SUBJ: The Kingdom of God and its
character compared and contrasted by the behaviors of men and the
essence of it as being spiritual and witnessed in Christ.
AIM: That we might be those whose
priority is to seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and thus to
experience the Joy that is characteristic of it.
INTR: We are living in the Kingdom
of God in that He is Lord over all and rules in all the affairs of men
and His creation. The distinction among men is their perception of it.
1. While we worship a God who is in control of all things – not all are
aware that He does.
2. We who know Him are joyously conscious of His
reign and delight in Him and the manner of His reign.
3. Paul would
show that petty differences among men are not Kingdom behaviors and to
be avoided at all costs – even to giving up some things that are not
THESIS: That which was
displayed in Christ our Lord defines for us the manner of the Kingdom
citizenship. It is first of all spiritually experienced.
Kingdom contrasted (vv. 13-15)
1. We are here given a final example
in the matter of judging by appealing to a higher form of judgment – we
avoid causing a brother to stumble.
2. A conclusion about foods is
that nothing is unclean of itself – that is eating of foods previously
considered unclean is not a moral issue.
1) There is a matter of
conscience to be considered – if one thinks it to be unclean, to him it
2) For whatever the reason, these things are not to be raised as
3. Here is raised a matter of Christian liberty – that is the
ability not to do what seems permissible.
1) The issue is concern for
the brother and the ability to imitate Christ who pleased not Himself.
2) If Christ died for this brother or sister, what is the least that we
3) We would take care not to destroy His faith however weak
it may be.
II. The Kingdom described (vv. 16-18)
1. In v. 16
we are to take care that a sound belief and witness in the Gospel not be
compromised by taking an adamant position on non-moral issues.
have long loved v. 17 and hope someday to plumb the depths of its
meaning – it is definable, but it is the depths of experience we would
3. To say that it is “righteousness, peace, and joy” is
obviously not a physical description. These are those things that
describe the experience of being in the Kingdom of God.
assert that this is the manner of conduct of the people of God towards
each other (to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy
2) Others would see it as our state before God – seeing
ourselves as justified, experiencing that we are sanctified, and
rejoicing in the Spirit that these things are true about us.
would seem that both thoughts are correct in that the second condition
will produce the first. We will reflect our relationship with God in our
manner among the brethren and other people.
1) Righteousness – the
state of our being before God as made righteous in Christ and by the
merits of His blood.
2) At peace with God as being reconciled (God
was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself) and experiencing a
sense of blessed accord and loving communion with Him.
3) The joy is
that Spirit-wrought delight in being in the presence of God, subject to
His care and loving to be under His rule and guidance.
from Hendriksen: The Kingdom as expressed here is the essence of the
God’s royal reign, the evidence of that blessed reign in your midst, say
Paul, as it were, is not affected by what one eats… but is attested by
one’s possession of the state of righteousness before God, a peace
resulting from reconciliation with God. It is characterized by the
experience of Joy such as Peter describes: Whom having not seen, ye
love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with
joy unspeakable and full of glory: 1 Peter 1:8.
6. Such are they that
are acceptable with God and approved of men (v. 18) and see 34 Then
Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no
respecter of persons: 35 But in every nation he that feareth him, and
worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. Acts 10:34-35.
The Kingdom defended (vv. 19-23)
1. In v. 19 Paul’s objective is
stated – follow after the things that make for peace and edify.
The thought of v. 15 is revisited in v. 20 and in v. 21 we are
essentially asked if there is anything as to earthly practices that
could cause stumbling.
3. However strong our beliefs in these matters
keep it between you and God if it seems to cause offence.
thought here of defending the Kingdom is that we should act in such a
manner as to preserve the sense of (righteousness, peace, and joy) in
ourselves and others – to pursue grievances is to leave off the
enjoyment of these things.
5. Let the final thought here guide our
actions and reactions: Whatsoever is not of faith is sin! And let us
rather seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness!