But our citizenship is in heaven – and we also await a savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform these humble bodies of ours into the likeness of his glorious body by means of that power by which he is able to subject all things to himself.
(Philippians 3:20-21 ESV)
Over the past few days we’ve been studying Paul’s advice of following the example of godly people. He contrasted his lifestyle with the lifestyle of those who are enemies of Jesus and who live for what earth has to offer and nothing else.
Today Paul gives us the reason believers should not live for earthly things: this earth is not our permanent home. We are citizens of heaven. And we should live like it.
The people who lived in Philippi were Roman citizens. They were granted all the same rights as someone who lived in Rome itself even though they didn’t live there. This was a source of great pride for the Philippians. They lived like citizens of Rome, not like citizens of Greece.
In the same way believers are living on this earth but we are not citizens of earth. We are citizens of heaven. That is why we are not to have our minds set on earthly things [Philippians 3:19]. We are only living here temporarily just as the Jews lived temporarily in Egypt until they were brought into the Promised Land.
As citizens of heaven our behavior should not conform to the world around us. As Paul just explained, we should not be enticed by what the world has to offer as doing so can lead us away from God [1 Peter 2:11]. Another reason why we should not live like the world is to be a witness to those around us.
God calls His children “Christ’s ambassadors” [2 Corinthians 5:20]. Ambassadors are not citizens of the country they live in. The live in one country while representing another.
In the same way, followers of Christ represent Jesus on this planet. We do this by not having our hearts tied to the temporary, decaying gains we can find on earth but rather on the eternal treasures that are ours in heaven [Matthew 6:19-21]. God commands us to not love the world [1 John 2:15]. Our joy should come from Him [Philippians 3:1; Psalm 5:11; John 15:11 et. al].
One of the best ways we can witness to the lost world around us is to not imitate them. When we imitate Jesus by following the example of godly men and women we will stand out.
When believers do not live like the world around us – when we don’t follow every sensual impulse, when we don’t gloss over sin, and when we forsake earthly profit – people will then take notice. They will want to know how we can be so happy. We can then explain where true joy comes from.
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