The steep price of holiness and purity of heart

We must present our bodies as living sacrifices, sacrifices that are holy and acceptable to God through denying selfish impulses.

Today we will be looking at the core Bible principle of holiness, and how God has outlined a refining process for every individual who is seeking holiness and purity of heart.

2 Timothy 2:22 – Flee from youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

As Timothy was a young leader within the Yeshua movement of Judaism, Paul was encouraging him to focus on being a positive example to the believers. His commitment to the Messiah would need to be evident in every aspect of his being so that people would sense his sincerity and pureness of heart, thereby spurring confidence in his teaching, and honor towards his Lord. This admonition comes amidst a discussion on faithful workers versus those who had been spreading falsehood among believers.

2 Timothy 2:16-18 – But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some.

Paul was encouraging Timothy to stick to these basics of Kingdom living to ensure he would remain separated from falsehood. To pursue righteousness, Paul argues, one needed only to focus on faith, love and peace with all, especially those within the community of Messiah. This would breed righteous actions, indicating pureness of heart among the believers and all would be encouraged.

While this may come across as being too simplistic, it certainly was not an easy task for the early believers. Maintaining faith and pursuing righteousness in an environment of doctrinal oppression and brutal, physical persecution was a lifestyle of daily challenge. Demonstrating real love not only for the brethren but also those who were opposed to the gospel of the Kingdom was a monumental task. And pursuing peace with everyone who was essentially against the teachings of Yeshua required the deepest levels of reliance on the Spirit of God working within them to establish God’s Kingdom in that generation.

John 14:25-26 – “I have spoken these things to you while I remain with you. “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have told you.

Yeshua had promised his disciples that the Spirit of God would bring to remembrance everything he had been teaching them, and in doing so, they would continually be taught how to interact with others. As God dwelt among his people, there was a unity that would stand as a testament to outsiders because the believers were operating within peace and love that God desires among his Kingdom people.

Acts 2:42-47 – They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and signs were being performed through the apostles. Now all the believers were together and held all things in common. They sold their possessions and property and distributed the proceeds to all, as any had need. Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple, and broke bread from house to house. They ate their food with joyful and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. Every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

In another teaching context with the Roman congregation, the apostle Paul highlights the fact that righteousness, peace, joy, and encouragement in the Spirit were what would unify the believers and build up the Kingdom.

Romans 14:16-19 – Therefore, do not let your good be slandered, for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. Whoever serves Messiah in this way is acceptable to God and receives human approval. So then, let us pursue what promotes peace and what builds up one another.

Here we can see how Paul was essentially laying out the foundation of all interactions in the Kingdom which had already been evidenced by the early believers within their emerging community of faith. Paul says in Romans 14 that, “The kingdom of God is…righteousness, peace, and joy in the holy Spirit. Whoever serves Messiah in this way is acceptable to God and receives human approval.”

Now compare this definition to the example of the early believers described in Acts 2. Look at how those first believers were “conducting themselves in righteousness”:

  • They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching
  • to fellowship
  • to the breaking of bread (eating of common meals)
  • to prayer
  • all the believers were together and held all things in common
  • They sold their possessions and property and distributed the proceeds to all, as any had need

They also demonstrated “peace and joy”:

  • They ate their food with joyful and sincere hearts

They were “acceptable to God and receiving human approval”:

  • praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.

And the end result was:

  • Every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved

So, how is it that this early group of Messiah believers could be so focused on the Kingdom and be such a bold and powerful witness to others? Is there a way that we can somehow mimic their faithfulness today so that we can also be a powerful witness to our own generation? In a moment, we will review a critical yet challenging teaching of Yeshua that can help us to do just that.

As we have seen so far, the early believers began operating within the dynamic parameters of peace and unity as they were taught by the holy Spirit through the apostles. As the Spirit brought to mind the teachings of Yeshua, the apostles were faithfully teaching and living out the principles for the believers to see and follow. And one of those principles of Yeshua is that he had said that those who were pure of heart and peacemakers would be blessed.

Matthew 5:8-9 – “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.”

Yeshua also illustrated with his own life the steep price that that his followers would have to pay in order to live out these principles in the process of following him.

