Romans 14:17 (NKJV)
17for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
- This verse makes two important points about the kingdom of God. It tells us what the kingdom of God does not consist of and what the kingdom of God does consist of.
“for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking”
- In Greek, the words translated as “eating and drinking” are actually nouns and not verbs and should be translated as “food and drink.” It does not describe an action but a substance. However, the substance, namely food and drink, make the action possible.
- The kingdom of God does not consist of food and drink.
- Food and drink are essential for our natural lives.
- Food and drink sustain us and without food and drink we would die.
- Food and drink delight us with their various tastes and aromas.
- Food and drink also provide a wonderful opportunity for fellowship as people gather around a meal and enjoy being together.
- Food and drink are good things if received with a thankful heart.
1 Timothy 4:4 NKJV
4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving;
- We can see contrasts and comparisons between food and drink and righteousness, peace, and joy.
- Let’s compare food and drink with righteousness, peace, and joy:
- As food and drink are essential for our physical bodies to be healthy and vibrant, righteousness, peace, and joy are also essential for us to be healthy and thrive both emotionally and spiritually.
- Without food and drink we will be weak and feeble. Without righteousness, peace, and joy in our spiritual lives we will live in defeat. We will be powerless to overcome whatever tries to tear us down and destroy us.
- Food and drink enhance our ability to enjoy life from a physical perspective, and righteousness, peace, and joy enable us to enjoy life from a spiritual perspective. We can enjoy God’s blessings and live a life filled with the delight of fellowshipping with God and other believers.
- Now let’s contrast food and drink with righteousness, peace, and joy:
- Food and drink provide only fleeting and momentary enjoyment, while righteousness, peace, and joy provide enduring contentment and delight.
- Food and drink can lead to excess and gluttony—“I can’t believe I ate the whole thing.” No one would ever say I have too much peace and joy or I wish I had less peace and joy.
- In regard to food and drink it can easily be said, “too much of a good thing can be harmful.” However, the more we cultivate and develop righteousness, peace, and joy the more delightful, fruitful, and glorious our lives become.
Proverbs 31:6-7 NKJV
6 Give strong drink to him who is perishing, And wine to those who are bitter of heart.
7 Let him drink and forget his poverty, And remember his misery no more.
- Some use food and drink in excess to try and escape the pain, suffering, and disappointments of life. Righteousness, peace, and joy enable us to not only face the realities and trials of life, but to overcome them and live victoriously.
- While food and drink are temporal, righteousness, peace, and joy are eternal.
- It is essential that we discern the temporal from the eternal and that we prioritize the spiritual ahead of the physical.
- Many times Christians become frustrated because they have wrong expectations and wrong goals because they have relegated the spiritual to a secondary position.
- If a Christian has incorrect goals or expectations it will result in either disappointment or dismay.
- When their goals are not achieved it leads to disappointment. When their goals are achieved and they fail to find true satisfaction it leads to dismay.
- Christians who have wrong priorities or wrong goals will experience the same emptiness and dissatisfaction with life which unbelievers experience.
- George Bernard Shaw, the famous Irish playwright and an avowed atheist, was the only person to win both the Nobel Prize in Literature (1925) and an Oscar (1938). He lived to the ripe old age of 94 and he once said, “There are two tragedies in life: one is not getting your heart’s desires. The other is to get it.”
- The kingdom of God is “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.”
- The Scripture does not say that “the kingdom of God is righteousness, peace, and joy” but “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.”
- The most important point to note here is that righteousness, peace, and joy are “in the Holy Spirit.” In other words righteousness, peace, and joy are the product of the Holy Spirit and are the result of being filled with the Holy Spirit.
- If one tries to achieve or maintain righteousness, peace, and joy apart from the Holy Spirit, one will quickly fall into religion, self-righteousness, and self-effort resulting in either pride or frustration.
