For the kingdom of God - That holy religion which God has sent from heaven, and which be intends to make the instrument of establishing a counterpart of the kingdom of glory among men: see on Matthew 3:2; (note).
Is not meat and drink - It consists not in these outward and indifferent things. It neither particularly enjoins nor particularly forbids such.
But righteousness - Pardon of sin, and holiness of heart and life.
And peace - In the soul, from a sense of God's mercy; peace regulating, ruling, and harmonizing the heart.
And joy in the Holy Ghost - Solid spiritual happiness; a joy which springs from a clear sense of God's mercy; the love of God being shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Ghost. In a word, it is happiness brought into the soul by the Holy Spirit, and maintained there by the same influence. This is a genuine counterpart of heaven; righteousness without sin, Peace without inward disturbance, Joy without any kind of mental agony or distressing fear. See the note on Matthew 3:2.
For the kingdom of God - For an explanation of this phrase, see the note at Matthew 3:2. Here it means that the uniquenesses of the kingdom of God, or of the Church of Christ on earth, do not consist in observing the distinctions between meats and drinks, it was true that by these things the Jews had been particularly characterized, but the Christian church was to be distinguished in a different manner.
Is not - Does not consist in, or is not distinguished by.
Meat and drink - In observing distinctions between different kinds of food, or making such observances a matter of conscience as the Jews did. Moses did not prescribe any particular drink or prohibit any, but the Nazarites abstained from wine and all kinds of strong liquors; and it is not improbable that the Jews had invented some distinctions on this subject which they judged to be of importance. Hence, it is said in Colossians 2:16, “Let no man judge you in meat or in drink;” compare 1 Corinthians 8:8; 1 Corinthians 4:20.
But righteousness - This word here means “virtue, integrity,” a faithful discharge of all the duties which we owe to God or to our fellow-men. It means that the Christian must so live as to be appropriately denominated a righteous man, and not a man whose whole attention is absorbed by the mere ceremonies and outward forms of religion. To produce this, we are told, was the main design, and the principal teaching of the gospel; Titus 2:12; Compare Romans 8:13; 1 Peter 2:11. Thus, it is said 1 John 2:29, “Everyone that doeth righteousness is born of God;” 1 John 3:10, “Whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God;” compare 1 John 3:7; 1 Corinthians 15:34; 2 Corinthians 3:9; 2 Corinthians 6:7, 2 Corinthians 6:14; Ephesians 5:9; Ephesians 6:14; 1 Timothy 6:11; 1 Peter 2:24; Ephesians 4:24. He that is a righteous man, whose characteristic it is to lead a holy life, is a Christian. If his great aim is to do the will of God, and if he seeks to discharge with fidelity all his duties to God and man, he is renewed. On that righteousness he will not “depend” for salvation Philemon 3:8-9, but he will regard this character and this disposition as evidence that he is a Christian, and that the Lord Jesus is made unto him” wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption;” 1 Corinthians 1:30.
And peace - This word, in this place, does not refer to the internal “peace” and happiness which the Christian has in his own mind (compare the notes at Romans 5:1); but to peace or concord in opposition to “contention” among brethren. The tendency and design of the kingdom of God is to produce concord and love, and to put an end to alienation and strife. Even though, therefore, there might be ground for the opinions which some cherished in regard to rites, yet it was of more importance to maintain peace than obstinately to press those matters at the expense of strife and contention. That the tendency of the gospel is to promote peace, and to induce people to lay aside all causes of contention and bitter strife, is apparent from the following passages of the New Testament; 1 Corinthians 7:15; 1 Corinthians 14:33; Galatians 5:22; Ephesians 4:3; 1 Thessalonians 5:13; 2 Timothy 2:22; James 3:18; Matthew 5:9; Ephesians 4:31-32; Colossians 3:8; John 13:34-35; John 17:21-23. This is the second evidence of piety on which Christians should examine their hearts - a disposition to promote the peace of Jerusalem; Psalm 122:6; Psalm 37:11. A contentious, quarrelsome spirit; a disposition to magnify trifles; to make the Shibboleth of party an occasion of alienation, and heart-burning, and discord; to sow dissensions on account of unimportant points of doctrine or of discipline, is full proof that there is no attachment to Him who is the Prince of peace. Such a disposition does infinite dishonor to the cause of religion, and perhaps has done more to retard its progress than all other causes put together. Contentions commonly arise from some small matter in doctrine, in dress, in ceremonies; and often the smaller the matter the more fierce the controversy, until he spirit of religion disappears, and desolation comes over the face of Zion:
“The Spirit, like a peaceful dove,
Flies from the realms of noise and strife.”
And joy - This refers, doubtless, to the “personal” happiness produced in the mind by the influence of the gospel; see the notes at Romans 5:1-5.
Who are the subjects of the kingdom of God?—all those who do His will. They have righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. The members of Christ's kingdom are the sons of God, partners in His great firm. The elect of God are a chosen generation, a peculiar people, a holy nation, to show forth the praises of Him who hath called them out of darkness into His marvelous light. They are the salt of the earth, the light of the world. They are living stones, a royal priesthood. They are in copartnership with Jesus Christ. These are they that follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth.... TM 422.1
There are rights which belong to every individual. We have an individuality and an identity that is our own. No one can submerge his identity in that of any other. All must act for themselves, according to the dictates of their own conscience. As regards our responsibility and influence, we are amenable to God as deriving our life from Him. This we do not obtain from humanity, but from God only. We are His by creation and by redemption. Our very bodies are not our own, to treat as we please, to cripple by habits that lead to decay, making it impossible to render to God perfect service. Our lives and all our faculties belong to Him. He is caring for us every moment; He keeps the living machinery in action; if we were left to run it for one moment; we should die. We are absolutely dependent upon God. TM 422.2Read in context »
You are extremely sensitive. You feel deeply and have not possessed the power to throw off care, perplexity, and discouragement of mind. I saw that God would be to you a very present help if you would only trust yourself with Him; but you worry yourself out of the arms of your dear, loving Saviour. “He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” What a precious promise is this! We may claim much of our kind heavenly Father. Great blessings are in reserve for us. We may believe in God, we may trust Him, and by so doing glorify His name. Even if we are overcome of the enemy, we are not cast off, not forsaken and rejected of God. No; Christ is at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. “If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” 2T 319.1
I want to say, my sister, you need not cast away your confidence. Poor, trembling soul, rest in the promises of God. In so doing, the enemy's fetters will be broken, his suggestions will be powerless. Heed not the whisperings of the enemy. Go free, oppressed soul. Be of good courage. Say to your poor, desponding heart: “Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise Him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.” I know that God loves you. Put your trust in Him. Think not of those things which bring sadness and distress; turn from every disagreeable thought and think of precious Jesus. Dwell upon His power to save, His undying, matchless love for you, even you. I know that the Lord loves you. If you cannot rely upon your own faith, rely upon the faith of others. We believe and hope for you. God accepts our faith in your behalf. 2T 319.2
You have tried to do right, and God is pitiful and compassionate to you. Be cheerful, and bid adieu to gloom and doubts. In indulging these doubts, you dishonor God. There is peace in believing, and joy in the Holy Ghost. Believing brings peace, and trusting in God brings joy. Believe, believe! my soul says, believe. Rest in God. He is able to keep that which you have committed to His trust. He will bring you off more than conqueror through Him who hath loved you. May the Lord bless you and strengthen your trembling faith, is our prayer. We commit these few lines to you, trusting they may do you good. 2T 319.3Read in context »