Matthew 16:24 – Then Yeshua told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”

So, now we get to the heart of the matter. Being set apart as pure of heart and a peacemaker involves a critical practice: denial of self. To deny oneself is to set oneself apart for some other, greater purpose. When we can get outside of ourselves and our personal, selfish impulses, it is then that we have the capacity to be filled with God’s Spirit so he can teach us how to become the pure and peaceful people he wants us to be. The characteristics Paul mentions in this passage to Timothy all involve our outward actions towards others based on an inward transformation: righteous actions involve denial of self; faith involves denial of self; love involves denial of self; peace involves denial of self. Therefore, we can conclude: the steep price of holiness or being set apart involves a continual outward focus on behalf of others.

But, since almost everything we encounter in this life and our current culture tells us the exact opposite (that we need to exert our rights, our privileges, our selfish impulses) we really need to evaluate ourselves in light of not only our personal walk, but in the context of our usefulness to the purposes of God.

Paul leveraged this concept of usefulness within the Kingdom by drawing an analogy to household articles.

2 Timothy 2:20-21 – Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.

Based on Paul’s analogy here, there is a purging or cleansing of oneself from what is dishonorable that allows one to become set apart and more useful to God. The root meaning of the Greek word means” to cleanse by taking away; to thoroughly scour and clean out that which is impure.” This, according to Paul, is something that one must do for oneself. God is the one who makes our hearts new, but we as individuals must provide a clean working environment for that new heart to operate within. Believers have a responsibility to scour and clean out those things that offend God because of his holiness and presence in our lives, and in turn we become set apart as holy, ready for every good work towards others.

This whole chapter in 2 Timothy is sprinkled with admonitions to faithfully conduct this work of cleansing oneself (mentioned in verse 21) in every area of life. Paul instructs Timothy to have his hearers work at the sanctification in their lives in the following ways:

  • 14 – avoid wrangling over words
  • 16 – avoid profane chatter
  • 19 – let everyone who calls on the name of the Lord turn away from wickedness
  • 22 – shun youthful passions
  • 23 – have nothing to do with stupid and senseless controversies
  • 24 – the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome

On the positive side of the equation, purity of heart is demonstrated by the following:

  • 15 – doing your best to present yourself to God as one approved by him
  • 15 – rightly explain the word of truth
  • 21 – being ready for every good work
  • 22 – pursuing righteousness, faith, love, and peace
  • 24 – being kindly to everyone
  • 24 – being skillful in teaching
  • 24 – being patient
  • 25 – gently correcting opponents

All of these actions, whether avoiding that which is not beneficial or conducting those things which are, come at the steep price of denial of self. Remember what Yeshua said: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”

The imagery conveyed here by Yeshua would have been a familiar one to his hearers, as they would have watched many crucifixions of capital offenders in their days. The offender would be forced to carry the very thing upon which he must die. I can think of no greater illustration of the life of the believer that conveys the necessity of continually bearing the instrument of death (denial of self) in the practice of doing what is right. Once we deny ourselves by avoiding that which is unhelpful, we then need to “pick up the cross” of doing what is right in place of those things. It is such a powerful metaphor for a very real and tangible discipline that should be touching every area of the believer’s life.

Paul calls this being a “living sacrifice;” a sacrificial offering that lives on and through the continual act of dying to self.

Romans 12:1-2 – I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

This is the same message he is urging Timothy to convey to his hearers: to present their bodies as living sacrifices, sacrifices that are holy and acceptable to God through denying their selfish impulses, not being conformed to the world. But they are also to be transformed through renewal, learning through the act of being tested what actions are good, acceptable and perfect according to his will.

Paul himself suffered intense persecution, and he knew it was a reality for believers who were separating from falsehood, but that they should remain steadfast in their faith.

2 Timothy 3:12-14 – Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Messiah Yeshua will suffer persecution. But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But you remain in the things which you have learned and have been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them.

Paul reminds Timothy to rely on the faithful teaching which he had received as the basis of all he would strive to impart to his hearers.

How like Timothy and those early believers we should strive to be! We must remain steadfast in the things we have learned, cleansing ourselves from every false way so that we may live righteous lives that honor God. By demonstrating righteousness through faith, love, and peace, we will also be honoring the memory and faithfulness of those early believers which they had suffered through their sacrificial examples and through intense persecution. But we will also be honoring the God who calls us to the same life of useful work in our generation. As his people continue to set themselves apart for his use, he is glorified in every age and his Kingdom has opportunity to grow as it continues to fill the earth.


If you enjoy these articles, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

The actions and mindset of the Kingdom

A recognition of the Kingdom of God results in a lifestyle and emotional mindset guided by its principles.

A recognition of the Kingdom of God results in a lifestyle and emotional mindset guided by its principles.

