Let us read again the declaration made by Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit: “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil 3:20).
What a profound statement by Paul the apostle. Paul was declaring that the earth and all that it holds was not his home; his citizenship was in heaven! By making that declaration, Paul was saying that his view of the world and life now came from a heavenly or Kingdom perspective.
When we are born again, our spiritual citizenship changes. Just as our spiritual birth is from Heaven, so is our new-found citizenship. In order to ensure that we accurately view life as a heavenly citizen – with a Kingdom perspective – we need to examine what we believe and why we believe it.
Let us now look more closely at this concept of our heavenly citizenship.
Paul was a Roman citizen, and understood that being a native or adopted citizen of Rome included rights, privileges and duties that foreigners did not have (see Acts 16:37; 21:39; 22:28; 23:27).
But Paul wrote to the Philippian church about a spiritual citizenship (Phil 3:20). He wanted them to understand that just as the city of Philippi was a colony of Rome, so the church at Philippi was a colony of Heaven.
When we are born-again, by accepting Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, our citizenship is changed from earth to Heaven. We are no longer just Asian, Indian, African, European, Spanish or American. We are first and foremost Christians. Our allegiance and loyalties are first as citizens of heaven. This new-found citizenship should take priority over every other earthly association.
The Bible reveals that at salvation:
- Our eyes were opened (2Cor 4:3-6);
- We went from darkness to light (2Cor 4:6; 1Pet 2:9);
- We were delivered from the power of Satan to the power of God (Col 1:13);
- We received forgiveness of sins (Eph 1:7); and,
- We received an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Jesus (Acts 26:18).
As part of that spiritual inheritance, we went from being earthly citizens to becoming citizens of Heaven. As members of God’s eternal Kingdom, we are to represent the King of Heaven wherever we go: “Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us” (2Cor 5:20).
Yes, we are citizens of Heaven – and even more, ambassadors for our King, Jesus Christ! As His ambassadors, we have also been given the power and authority which flows from the King of kings and Lord of lords (Matt 16:19; 28:18; Titus 2:15). This power and authority are given to us to carry out God’s will, not our own.
But there can be a problem with our new-found citizenship. The Bible states, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2Cor 5:17). We are new creations who are now citizens of a heavenly kingdom. But the problem is that we don’t yet know or fully understand the rights, privileges and duties of our new citizenship!
Therefore, because we do not understand our born-again citizenship, we continue to live by the former practices, traditions and culture of the land in which we were raised. These former practices are often in direct disobedience to the truths and high standards of our new King, Jesus Christ, and His Word.
Why is this so? And, more importantly, how can it be changed?