We Belong to the Lord
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Rom. 14:7 (Holman) For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself.
This resumes the thought of verse four, “Who are you to criticize another’s household slave?” We are not to be harsh in judging fellow believers. Since each of us belongs to God, He alone has the right to render a verdict regarding us.
In matters not specifically covered by Scripture, individuals must be allowed to make their own decisions. This, of course, is based on the assumption we are sure we are truly making our decision in a state of submission to God.
All believers belong to Someone Else, only to God. This truth leads us to two conclusions. One, we are in no sense one another’s masters. Two, none of us has any right to live a self-centered life. It is not our job to live someone else’s life for them, nor is it our job to live our own life for ourselves. The following verses amplify both these emphases.
Rom. 14:8a If we live, we live for the Lord;
“For the Lord” is the touchstone of Christian living. We are to live for Jesus. Our main ambition must be to please Him. Every act of life needs to be prayerfully weighed in light of God’s will.
We need to live on our tiptoes, peering unto Heaven for daily direction. The Christian is not to live according to his or her own will or pleasure. In Jesus we found something worth living and dying for. Now our every decision must be made as an act of obedience and honor for the Lord.
Rom. 14:8b . . . and if we die, we die for the Lord.
When dying, Jesus thought of us. When we die, we must think of Him. We choose neither the time nor method of our death. We die when and as the Lord wills. As death crosses our path, we submit to God’s providence, and glorify Him even in our death.
God is our Master. We are to acknowledge our servanthood. We are entirely His and have no authority over our life or death. His ownership is acknowledged in this life, and extends past the grave. Earthly masters control only as long as their servants are in the flesh, but not so with Jesus. His dominion goes on and on.
Rom. 14:8c Therefore, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.
For the believer, Christ is the center of our existence. All lines of life and death converge in Him. In everything Christ is to be all in all.
Before conversion, we center everything in ourselves. After salvation, though, we see us as being on the horizon, with Christ as the new center.
He becomes the focus of everything, omnipresent in our decision-making, as ever present in our thoughts as our shadow is in the sunlight. Not even death can break the consciousness we have of Jesus being with us. In this world, His is an unseen presence. In the next world, we will see Him face to face.
Death is not the end. It is rather a gateway that leads to an ever-fuller revealing of Jesus. Death is but an out-birth to a higher life. In life we seek to glorify Jesus; in death we seek to glorify Jesus, and go to be glorified with Him.
Death does not divide us from Christ. Instead, it brings us home to Him. In our Civil War, a wounded lieutenant in an Iowa regiment said before death, “Tell my wife that there is not a cloud between me and Jesus.” One martyr described death as “but a winking”, a closing of the eyes here to open them again there.
Rom. 14:9 Christ died and came to life for this: that He might rule over both the dead and the living.
After Adam and Eve sinned in Eden, only Jesus could choose whether or not to die. The most anyone else can do is to decide when to die. For instance, the martyrs were not really choosing whether or not they would die. They were rather deciding when. They were merely hastening their death-day. However, for Jesus it truly was a choice. He could have lived forever, and never had to taste death at all.
Nevertheless, He chose to die that He might become our Lord. He wanted to purchase us with His blood that He might know He truly own us. Was this desire selfish? No. He wants to be our Lord because He knows it is best for us.
The Lord does not want us deluded and harmed by the world. He desires for us His own love, the best thing we can ever experience.
In being our Lord, Christ is in no way usurping a power undeserved by Him. It is not selfishness on His part to want us to obey Him totally. He purchased this right with a great price and through an awesome miracle.
Jesus earned his crown before He wore it. He fought for it, vanquished all His enemies, and verified His victory through the resurrection.
Christ paid a high price to be our Lord, and a major part of His Lordship involves being the sole Judge of His people. We have no right to invade this role. We must not intrude upon His prerogative. Since Jesus is our Judge, none of us needs to sit in judgment of fellow Christians.
If a matter is not specifically dealt with in Scripture, let everyone decide for themselves. To Christ alone we must answer. We must accept differences as long as there is no straightforward disobedience to a definite directive in God’s Word.
Since Jesus died to be our Judge, we must let Him judge. Since He rose to life again for us, let us in our born again lives truly live for Him. He died and rose again to be our Lord. Therefore, let us give Him His due. Let us live for Him.
He is ever watching over us. We must keep our eyes fixed ever on Him. King Tigranes of Armenia, and his family, were brought before Pompey to receive sentencing. Tigranes pleaded he alone might suffer, and that his wife and children be set free. His self-sacrificing love so moved Pompey that he freed all the family.
Tigranes later asked his wife, “What did you think of the Emperor?”
“Indeed, I never saw him!”
“You never saw Pompey? Where were your eyes?”
“They were fixed on the one who offered to die for me.”
God grant us grace to live and die with our eyes fixed on the One who died for us.
Rom. 14:10a But you, why do you criticize your brother? Or you, why do you look down on your brother?
Don’t miss Paul’s double use of the word “brother”. It was obviously a term that mattered hugely to him. We are to see one another as brothers, not as competitors or foes. We need to look into our fellow Christian, and see the image of God there. Do not get so hung up on externals that we overlook inner realities. All who have the mind of Christ will penetrate the surface. They will see through the shell into the kernel.
Rom. 14:10b For we will all stand before the tribunal of God.
A major reason we must not judge one another is; we are each of us ourselves people under judgement. The thrust of this passage is twofold. One, do not judge our brothers and sisters in Christ, God will judge them. Two, do judge our own selves, for God will judge us.
Leave others to God; look well to self. We have much to do in our own back yard. Look yourself in the face, because someday before His face we shall stand.
It is sad that judging others had to be discussed in a section regarding how Christians treat one another. The way we act toward fellow-believers is often one of our prevailing sins. Backbiting and gossip among believers is a first-class scandal. Rest assured it will be a major topic of discussion at the Judgment.