Philippians 3:17-4:1 Heavenly Citizenship

Philippians 3:17-4:1     Heavenly Citizenship                      WC McCarter

I do not usually plan sermons around any kind of occasions. For the most part, I like to preach through books or passages of Scripture. I would like to point out how God, even in the midst of preaching through a book, often orchestrates the situations so that we have a word from Him on the subjects we need at just the right time. Today’s sermon is about heavenly citizenship, and after the Supreme Court’s ruling concerning so-called “same-sex marriage,” what a great reminder it is that we do not belong here. This world is not our ultimate home. We are in the world but not of the world. There is a new heaven/earth to come in which we will dwell forever, and we are already citizens of the place. Also, this morning we received news that one of our sisters has passed away and that another is in critical condition. Without the hope of heaven, we would have no hope. Yet, we have promises from a faithful God for life after death. We have hope in the future that although we die, we will live.

READ Scripture- This is the Word of God

Patterns of Behavior (17-19)
(v17) is about mentoring, again. This time, however, our mentoring/discipling is not necessarily done directly but rather indirectly. Parents should be setting an example for their children, leaders should be setting an example for the flock, older folks should be setting an example for younger folks, and Christians should be setting an example for all those who are around us. We need to look to those who model Christ, and we need to strive to represent Christ well in all we do.

(v19) What happens for those in their sin, outside of Christ, is that they begin to turn things upside-down and inside-out. What should be shameful they glory in. Not only do people commit such abominations, but they also teach others to do so (Rom 1:32). The phrase “whose god is their belly” could possibly refer to the Judaizers insistence on food regulations, but most likely refers to those who seek all things having to do with sensuality; their wants become their desires, their cravings, and their god. Their end is simply put: destruction.

Heavenly Citizenship (20-4:1)
“Citizens of Philippi, a Roman colony, were automatically citizens of Rome, sharing all the rights and privileges of Roman citizens.  The Philippians knew what it meant to be citizens of a far-off city and were proud of that fact.  Although most of them had probably never been to Rome, they knew what it meant to belong to it.  They were now learning that they belonged to an even greater city, a city “that is above” (Gal 4:26), “that can not be shaken” (Heb 12:28), and “whose builder and maker is God” (Heb 11:10).

The last note of this section comes in (4:1): “So stand fast in the Lord.”
It must mean several things:
          1. Stand fast in the relationship we have with Him (vv9-11)
          2. Stand fast in the knowledge we have of Him (vv8, 15)
          3. Stand fast in the pursuit of Him (v12-14)
          4. Stand fast in the hope of Him (vv20-21)

Conclusion and Christian Application

(1) You can be like those hypocrites who like dogs interested in dung head toward destruction because they trust in themselves.  Or, you can be like Paul and all true believers who are headed toward heaven by trusting in the cross of Christ. There’s always the two options, the two ways. The Lord allows us to choose a sandy foundation or a solid one; the narrow ways that leads to life or the wide path that leads to destruction; we can hear the criticisms/attacks of our culture today and worry or even crumble in our faith or we can stand fast in the Lord trusting Him all the more.

(2) How do you view your heavenly citizenship? I love our country. However, God is the God of the globe. He is looking to gather people from every nation, tribe, and language. We may spend a few decades in America, but where will you spend eternity? Hopefully, it will be heaven.