Posted by: Brad Beaman | October 9, 2007

Your Heavenly Citizenship, Philippians 3:17-21

How much value do you place on your citizenship? We have several here who may be citizens of different countries. We have Canadians here. We have US citizens and Mexican citizens here. You have a citizenship in some nation. How much do you value or think about your citizenship?

We rarely think about our citizenship, but for those who enter this country as foreigners, they think much about what citizenship means. It is so costly for them to gain their citizenship. They are surprised when we take our citizenship for granted. There are so many rights and privileges that come with our citizenship.

There was a citizen of the United Kingdom that ended up in jail in another country. His country made an appeal to let their citizen go free from prison. The nation refused to let the citizen go so they rounded up ten thousand troops sent them overseas. They marched over difficult terrain went in and did battle and rescued their citizen and carried him back. That is an extreme example of the privileges of being a citizen.

Did you know that we have a citizenship that is greater than any national citizenship? The Bible says those who put their faith in Christ have a heavenly citizenship. That is what Paul is speaking about in these verses. He wants you to know that as a Christian you have a dual citizenship. You may live on earth and have a national citizenship, but you also have a citizenship which is in heaven.

Read: Philippians 3:17-21
Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you. 18 For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

This world ultimately is not your home. You are only visiting here. Your true home and your true citizenship is in heaven. That is what Paul is talking about in this passage of Scripture. There are two areas that go along with citizenship. There are certain rights and privileges that go along with citizenship but citizenship also means responsibilities. Do you know that you have responsibilities as a citizen? If you do not know that you will find out if you do not pay your taxes. You have a responsibility as a citizen to file your income tax. There are responsibilities that go along with citizenship.

You have privileges and responsibilities. Paul is talking about our rights and privileges as heavenly citizens but also responsibilities of heavenly citizenship. There are certain responsibilities in living as heavenly citizens.

The first thing Paul does is use his own life as an example. Look at 3:17 “17 Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you.” Paul deals with the responsibility that comes with being a heavenly citizen. Some thought because they were Christians and experienced the grace of God that they were without responsibilities and moral obligations. They abused their freedom in Christ and abused their heavenly citizenship. Some thought that heavenly citizenship gave them a passport to sin.

Paul says follow my example. He is not living a life free of moral responsibilities. He said live according to the example of the life I live before you. Paul had been talking previously to those who were legalists, who wanted Christians to follow every letter of the Old Testament law. They wanted gentiles to first become a Jew and then only become a Christian. Paul had to deal with that and he had preached freedom in Christ. He had dealt with one extreme of those who were legal about Christianity. They would force others into their mold.

But when we preach freedom in Christ there is a danger. People are going to misunderstand their freedom in Christ and think they can do whatever they want regardless of what the Word of God says. So Paul is dealing with those on the other side who have taken their liberties and abused them as a license for sin. Paul has to deal with those on both sides. He is in the middle pulling each side in. He has those who want to go in the direction of legalism and those who want to use their freedom as a license to sin. Paul is in the middle pulling back both extremes. Neither extreme is healthy. Paul says look at my example for keeping the balance.

How would it be that, after preaching the message I go home and get a call on the telephone and someone said, what the Bible says I feel challenged to apply to my life. Then I responded that I am glad you are challenged by what I preach, but I myself had no intention of doing any of the things that I preached about. This would be a do as a say not as I do approach. If we only speak words they make very little impact. They need to be followed by lifestyle that matches our words. That is what will make an impact. We need to not only preach the Word of God, but to live the Word of God by the example of our lives. That is what will make a real impact.

Paul is able to say live the way I live. Paul says; Look at me as your example. We live in a day where people lift up Christian leaders to an unhealthy extreme. Paul is not talking about that. He is talking about in a healthy way; find an example to encourage you in your faith. Paul is saying look to those leading a life that are an example of Christ and learn from them. Really he is saying even more than that. He is saying let your life be an example so others can look to you for a good example of living in Christ.

Paul even encouraged Timothy as a young man to be an example to the older ones. So whoever you are and where you are in your Christian faith, if it be many years of pilgrimage or a young person just beginning the Christian walk you have a responsibility to be an example and you may find encouragement by looking to others. Find someone who really lives their life as an example of Christ. Some people refer to this as finding a mentor. I know in my own life I can think of several individuals who have had a great impact on me. It was because of their example made an impact on me.

I remember once I was doing my laundry at the laundry mat and I looked out and saw one of the men I looked to as an example in the parking lot. A man who led great spiritual awakening conferences and was associated with revival. He had been an example to me. I remember seeing him pushing his shopping cart out to his car. I thought to myself I wonder if this great man of prayer will leave his cart out in the parking lot or will he return the cart to the designated area. The sign asks you to return the cart, but would he really do it. I watched him push his cart to the designated area. Now when I go shopping I can’t help but search for the designated area and return my cart. It was partly because this man set an example even in the small details and apparently when no one was looking.

