Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained.
17 Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. 18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
We strive toward the goal which is the perfection of Jesus Christ. The past is the past, we are not who we used to be, we are who God has created us to be. We are the righteousness of Christ now (2 Corinthians 5:21) and we look forward to being the perfectly conformed to His image in New Jerusalem. It is the future and the now together, already done and being done. Hebrews 10:12-18 says it like this,
But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.
15 And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,
16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them
after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws on their hearts,
and write them on their minds,”
17 then he adds,
“I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”
18 Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.
Yesterday, we learned that Jesus calls us the salt and light of the earth (Matthew 5:13-16). That by the Holy Spirit and in Jesus’ name we are to glorify God by the good and great works He will do through us and in us. Today, we will look at our identity in the kingdom. When Jesus prayed for us before He gave up His life for us, He said,
But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth. (John 17:13-19).
Paul echoed this idea when He wrote to the Philippians as we read above. We are citizens of Heaven. Heaven is very different from the world. People of the world cannot understand the things of Heaven (1 John 4:5). As we established, we have the Holy Spirit in us, God lives in us (1 Corinthians 3:16). Because He indwells us He helps us to discern the kingdom of God, the spiritual world around us. 1 Corinthians 2:10-16 reads,
these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11 For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.
14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
First, I want to establish that a kingdom is led by a king and that king is Jesus Christ. (Isaiah 9:6, Revelation 17:14). John 18:36-37 says,
Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” 37 Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”
What is our place in the kingdom? What is our title? In John 15:15, Jesus called us His friends. John 15:12-20 encourages us and reveals some hard truths.
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you.15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.
18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.”
Look at our privileges as a friend of the king. We were chosen and appointed to bear fruit, whatever we ask in Jesus’ name He will give it. We’re in on the plans, the running of the kingdom. We are more than friends though. Read Romans 8:14-17.
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
Children of God! Heirs of God! Co-heirs with Christ! Have you heard that so many times that it loses meaning for you? Consider that for a minute. Consider you are a son or daughter of the LORD, God Almighty, the Creator of the Universe, The King of kings. Cherished, you are a king or queen. When Jesus is called the King of kings such as in Revelation 17:14,
They will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful.
who are the kings He is King of? He is over the kings of the world, yes; but, in order to truly be King, His subjects must recognize Him as such. As citizens of Heaven, we are His subjects; we are the kings and queens. Take a moment and consider the privileges of being royalty. I could write for days on the subject, but I will limit it to a sentence. We represent the kingdom, our actions and decrees have authority and impact, and we are not common.
If we are co-heirs with Christ, then what is we inherit? Well, we share in His suffering, but we also share in His glory which is our sanctification or being made perfect (Acts 20:32). We inherit eternal life (Mark 10:17) When Jesus spoke about inheriting eternal life, he correlated it to salvation and called it entering the kingdom of God and said it was more difficult for a man of wealth to enter than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, which is unachievable. He said, those wanting eternal life had to give up everything for it (Just as we discussed two days ago). Peter asked who could be saved then? Jesus said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” But He also promised this, “Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” (Mark 10:17-31).
That is awesome! As followers of Christ and citizens of Heaven we have eternal life. Life in Heaven is not like life on earth. We are perfect and transformed in Heaven (1 Corinthians 15:52). Revelation 21:1-4 gives us a glimpse of our eternal home and life.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
We discussed yesterday some of the power imbued to us with the Holy Spirit but as citizens of Heaven there is more. In Matthew 16:19 Jesus promised,
I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
He reiterated it in Matthew 18:18-20 when He reminded us that we are not alone in the kingdom, we walk with brothers and sisters, our fellow heirs.
Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.19 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
Cherished, remember these things about yourself, you are a child of God, a king or queen, an heir of God and fellow heir with Christ and more. I will list a few aspects of your identity here. Pray on them, praise God for who you are in Him, and live up to who He has made you to be, Child of the Living God.
1 Peter 2:9-10
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
1 Corinthians 3:16
Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you?
For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10 and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.