- People will become proud if they fool themselves into thinking they are producing spiritual fruitfulness when in fact they are not. Or they will become frustrated when they realize that they are failing to be spiritually fruitful.
John 15:5 NKJV
5 I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
- The entire Bible reiterates time and time again that we can do nothing of eternal value without God.
- The three things that make up the kingdom of God—righteousness, peace, and joy are produced and manifest in our lives when we submit our three directive faculties, namely our will, intellect, and emotions to the leading of the Holy Spirit.
- Using the analogy of going on a road trip by car we can see how our will, intellect, and emotions each play a vital role in getting to our final destination.
- The will is similar to the steering wheel that sets the direction for the vehicle to travel.
- The intellect can be seen as the road map that provides the route to our destination.
- The emotions are like the gas pedal by which the car is able to accelerate and be propelled forward.
1 Corinthians 13:13 NKJV
13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
- The three eternal graces of faith, hope, and love will enable our will, intellect, and emotions to produce righteousness, peace, and joy.
- The will when operating by faith will produce righteousness.
- The intellect when operating by hope will produce peace.
- The emotions when operating by love will produce joy.
- First, let’s look at how the will when operating by faith produces righteousness.
Philippians 3:9 KJV
9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
- “the faith of Christ” — This Scripture clearly indicates that the righteousness we receive is the result of the faith of Christ, meaning that the faith is from Jesus Christ, originates from Jesus Christ, and belongs to Jesus Christ.
Romans 3:22 KJV
22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:
- “faith of Jesus Christ”—It is the faith of Jesus Christ that enables us to be righteous.
- “upon all them that believe”—Although faith is from Jesus Christ, we are the ones who must choose to exercise our will and act on that faith by believing so we can be justified and counted righteous.
Galatians 3:22 KJV
22 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.
Galatians 2:16 KJV
16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
- “the faith of Jesus Christ”—God’s part—He gives us the faith.
- “even we have believed in Jesus Christ”—our part—we choose to believe.
- “Faith” is a noun and it is what God supplies so we can be saved. “Believing” is a verb and it is the action we must take to be saved.
- True faith in Jesus Christ originates from Jesus Christ and belongs to Jesus Christ. Saving faith is not something a person can drum up or produce on their own. Faith is something God imparts to people.
- However, salvation is more than just faith, but faith acted upon. Salvation occurs when Christ’s gift of faith and man’s choice to act on that faith by believing intersect.
- When one exercises one’s will and chooses to act on the faith that God is giving and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ they are saved which results in righteousness.
Romans 1:17 NKJV
17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”
- Romans 1:17 tells us a few important points about faith and righteousness.
- “the righteousness of God is revealed”—righteousness in a Christian’s life is an ongoing revelation as the righteousness that God imparted to our spirit the moment we were born again should now begin to develop and be manifest in our souls and in our daily lives.
- “from faith to faith”—our faith in Christ is to grow and develop as we daily choose to trust Him and learn the delight of growing in our faith-walk with God.
- “The just shall live by faith.”—Faith is to be a way of life for a Christian and not just a one-time event at the moment we repented and received Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour.
Romans 10:9 (NKJV)
9that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
- Just as one had to choose to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ to be saved by both believing in their hearts and then choosing to confess Jesus Christ, we need to make consistent choices and speak words of faith each day.
Joshua 24:15 (NKJV)
15And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
- “choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve”—Not only does exercising our will to walk in obedience and faith produce righteousness, it also brings healing to our will so we can make more righteous decisions.
- It is like a snowball effect. The more we choose to do good the more we will continue to choose to do good. But the more we choose to do wrong the more we will choose to do wrong. We can train our will to choose good until choosing good consistently defines our way of life.
- When we daily choose to seek God and yield to His Holy Spirit, He strengthens our will so it gradually becomes easier to make godly choices and walk in righteousness.
- However, if we choose to yield to fleshly impulses we weaken our will and our resolve to walk in godliness and we will find it more difficult to make godly choices.
