The Measure of Faith in Convictions

So continuing this thought of using our measure of faith with those believers who are “weak in faith” we must carefully note how Paul carries out his discussion for there we see how Paul himself defines weakness in faith.

Remember, we’re not saying that the person has less appreciation for their object of Faith (which is God) or that they are unsure of where they stand (which is God’s mercy). This is not a black or white concern where the person is doubting something that is foundational (like the fact that we are justified by God through faith). Rather this weakness is on the person’s own stance (not the ground on which they stand). In other words, it’s on the actions or thought-constructs which they see as God honoring.

Now these principles can be surprisingly close to the hearts of all individuals and can be Biblically argued for: but that doesn’t make it any less a matter of personal conviction.

One person has faith that he may eat all and the other has faith that only chooses to eat vegetables. Now in that culture it is potentially a problem to eat meat since the butcher shop was very often in cahoots with the local pagan temple. By purchasing your meat there you were giving your money to the eventual support of exceedingly wicked and pagan practices.

How does a Christian act in a culture where buying meat can support pagan practices? No doubt in Paul’s mind: food is food but the weaker in faith will not eat the meat.

Now Paul doesn’t use this as a charge against the guy, in fact he’s merely stating it as a positional fact: some Christians who are convinced about restrictions in food before God are trying to secure their own stance (not the ground they’re standing on which is the Gospel) while God’s Gospel secures every single aspect of the Believer’s life. The thing is the Christian is trying to come to terms with the fact that he is a completely new human being while some Christians have learned to appreciate that position more than others.

But even so a believer isn’t to look at another believer in a position of judgment—that is standing over the believer and ensuring that the believer changes his position for that believer stands before his own master (which is also our master) who is the Lord. As part of this new human race we acknowledge only one head and that is, as previously stated, Christ the Lord.

And the Lord Himself is the one who is able to make that weaker in faith person stand even in those convictions which we think are erroneous. Therefore if the person eats food they thank God who provided it and if they don’t eat all foods they give thanks for God who provided what they are eating: in both cases the person stands before the Lord immensely grateful—not just making an intellectual proposition.

Some people observe (I will use) a day to the Lord and others see all the days alike: that they all belong to the Lord. Here is a case of a very serious problem in one of those early century churches. Jews observed a Certain Day (rather The Day as the text reads) and some gentiles were getting into a habit of observing Another Day and yet another group sees every day belonging to the Lord, for His glory and honor and worship. In either scenario the conviction is to be unto the Lord (not unto X person) so then a person must be convicted in that respect.

The measure of faith ensures that Christians see themselves on the same ground: before the Lord the King. So if I stand on the Gospel before my Lord and King I must surely understand that You as a Christian also stand on the Gospel before your Lord and King who is one and the same Jesus Christ—both of the dead and the living. With this measuring rod in hand I can fully appreciate that we live unto the Lord and we die unto the Lord therefore convictions of certain kinds are God honoring to those individuals and must remain as such with no condemnations from ourselves.

I think I’ve said it in another post but I feel my knees knocking if a Christian stands before the Lord at the Bema Seat explaining that he acted against his convictions because Rey told him so: a frightening concept indeed. I am no one’s Lord so how dare I take the place of the One and Only Lord in these matters of convictions.

But Paul actually settles the matter by stating two apostolic convictions One nothing is unclean in itself but it becomes so when a person considers it unclean. Obviously Paul isn’t saying “Pornography is clean”. He’s talking about days and foods (and the rest of the gray areas) are all clean slates that become tinted depending on the viewer. Two it is better to partake of nothing than to tear down our brothers and sisters in Christ.

So if someone finds their conscience smeared by watching you eat meat offered to idols then you don’t eat meat offered to idols in front of them to ensure that they don’t stumble in their own conviction. The stronger brother and sister in this case isn’t so much the one who has self approval in eating and drinking but is actually self-approval with the freedom to self-restrict for the sake of others.

In another book Paul will tell believers to humble themselves unto obedience just like Christ did by humbling himself to the position of a servant and being obedient unto the uttermost. In this book Paul points out that the reproaches of those who reproached God fell on me—Christ. So if He was able to take on this sort of burden for the good of others and their uber-edification which is actually glorification with Christ Himself then it stands to reason that this measuring rod of our object of faith can be applied in these daily activities.

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