“One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God.”
Romans 14:1-2 “Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions. One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only.”
Here is the context of the passage: The church in Rome consisted of Jew and Gentile believers. When Jews came to Christ, they found freedom from the Law, traditions, and the keeping of the Sabbath. Many of these young Jewish believers wrestled with how to navigate this freedom in regard to days, food, and other Jewish customs.
Some Gentile believers were dealing with a similar issue. Having grown up in a pagan culture that worshipped many gods, they did not want to worship on certain days because of the association of those days with their pagan past.
Romans 14:3-5 “The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind.”
It doesn’t matter if he eats or doesn’t eat. We are accountable to the master whether we eat or don’t eat. On these morally neutral issues, we should not be passing judgment on one another.
The Gentiles Inner Conflict:
Gentiles wrestled with aligning themselves with pagan culture by observing days. This can apply to us because there are things about Halloween or other holidays that are rooted in pagan culture. Christmas Trees didn’t come because Jesus set up a Christmas tree in a manger. They happened to come from pagan culture and we “Christianized” it. This is not necessarily right or wrong, but it is what happened. As believers we often lose sight because we get caught up in things that might have identified with pagan culture that are really pointless for us today.
For example, how many of you wake up on Thursday and say “I can’t wait to worship the god Thor because it is “Thor’s Day,” but that is where it came from. Wednesday is Oden’s Day. Monday is “moon god day” and Sunday is “Sun Day.” We don’t make an issue out of these names, but sometimes believers make mountains out of mole hills on other subjects.
“One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind.”
“Conviction” is being fully convinced of the Truth. We should live by our convictions as we look to Jesus the source of all Truth.
Romans 13:6-8 “He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God. For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.”
As we think about days of the week, or identifying with our pagan past, the issue really is, are you the Lord’s?
Romans 14:13-14 “Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this—not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way. I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean.”
If it is clean to God, it can be clean to you. But if you have conviction about an issue, don’t do it.
Romans 14:14-15 “I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. For if because of food your brother is hurt, you are no longer walking according to love. Do not destroy with your food him for whom Christ died.”
I have the freedom to eat what I want and celebrate Halloween, but if I cause a weaker brother to stumble, I need to think twice. Do not destroy someone who Christ died for simply because you want to eat something. Don’t cause their faith to waver because of something you desperately want.
Romans 14:16-23 “Therefore do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil; for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who in this way serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another. Do not tear down the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are clean, but they are evil for the man who eats and gives offense. It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles. The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin.”
This verse touches on four principles:
1. Faith and Conviction
Faith is rooted in conviction. When we are convinced of the Truth of something, we develop faith in that Truth. Anything not done in faith is sin.
What is the object of our worship. We are to worship God in all we do, but we often worship the creation instead of the Creator. We start worshipping ourselves, and are consumed with self.
During the holidays, things that were intended to be about the Father often become about us.
How do we capture the precious moments like Christmas morning, yet keep it centered on Christ? My wife and I give our children three gifts in honor of the three gifts that were brought for the Messiah. We want to make sure that Christmas is about Christ.
Halloween is probably the holiday that we wrestle with most.
Galatians 5:18-21 “But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts….” (Emphasis mine)
The word “sorcery” comes from the greek word “pharmakeia,” from which we get the word pharmacy. It is talking about anything that is mind altering, drugs certainly, but also the occult, witchcraft, magic, etc.
As you think about what you worship, be very cautious that you are not opening doorways that you don’t want to open. There is spiritual warfare going on around us and the evil one “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). When you begin to open up to those types of things, bad things begin to happen. That can happen through drugs, pornographic material, or many other avenues. My warning for you with Halloween is that you keep the main thing the main thing.
If you feel a conviction that you are aligning yourself with something you don’t want to be aligned with, don’t do it.
1 Corinthians 10:31 “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
The glory of God is our end desire. When we are celebrating Christmas or Thanksgiving, we need to make sure the end result is God’s glory.
October 3rd, 1863 in the middle of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln wrote a letter. He said in the midst of great strife in the middle of America, we need to give thanks to our Almighty God for blessing. During the worst thing our country ever went through, he stopped and asked us to give thanks to the Father.
This Thanksgiving, can you make the holiday about worshipping the Father in everything you do? Is Thanksgiving about you, football, and food? Those things are not bad, but are you up in the morning, in your word, on your knees to the Father, thanking Him that you have a day to thank Him.
Romans 14:13 “Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this—not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way.”
One of the great stumbling blocks we can put in each other’s way is consumerism.
We can get wrapped up in needing to spend more money on presents when what people really would love is a letter thanking them for what they have sacrificed for you. We make holidays something they aren’t supposed to be. Try funneling your holidays through these four principles!
My wife and I have decided to give our children a $50 bill each Christmas and find someone in need to give it to. What are some ways you can serve during the holidays to honor the Lord?
In the end, this is not about whether to celebrate Christmas and Halloween. It is about two things: How? and Who?
How are we going to do it?
Who are we going to bring glory to?
Mark 12:13-17 “Then they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Him in order to trap Him in a statement. They came and said to Him, “Teacher, we know that You are truthful and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any, but teach the way of God in truth. Is it lawful to pay a poll-tax to Caesar, or not? Shall we pay or shall we not pay?” But He, knowing their hypocrisy, said to them, “Why are you testing Me? Bring Me a denarius to look at.” They brought one. And He said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” And they said to Him, “Caesar’s.” And Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they were amazed at Him.”
If the Pharisees had really been authentic and asked the next question, would they have said “Well then, what belongs to God?” And would Jesus’ response be, “Whose image do you bear?”
So when you think of these holidays – Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter, etc. – the question is not about how to celebrate, but whose image do you bear while you celebrate? When you go home, because you are living so passionately for Jesus, and because your life is so different, and your convictions are so true, and the object of your worship and glory are so clear, does it cause your family to go, “I don’t know what you believe but I want some of that!”
Whose image do you and I bear?
Chad Hampsch is the vice president of the Kanakuk Institute.