We are so free in Christ! The legalists were bound up in earning God’s favour by obeying the Old Testament Law – especially around Sabbath, food laws and circumcision. Those things were, as Gordon Fee points out, boundary markers to be in the Old Covenant People of God. Under the New covenant, the marker for being in the Kingdom of God is having the Spirit (v17).
Paul has argued that we are free from the OT law, because Jesus is the only one who has ever fully obeyed the law anyway and has died on our behalf to fulfil it completely.
Now Paul is telling us that weaker Christians are the ones that are probably miserably stuck in the “I do what I don’t want to do” life under the law of Romans 7. They are still worrying about food laws and holy day observance. He wants us to welcome them, but not quarrel with them. In fact he wants us to live out our freedom in ways that will not cause them to stumble. He wants us to be kind and considerate to those with weaker faith. The principle is given using examples of food and Sabbath observance in v2-19 and then made really clear in v23, because whatever is done not of faith is sin.
That means if a weak Christian’s faith means they must observe the Sabbath and they don’t observe it, they are sinning. Therefore if we cause them to break the Sabbath, then we are sinning too!
Like Priscilla and Aquila who showed Apollos a better way – we are to teach one another the grace of God, while not getting into quarrels over opinions. At the same time being considerate to others means not judging them or causing them to stumble over what they believe.
You can eat what you like – Paul puts vegetarianism in the weaker faith category But I’m not going to judge you if you are veggie, especially as we are having Mushroom Stroganoff for tea tonight!
We can eat pork, shellfish too as we are not under tha Old Testament – but again I won’t judge you if you don’t agree!
I’m personally not to bothered about going to Home Bargains for loo roll on a Sunday if we need more, but some of our relatives would be, so we don’t so they don’t stumble!
The Kingdom of God is about righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, not arguing, so whatever we can to increase peace and mutual upbuilding Paul encouarges us to do!
Marinate on that