Romans 14:17-18 – For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Whoever thus serves Messiah is acceptable to God and approved by men.

The apostle Paul uttered this statement in the midst of his instruction on not passing judgment on one another within the collective of believers, specifically in regard to food and drink. This was a divisive issue within that first-century generation due to practices of idol worship in the local marketplace and traditions that had been carried over from their Jewish upbringing of those who came to believe in Messiah.

But in this teaching, Paul is trying to stress how the real issues that should be the focus of their lifestyle was not arguing over traditions of men, but their focus should be on the righteousness, peace, and joy that they share through the Spirit of God in believing in Messiah.

Righteousness is a primary indicator of the kingdom because it means acting according to the principles that God affirms are “right.” These principles were to stem from his revealed will in his Word, not from the traditions of men that were based on appearances, or the influences of the idolatrous culture among which they lived.

  • Matthew 5:6 – “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

Peace is an indicator of the kingdom because the gospel of the kingdom is about peace: peace that God provides through faith in Messiah, and peace between men that comes about when we die to ourselves and live for others. As God is a God of peace, peace should be evident in our lives as well.

  • Romans 14:19 – So then, let us pursue what promotes peace and what builds up one another.
  • Romans 15:33 – May the God of peace be with all of you. Amen.

Joy is an indicator of the kingdom because there is a recognition that God has fulfilled his promises to his people. Those who are privileged to participate in the kingdom are relieved from the burden of their sinfulness and are empowered by God’s Spirit to serve him “acceptably, with reverence and awe.” Believers have hope that the world does not share, because their hope is in something larger and more permanent than anything in this world.

  • Hebrews 12:28 – Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful. By it, we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and awe…
  • Romans 15:13 – Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

The Kingdom of God is intended to provide a balanced worldview which results in righteousness, peace, and joy because this is God’s desire for all people. The hope we share as believers in Messiah is that this kingdom will become evident throughout the world as we continue to faithfully and joyfully live by its principles.


If you enjoy these daily articles, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Peace and reconciliation are the primary indicators of the children of God

Believers are taught and encouraged to operate within a spirit of peace at all times.

Believers are taught and encouraged to operate within a spirit of peace at all times.

When Yeshua taught his disciples about forgiveness, it was with the idea that they were to be reconcilers, those who promote peace instead of further divisiveness. This was to be true not only among themselves, but with all others, even including their enemies.

Matthew 5:44 – “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…”

The apostle Paul continued this line of thinking in his epistle to the Roman congregation.

Romans 12:16-18 – Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.

The apostle James mentions how it is the wisdom of God which promotes peace, and also how righteousness can only become evident in an environment of peace.

James 3:17-18 – But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without pretense. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who cultivate peace.

If the fruit of righteousness (that is, doing what is right in God’s eyes) can only be sown in peace, then we see how peace itself, as a fruit of the holy Spirit, is a demonstration of God working within our lives.

  • Galatians 5:22-23 – But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The law is not against such things.
  • Romans 8:14 – For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.

According to the apostle Paul, anyone who considers themself to be a child of God is led by the Spirit of God. Therefore, if one of the fruits of the Spirit is peace, then peace prompted and flowing from God’s Spirit should be evident within their life. This aligns with the teaching of Yeshua

Matthew 5:9 – “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”

Paul encouraged the Corinthian believers, just like the Roman congregation, to have the same mind about living in peace which would be an outward demonstration of their spiritual maturity or completeness.

2 Corinthians 13:11 – Finally, brethren, rejoice, be made complete, be comforted, have the same mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.

Living in peace with others is an identifiable characteristic of Kingdom life. If we are attempting to promote the wisdom of God to others, then, according to the apostle James, at its most basic level that wisdom can only be sown amidst an environment of peace and good will toward others.

Romans 14:19 – So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.

If we have a shared faith in Messiah Yeshua, then we can build on that to encourage one another. If we encounter others who do not share a biblical faith, then, as children of God shining as lights in this world of darkness, we are still obligated as much as possible to live at peace with them.

Romans 12:17-18 – Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.

This is how we demonstrate the love of God to others, not through condemnation, but through being peace makers. This is how we exemplify to others that we truly are children of God. This is how we overcome adversity and bond together as brothers and sisters in Messiah. This is the way of interacting socially with all that honors God and fulfills his desire for his Kingdom becoming evident on the earth.


If you enjoy these daily articles, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

The universal fault of hypocrisy

Believers need to always be on guard against unfair judgment.

Believers need to always be on guard against unfair judgment.

