And he that doubteth - This verse is a necessary part of the preceding, and should be read thus: But he that doubteth is condemned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith. The meaning is sufficiently plain. He that feeds on any kind of meats prohibited by the Mosaic law, with the persuasion in his mind that he may be wrong in so doing, is condemned by his conscience for doing that which he has reason to think God has forbidden.
For whatsoever is not of faith is sin - Whatever he does, without a full persuasion of its lawfulness, (see Romans 14:22;) is to him sin; for he does it under a conviction that he may be wrong in so doing. Therefore, if he makes a distinction in his own conscience between different kinds of meats, and yet eats of all indifferently, he is a sinner before God; because he eats either through false shame, base compliance, or an unbridled appetite; and any of these is in itself a sin against the sincerity, ingenuousness, and self-denying principles of the Gospel of Christ.
Some think that these words have a more extensive signification, and that they apply to all who have not true religion, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ; every work of such persons being sinful in the sight of a holy God, because it does not proceed from a pure motive. On this ground our Church says, Art. xiii, "Works done before the grace of Christ and the inspiration of his Spirit are not pleasant to God, forasmuch as they are not of faith in Jesus Christ; yes, for that they are not done as God hath willed and commanded them to be done, we doubt not but they have the nature of sin." To this we may add, that without faith it is impossible to please God; every thing is wrong where this principle is wanting.
There are few readers who have not remarked that the last three verses of this epistle ( Romans 16:25-27;) appear to stand in their present place without any obvious connection; and apparently after the epistle is concluded. And it is well known to critics, that two MSS. in uncial letters, the Cod. A and I, with upwards of 100 others, together with the Slavonic, the later Syriac and Arabic, add those verses at the end of the fourteenth chapter. The transposition is acknowledged by Cyril, Chrysostom, Theodoret, Oecumenius, Theophylact, Theodulus, Damascenus, and Tertullian; see Wetstein. Griesbach inserts them at the end of this chapter as their proper place; and most learned men approve of this transposition. It may be necessary to repeat the words here that the reader may see with what propriety they connect with the subject which terminates the fourteenth chapter as it now stands.
Romans 16:25; : Now, to him that is of power to stablish you according to my Gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, (according to the revelation of the mystery which was kept secret since the world began,
Romans 16:26; : But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith);
Romans 16:27; : To God only wise be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen.
Romans 15:1; : We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, etc.
These words certainly connect better with the close of the fourteenth chapter and the beginning of the fifteenth than they do with the conclusion of the sixteenth, where they are now generally found; but I shall defer my observations upon them till I come to that place, with only this remark, that the stablishing mentioned Romans 16:25, corresponds well with the doubting, Romans 14:23, and indeed the whole matter of these verses agrees so well with the subject so largely handled in the preceding chapter, that there can be very little doubt of their being in their proper place if joined to the end of this chapter, as they are in the preceding MSS. and versions.
He that doubteth - He that is not fully satisfied in his mind; who does not do it with a clear conscience. The margin has it rendered correctly, “He that discerneth and putteth a difference between meats.” He that conscientiously believes, as the Jew did, that the Levitical law respecting the difference between meats was binding on Christians.
Is damned - We apply this word almost exclusively to the future punishment of the wicked in hell. But it is of importance to remember, in reading the Bible, that this is not of necessity its meaning. It means properly to “condemn;” and here it means only that the person who should thus violate the dictates of his conscience would incur guilt, and would be blameworthy in doing it. But it does not affirm that he would inevitably sink to hell. The same construction is to be put on the expression in 1 Corinthians 11:29, “He that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself.”
For whatsoever - “Whatever is not done with a full conviction that it is right, is sinful; whatever is done when a man doubts whether it is right, is sin.” This is evidently the fair interpretation of this place. Such the connection requires. It does not affirm that all or any of the actions of impenitent and unbelieving people are sinful, which is true, but not the truth taught here; nor does it affirm that all acts which are not performed by those who have faith in the Lord Jesus, are sinful; but the discussion pertains to Christians; and the whole scope of the passage requires us to understand the apostle as simply saying that a man should not do a thing doubting its correctness; that he should have a strong conviction that what he does is right; and that if he has “not” this conviction, it is sinful. The rule is of universal application. In all cases, if a man does a thing which he does not “believe” to be right, it is a sin, and his conscience will condemn him for it. It may be proper, however, to observe that the converse of this is not always true, that if a man believes a thing to be right, that therefore it is not sin. For many of the persecutors were conscientious John 16:2; Acts 26:9; and the murderers of the Son of God did it ignorantly Acts 3:17; 1 Corinthians 2:8; and yet were adjudged as guilty of enormous crimes; compare Luke 11:50-51; Acts 2:23, Acts 2:37.
