. But he laid his right hand on me and said, “Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last. I am the living one. I died, but look—I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave. (Revelation 1:17-18 NLT)
These words were important because John saw His bloodied and beaten body on the cross. No one endures such things and lives. And yet, here you are, standing before me now.
If He is alive, then what happens to us?
And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwells in you. (Romans 8:10-11 KJV)
Quicken is old English meaning to make alive.
How or why we need these old bodies, I cannot fathom, but it means something to the Father. Fortunately, those bodies will be changed, and they will be the perfection that God intended them to be.
“having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions,”(Colossians 2:12-13 NASB)
When I look at the creation of people, specifically Adam and Eve, I am told that they were made in the image of God. Knowing that God is a spirit, means the man was a spirit, and we see that chain of events.
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. (Genesis 1:26-27 NASB)
The entire process, leading up to putting a body on the man, and then later, the creation of the woman from the man’s rib can be found in Genesis. As many like to hold to a chronological creation, then you should know that we don’t see a body on the man until Genesis chapter two, verse seven.
Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being. (NASB)
I point this out, because, for me, the idea of Jesus being the Lord over the dead, now dominates the world of the spirit, since man is a spirit, just as Jesus is a spirit.
“God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:24 NASB)
Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
(1 Corinthians 3:16 NASB)
So, though our bodies might have died, our spirits live eternally. If you belong to Christ, then, as Paul said, to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. And there, in Heaven, He will reign as your Lord.
Instantly we are drawn back to our opening of chapter fourteen.
Romans 14:10 NASB But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.
- But you, why do you judge your brother or regard your brother with contempt?
Because Paul says you, we know he is talking to the church.
Are you naive, and do not recognize how abusive we are with each other?
Let me remind you of how this conversation started.
“Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don’t see things the way you do. And don’t jump all over them every time they do or say something you don’t agree with— ”
(Romans 14:1a MSG)
And then there was this touch of Paul’s irascible character.
Who are you to condemn someone else’s servants?
(Romans 14:4 a NLT)
Everybody belongs to God, and whether or not they are acting as appropriate servants in the kingdom or not, they are NOT yours to abuse OR judge.
What have we been talking about?
We belong to God, and He has been running our lives as He saw fit.
How have you been doing with that?
Giving Him honor, I hope.
- “For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.”
Typically, when this judgment seat of God is preached, it is a scary, ominous event that carries the threat of hell’s flames. The mere fact that Paul includes this discussion about the bema seat, in a letter to believers, should tell you that at this point in the discourse, you are in heaven, standing before God. You are in the arms of love.
Do you get to bring in your earthly heritage, that you so dearly cling to, that gives you some sort of right to hostility, with you?
NOT a chance.
How about your selfish desires and lusts?
NOT a chance, and if you think that fancy suit that makes you feel like the super preacher, or God’s gift to humanity, will buy you an advantage, you are wrong. The garbage will burn, but you will not, and you will be grateful for it, as you run, with your new robe of white, into the Father’s welcoming arms.
Catch one more thing before we move forward. What have we been talking about?
“For we will all,” and “for God has accepted.” Now I could say that this is exclusive for those who believe and would probably be right; and, there is NO doubt in my mind that some will follow Satan to his punishment. But consider something, Christ died for all. That means He redeemed all. This thought should make you lose some sleep, as this section ends on this note.
Romans 14:12 NASB So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.
Since we are all God’s creation, then we all have the obligation to answer to Him. Who then, are these sheep that we see in Matthew 25, and why, if they are found acceptable, did they not get included among the saints who died for Christ in the Revelation account? What does it mean to be redeemed and bought back?
The truth is, we have NO grasp, whatsoever, how expansive the mercies of God are.