Matthew 7:1 – “Do not judge, so that you won’t be judged.”

Over the centuries, many believers have looked at Yeshua’s command to not judge others as an indication that believers should never be critical of others at all. However, to do so is a failure to continue in the context of the passage.

Matthew 7:2-3 – “For you will be judged by the same standard with which you judge others, and you will be measured by the same measure you use. Why do you look at the splinter in your brother’s eye but don’t notice the beam of wood in your own eye?”

What Yeshua is illustrating is not a restriction on critical judgment, but on hypocritical judgment of others. What he was condemning was the practice, especially of the religious elite, to condemn others for the very things of which they themselves were guilty. The warning, of course, is that for those who do so, they will be judged by the same standards they use on others.

This is a common principle that is outlined in other areas of the Bible, as well. Paul writes about it to the Roman congregation:

Romans 2:1 – “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on another. For on whatever grounds you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.”

In fact, the same principle operates on a larger level, and appears to be a law built into the very fabric of Creation itself. As an example, when the city of Jerusalem (representing Judea) was being chastised through the prophecies of Ezekiel, they were accused by God of becoming subject to the same condemnation that they had scorned Sodom for.

Ezekiel 16: 56-58 – “Did you not treat your sister Sodom as an object of scorn in the day of your pride, before your wickedness was uncovered? Even so, you are now scorned by the daughters of Edom and all those around her, and by the daughters of the Philistines—all those around you who despise you. You will bear the consequences of your lewdness and your abominations, declares Yahweh.”

Hypocrisy is a universal fault that applies to cities, tribes, and nations as well as individuals. Unfortunately, in our day and culture of instantaneous opinion-sharing we are ripe for this principle to be played out amongst ourselves. We form opinions based on half-truths and one-sided personal stories that get shared around through our social media platforms, and most times don’t even realize that we are doing so.

Instead, we should focus less on Matthew 7:1 and much more on Matthew 7:2, “For you will be judged by the same standard with which you judge others, and you will be measured by the same measure you use.”

We would do well to heed the advice of the apostle Paul and prioritize removing hindrances to the gospel of the kingdom through forgiveness and love. Having an attitude defaulting to forgiveness instead of judgment opens the door for allowing that we may not have all of the information to make a correctly informed decision. With this mindset in place, we can instead promote the positive actions that open doors to truth, understanding, and ultimately peace.

Romans 14:13, 19 – Therefore let us stop judging one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way … So then, let us pursue what promotes peace and what builds up one another.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Keeping our hearts from unfair judgment

When we criticize, it becomes that much more difficult to forgive.

When we criticize, it becomes that much more difficult to forgive.

Matthew 7:1-2 – “Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get.”

This command of Yeshua to not be unjustly critical of others comes in the context of avoiding hypocrisy.

Matthew 7:3 – “Why do you look at the splinter in your brother’s eye but don’t notice the beam of wood in your own eye?”

However, beyond avoiding hypocrisy, and if we are honest with ourselves, we can recognize that when we are unjustly critical of others who are close to us we diminish our ability to provide forgiveness to them.

Judgment is the opposite of forgiveness, and harboring critical judgment in our hearts toward someone else numbs our sensitivity to forgiving them if they were to come to us in repentance toward some personal injustice. Because we have pre-judged them, we already have a negative emotion that is easier to act on than a rational acceptance of their genuine repentance which can lead to our forgiveness.

This pre-disposition to unfairly judge others is so common that Yeshua felt it was necessary to issue a clear command to avoid it at all costs.

In the story of the Prodigal son, Yeshua describes how the Father’s love for the son allowed him to suspend judgment on the son’s actions because of the larger benefit and joy of having his repentant son home again. The brother’s reaction was critical because of his jealousy at the prodigal’s apparent avoidance of accountability for poor choices. But it was not the brother’s place to judge the prodigal; it was the father’s, and the father had forgiven the prodigal son. So the brother ended up being judgmental and frustrated for essentially no reason. He could not participate in the celebration of the prodigal’s return because of the unjust judgment that he retained in his heart.

And this is an unintended result of our retention of unfair judgment of others; it robs us of joy. There is nothing happy about wanting to hold judgment over others when there is no reason to do so. This insistence on retaining criticism causes frustration and ongoing hostility. Instead, we should focus on removing unfair judgment from our hearts, especially when it is not within our right to judge someone else, or as in the case of the prodigal, someone else’s son.

