For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.…
I. THE DESCRIPTION GIVEN OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD.
1. The import of the term. Christ's spiritual kingdom established on earth — His dominion over His redeemed people, having its seat in the soul, and extending over the entire life. This is a kingdom totally diverse from all others — one not in word or mere outward form, but in soul-subduing, life-transforming power, one that ultimately brings every thought into harmony with Christ's holy mind and will.
2. Its peculiar characteristics.
(1) Negatively. It is "not meat or drink," i.e., it does not consist in the observance of distinctions between different kinds of food and drink, or in any merely external forms.
(2) Positively. It is —
(a) Holy conformity to God — "righteousness."
(b) A mild and gentle demeanour — "peace."
(c) Spiritual gladness of heart — "joy."
(d) The presence and power of the Holy Spirit as producing all these.
II. THE CHARACTER OF THE TRUE SPIRITUAL SERVICE OF CHRIST (ver. 18). Observe —
1. The indispensable requisites of Christ's service. In order to serve Christ, we must possess and manifest righteousness, and peace and joy, through the power of the Spirit of God. For these things there is, there can be, no substitute. Without that, however great your knowledge and profession and zeal may be, your service is a vain oblation.
2. In what respect Christ is served by these things.
(1) His authority as a Master is acknowledged. Christ has expressly enjoined these things on all His followers.
(a) "Be ye therefore perfect."
(b) "Learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart."
(c) "Ask and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full."(2) His power as a Saviour is made manifest. These are not the natural product of the human heart. The Lord Jesus is their alone Fountainspring.
(3) His example as a forerunner is imitated. Was not His an example of righteousness, peace, and joy?
(4) Witness is borne to the nature and design of His gospel. Serving Christ in these things, we declare plainly to the world, in a way they can far better understand than by any verbal statement, what Christ has come to do in and for man!
III. THE BLESSED RESULT OF THAT SERVICE. There will be —
1. Divine acceptance. The ground of a guilty sinner's acceptance before God is exclusively Christ's finished work; but our text speaks not of that acceptance, but of the believer's acceptance of his Heavenly Father. God's complacency and delight in a holy life.
2. Human approval. Such a life as that delineated in our text cannot but commend itself even to the world. It is, however, only men of God who can, in the fullest sense of the word, appreciate it.
Parallel VersesKJV: For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.