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Let me start off by saying that anyone who says what my title says, i.e. “What (something) means” is telling you what they think it means. That doesn’t make it true, but it isn’t automatically wrong, either. It is incumbent on you, the one receiving the message, to verify that what is being said is true and valid. And if that is too much work for you, then you are a fool and will probably end up being one of the first ones on the line to take the mark.
That’s a pretty rough start to my message, isn’t it? Well, sometimes people need to be reminded that it isn’t what they hear that matters as much as what they accept, and acceptance should only be based on good information, taken from the Bible and verified by yourself, asking God to show you what it means, for you.
So, now we can talk about Romans 14. This chapter is about judging based on what people eat or which days they celebrate. Shaul (Paul) says, and this is a very condensed version of his explanation, that so long as what people do is to honor the Lord, then no one should judge them. This is stated most clearly in Romans 14: 6-8, so let’s take a look at that (this is from the Complete Jewish Bible):
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. For none of us lives only in relation to himself, and none of us dies only in relation to himself; for if we live, we live in relation to the Lord; and if we die, we die in relation to the Lord. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord —
The rest of the chapter goes into a little more detail, further teaching us that when we judge someone based on what they believe they are doing to honor the Lord, God, but is different from what we believe honors God, then we are placing a stumbling block in their path to becoming holier.
He says the kingdom of God is not of food but of righteousness (Romans 14:17) so we shouldn’t be telling someone, regarding food or worship days, that what they do is bad when they believe it to be good, meaning that in their minds and hearts they are doing it to honor the Lord.
The real-life examples of people judging others wrongly are too often seen in postings on these discussion groups regarding what I consider to be the Big Three Issues:
- Which calendar is correct?;
- What is God’s name and how to use it?; and
- What days are to be celebrated?
I have seen people accuse others, others who are truly trying to worship God correctly, to be praying to the devil or celebrating a pagan holiday, or that when calling upon Jesus they are praying to a horse (yes, that has been there a few times.) They say doing these things dishonors God.
I have seen so many different people declare that only their calendar is correct, insinuating that if someone else uses a different calendar then they are sinning because they aren’t celebrating a Holy Day or the Shabbat correctly.
Really? How can anyone believe that God will reject someone celebrating, oh, let’s say, Yom Kippur, on the evening their Jewish calendar says it starts, because it may be a day or two off from the absolutely correct date measured from the very first Yom Kippur?
Is God really that anal-retentive? Is he more worried about us doing something on the absolutely correct date, or using the one and only absolutely correct pronunciation of his name? Or he is more concerned with the attitude of our heart? If I eat ham but try to love others, forgive and treat people the way that the Torah says I should, will God tell me to go to hell when I come before him because even though I tried my whole life to be as he says I should be, I ate ham?
I don’t think so. Maybe I will not be as honored in heaven as someone who did everything I did and never ate ham, but I will still be there.
How do I know this? Because Yeshua said so: in Matthew 5:17 Yeshua says that he did not come to abolish the Torah but to fulfill it (which means to interpret it correctly), and after saying that he adds in Matthew 5:19:
So whoever disobeys the least of these mitzvot and teaches others to do so will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But whoever obeys them and so teaches will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.
So, nu! There you have it! Yeshua, himself, indicates that we may sin, and even teach others to do so, but we can still end up in the Kingdom of Heaven. Maybe, just maybe, do you think this is what Shaul is talking about here in Romans?
Here’s a hypothetical: if I eat ham because I have been taught (as many, many Christians have been for thousands of years) that the laws of Kashrut (Kosher) are not necessary for Gentile Believers to obey, I am in violation of the Torah. But, it is not my intention to sin: I am, in my heart and mind, a grateful believer in God and Messiah and in many other ways I try to be as God wants me to be. But I was taught Kosher isn’t required for Gentiles. And that was most likely taught to me by someone who also thought they were not doing anything against God.
Here we have people sinning and teaching others to sin, but not on purpose and not in their minds or hearts. These are the ones who will be called least in the Kingdom of Heaven.
What Shaul is saying in Romans is that when someone does what they do to honor the Lord, then neither you nor I nor anyone should tell them they are wrong or try to stop them. If someone uses the title “God” or “Adonai”, but you believe people should always use the Holy Name for God and pronounce it as “Yahweh”, that’s fine for you and you have no right- in fact, you would be wrong- to correct them.
If you are biblically Kosher (as I am) and see someone pray before eating their dinner, which has an appetizer of Bang Bang Shrimp and the main course is lobster, instead of chiding them in your mind for violating God’s commandments, just eat your food and mind your own business.
We will all come before the Lord (this is also something Shaul points out) and have to give an account of ourselves, and it is up to the Lord, God Almighty to judge us.
Here’s a news flash, people: you ain’t HIM! So don’t judge ’cause you yourself will be judged the way you judge (Matthew 7:2); in other words, we should only worry about ourselves because that is more than enough for any of us to have to do.
Don’t miss the important difference between those who sin because they reject God or who say they worship God and sin just because they want to, from those who worship God but sin from ignorance or misguided teaching. The former will certainly be in hot water when they come before God, and the latter will be in heaven, but not as esteemed as those who have obeyed more faithfully to do as God told us to do in the Torah.
One last thing: you may be thinking that this isn’t fair! Maybe you would say to God, “I really tried hard to be a “good” Christian but I was taught that Kosher isn’t important and Christmas and Easter are fine. They said I didn’t have to celebrate any of those “Jewish” holidays, so why am I being treated as less than others in heaven? After all, it isn’t my fault- I did what my religious leaders told me to do.”
Well, sorry to say, it is your fault because you did what you were told without checking if it was right or wrong. God gave us the Torah, and that is the only place in the Bible where God tells us how to worship him and how to treat others- the rest of the Bible, from Joshua through Revelations, is essentially not much more than commentary. Even what Yeshua taught was what God had already said, but Yeshua taught the deeper, spiritual meaning of those commandments. The Letter to the Romans Shaul wrote, as well as his other letters, are designed to help Gentiles that didn’t know God, the Bible or the Jewish lifestyle to adapt to it.
So if you want to obey Shaul then treat others as you would want them to treat you (Leviticus 19:18) and stop judging others who are trying to honor God in the way they know or have been taught. Of course, it is OK to try to steer them in the right direction: after all, that is what this ministry is all about, but you will never hear me tell someone they must worship or pronounce or celebrate the way I believe they should. I will tell them what God says in the Torah and leave it up to them to decide whether they will listen to God or religion.
I’ll end with this: as I said, as Shaul said, as God has said, we will all have to come before his throne of judgment, and when we do if you try saying something like, “But that’s what they told me I should do.” I believe God will answer with something like this:
“I understand, my child, that is what they told you to do, but it’s what I say that counts!”
Thank you for being here and please subscribe here and on my YouTube channel, share these messages with everyone you know, and if you like what you hear consider buying my books because you will like them, too.
And remember- I always welcome your comments.
Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!