Once we ask Jesus to be our personal Lord and Saviour, God makes us full-fledged citizens of His spiritual Kingdom of righteousness, peace and joy. God doesn’t ask us to wait until we go to heaven to become perfect like Jesus. He tells us to obey Him now, so we will reflect His perfect righteousness, peace and joy while we are on earth.
(See Chinese versions: 简体中文 > 天国公民 | 繁體中文 > 天國公民)
Ephesians 2:19 ESV … but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,
Matthew 5:48 ESV You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Romans 14:17 ESV For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
We become perfected Kingdom citizens when we learn to control our entire body so we don’t sin. No one can do this on our own human strength. Only the Holy Spirit can give us the power, love and self-control to become as perfect as God is perfect. Praise God that the same Spirit who gave Jesus the capacity to live a perfect, sinless life now lives in us, His disciples!
James 3:2 ESV For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body.
2 Timothy 1:7 ESV for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
The problem with dual citizenships
Sadly, many Christians struggle to live perfectly sinless lives. It is not because they are not earnestly seeking God or trying to listen to the Holy Spirit. The real issue lies with their dual citizenship.
Obligations to the old kingdom
We are all born into a corrupted world that is still ruled by Satan. This was our original spiritual citizenship. When we turn to Jesus, God becomes our new ruler. But until we officially renounce every link to our old citizenship, we remain obligated to the old kingdom.
John 12:31 NLT The time for judging this world has come, when Satan, the ruler of this world, will be cast out.
Satan, a spiritual destroyer, will rob whatever joy, peace, hope and love that is rightfully ours through our new Kingdom identity, until we feel spiritually impoverished – even though we are meant to receive every spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1:3)!
Ephesians 1:3 ESV Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,
Removing all obligations
The first believers of Jesus Christ knew they had to renounce their dual citizenships – even to the point of doing so publicly. They openly disclosed for what they had done, repented, and then destroyed all indications of their past patriotism to Satan. They did this as they realised they could not put one foot in God’s Kingdom and leave the other in Satan’s kingdom, because this would allow evil spirits to have an opportunity to attack and overpower them. They had to cut all spiritual ties to their old citizenship. (See the story in Acts 19:13-19)
Acts 19:18-19 NIV Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed what they had done. A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly….
Similarly, we too need to confess and renounce what we have done that paid homage to Satan in the past, so as to cut all links with him. These include works of the flesh, such as unforgiveness, judgment, ancestor worship, idolatry, fortune telling, sexual impurity, greed, jealousy, drunkenness, theft, and so forth – committed as a child or an adult, as a non-Christian or Christian, as personal sins or sins from our ancestors. Satan does not distinguish between our ages, beliefs, motivations, or ignorance. As long as we owe him any allegiance, our old ruler will continue to lay claim to us even after we have become Christians – until we cut off all links to him in Jesus’ name. The only way to break this dual citizenship is to go through God’s spiritual legal system.
Galatians 5:19-21 ESV Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Understanding the spiritual legal system
The Creator of this universe set up many types of laws to ensure that all its inhabitants would co-exist and prosper. These included spiritual, physical, biological and astronomical laws etc. When people turn against these universal laws, we rebel against God, harm ourselves and fall into sin. We no longer enjoy the spiritual prosperity that we are legally entitled to.
The Law of Moses
When Jesus came, He stated clearly that we are all held accountable to the spiritual laws that Moses spelt out for all of God’s people (Matthew 5:17-19, Luke 16:16-17). Above all aspects of the Law is to love God first and then love our neighbour. These two commandments guide us in how we fulfil all other laws.
Matthew 5:17-19 NLT “Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved. So if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Leviticus 4:27-28 NLT “If any of the common people sin by violating one of the Lord’s commands, but they don’t realize it, they are still guilty. When they become aware of their sin, they must bring as an offering for their sin…
Our old ruler, Satan, is legalistic and will persistently bring accusations against us for breaking God’s commandments and use those sins to oppress us. As any legal system goes, any lawful charges that Satan uses against us for our sins still apply even if we choose to suppress, ignore or forget them. And a fair and equitable Judge will uphold the same justice for one and for all.
Our Judge and Saviour
Praise God that when Jesus died on the cross however, He became our:
- Saviour: He paid the penalty for our sins
- Payment: He gave His own blood to pay for our pardon
- Judge: He will judge us according to the Law and pardon us when we repent
Hebrews 9:22,14 ESV Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.
