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LIFE > Life in the World > Drinkers of Wine > Christian Freedom > Response to Weak Brother


The attitude and conduct of the strong toward the weak takes into consideration the believer’s recent introduction to the Christian faith and the insufficient time for him to come to an understanding of the sufficiency of Christ and of his identification with Christ. The strong believer is not to grieve him nor destroy him (Rom. 14:15, 20); he is to pursue peace and to edify the weak brother (v. 19). The strong is not to cause him to stumble, be offended, and be made weak (v. 21).

All of this means that the strong is not to encourage or force the weak to go against his conscience. He is not to create an occasion where the weak feels he must sin. The strong is not to put a weak believer in a position where he feels he cannot say no. It is wrong to deliberately entice a believer to do what he feels is sinful.

The strong believer is not to give up his own liberty; he is just not to exercise it in the presence of the weak brother. “Have it (freedom) to yourself before God”; the strong believer does not have to change his personal belief and practice. Hs is just instructed not to condemn himself by exercising his freedom improperly (v. 22). According to Romans 15:1 the strong is to bear with the scruples of the weak; he is not to cut off the relationship. The posture the strong assumes is to lead to edification (v. 2; also 14:19), that is, teaching the weak brother the freedom the weak brother has in Christ. The weak is not to be allowed to remain in his weakness; he is to be built up.

The weak believer is in need of knowledge, knowledge of the Truth that will free him from the erroneous thinking that binds him; but the believer must be receptive to the knowledge that will bring liberty to his life. A teachable spirit is necessary. One must be willing to be taught, to be open to a change of thinking; and there must be a resolve to live out the implications of Truth. Being willing to evaluate all belief and behavior in reference to the Scriptures indicates submission and teachableness.

The weak must desire to think Biblically, to interpret all conduct in light of the person and work of Christ and the sufficiency that is in Him. To fail to do this has immediate and long-term implications in the believer’s life. On this point hinges the believer’s perspective and conduct in his Christian walk; the decision made here has profound consequences. To turn from the truth of one’s identification with Christ and the resulting freedom that follows from that identification is to begin the journey toward legalism.

A weak person becomes a legalist when knowledge is refused or rejected, for legalism is the rejection of the implications of the Gospel (this is the way legalism is used in this study). “Do” becomes more important than “Done” to the legalist. He would reject this evaluation of him, but his lifestyle confirms the evaluation. The focus is on the present rather than the past, on the individual’s accomplishments rather than His accomplishment. Consideration is to be shown to a weak brother, but the expectations of a legalist are not to be met.

Old wine and an old friend are good provisions.
George Herbert

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