17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
Verse 17 puts the issues of legalism versus liberty into the proper perspective by keeping the greater kingdom of God in view. Peripheral matters do not matter in comparison to that.
“For” here links liberty with the kingdom of God (v. 16). The mature should not bring grace into disrepute by not taking into consideration that there are immature believers who have not grown in grace. There is no need for the mature to always insist on the immature understanding the grace principle. The mature must keep in view the greater kingdom issue of allowing the immature to grow into maturity.
the kingdom of God
The “kingdom of God” operates in God’s presence and sphere. It is God’s business. God’s kingdom is where God is primary; it is not a kingdom of human efforts but is the kingdom where God rules.
is not eating and drinking,
Issues such as what we eat or drink are not at the heart of the kingdom of God. That may be disappointing to those of us who like to eat! Grace living is not dependent on human observation of rules. Following strict dietary rules is not the essence of kingdom living, but grace is its essence.
The kingdom of God does not entail externals but internals.
Genuine liberty in the Spirit is grace oriented. However, the mature believer in grace can function in a way that considers the immature position.
The kingdom of God comprises eternals, not externals. If we put emphasis on scruples, we make a mistake of perspective. If we put the emphasis on eternal things, then we have the right perspective. We can say the same for mature believers who put emphasis on their liberty to the detriment of the immature Christian.