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Sermon #3364

Clean or Unclean?

A Sermon on Romans 14:13-15


Romans 14:13-15 ESV KJV
Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who …

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Sermon Description

How does one approach difficult problems and issues in the church? Do they see how each part relates to the whole or simply attack the problem directly? In his sermon on Romans 14:13–15 titled “Clean or Unclean?” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones calls for paying attention to the apostle Paul’s method in dealing with one of the premier problems in the early church. After one pays attention to the apostle’s method, they also need to follow his teaching. Dr. Lloyd-Jones brings out the Lord’s teaching on loving one another and combines it with Paul’s words found in Romans. As the church disagrees on matters indifferent – like whether a Christian should eat meat – the love commandment becomes all the more appropriate. One’s opinions, says Dr. Lloyd-Jones, may be right but if they have forgotten love for their fellow Christian then the right opinion may be a cause of serious trouble. But what is the apostle Paul’s teaching on clean and unclean food? Are Christians prohibited from eating certain foods? Listen as Dr. Lloyd-Jones navigates the intricacies of the Mosaic Law and the tension of the early church between Jew and Gentile.

Sermon Breakdown

  1. The apostle Paul is addressing the issue of "indifferent matters" that were causing division in the church at Rome. Specifically, disagreements over whether or not to eat certain foods or observe certain holidays.
  2. Paul first establishes the proper context and approach for discussing these kinds of issues. The most important thing is our relationship to the Lord and to one another as brothers. We must not judge one another.
  3. Paul says if we must judge something, judge that we do not put a "stumbling block" or "occasion to fall" in front of our brother. We must consider how our actions might affect others, especially our brothers in Christ.
  4. Paul says he knows with certainty, through the enlightenment given by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing inherently "unclean" or "common". The distinctions of the old law were temporary and not because the things themselves were wrong.
  5. However, just because something is not inherently wrong does not mean it is always right or appropriate for a Christian to do. We must consider how it might affect others. Paul will address this more later.
  6. The decision of the Jerusalem council in Acts 15 was a temporary concession, not a contradiction of the principle Paul lays out here. The principle is that nothing is inherently unclean, but in practice we must consider others.
  7. We must be careful about denouncing things as inherently evil or wrong when they are not. For example, it is wrong to say sex, alcohol, or tobacco are inherently evil. The abuse of these things is wrong, but not the things themselves.
  8. However, as Christians we may still choose not to partake in certain practices for good reasons. But we must be clear about what those reasons are, and not claim something is inherently wrong when it is not.

The Book of Romans

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) was a Welsh evangelical minister who preached and taught in the Reformed tradition. His principal ministry was at Westminster Chapel, in central London, from 1939-1968, where he delivered multi-year expositions on books of the bible such as Romans, Ephesians and the Gospel of John. In addition to the MLJ Trust’s collection of 1,600 of these sermons in audio format, most of these great sermon series are available in book form (including a 14 volume collection of the Romans sermons), as are other series such as "Spiritual Depression", "Studies in the Sermon on the Mount" and "Great Biblical Doctrines". He is considered by many evangelical leaders today to be an authority on biblical truth and the sufficiency of Scripture.