In Romans 14 Paul instructs the Christians not to judge one another. He cites the example of one who is weak in the faith and is a vegetarian. Such an one not only does not eat meat but sets days aside on which to fast. This is made clear in verses 5–6. To judge a weak brother, Paul says, is to cast a stumbling block before him (v. 13). The Kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness, peace, and joy. The emphasis is that we should obey those things clearly commanded in the Bible and have peace and joy among ourselves.
The New International Version makes the meaning more plain:
Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. (Rom. 14:1–4 NIV)
The days set aside as special by individual members do not refer to Sabbaths or holy days.
One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks. (Rom. 14:5–6)
While forbearance toward weak brethren is a Christian duty when it involves practices that are nonessential for Christian fellowship, the distinction between truth and error is not under consideration here. Christ said: The Sabbath was made for man (Mark 2:27–28) and was established forever (Ex. 31:16–17). Paul did not “do away with the Sabbath,” as some believe. He discussed the practice of some who, due to weakness, held to unbiblical traditions or ideas that were essentially meaningless for salvation.
In Romans 15 Paul instructs Christian brethren on the need to assist poor brethren. He mentions how the brethren in Greece had sent a contribution to the needy brethren in Jerusalem, emphasizing that the gospel had been preached to the Gentiles because of the financial sacrifices made by the Jews in Jerusalem. “For Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem. They were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews’ spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings” (Rom. 15:26–27 NIV). Helping the deserving poor is emphasized in both the gospels and Paul’s epistles. The third-tithe contribution in the third year of a seven-year cycle is for this purpose, and has been a virtual lifesaver for those in need (Deut. 14:28–29). God will surely bless those who adhere to this law, and their sacrifice of helping others will not be forgotten. Read the last portion of verse 29, which says it is good to obey this law so that ” . . . the LORD thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hand which thou doest.”
Christian living also involves keeping the Church free from heretical notions and ideas. This is why Paul instructs in Romans 16:17–19 to take careful note of those who attempt to subvert the membership. “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned;and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple. For your obedience is come abroad unto all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil.” The word “mark” in verse 17 means “take notice of,” or “consider.” Paul makes it a Christian duty to be aware of false doctrine. Yet, how can one know true doctrine unless he regularly studies the Scriptures? This is why Bible study is so important. It illustrates what Christian living requires. We should be like the Bereans. “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11).
In 1 Corinthians 1, Paul emphasizes the importance of being united and without divisions. In Corinth members were making various servants of God their personal champions. Members were being pitted against each other because of these preferences. Evidently some of them believed that the ministers taught different things.
Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same [counsel, view, aim, conviction]. For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul? (1 Cor. 1:10–13)
Then Paul explains that if all eyes were on Christ, they would reflect what Christ had given them. “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, [boasts, rejoices, joys] let him glory [boast, rejoice, joy] in the Lord” (1 Cor. 1:30–31). By this Paul instructed that he who boasts, let him boast in the Lord because of what He alone is able to give.
Paul then addresses the importance of divine revelation. Here is how he explained it:
“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God” (1 Cor. 2:9–10). The purpose of this statement is to make Christians aware that they do not come to the Truth of God by human reasoning. This passage should make Christians realize that there is a vast difference between human knowledge gained by reason and observation, as opposed to spiritual knowledge gained by the inspiration of the Spirit of God. This is why Paul explains how important it is to understand that under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, spiritual knowledge can be understood. Here is the explanation from Today’s English Version.
It is only a person’s own spirit within him that knows all about him; in the same way, only God’s Spirit knows all about God. We have not received this world’s spirit; instead, we have received the Spirit sent by God, so that we may know all that God has given us. So then, we do not speak in words taught by human wisdom, but in words taught by the Spirit, as we explain spiritual truths to those who have the Spirit. Whoever does not have the Spirit cannot receive the gifts that come from God’s Spirit. Such a person really does not understand them; they are nonsense to him, because their value can be judged only on a spiritual basis. Whoever has the Spirit, however, is able to judge the value of everything, but no one is able to judge him. (1 Cor. 2:11–16 TEV)
What is the significance of these passages? They reveal that all we understand and know about God has come through Him, and why Paul said in 1 Corinthians 1:31 that if one is going to boast, he should boast about Jesus Christ who, under God the Father, is the author of all things. Christian living means to have the humility to realize how insignificant any human being really is in the sight of God.
In 1 Corinthians 3:3–4, Paul again addresses the issue of favoritism toward various ministers of God. He states: “For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?” Indeed, Paul states they are yet babes in Christ and that he is unable to feed them with strong doctrine. Paul again points out that all ministers are servants of God and merely do the planting. God is the One who gives the increase. Therefore, the only real foundation is Jesus Christ.
This is why all Christians need to realize that they must place their confidence in Christ and not in men. Many churches today are occupied by people who follow men instead of God. They do not study the Scriptures and check to see whether what is being preached is biblical. The Bereans were more noble than others because they searched the Scriptures to see if what was being preached was so. Christian living includes the responsibility of proving the Truth and not blindly accepting whatever may be taught. Notice how Paul stresses the importance of building upon the proper foundation—that is, Christ.
Paul said the only true foundation is Christ (1 Cor 3:11).
Then he adds:
Now if any man build upon this foundation [Christ] gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. (1 Cor. 3:12–15)
The foundation that will withstand what is coming in the future is that of Christ—likened to gold, silver, precious stones. The foundation that will not stand will consist of wood, hay, stubble—inadequate materials, unable to withstand the fiery trial. What is the inference here? The answer: The only foundation of any value is that of Christ. If one places his confidence in men, including himself, in the end, he will be disappointed.
One final admonition is given in 1 Corinthians 3:18–19. Paul admonishes: “Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.” Therefore, to be able to live a Christian life, one must not place confidence in men and human reasoning. God says such confidence is foolishness and is the wrong foundation on which to build. The correct one is Christ and He alone!