- Choosing to trust God strengthens our will so we can learn to walk in righteousness but choosing to walk in the flesh weakens our will so we fall into patterns of unrighteous living.
- Jesus is there to forgive us, to help us, and to bring about His righteous purposes for our lives as we turn to Him and confess our sins, failures, and struggles.
- Righteousness brings healing to our wills so we can consistently make righteous decisions.
- Righteousness is the quality of the kingdom of God within us that empowers our will so that we act righteously.
- To live a righteous and victorious life a Christian must learn to make choices and decisions motivated by an unshakeable faith in God and His Word.
- Simple steps of obedience to God’s Word and the Holy Spirit will lead a Christian to develop Christ-like character.
- Some Christians struggle to develop a deep and meaningful devotional life because they base decisions on their feelings and emotions instead of consistently choosing to spend time with God in prayer and in His Word.
- Abraham became a man of faith but he didn’t begin as a man of faith. Along the journey of faith that Abraham took, he had times of fears, doubts, and even failures. However, through his journey he learned to trust God until his faith became unshakeable.
Hebrews 11:8 NKJV
8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.
- Abraham’s journey of faith began as he obeyed God and took a step of faith by leaving his homeland to travel to a place he knew nothing about.
Hebrews 11:17-19 NKJV
17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,
18 of whom it was said, “In Isaac your seed shall be called,”
19 concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense.
- “By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac”—The crowning moment when Abraham’s faith broke through all the darkness of his circumstances and shone brightest is when he willingly offered up his only begotten son Isaac.
- “concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead” —Abraham’s faith was not blind faith but a faith in the living God. Abraham had cultivated his faith over many years until even in the face of death he believed in the resurrection of the dead!
1 Corinthians 4:16 NKJV
16 Therefore I urge you, imitate me.
- The journey to strengthening our will and learning to make choices based on our faith in God begins when we allow fellow Christians who are mature in the faith to come alongside us and as we follow their example and counsel.
- We look to those fathers and mothers in the faith who become our examples of how to walk in faith.
1 Corinthians 11:1 NKJV
1 Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.
- The next step in our faith walk is to recognize how Christ in them is our example and we begin to be more dependent and confident in Christ.
Ephesians 5:1-2 NKJV
1 Therefore be imitators of God as dear children.
2 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.
- The final step is where our gaze is fully on Jesus and we are able to completely lean on Jesus and emulate His love and holiness.
- Next, let’s look at how the intellect when operating by hope produces peace.
Isaiah 26:3 (NKJV)
3You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.
Isaiah 26:3 (NASB95)
3“The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, Because he trusts in You.
Hebrews 10:23 NKJV
23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.
- The more we read, study, and meditate on God’s Word the more His promises fill our thoughts and the more confident we become in His promises.
- If our minds are filled with thoughts of God’s promises and faithfulness then there is no room for fear and doubt.
Hebrews 11:6 NKJV
6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
- As we read and study the Bible and all the examples of God’s faithfulness our confidence in God’s promises becomes more concrete and real. Even in the face of severe opposition we are totally confident “that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”
Romans 4:17-18 NKJV
17 (as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations”) in the presence of Him whom he believed-God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did;
18 who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, “So shall your descendants be.”
- “who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations”—Abraham was not just a man of faith but a man who knew and meditated on the promises God had given him. He embraced God’s promises which gave him unquenchable hope and peace even when faced with apparently impossible circumstances.
Philippians 4:7 NKJV
7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
- When we embrace God’s promises, hope will spring up from the very depths of our being. Our hope in His promises will completely fill our hearts and minds and give us a peace that seems totally incomprehensible and baffling to unbelievers.
Psalm 105:17–21 NKJV
17He sent a man before them— Joseph—who was sold as a slave.
18They hurt his feet with fetters, He was laid in irons.
19Until the time that his word came to pass, The word of the Lord tested him.