John 5:22 ESV For the Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son,
Confess to be acquitted
Our part in this spiritual legal system is to appear before our Saviour and Judge, together with some witnesses, and ask to be pardoned for our spiritual crimes in Jesus’ name. This breaks Satan’s foothold in our lives. We break our links to Satan’s domain of darkness and hence, our dual citizenships. We will move from being defiled to being cleansed and from spiritual death to spiritual life – and will be able to enjoy the full benefits of our Kingdom citizenship as co-heirs with Christ.
Acts 26:18 ESV … turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’
Romans 8:16-17 ESV The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 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.
Receiving the full benefits of our Kingdom citizenship
Many believers make the fatal mistake of only seeing Jesus as their humble, loving and righteous Saviour, and fail to see Him also as their fierce and powerful Judge. One just needs to read Revelation 19 to be in awe of Jesus as Judge. Let us ensure we know our King; His perfect loving character and His perfect loving expectations of us, now that He has made us His Kingdom citizens. Only then are we able to live in ways that are pleasing to Him.
Revelation 19:11-12, 15-16 ESV Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.
1. Confess and repent of all past and present sins
First, we need to submit our old sinful nature to our King and humbly purify our hearts.
James 4:7-8,10 ESV Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
Every human being will instinctively know the things that we feel fearful, shameful, angry, frustrated, hateful, proud or bitter about. Such attitudes point to deeper issues in our hearts that we have to confess and ask God to forgive, heal and redeem, so that our old sinful nature will be cut away. Then, we can ask God to nail the records of our sins to the cross and leave them there, so we don’t have to carry them around with us anymore for all eternity.
James 5:16 ESV Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
Colossians 2:13-14 NLT You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross.
Let us not delay in confessing our sins to trusted fellow believers who will pray with us before our Saviour and our Judge, so we can be made worthy to be called full-fledged citizens of His Kingdom.
2. Un-yoke ourselves from worldly connections
The Bible talks about two types of yokes or attachments; the yoke with Jesus and the yoke with unbelievers. These are incompatible with one another. We need to detach ourselves spiritually from people who do not follow God by renouncing our spiritual ties with them in Jesus’ name. This is a prayer that disconnects us from Satan’s spiritual influences upon us through people who are still citizens of his kingdom. It does not however, mean we disassociate that ourselves from other people entirely. It simply means we reject their influence over us and invite God to be our only true influence.
Matthew 11:29 ESV Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
2 Corinthians 6:14,16 ESV Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God…
3. Renew our mind
While our Kingdom benefits are available immediately, living as Kingdom citizens takes some training and development. That’s why Jesus reminds us to become like little children, with pure untainted minds to absorb everything the Holy Spirit has to teach us. We also need to familiarise ourselves with our new Kingdom Laws, and turn away from whatever we have learnt from this world, which was our old kingdom.
Mark 10:15 ESV Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.
4. Become perfected through the Holy Spirit
Only God’s Spirit will turn our hearts to desire God’s will and to turn away from our sinful nature for good. The Holy Spirit who will now live in us becomes our guiding Spirit of the new Kingdom, instead of the other spirits that tried to dominate and rule over our hearts in the past. This doesn’t mean that we will no longer encounter temptations and difficulties in life. This means that as full-fledged Kingdom citizens, we have the guidance of the Holy Spirit to follow God’s will fully and live perfected sinless lives that please our almighty King.
Philippians 2:13 NLT For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.
5. Be ready for every good work to God’s glory
As Kingdom citizens, we will be prepared for every good work, and be spiritually blessed and empowered to do so.
2 Timothy 2:21 ESV Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.
Enjoying Kingdom rights
God’s Kingdom is eternal and will prevail over all other kingdoms, and He gives us many rights as we enter HIs Kingdom:
- Every material thing we need will be provided | Matthew 6:31,33 ESV Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
- Guidance towards the path of spiritual prosperity | Isaiah 48:17 ESV Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you to profit, who leads you in the way you should go.
- Friendship with God | John 15:15 ESV 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.
- Revelations of great and hidden things | Jeremiah 33:3 ESV Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.
- Living as conquerors in all we do | Romans 8:37 ESV … No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
- Supernatural works | Matthew 10:8 ESV And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons…
Praise God that He makes us full-fledged citizens of His glorious Kingdom through the simple acts of confession and repentance. We never need to look back at our old ways or our old ruler, when we have God by our side. He will continue to forgive, cleanse and equip us for greater things in life. And we can shout a loud amen to that.
Daniel 2:44 ESV And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever,
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