New Defender's Study Bible Notes
14:1 doubtful disputations. “Doubtful disputations” refer to critical judgments on the inward reasonings of others. Unless some practice is specifically revealed in Scripture to be right or wrong, each believer should be free to formulate his own convictions about it. New Christians may still feel constrained by certain criteria they had followed earlier, and thus may be reluctant to change when they become saved. Unless these are specifically enjoined or prohibited in the Word of God, older believers should receive them into fellowship without argument or criticism.
14:2 eateth herbs. One particular cause of disagreement in the early church was whether a Christian should purchase and eat meat that previously had been sacrificed to pagan gods. This particular problem is one not ordinarily faced by modern Christians, but the principle is the same for all manner of other questions (smoking, dancing, holidays, dress styles, music genres, etc.).
14:3 not judge him that eateth. In all such matters, “let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind” (Romans 14:5) concerning his own conduct, while at the same time refraining from criticizing fellow believers who are of different persuasion. If Scripture speaks clearly on a certain practice, however, then that should govern, not varying human opinions about it.
14:10 judge thy brother. Three times in this chapter (Romans 14:3,4,10) we are commanded not to judge fellow believers on these doubtful questions. See also Matthew 7:1-5.
14:10 judgment seat of Christ. Believers will be judged, not for salvation, but for rewards (II Corinthians 5:10).
14:12 give account. There is only one thing that is absolutely sure to happen to every person—each one will have to face God some day. Not even “death and taxes” are certain for everyone, but meeting God is (note Amos 4:12; Hebrews 9:27; etc.). Believers will meet Christ at His judgment seat to receive rewards or loss of rewards (II Corinthians 5:10; I Corinthians 3:13-15), while unbelievers will meet God at His great white throne for consignment to the lake of fire (Revelation 20:12-15).
14:14 nothing unclean of itself. To the believer, saved by grace through faith in Christ and His provision of full forgiveness and justification, all things are legal. Note such assurances as Titus 1:15, I Corinthians 10:23, and Galatians 5:1,4. Nevertheless, since he should now desire to live and die as unto the Lord (Romans 14:8), this should clearly affect all his behavior and make him very different from those yet unsaved.
14:17 not meat and drink. There will, indeed, still be eating and drinking in the future kingdom (e.g., Matthew 6:25; Revelation 22:2), as there is in its present phase, but its essence is now and shall always be spiritual, not material.
14:21 any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth. Although any given practice is permissible for a Christian (if not precluded by Scripture, in which case he should abstain from it, even though he would not forfeit his salvation by doing it), he should be willing to give it up if it might injure the faith or testimony of a fellow Christian. There are a number of other Biblical guidelines to help us in making informed decisions about doubtful things. See note under Romans 14:23.
14:23 damned. This does not mean eternal damnation, but only “condemnation,” or “judgment.” Both God and the believer himself (Romans 14:22) condemn this doubtful act if he does it against his own conscientious scruples, even if a supposedly more mature believer assures him it is all right.
14:23 not of faith. Although all things are, indeed, legal for a true Christian, he will try to do only those things which please his Lord. When he encounters questions not specifically mentioned in Scripture (e.g., smoking, movies), he should consider the various Scriptural principles that are given as guideposts to help him make such decisions. One of those is given in this verse, namely, he should be able to do it in full confidence that it is pleasing to Christ. Some of the principles, with typical supporting Scriptures, may be noted as follows:
(1) The act has positive value and is, without question pleasing to the Lord (Romans 14:23; I Corinthians 10:23; Colossians 4:5);
(2) The act is consistent with our new life in Christ (Colossians 3:1-4; II Timothy 2:4; II Corinthians 5:14-15);
(3) We can sense the positive leading of the indwelling Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 6:19-20; Galatians 5:16-18);
(4) The act will not diminish our Christian influence (Romans 14:13,21; I Corinthians 8:8-13; I Thessalonians 5:22);
(5) The act does not pose a danger of our becoming addicted to it (I Corinthians 6:12; Ephesians 5:18; James 1:14-15);
(6) It can be done consistently with the example set by Jesus (I Peter 2:21; I John 2:6; Philippians 2:5);
(7) It can be done in confidence that it brings glory to God (I Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 3:23).
This is certainly not an exhaustive list of relevant principles or appropriate Scriptures, but is at least indicative of what to look for.