In Ephesians 4:1-16, Paul succinctly presents the big picture of the body of Christ in the kingdom of God. In this article, I will focus particularly on “walk worthily of the calling wherewith ye were called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; giving diligence to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph 4:1-3 ASV).
Paul tells the Colossians Epaphras “informed us of your love in the Spirit.
9For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously 12giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light. Col 1:8-12 NASB
In Romans 12, 13 and 14, Paul addresses relational conflicts Jew and Gentile converts to Christianity endured because of their their former unsaved state. In showing God’s better way and correcting them for their squabbles and judgments, Paul shows them and us the kingdom way of serving God in our relationships with our brothers and sisters in the Lord.
The New Testament shows Jews often demanded Gentile converts comply with Old Testament Laws, especially regarding food, drink and circumcision (Acts 15:1-2; Gal 2:3-4; Ro 3 and 4). Circumcision was the Old Covenant sign of allegiance to God. New Covenant baptism replaced it, It is the sign of God saving us by the faith He gave us by His grace and created us in Christ Jesus as new, born again creatures.
Here, Paul addresses the issues of food and drink and declares the kingdom way of walking worthy of the Lord.
For the Kingdom of God does not consist of eating and drinking, but of right conduct, peace and joy, through the Holy Spirit; and whoever in this way devotedly serves Christ, God takes pleasure in him, and men highly commend him. Ro 14:17-18 WNT
The Greek word, dikaiosune, there put right conduct is primarily put righteousness in other translations. Vine’s Dictionary gives us better comprehension of what is meant.
Righteousness is “the character or quality of being right or just;” it was formerly spelled “rightwiseness,” which clearly expresses the meaning.
This meaning of dikaiosune, “right action”, is frequent also in Paul’s writings, as in all five of its occurrences in Rom. 6; Eph 6:14, etc. But for the most part he uses it of that gracious gift of God to men whereby all who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ are brought into right relationship with God. This righteousness is unattainable by obedience to any law, or by any merit of man’s own, or any other condition than that of faith in Christ…. The man who trusts in Christ becomes ‘the righteousness of God in Him,’ 2Cr 5:21, i.e., becomes in Christ all that God requires a man to be, all that he could never be in himself. Because Abraham accepted the Word of God, making it his own by that act of the mind and spirit which is called faith, and, as the sequel showed, submitting himself to its control, therefore God accepted him as one who fulfilled the whole of His requirements, Rom 4:3.…
Dikaiosune is found in the sayings of the Lord Jesus,
(a) of whatever is right or just in itself, whatever conforms to the revealed will of God, Mat 5:6, 10, 20; Jhn 16:8, 10;
(b) whatever has been appointed by God to be acknowledged and obeyed by man. Mat 3:15; 21:32;
(c) the sum total of the requirements of God, Mat 6:33;
(d) religious duties, Mat 6:1 (distinguished as almsgiving, man’s duty to his neighbor, Mat 6:2-4, prayer, his duty to God, Mat 6:5-15, fasting, the duty of self-control, Mat 6:16-18). Vines
That helps us understand Paul’s meaning as we read Romans 14:13-21 in context.
13Therefore, let’s no longer criticize each other. Instead, make up your mind not to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. 14I know—and have been persuaded by the Lord Jesus—that nothing is unclean in and of itself, but it is unclean to a person who thinks it is unclean. 15For if your brother is being hurt by what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not destroy the person for whom the Messiah died by what you eat. 16Do not allow what seems good to you to be spoken of as evil. 17For God’s kingdom does not consist of food and drink, but of righteousness, peace, and joy produced by the Holy Spirit. 18For the person who serves the Messiah in this way is pleasing to God and approved by people.19Therefore, let’s keep on pursuing those things that bring peace and that lead to building up one another. Ro 14:13-19 ISV