Paul uses this logic when speaking of the critical judgments that existed between believers in the Roman congregation:

Romans 14:4 – “Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall…”

When we realize it is not up to us to judge everybody else, we can instead focus on building positive relationships and remain open to avenues of forgiveness when inadvertent wrongs are committed and repented of.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Forgiveness that creates unity among believers

Opinions do not equate to biblical core doctrine.

Romans 14:4 – Who are you to judge another’s household servant? Before his own Lord he stands or falls. And he will stand, because the Lord is able to make him stand.

I really dislike commenting on Romans 14 because I believe it is such a widely misunderstood passage. The root of Paul’s teaching, while true, unfortunately seems to get painted as a “live and let live” philosophy about any and all doctrinal differences that believers may have about what they believe, and yet that is not actually the case.

I believe that what Paul is commenting on is the unforgiving spirit between believers who have differences of opinion about man-made tradition and practice, some things having value, but not all. These man-made traditions are not necessary for all to believe like the cornerstone doctrines of the faith.

Here Paul lists some of those differences of opinions:

Romans 14:5-6 – One person judges one day to be more important than another day. Someone else judges every day to be the same. Let each one be fully convinced in his own mind. Whoever observes the day, observes it for the honor of the Lord. Whoever eats, eats for the Lord, since he gives thanks to God; and whoever does not eat, it is for the Lord that he does not eat it, and he gives thanks to God.

These issues are discussing the man-made traditions, specifically fasting on days that were considered special days that had arisen among the Jews and some believers. Some even included multiple days each week, as illustrated by the parable of Yeshua:

Luke 18:11-12 – “The Pharisee was standing and praying like this about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I’m not like other people ​– ​greedy, unrighteous, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of everything I get.'”

Why was he fasting twice a week? There is no command within the Torah to do so. The only fast that is commanded is that of the Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur. There was no other honoring of other days for fasting, whether for personal self-righteousness (as this Pharisee represents) or communal observance.

Additionally, Luke represents that the disciples of John the baptizer also fasted regularly, along with those restrictive practices of the Pharisees.

Luke 5:33 – “Then they said to him, “John’s disciples fast often and say prayers, and those of the Pharisees do the same, but yours eat and drink.”

It would seem that many Jewish believers who had been raised with these traditions, along with disciples who had come to Messiah under the ministry of John the baptizer began to carry them over into their New Covenant practices, and were encouraging others to do so, as well. Even today orthodox Jews have three other annual fast days on their traditional annual calendar that are not commanded within the Torah. This demonstrates how hard it is to kill these types of traditions.

The Jews had many restrictions and designations for honoring days that arose far above the holy calendar that God had provided in Torah. In this passage, Paul is trying to create a sense of unity between the believers. There were plenty of different traditions they had been raised in, but he was encouraging them not to judge one another about issues that were not clearly commanded in Torah.

Romans 14:1 – “Accept anyone who is weak in faith, but don’t argue about disputed matters.”

According to Strong’s definitions, “arguing” about these “disputed matters” is a phrase which literally means “passing judgment on discussions, considerations, or debates.” It would have been illogical and quite honestly heretical for Paul to consider legitimate commands within the Torah as being “debatable” opinions. He himself kept the Fast of Yom Kippur and the commands of the Torah (see Acts 18:21; 21:24). These have never been in question among believers in the one true God.

I believe Romans 14 is about Paul trying to minimize the unjust judgment that was going on among believers in the congregation. Those who were mistreating or arguing with others who were disagreeing over points of opinion rather than true doctrinal issues.

Romans 14:10 – But you, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or you, why do you despise your brother or sister? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.

Paul is encouraging some latitude among the believers because they were all subservient to the one true God. There should not be disputes over opinions and preferences; Paul implies those things may have been helpful to those immature believers in their new-found faith. Those who relied on these traditional practices were to be shown grace by the more mature believers for the sake of the unity of the congregations. As they were to grow in the faith, God could change their hearts as they began to recognize the futility of the man-made traditions, and that would take time.

Unfortunately, we see the same thing today among believing congregations. People will argue vehemently over how to dress when meeting together, or what time of day the meeting should take place, or what type of music should be performed. I have seen disputes over whether chairs or pews should be used or if children should be included in the meetings or separated out. ALL of these issues are non-essential to the faith and have caused strife and unnecessary divisions within the kingdom of God today.

However, if we can take Paul’s advice and learn rather to accept one another’s misunderstandings about these “debatable” issues, we can exhibit forgiveness that creates unity among God’s people that others will be able to recognize, to God’s glory and honor.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.