“The kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Romans 14:17
Scripture is clear that one day the kingdom of God will come visibly on earth, but for now the way it comes is to human hearts by the power of the Holy Spirit. If you and I want to live and grow in the kingdom of God we must look not to what we can produce in ourselves, but to what God wants to do in us through His Spirit.
The kingdom of God is righteousness in the Holy Spirit. It is appropriate that this is listed first as there will be no joy or peace unless there is first righteousness. The way into the kingdom is through righteousness, not our own, but the righteousness God provides for sinful humanity by the cross of Jesus Christ. The main sin that the Holy Spirit convicts the world of is not believing in Jesus as their Savior. (John 16:9) When we come to Christ our sin becomes His, and His righteousness becomes ours. “He made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2Corinthians 5:21) Once we are in Christ the Holy Spirit leads us continually away from self righteousness and into the fruits of true righteousness only He can produce.
The kingdom of God is peace in the Holy Spirit. Jesus said “My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” (John 14:27) The world only gives you peace when every circumstance in your life is peaceful and under control. Jesus can give us peace through the Spirit in the midst of outward troubles and strife. It is called “the peace that passes understanding” because people that understand your situation can’t believe you have peace. True peace doesn’t come through being in control, but by trusting the One who is in control!
The kingdom of God is joy in the Holy Spirit. You can do your Christian duty and make your children do theirs on your own, but no one can truly delight in God or in their Christianity apart from the Spirit’s touch. “In Your presence is fullness of joy…” (Psalm 16:11) Happiness depends on what’s happening in your life. Joy is much deeper, and depends on your relationship with God no matter what’s happening outwardly.