Topic:Citizens of Heaven
Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.
Paul uses an interesting word here, translated conduct in the NIV. It is a word from which we get our English word politics, or politician. The Greek word is politeuma, a word that means your conduct as a citizen or a colony. This is the first indication in this letter of a unique condition in the city of Philippi. Everyone in that city was aware that its citizens were citizens of Rome even though they were a thousand miles away. This was because of the great battle that had been won by the Roman Emperor, and in gratitude to the residents they were made citizens of Rome.
Paul builds on this idea and says to them, in effect, you Christians in Philippi are members of another government. You cannot have the same attitude to the rest of the citizens of Philippi. You belong to a colony of heaven; therefore you must behave like citizens of heaven. You must let your manner of conduct be worthy of the government to which you belong, the kingdom of God and the gospel of Christ.
How should you live as a citizen of heaven? Paul mentions two essential things. First, stand firm in one Spirit. Never depart from complete dependency on the Spirit of God to do through you everything that needs to be done. The Christian life is lived by a totally different process than you lived before you came to Christ. It is God’s life through you. It is the indwelling Lord Jesus expressing Himself in terms of your human personality. Never depart from that. The second essential is to never let anything but serious heresy keep you from working side by side in the gospel.
Now interestingly enough, all the wiles of the devil, all the thrust and power of his activity is aimed at these two things. To keep us from observing them, the enemy tests us first on one point, and if he can’t derail us there he goes to the other point. First, he tries to get you to depend upon yourself, not on the indwelling life of Christ, and to make you therefore fearful, worried, discouraged, impatient, or upset with something. Haven’t you felt this? This is the attack of the enemy, trying to budge you from your position in Christ which makes for victory.
Whenever we get discouraged we are depending on ourselves. We’re discouraged because we were expecting that we could do something and we failed. We’ve been self-confident, counting on ourselves, thinking we have all it takes to do the job. We think we don’t need any help from God. We then move from that position of dependency on God’s Spirit. We get worried, anxious, fearful, timid, impatient. We have yielded to the attack of the enemy and temporarily have shifted from that position of dependency.
If that doesn’t work, and we stand firm, then the enemy tries another strategy. He tries to make a breach between us and those who labor with us. He tries to split us up, divide us, create suspicion, smoldering resentments and personality conflicts. He tries to get us to not talk with each other, have nothing to do with one another, look down on others, cut them off from our fellowship and conversation and contact.
We often feel in spiritual warfare that every time we turn around we’re under attack, and we never know when he will strike next and we have to be constantly on guard. But that isn’t true. We have only two things to watch: that we stand firm in one Spirit, and that we strive side by side together in the gospel. That’s all. If we are careful to keep our eyes open to the power of God working within in these two areas, our conduct will become worthy of the gospel of Christ.
Thank you, Lord, that you have made me a citizen of heaven. Teach me to stand together, side by side, with my brothers and sisters in Christ.
As Christians we are fellow citizens of the commonwealth of heaven, and Satan, the enemy, will use two main strategies in his attempt to divide and conquer us. How do we stand firm in one Spirit, behaving in a manner worthy of this high calling?