In this chapter we have a remarkably fine discussion of the nature of Christian charity. Differences of “opinion” will arise, and people will be divided into various sects; but if the rules which are laid down in this chapter were followed, the contentions, and altercations, and strifes among Christians would cease. Had these rules been applied to the controversies about rites, and forms, and festivals, that have arisen, peace might have been preserved. Amid all such differences, the great question is, whether there is true love to the Lord Jesus. If there is, the apostle teaches us that we have no right to judge a brother, or despise him, or contend harshly with him. Our object should be to promote peace, to aid him in his efforts to become holy, and to seek to build him up in holy faith.
By the first angel, men are called upon to “fear God, and give glory to Him” and to worship Him as the Creator of the heavens and the earth. In order to do this, they must obey His law. Says the wise man: “Fear God, and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” Ecclesiastes 12:13. Without obedience to His commandments no worship can be pleasing to God. “This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments.” “He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.” 1 John 5:3; Proverbs 28:9. GC 436.1
The duty to worship God is based upon the fact that He is the Creator and that to Him all other beings owe their existence. And wherever, in the Bible, His claim to reverence and worship, above the gods of the heathen, is presented, there is cited the evidence of His creative power. “All the gods of the nations are idols: but the Lord made the heavens.” Psalm 96:5. “To whom then will ye liken Me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things.” “Thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God Himself that formed the earth and made it: ... I am the Lord; and there is none else.” Isaiah 40:25, 26; 45:18. Says the psalmist: “Know ye that the Lord He is God: it is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves.” “O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.” Psalm 100:3; 95:6. And the holy beings who worship God in heaven state, as the reason why their homage is due to Him: “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for Thou hast created all things.” Revelation 4:11. GC 436.2
In Revelation 14, men are called upon to worship the Creator; and the prophecy brings to view a class that, as the result of the threefold message, are keeping the commandments of God. One of these commandments points directly to God as the Creator. The fourth precept declares: “The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: ... for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.” Exodus 20:10, 11. Concerning the Sabbath, the Lord says, further, that it is “a sign, ... that ye may know that I am the Lord your God.” Ezekiel 20:20. And the reason given is: “For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day He rested, and was refreshed.” Exodus 31:17. GC 437.1Read in context »
Take God at His word, and work in faith. Satan will come with his suggestions to make you distrust the word of your heavenly Father; but consider, “Whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” Press your faith through the dark shadow of Satan, and lodge it upon the mercy seat, and let not one doubt be entertained. This is the only way in which you will gain an experience, and find the evidence so essential for your peace and confidence. MYP 198.1
As your experience grows, you will have increased ardor of soul and warmer love for the service of God, because you have oneness of purpose with Jesus Christ. Your sympathies are begotten of the Holy Spirit. You wear the yoke with Christ, and are laborers together with God.—The Youth's Instructor, August 9, 1894. MYP 198.2Read in context »
For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love. Galatians 5:6. SD 71.1
When you present your petitions to the Lord, it should be in humility, without boasting of superior attainments, but with real soul hunger for the blessing of God. Christ always knows what is cherished in the heart. We must come in faith that the Lord will hear and answer our prayers; for “whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” Genuine faith is the faith that works by love, and purifies the soul. A living faith will be a working faith. Should we go into the garden and find that there was no sap in the plants, no freshness in the leaves, no bursting buds or blooming flowers, no signs of life in stalk or branches, we would say, “The plants are dead. Uproot them from the garden; for they are a deformity to the beds.” So it is with those who profess Christianity, and have no spirituality. If there are no signs of religious vigor, if there is no doing of the commandments of the Lord, it is evident that there is no abiding in Christ, the living vine.12The Youth's Instructor, September 13, 1894. SD 71.2Read in context »