The Kingdom of God Is ..

Photo by Ray Bilcliff:

Romans 14:17-18 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. 18 For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men.

I want to start the message today with a question we all need to ask ourselves. The question is …

Are We Following The King Of The Old Testament,
Or The King Of The New Covenant?

The Christians at Rome had a major problem in the Church. They were fighting over food.

The Jewish Christian, raised up in the shadow of the Temple and animal sacrifices, believed that certain foods were clean and other foods were unclean. The Gentile Christian, however, was not raised up under the Law of Moses, and saw all foods as clean. This caused friction in the Church. To be fair, the Jewish Christian did not make up these taboos. When God gave Israel the Law through Moses, He established lists of “clean” foods and “unclean” foods. Why did God do this?

  • First of all, because God is the King of His people, a people that He loves. Our God is immense in knowledge. He knows all things from the beginning to the end. God is never surprised. 1 John 3:20 states “{God} knows everything” (ESV). God said:

Isaiah 46:9-10 … I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’ …

  • Secondly, nothing surprises God. When God chose to save Israel from Egypt, He knew in advance that the people would be difficult to deal with. God knew that this first generation of Israelites would reject His leadership, continually murmur, and that He would have to let that generation die in the wilderness over 40 years until it was gone. God knows. God knows. God knows our very thoughts before we speak (Psalm 139:4).

When Israel gathered at Sinai – gathered by the Grace of God – and God gave the Law to Israel, He knew that Israel would fail Him. Yet God loved them.

Dr. D. Lance Waldie of Harvest Bible Church writes:

The Jews were given many dietary restrictions by God upon their release from Egypt under Moses (cf. Leviticus 11). God gave these restrictions to Israel not only to keep His people healthy (for many of the animals He restricted them from eating were, unbeknownst to them, disease carrying animals) but also to separate His people from the rest of the world. Though the Jews did not understand bacteria and its harmful effects in those days, God did. … abstaining from those foods did not make them holy”.

When the Lord Jesus came to this earth from Heaven, He explained God’s intent when He made certain foods unclean. It had nothing to do with making God’s people holy. Jesus said:

Matthew 15:10-12 (ESV) … “Hear and understand: 11 it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.” 12 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?”

The Pharisees – traditional Jews – were offended because they thought keeping the kosher laws made them holier than others, like those “pig eating Gentiles”. Mark recorded these words of our Lord Jesus:

Mark 7:18-23 (ESV) … Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, 19 since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) 20 And {Jesus} said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. 21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”

It is not food that defiles the Christian, but evil acts
that come from the unregenerate heart.

Under the Old Covenant foods were strictly regulated because God wanted His nomadic Israelites to be healthy. His prohibitions stemmed from His omniscience as well as His love. The Apostle says:

the kingdom of God is NOT meat and drink

The King in the Old Testament restricted the foods of His people out of love. But under the New Covenant, foods are not restricted. What you eat or drink does not impress God, because, as God told Peter,

Acts 10:15 (ESV) “What God has made clean, do not call common.”

  1. The Kingdom of God in the Old Testament was clean and unclean foods.
  2. The Kingdom of God was animal sacrifices.
  3. The Kingdom of God was the feasts that commemorated moments in Israel.
  4. The Kingdom of God was circumcision of the male child on the eighth day after birth.

But the Kingdom of God changed when Jesus came. When Jesus came – when God became Man –

Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a Son,
and shall call His Name Immanuel (God with us) – Isaiah 7:14

The position of the King changed. In the Old Testament the King spoke from Sinai, directing His people in what they must do. Under the New Testament or New Covenant, the King came from glory to walk among us. The first sermon Jesus preached, recorded by Mark was:

Mark 1:14 (ESV) … the time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the Gospel.

The “Gospel or Good News of God is that the King has come. Jesus Christ is the King of the Kingdom of God. God reigns over all things. The Scripture says:

Psalm 24:1 (ESV) The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein,

Everything belongs to God. Jesus is God. Jesus said of the Godhead:

Matthew 28:18 (ESV) … All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.

And John 5:22 (ESV) … the Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son

Jesus Christ is the King of the Kingdom of God. This is fitting, because the Godhead created all things THROUGH JESUS:

Colossians 1:16-17 (ESV) For by {Jesus} all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.

Jesus Christ is the King of the Kingdom of God. He is the Ruler of His people. He is the Savior of His people. The Angel said:

Matthew 1:21 … you shall call His Name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins..

The New Covenant King saves His people
from their sins

Romans 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness

The Kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness. The word translated righteousness is the Greek δικαιοσύνη dikaiosýnē, {pronounced dik-ah-yos-oo’-nay}, which means “the state of being as one ought to be, as God has decreed; the condition acceptable to God; to walk in a manner pleasing to the King of the Kingdom”. God’s people are called to a standard of righteousness. Righteousness means to please God.

When Jesus Christ – God in human form – went to John the Baptist to be baptized in water, John initially refused, saying “I have need to be baptized by YOU!” But Jesus said, “Please do it now, for it is necessary for US (both John and Jesus) to fulfill all RIGHTEOUSNESS” (Matthew 3:15). God demanded that Christ be baptized in water before His ministry began. Jesus as the Son of God sought to please the Godhead, and did so when He did as was required.

The subjects do not set the standards of the Kingdom, but the King sets the standards of the Kingdom.

The Kingdom of God is NOT meat or drink, but RIGHTEOUSNESS. In the Kingdom of God (and Jesus is the King of Kings – see 1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 17:14; Revelation 19:16) there are TWO TYPES of righteousness.

