MLJ Trust Logo Image
Sermon #3357

Food and Drink

A Sermon on Romans 14:1-4


Romans 14:1-4 ESV KJV
As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass …

Read more

Sermon Description

It is common for the Christian to have a disagreement with someone else about what they think the Bible teaches to be wrong or right on an issue that is not particularly clear. This is the topic at hand for this sermon on Romans 14:1–4 titled “Food and Drink” and Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones guides the listener through how to interact with this issue that is becoming more prominent in the church today. There are things in Scripture about which there is not a clear command. In this passage, it had to do with food sacrificed to idols. Because idols are not real, the food sacrificed to them means nothing. However, Paul encourages believers to watch out for their brothers and sisters in Christ and to avoid doing things that would make it easier to stumble because of the way they were raised. The immature Christian, says Dr. Lloyd-Jones, is characterized by making secondary issues primary ones. Yet, as he points out, one should not sit back and judge other Christians— it is the weak Christian who is most likely to do this. Why do they have this tendency? He says that it is due to the spirit of fear and he explains his reasoning behind this. He encourages avoiding falling into legalism and determining if or not people are Christians based off of their judgments— ultimately, that is up to the Lord and it allows living in a way that pleases the Lord and leaving the consequences up to Him.

Sermon Breakdown

  1. The apostle Paul is addressing matters of indifference in Romans 14, not clear commandments. These are issues where Christians can disagree but still remain united.

  2. The specific issue Paul addresses is eating meat vs vegetarianism. Some Christians believed they could eat all foods while others only ate vegetables out of religious conviction.

  3. Paul says the danger for the "strong" Christian is to despise the "weak" Christian who only eats vegetables. The danger for the weak Christian is to judge the strong Christian for eating meat.

  4. The weak Christian may judge the strong Christian as not being a real Christian because they eat meat. Paul says not to judge each other over such matters.

  5. The prohibition against eating meat for some Christians likely came from:

  6. Their Jewish upbringing where some foods were forbidden

  7. Belief that meat offered to idols was unclean
  8. Ascetic teachings that prohibited meat and marriage

  9. Paul is not addressing vegetarianism itself but making it a religious obligation and judging others over it. Vegetarianism for health reasons is a separate issue.

  10. Examples of similar issues include:

  11. The Jerusalem Council addressing whether Gentile Christians must follow the law of Moses (Acts 15)

  12. Paul confronting Peter for separating from Gentile Christians (Galatians 2)
  13. Paul warning against those who forbid certain foods or observe special days (Colossians 2)

  14. These issues are relevant today in legalism that creates rules beyond Scripture and judges others for not following them. Examples include prohibitions against alcohol, rules about Lent or Fridays, and strict standards of conduct to determine if someone is really a Christian.

  15. Paul says not to judge each other over such matters because:

  16. God has accepted both groups

  17. We have no right to judge another's servant
  18. God is able to make the "strong" Christian stand

  19. We must be careful not to fall into justification by works by judging others over minor issues and making them a test of true faith. We must stand firm in the freedom of the gospel.

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.