Romans 14:4 – Forgetting Grace
At the heart of all false religion is a false view of grace. On the one hand we have legalistic type religions that put the emphasis on their own efforts and making ourselves worthy and righteousness enough that we earn our way into rightstanding with God. On the other hand we have antinomian type religions who have divorced grace from the person of God and His holiness, and a hypergrace results where God is not holy and just and does not expect a payment in order for sins to be forgiven. Forgetting grace is a common problem among Christians, and it was in the Roman Church as well. In Romans 14:4 Paul is addressing those of a legalistic bent, ‘Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.’
You will remember that Paul is talking to two types of people the strong and the weak. He is addressing the sinful attitudes that they have towards one another. In v3 he called the strong who were probably Gentile converts not to conceited and look down on the Jewish Christians who were still observing certain OT ceremonial laws. And he told the weak, the Jewish believers who still felt conscience bound to keep certain OT laws, not to judge and condemn the Gentile Christians. Still addressing those who are more legalistic v4 is an extended comment for those of a legalistic bent. These were genuine Christians who had forgotten to apply the grace by which they were saved to others. As we view this verse we want to highlight three things they have forgotten in the judgementalism they have towards their brethren. They have forgotten that God is the judge, they have forgotten that God saves sinners like them, and they have forgotten that God sustains us by grace as well.
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