"So, do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." - Romans 14:16-17
Romans 14:13-23 is, again, a hard passage to understand. We live with a set of rules that set things as right vs. wrong and what pleasing and not pleasing to God. Often, we live attempting to do all the things on the right and pleasing list so we are deemed "good" people. Too often we think of ourselves as good enough for heaven. I know when I was helping with youth and music ministries in my church, I felt like I was much more "better" and i "knew" I was saved. Now that I've been uninvolved, out of practice with my studies, angry with my job, frustrated with my financial situation, etc., I feel as though my salvation is not as sure.
I think this passage points to the fact that nothing matters because we all deserve hell, non of us can earn salvation or heaven, and everything we do in wrong/evil/sinful unless we are doing it in the belief that we are doing it for God's glory. And that is something I struggle with. I don't do much for His glory. Even all the ministry I used to do, I did it for my own glory most of the time. But God knows this too. Verses 18-19 almost read as God's way to combat this weakness. In light of verses 16-17 our self glorification, we have verses 18-19. They say, "Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding."
Obviously, there is no excuse for sin. And if we are doing things for our own glorification, we are not living lives that are pleasing to God. But at some point we need to realize our sin nature is very present and until we get our new body in heaven, we will have to fight that sin nature. We need to be serving Christ and pursuing what makes peace.
I may have complicated these passages even more, but that's how I feel right now. I'm struggling with my Christian life, and my horrible witness at work, and role as the father and husband in my family. Even yesterday in church, I felt out of place. I feel like one of the people who says he's a Christian and then goes out and lives exactly like the rest of the world, going to church only to check it off on the list of things a "Christian" does. Of course, every week I hear amazing sermons from our pastor too. Yesterday I thought to myself, the pastor must be on something to be so happy and full of passion. How sad for me. I am so far gone right now that I can't be so full of the Spirit that I am on a high? God's grace is so huge, a proper understanding of what His love for us has done, should produce joy and passion. We have this gift from God that saves us from all the sin we live in. Despite our sin, God saved us for Himself. We are saved to glorify Him eternally in heaven. We are only here on earth for a brief moment. Eternity will be in heaven with our Lord and Savior.
Praise God for Jesus.
Praise God for His Faithfulness.