20The king sent and released him, The ruler of the people let him go free.
21He made him lord of his house, And ruler of all his possessions,
- I love meditating on the story of Joseph and contemplating on how God was working behind the scenes by taking apparently random events and painful situations to bring about the fulfillment of His perfect plan in Joseph’s life!
1 Thessalonians 5:8 NKJV
8 But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation.
- Let us be diligent to learn how to put on the helmet which is the hope of salvation.
- Hope brings an unquenchable peace that provides protection and healing for our minds.
- Peace is the quality of the kingdom of God within us that empowers our intellect so we will become immune to the attacks from the enemy that would want to sow fear and confusion in our minds.
- Finally, let’s look at how our emotions when operating by love produce joy.
1 John 4:18-19 NKJV
18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.
19 We love Him because He first loved us.
- There is no greater source of joy than to know that God loves us unconditionally and through Jesus’ sacrifice we are forgiven and saved and have become His beloved children.
- Joy is not the absence of sorrow; it is something that is vibrant knowing that we are loved by God!
Hebrews 12:2 NKJV
2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
- Jesus was able to endure the horrors and suffering of the cross because He didn’t focus on the cross but the joy that followed the cross—being seated beside His Father and the hope of one day having all His redeemed children with Him.
- The way we overcome the sorrows and pains of this life is to look past the trials of this life and see the glory and joy that we will have in unbroken fellowship with Jesus and with one another forever. It will be a glory and joy that cannot yet be fully expressed or even comprehended.
Luke 10:19–20 (NKJV)
19Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.
20Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”
- Jesus warned His disciples against having their joy based on anything other than their relationship with God.
- One of the greatest enemies of true joy is when we rejoice in temporal things. We should be thankful for temporal blessings, and we should enjoy temporal blessings, but our joy should be rooted in the salvation that Jesus purchased for us.
- The source of our joy will determine our emotional health and whether we are stable or unstable.
Hebrews 10:32–35 (NKJV)
32But recall the former days in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great struggle with sufferings:
33partly while you were made a spectacle both by reproaches and tribulations, and partly while you became companions of those who were so treated;
34for you had compassion on me in my chains, and joyfully accepted the plundering of your goods, knowing that you have a better and an enduring possession for yourselves in heaven.
35Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward.
- If our joy is rooted in the temporal things in this life we will eventually be very disappointed.
- We can be joyful knowing we have an enduring possession in Heaven.
- Joy is essential for us to live a victorious Christian life.
- Without joy our life becomes burdensome regardless of how easy our circumstances are.
- However, with joy our life is filled with wonder regardless of how difficult our circumstances are.
- If we bottle up our emotions to avoid feeling negative emotions like sorrow, we will also be unable to experience positive emotions like joy. The way we overcome the pain and sorrow of life is to daily fill our hearts with the joy of our salvation.
- Joy brings healing and wholesomeness to our emotions.
- As we experience joy in the Holy Spirit it begins to change the way we react to circumstances and to adversity.
- Joy is the quality of the kingdom of God within us that empowers our emotions so that we can enjoy God’s love.
- The First Step is Righteousness.
- Righteousness brings wholesomeness to our will so we can make righteous decisions.
- The Second Step is Peace.
- Peace brings wholesomeness to our intellect as our thoughts dwell on the promises and unchanging hope we have in Christ.
- The Third Step is Joy.
- Joy brings wholesomeness to our emotions as we learn to abide in God’s love through fellowship with God and look forward to being in His presence for all eternity.
- The order of will, intellect, and emotions is progressive.
- Many people try to reverse this order and seek to be motivated by their emotions.
Revelation 2:10 (NKJV)
10Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.
- No matter what we may face, when we possess righteousness, peace, and joy we will be overcomers.
- The best way to witness to unbelievers is not to tell them you believe in Jesus, but allow righteousness, peace, and joy to validate your belief in Jesus.
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