For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking
but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
SEVERAL YEARS AGO, the brakes on my wife’s vehicle began making an abnormal noise after we had it serviced. The company’s laboratory in Texas discovered the local mechanic had added transmission fluid to the brake system instead of brake fluid; they could make such a determination because their fluids contain special “identifiers.”
The Apostle Paul wrote about kingdom “identifiers” which mark the people of God. There were those in the Roman Church who had been exulting in their personal dietary regulations and religious observances: “One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables” (Rom. 14:2); “One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike” (Rom. 14:5). Paul corrected those Christians who insisted that others should practice inconsequential religious rituals and regulations: “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking …” (Rom. 14:7).
It is wrong to elevate religious practices that are fundamentally indifferent, and make them essentially important. One can do many religious things without the Spirit’s help. However, God’s kingdom is not of this world; his rule is not a matter of ceremonial observances and bodily regulations. These are merely shadows, not substance.
From the earliest time, Christians have often fallen into superficial exercises of spirituality, which they have interpreted as necessary to their faith. However, many of these mistaken believers have not been content to keep these practices to themselves; they have insisted fellow believers observe what they themselves practice.
Paul says those in God’s kingdom have special “identifiers” which set them apart from those who practice legal righteousness. God’s kingdom identifiers are “righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit,” in contrast to man-made standards of righteousness. Where the Spirit is present and active, these identifiers will be readily observable. Where the Spirit is not actively present, there exists merely the shell of spiritual reality and freedom, which is nothing less than bondage.
Reprinted from . . .
Renewed by the Spirit: 365 Daily Meditations
by Ralph I. Tilley
copyright © 2016 Ralph I. Tilley
paperback and Kindle editions available at Amazon.com