"But our citizenship is in heaven, from where also we await for our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ" (Phil. 3:20).
The Bible tells us that we are aliens, strangers on the earth. Jesus is ultimately going to establish His kingdom with His values on earth. As born-again children of God, we are given the power and privilege of leaving the world's flawed value system and living for eternity.
But at this time, we are living in a sin-filled world where we are not only overcoming the temptation of sin in our personal lives, but we can see the impact of sin all around us.
Our family moved to the United Kingdom, where we lived for 12 years. When I took my first drive on the wrong side of the street, my first roundabout, I was hanging on to the steering wheel for dear life.
I had gone out to get bread for my family. I was quite pleased to find a parking space right in front of the store. After shopping, I left the store to discover a policeman standing next to my car writing out a ticket. I approached him and asked what he was doing, and he said, "You broke the law. You have no right to park here."
I tried to explain that I had just moved to the U.K., and he said, "I don't care where you came from, the laws of the United States don't protect you in the United Kingdom, and ignorance is no excuse!"
That hurt! But I have never forgotten those words, "Ignorance is no excuse." I told him I was sorry and promised to study the rules of the road for the U.K. I was a citizen of the U.S., but I was living in the U.K., and I had to learn the laws of the land where I was now living.
When God grants us citizenship in the kingdom of heaven, we become "new creatures" (2 Cor. 5:17). We become citizens of an eternal kingdom where our Father is the King! He sends the Holy Spirit to indwell our spirits, and our bodies become His temple. His goal is to make us as much like Jesus as possible in this life. As we learn to submit our thoughts and ways to Him, the Holy Spirit begins to transform our hearts to glorify God, our Father in heaven.
Our focus turns toward eternal things and storing up treasures in heaven. We are reaching out for something different than the people who are not in Christ, and this means we have another set of values with different goals to attain in this world.
We are finding His ways are higher than the world's ways. Forgiveness releases us from our past and we now have the power to forgive others who have hurt and betrayed us. This allows us to walk in the freedom of joy and peace in this earth. We do not have to live under the bondage of others, trying to get even.
We must remember, our eyes have been opened to the ways of the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 13:11). Anyone living on this earth who has not accepted Jesus cannot see the kingdom principles that we now live in. If you have not been awakened to this fact, I urge you to step back and evaluate how you are spending your time, who you associate with and how you view the world you are living in. Do you have the peace of God in your heart that comes with being a citizen of heaven?
We are in this world for now, but my citizenship is in heaven. I'm just passing through this world, but I live with my ultimate destination with the Lord firmly fixed in my heart and mind.
We live for a short time in these physical bodies, joyfully anticipating our future in our real home. I value my citizenship in heaven, and daily seek to know God and His principles. His principles are far above the laws of this land; they teach us how to live in this world as we prepare for our eternal home.
The Word of God tells us very plainly why we stumble in this world. Hosea 4:6a tells us, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge." If you love God and value your citizenship, the only way you can know Him and be led by the Holy Spirit is reading and meditating on His Word. Joshua 1:8 (NLT) gives clear directions for achieving success in this life, "Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do."
Eve did not value the Word of God and believed a lie. She was in a perfect location physically, but still fell into sin because she believed a lie! When you believe a lie, you empower the liar. You must know the truth to discern a lie. All sin starts with a lie!
As we walk the runway of life, we must keep our focus on our true citizenship and eternal destination, sharing in Abraham's experience: living "like a stranger in a foreign country ... looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God" (Heb. 11:9-10, NIV).
Joyce Tilney is an author and teacher. Her heart is learning together with the body of Christ to become the men and women God created us to be. Information about her ministry can be found on her website: joycetilney.com.
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