Article 134: The Catch-All

Article 134: The catch-all       (Romans 14:14-23)          **Verses in NLT**

– Article 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) is the catch-all provision. It covers any violation or offense that is not covered elsewhere.

– Marines can push the limits, but they can’t use the, “I didn’t know” excuse. The Commander’s intent has been made known, even if the specific offense isn’t expressly mentioned in the code of conduct.

– Judgement from the commanding authority is coming your way. (No lawyers, no court back logs, no technicalities, and no excuses!)

Example: Randy, false travel claim, he got demoted. He was wrong and he knew it!

– He wanted me to be his witness, and because of our relationship, I was weak and couldn’t say no. If I lied for him, I could have been swiftly punished for my own transgression.

– I wonder what would have happened if he owned up to it, and humbly asked for mercy? (It would at least been a good example to set for me, the weaker in our brotherhood.)

– Sometimes Christians will use the excuse, “but it’s not specifically mentioned in the bible” as a justification to say we didn’t know it was wrong, when our conscience/conviction through the Holy Spirit warned us that it IS wrong for us. (We rationalize the decision.)

– Sometimes we try to draw others in, and convince them to participate, with the “but other Christians are doing it too” excuse. You are sinning, and not acting in love, by making them stumble. They are sinning by compromising their convictions.

– This message is a correction and warning for both the strong and the weak. Sin is sin, and righteous judgement is coming.

– Romans 14:10, So why do you condemn another believer? Why do you look down on another believer? Remember, we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.

– Our goal should be to lift each other up with encouragement and truth. Not trip over the stumbling blocks together.

Read Romans 14:13-23

#1. It’s not the meat, it’s what the meat represents.

– Pastor Crystal spoke on this last Wednesday. You should go back and listen to that sermon.

– This is written to Jewish believers who lean towards legalism, and Gentile believers who lean back to sinful pagan practices. This is drawing them back to unity in the spiritual middle ground.

– Food is used as an example, but it is the specific foods, the ones with spiritual implications. Foods that are not Kosher may still be hard for Jewish believers to see as okay to eat now. For them, it is still wrong. (I know a former Muslim, now a Christian, that still won’t eat pork.)

– We all come to Christ with a certain amount of baggage to work through.

– Paul urges those who are strong in faith not to force others to violate their consciences.

– As with everything in the New Testament, “heart condition” is the determining factor. These verses apply to the true and honest believers, not the C.I.N.O. (Christian in Name Only).

– Read Mark 7:1-8 (Pharisees, disciples, ceremonial hand washing…)

– These “church people” were offended by the disciple’s freedom, but Jesus called them out on their motives for being offended. (It’s not their weak conscience. It’s pride.)

– You don’t have to suppress your freedom in Christ for fear of pushing away the lukewarm morally compromised “Christian”. If the biblical truth offends them, the offense will remain. (Live at peace, as much as it depends on you, but don’t compromise your faith.)

– The heart condition behind these verses in Romans is stated in Verse 15:

Romans 14:15, And if another believer is distressed by what you eat, you are not acting in love if you eat it. Don’t let your eating ruin (destroy) someone for whom Christ died.

#2. You are God’s ambassador.

Romans 14:17-20a, For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness (righteousness) and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God, and others will approve of you, too. 19 So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up. 20 Don’t tear apart the work of God over what you eat…

– In the broader sense, this isn’t only about food, but also how you live your Christian walk.

– You represent Christ, so serve with the joy and righteousness, and you will be doing the right thing.

2 Cor. 5:20, So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!”

– How can we expect people to hear the gospel from us, if we appear to be in violation of God’s standards? (Example: I have tattoos… and preach internationally)

Kenya, preaching, and tattoos:

         – I asked what to wear but the answer was vague. I wanted to be the exotic stranger…

         – I knew in my heart I should’ve been more conservative, but I did what I wanted instead.

– I found out after, only criminals have tattoos, and short sleeves and tennis shoes were not respectful church clothes.

– How many left with a tarnished view of God because of my liberty?

– India, preaching, and tattoos:

         – I learned my lesson, learned the cultural customs, and adhered to them.

– The Christians are conservative and Pentecostal. No shorts for men, no pants for women, and definitely NO tattoos. I covered mine up the whole time we were there. (Even socks!)

– I wanted to honor God and my fellow believers, even if it meant being uncomfortable.   (Even buying and wearing the Kurta for preaching in the villages!)

– The point is, don’t distract or destroy the work God is doing through you, or around you, in the spiritual lives of you brothers and sisters, and the Christian community as a whole.

– When you insist on having your own way, you can end up being a poor ambassador of Jesus, and cause division in the family of God.

#3. If it is sin to you, it is sin FOR you.

Romans 14:23, 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.

Article 134 UCMJ: The “catch-all” for offenses that are not spelled out elsewhere. It covers “all conduct that could bring discredit upon the armed forces”, and allows the Marine to be brought to court martial.

– The Bible is very clear about many kinds of sin, just as there are many articles in the Uniform Code of Military Justice that condemn bad behaviors.

– The Bible is also very clear about the ways your actions can bring discredit upon Jesus Christ and his church.

– Verse 23 is a biblical “Article 134 catch-all” verse. It leaves no wiggle room or excuses for sin.

– If it violates your conscience and convictions, and not done in faith, you know it is sin.

– There are two challenges I see with this in our culture:

1. “Weak” Christians, who don’t know their Bible, are easily influenced to agree with what the world says is right. The world tells you what you know to be sinful, is not actually sin.

Romans 1:25, They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen. 

Romans 1:32,They know God’s justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too.

– If you don’t know what the bible says, you will be easily led astray by compromising your convictions. It’s the oldest trick in the book!

Genesis 3:1, The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the Lord God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?”

2. These younger generations are literally “born into sin” and they don’t know any different. They grew up with this culture. It appears normal to them.

– Read Romans 2:12-16

         – No one should feel comfortable attempting to use the “I didn’t know” excuse.

– Either way, deep down you feel it, the Holy Spirit is convicting you of your acceptance and participation in the parts of this culture that you know are wrong.

– It can be hard to go against the flow, but you don’t have an excuse not to.

– If it is a violation of your conscience and convictions, and you know it is not right, even if no one is willing to hold you accountable, it is sin for you! It comes back to heart condition and motives!

– Believer, you must understand that you were born-again “different”! You should live different!

1 Cor. 5:15-17, He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them. 16 So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! 17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

Close with this verse:

Romans 8:11-13, The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you. 12 Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. 13 For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live.

– alter call –

– prayer –

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