  • There is the IMPUTED righteousness that we have been given by faith in Christ Jesus. When we received Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, God the Holy Spirit moved on our lives and gave us spiritual life. God the Father now views us through the sacrifice of our King and Savior. The Scripture says:

2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV) For our sake {God the Father} made Jesus to be sin, who knew no sin, so that IN HIM we might become THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD.

The Apostle Paul – once a high ranking Pharisees – after salvation wrote:

Philippians 3:8-10 (ESV) Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith …

When you believe on Jesus, your sins are forgiven. You are freed from the Egypt of this world, and are adopted into the family of God. You become a part of Jesus’ Kingdom, living to please Him and not yourselves.

  • There is also an ACTUAL RIGHTEOUSNESS that Christ expects of His people. Entering the Kingdom of God by faith, we PURSUE RIGHTEOUSNESS. We strive to be like Jesus is. We strive to please our God in all that we say and do. The Bible says:

1 Peter 2:21-25 (ESV) For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

The Christian is to die to sin and live to righteousness. This is frequently alluded to in the Scripture. The Apostle writes:

Romans 6:1-2, 11-14 (ESV) What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. 13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.

The Christian is to “walk in the light as Christ is in the light” (1 John 1:7). The BLOOD of Jesus Christ covers your sins. The INDWELLING SPIRIT guides you to walk with Jesus, not with sin.

We live our lives to please Jesus, our King and Savior. As recipients of IMPUTED RIGHTEOUSNESS, we also PURSUE RIGHTEOUSNESS. What did Jesus say? seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).

You, dear Christian, are saved to serve, not saved to sin. We are to live our lives to please our God, to honor King Jesus.

Where The Kingdom Of God Is, There Is
Righteousness, Peace, And Joy

Romans 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

Some false teachers in the Church today are telling us that you can be a Christian and pursue things that God clearly labels as “sin” or “wickedness”. This is not true. Where God has IMPUTED righteousness, He expects us to love Him enough to pursue ACTUAL righteousness. The Scripture says:

1 Timothy 5:20, 22 (ESV) … As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear. … 22 Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, nor take part in the sins of others; keep yourself pure.

The Bible tells us that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). When Jesus imputed righteousness to us, His imputation did not remove the destructive power of sin. “The soul that sins shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4). And again, “He that sins against Me, says the Lord, wrongs his own soul (Proverbs 8:36).” Sin is a destructive thing. The Bible is quite clear:

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 (ESV) Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

1 Timothy 1:9-10 (ESV) … the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, 10 the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine

To those who have IMPUTED righteousness by faith in Christ Jesus, we are also called to PURSUE ACTUAL RIGHTEOUSNESS, that is, to do as Jesus did. We are to love God and avoid those actions that He calls “sin” or “abomination” or “wicked”. We are to love God more than anyone else. Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with ALL your heart and with ALL your soul and with ALL your mind” (Matthew 22:37). We are not to play with that which God has said is sinful. {Jesus} gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age” (Galatians 1:4). When we sin, we do not normalize it, but confess our sins to our Lord and King. When we confess our sins, the Bible says:

1 John 1:9 (ESV) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Righteousness is not just avoid sin.
Righteousness is doing the right thing to others.

Our King Jesus lowered Himself, living His life sacrificially so as to bless us. We who are Christians are to imitate Christ – not just in avoiding sin – but in loving others. The Apostle told the Church at Rome:

Romans 14:14-15 … I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean. 15 But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died.

Paul tells us that he agrees with Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself. But he tells the Church to realize that there are still some Jewish brothers and sisters in Christ that believe they must continue to be KOSHER in their diet. To eat that which was formerly forbidden in their presence is to fail to consider their growing faith. To knowingly offend a brother or sister in Christ in areas like this, food or drink, is to behave unlovingly. Or as Paul writes, now walkest thou not charitably. We are to walk in love, just as Jesus walked in love. What did our Lord say?

John 13:34 (ESV) A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.

This is a commandment that our King has given us. When we violate the commandment, we are in fact being unrighteous. To be righteous is to DO what the King said do, and NOT DO what the King has forbidden. We are to obey our King in all things for our own sake, and for the sake of those around us.

Proverbs 11:19 (ESV) Whoever is steadfast in righteousness will live, but he who pursues evil will die.

Proverbs 15:9 (ESV) The way of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, but {God} loves him who pursues righteousness.

Proverbs 21:21 (ESV) Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness, and honor.

1 Timothy 6:11 (ESV) But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.

2 Timothy 2:22 (ESV) So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.

The Kingdom of God is NOT meat and drink, BUT righteousness (doing what Jesus said do, and avoiding sin), and peace (the lack of war), and joy in the Holy Spirit. We are a saved people. We are to …

Colossians 1:10 (ESV) … walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;

Where there is a lack of peace in a Church, this is a sure sign that righteousness is not being observed. Where there is a lack of joy in a Church, this is a sure sign that God the Holy Spirit is not present in its meetings. But where the Kingdom of God IS, there will always be RIGHTEOUSNESS, PEACE, and JOY in the Holy Spirit. Let us, as God’s children, reckon ourselves in the Kingdom of God. As good citizens of that kingdom, let us live so as to honor our Lord. We are called to serve Christ in these things, in RIGHTEOUSNESS, and PEACE, and JOY. We end with the Apostle’s words:

Romans 14:19-21 Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another. 20 For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offense. 21 It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.

May God the Holy Spirit drive these truths deeply into our hearts. Let us live so as to please our King Jesus. Amen and Amen!

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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