The kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”
“The fellowship is broken. The power of darkness grows. All will be sacrificed. All will be lost unless we unite against evil.” (From the Lord of the Rings – The Two Towers) This quote from the Lord of the Rings shows us we are in an epic battle for life and death, and even more – heaven and hell for all eternity. The enemy works very hard to divide and conquer God’s people so our witness to those who remain in his clutches will be ineffective. As the Trinity is Unity in Diversity (One God Three Persons in complete love and unity) God calls us to reflect His very Character to a lost world as we walk in love and unity, and Jesus prays for unity: “I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their message, that they may all be one. Just as you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be one in us, so that the world may believe that you sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, so that they may be one, just as we are one. I am in them, and you are in me. May they be completely one, so that the world may know that you sent me and that you have loved them as you loved me.” (John 17:20-23) “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35) In this lesson Paul is addressing believers and calling for love and unity versus contempt (the strong believers ridiculing the weak for their scrupulous rules) and judgment (the weak believers judging the strong as sinful for not doing or doing something the weak believers considered sinful). These differences were over things that are not clearly commanded or prohibited in Scripture. Over the history of the church there have been many other differences on personal convictions which divide believers and hurt the cause of Christ. From clothes to make-up for women, dancing, smoking, movies, playing certain board games, cards, etc., the enemy can get us so busy fighting each other that we forget who our real enemy is. “In Essentials Unity, In Non-Essentials Liberty, In All Things Charity.” Augustine. (See Part I of this message at: http://www.lensykes.com/archives/1608)
“Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this—not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way. 14 I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing (morally neutral things, like food, etc.) is unclean in itself; but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. 15 For if because of food your brother is hurt, you are no longer walking according to love. Do not destroy with your food him for whom Christ died. 16 Therefore do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil; 17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 For he who in this way serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. 19 So then we pursue (“to seek after eagerly, earnestly; endeavor to acquire”- Strong’s) the things which make for peace and the building up of one another. 20 Do not tear down the work of God for the sake of food. All things (morally neutral things, like food, etc.) indeed are clean, but they are evil for the man who eats and gives offense. 21 It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles. 22 The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. 23 But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin.15:1 Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves. 2 Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification. 3 For even Christ did not please Himself.” (Romans 14:13-15:3)
“For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking (though the strong believer has the liberty to do this), but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” This verse is a good summary and point of application for what brings love and unity to believers and reveals the kingdom of God to the lost. Paul, a former legalistic Jew himself, now describes himself as a strong believer (15:1) who had liberty to eat non-kosher foods, drink wine (without getting drunk) and not observe Old Testament holy days, such as the Sabbath, etc. (Col. 2:16). But since exercising his liberty or “rights” may cause some other believers to sin against their conscience (vv. 14-15, 23) and maybe even fall into deeper sin (vv. 15b, 20) he gave up his “rights” out of love (not out of law). And he also did this to build up his neighbor for his good and edification (vv. 19, 15:2). He then points us to the ultimate model of sacrificial love for the good and edification of all of us – the Lord Jesus Christ: “For even Christ did not please Himself.” (15:3). “And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him.” (John 8:29) Jesus gave up His “rights” as Man and God to please the Father and for the sake of an eternal love relationship with you and me. How can we do any less as forgiven sinners for our Christian neighbor?
“You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.
6 Though he was God,
he did not think of equality with God
as something to cling to.
7 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges (His “rights”);
he took the humble position of a slave
and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form
8 he humbled himself in obedience to God
and died a criminal’s death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:5-8)
“For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” What does God’s kingdom look like? It is about righteous, peaceful, and joyful relationships with God and man. It is not “my rights to please myself” even though I am free to eat and drink, etc. It is RIGHTEOUSNESS – right with God (both forgiven and pleasing Him in what I do); PEACE – enjoying our peace with God (Rom. 5:1) and living at peace with man; “Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, 3 being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Eph. 4:1-3); JOY – And the joy that comes from righteous and peaceful relationships with God and man (and even all of creation) – that will ultimately be partially realized in the Messianic kingdom (Is. 11:1-11; Jer. 31:31-34; Joel 3:17-21; Amos 9:11-15; Micah 4:1-5) and fully realized in the eternal Kingdom to come. (Revelation 21-22) “For the joy set before Him (Jesus) endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2) “‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’” (Matthew 25:21)
The Trinity is a Community of loving relationships and God created mankind in His image to be the same. Any time we make things (food, drink, religious traditions, work, etc.) and our “rights” more important than loving our God and our neighbor (The Great Commandment) we become less like God and the way He made us.
“Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? 2 Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. 3 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. 4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. 5 You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.” (Philippians 2:1-5) “And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him.” (John 8:29)
Questions for Discussion and Application
“The fellowship is broken. The power of darkness grows. All will be sacrificed. All will be lost unless we unite against evil.” (From the Lord of the Rings – the Two Towers)
Chapter 14-15:3 Our Christian Brother and Opinions (or matters of conscience/personal convictions) http://bibleviews.com/romans.html
1. V. 13 What must we avoid?
2. V. 14 Why does something clean become unclean? See verse 23.
3. V. 15 What is to control our actions?
4. V. 17 What issues was Paul speaking about? What is important in the kingdom of God?
5. V. 19 What should we pursue?
6. V. 20-21 What must we avoid? Does this chapter give the Christian license or limit his action?
7. V. 23 How must a Christian control his life?
8. V. 15:1 How does this verse relate to the preceding chapter? Should we do everything we want to do? 15.2 What should we do?
9. V. 15:3 Whom should we imitate? See Philippians 2:1-8 and John 8:29.