“But if you have doubts about whether or not you should eat something, you are sinning if you go ahead and do it. For you are not following your convictions. If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning.”
Romans 14 is a wonderful passage that deals with conflict in the church over various doctrinal and spiritual disciplinary issues. Above all, Paul calls for peace. He calls for all people to be accountable for their own convictions whilst honouring others convictions too, so as not to cause conflict between fellow believers. Yet how do we discern or decipher our own convictions? How did the Christians in the New Testament discover what was acceptable and what was not? Which day was the ‘Holy Day’? Which ‘foods’ were permissible to eat and which foods should they not eat? Well, Paul’s answer is this, ‘do what you think is right, and don’t do what you think is wrong’.
As Christians, our moral and holy standards are set for us in the Bible. We have been given the Ten Commandments as guidelines for our lives, often echoed by Jesus in His teachings. Yet what about the grey areas? What about the things we are not sure of, that could be right or could be wrong? Things that are not specifically written in the ‘rules’? Well, Paul’s answer in Romans 14:23 is simple, “if you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning”. Yet where does this surety of what is right or wrong come from? Answer: The Holy Spirit living in you. It is the Holy Spirit’s convictions in us, that help us to know what is wrong or right. His voice in our hearts is like a spiritual alarm bell that alerts us to the dangers of sin. The challenge is, to then accept His prompting and not suppress His voice.