For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord.
So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life
so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. Romans 14:7-9
In Romans 14, Paul is addressing an array of debatable issues tied to the daily practice of religion: eating of meat, drinking of wine, regarding one day as sacred, etc. These debatable issues were tearing at the fabric of Christian unity in the Roman church, especially between Jews and Gentiles. Jews had lived for centuries under the dietary regulations of the laws of Moses. Furthermore, they honored the Sabbath every week as a holy day sacred from all the others in the week. Romans (Gentiles) did not have these patterns at all, and their different convictions were causing severe tensions in the church. Romans 14 is a masterpiece of Christian wisdom, and its various themes go far beyond a brief devotional like this. So, I want to focus on one aspect that has captivated my heart.
In the verses cited above, Paul speaks of the best-case scenario for persons on either side of these various issues. The person who regards one day as sacred “does so to the Lord.” Romans 14:6 That means, if he does it properly, he is doing it in direct connection with his love for Jesus Christ. He sets that day apart as sacred because he thinks Jesus Christ is most glorified by that. In the same way, the man who eats meat does so “to the Lord” by giving thanks to Jesus for providing it. On the other hand, the man who chooses not to eat the meat also acts “to the Lord,” giving thanks to Jesus for that pattern. At best, every decision is brought back to the lordship of Jesus Christ.
"By his death and resurrection, Christ is Lord. Therefore, all believers should live not to ourselves alone but to the Lord and his purposes."
In the verses cited above, Paul asserts that Jesus Christ has won the right to be Lord of every decision we ever make in our lives. By his death and resurrection, Christ is Lord. Therefore, all believers should live not to ourselves alone but to the Lord and his purposes. Whether we live or die, every decision belongs to Christ. This was exactly why Jesus died on the cross and rose again, to be Lord of everything we ever do.
As I came to this conclusion, I realized that I need to repent. I don’t think often enough that Jesus died and rose again to be Lord of my every decision, of every moment of my life. He has won the right at infinite cost. I need to honor him by asking his will— “Lord, what do you want me to do with this or that?”
The chapter ends with the statement, “Anything that does not come from faith is sin.” Romans 14:23 In light of verses 7-9, that means anything that I do that is based on the Lordship of Christ is pleasing to God, but anything I do independently, as if living for myself, is sin.