Paul is saying I am holding myself up as an example. He was risking people misunderstanding this as conceit. He had already made it clear that he had not arrived. He was making a point that we need to look to examples in the Christian life. Paul wants us to have that example. It is such a blessing that we have those examples here. You can look to your Sunday school teacher and find an example. We are blessed in our church to have deacons and staff that set godly examples. That is a true blessing for us to have men and women who stand as an example. In our church all you have to do is look around and you will find your example for living the Christian faith.

Paul talks about those who are heavenly citizen, but who live with worldly purposes. 18 For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.

This letter brought to the Philippian church by Epaphroditus was stained by the tears. Paul is broken hearted and weeping because those who claim to be heavenly citizens are focused on the things of the world. It has moved Paul to tears. Those who claim to be heavenly citizens yet live like the world bring about heartache and sorrow. That is the danger of preaching liberty and grace. People will abuse their privileges and live like the world. Those who became worldly and broke Paul’s heart may have been distorting Paul’s own teaching. Here Paul is not weeping over the lost, he is weeping over those who have made a commitment to Christ and have forsaken their heavenly citizenship.

Paul uses strong words and called these people enemies of the cross. Their god is their stomach. In other words what they really worship is their own appetites of the flesh. They seek their own selfish interests the very thing that should be their shame.

In the Hymn we sing, turn your eyes upon Jesus look full in his wonderful grace and the things of the world will grow strangely dim. Here the whole thing has been reversed. Paul is weeping over those who have turned their eyes on the world and the things of Christ have grown dim. When you focus on the world you lose interest of spiritual things.

There are people who have no interest in fellowship of believers, the Word of God or prayer. What then do they have an interest for? You will find they have an interest in the things of the world. That is why the spiritual things have grown cold for them. We need to put our focus on the things of Christ and make sure we live consistently with our heavenly citizenship.

Paul is calling the Philippians to this heavenly citizenship. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,
We need to make sure we live consistent to our heavenly citizenship. If you are a Christian then you have a citizenship in heaven. You not only carry your national passport but you have an invisible passport of heaven. You have certain rights and privileges with this citizenship. You can claim heavenly privileges. Look at verse 21
The Lord Jesus Christ who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

Part of your heavenly citizenship is that you will receive a glories transformed body. Our citizenship means we have the gift of the Holy Spirit. We have power for victory over sin. God has given us the privilege of communicating with him intimately as part of our citizenship. He has given us the privilege of taking the gospel to others. We have all this, but we need to be heavenly minded. We need to put our focus on spiritual things. When we have this spiritual focus the world grows dim. We desire Christ more. We have a hunger for the Word of God and prayer. Then we are living consistent with our heavenly citizenship.

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Responses

  1. Shalom
    Hi! How are you fairing on in the faith?We trust you are doing good,please respond to our message,

    Greetings to you in the name of Yahshua Messiah., very nice! I am glad to have your email contact here in Kenya and we have a burning desire to work with you and help in saving the lost souls which had not known the truth., i had accepted the Yahshua Messiah as my personal Savior, the Messiah spoke with me from Matt. 11:28 and Rom 3:23,
    Through Yahweh’s grace I am called as a teacher/pastor both door to door and preaching in public. The Messiah has put a great burden in my heart for the Gospel ministry in the remote villages among the poor people and among the children through the Biblical lessons, missionary biographies and action songs many had blessed by the word of that we are preaching in the name of Yahshua Messiah and we are not under any ministry we have tried to request you if we can work in the past so many days and you are not giving us any good response to speed up the work of Yahweh in Kenya. Since we know the destiny of the remaining people who have not accepted the true word of Yahweh hence kindly pray for the lost and extend your prayers to help save the perishing souls.Yahweh loved us and paid a great price of shedding His Own blood for the remission of sins of all mankind. The truth which is not known to the perishing souls, we as the truth known people should feed the truth to them that are lost. Kindly pray for us. we are ready to hear from you and work together if you do agree. Kindly spare few minutes and pray for us daily. We are waiting for your kind reply if we can work together.
    Humbly in His eternal grace.

    Pastor Martin
    P.O. BOX 667
    SUNA – MIGORI CODE 40400
    KENYA – EAST AFRICA
    MY CELL PHONE NO. +254721821718

    • Good sermon pastor martin..

  2. I Was Very Inspired By This Word Of Truth, God Bless You Pastor

  3. I liked the content very much. Congratulations, you write very well.


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