14- Character & Behavior of Kingdom of God Citizens
By Colleen Donahue
No sooner do you start following Jesus, become a member of His family, and a citizen in his kingdom then you'll start to see a transformation in your character and behaviour. For as soon as Christ's Spirit moves into your own, the change begins. The Father wants us to be like Jesus with our own unique personality. We are ambassadors for Christ here on earth and thus we need to be like Him so that others can see him clearly.
NEW CITIZENS IN THE KINGDOM OF GOD
1. Character matters in the Kingdom of God. We can't claim to walk with Jesus, be part of his kingdom, and yet keep living as the world lives.
2. Everyone of us who decides to follow Jesus has a choice to make.
3. What do we become when we put our trust and reliance upon Jesus?
4. Kingdom of God citizens become children of God when the King (Jesus) takes up residence in their hearts. This changes everything because we are now "part of the family". What privileges does Jesus give us?
5. When we are citizens of this world under Satan's control we lusted after all that it offered so that we could boast about what we had and did. But Kingdom of God citizens now have a different passion. What is it?
1 John 2:15-17
We no longer love the things everyone else loves in the world because we no longer belong to it.
John 17:15-16 / Colossians 1:13
6. These words of Jesus probably baffled the crowds then as they still do now.
These are strong words but Jesus wants all who follow Him to love Him so much that all other love will look like hate in comparison. He is to be the "love of our life".
7. Jesus describes his disciples as being like sheep in his flock. What two things do we do as his sheep?
Now reread these verses and write down what Jesus does.
8. Everyone of us came out of a background bent on sinning or living our life independent from God. That was the story of our life in the old nature. But with Christ's Spirit indwelling us what changes?
1 John 3:4-6
These verses don't mean that we will never sin again, but they do mean that we don't continue in the practice of sin once the Holy Spirit has given us light about something.
1 John 3:9,10 / 1 John 5:18
9. Jesus tells us clearly what follows from our decision to follow Him. What is it that makes us truly members of God's family?
Matthew 12:46-50 / Also: Mark 3:33-35
10. What behaviors will be found in young Kingdom of God citizens?
1 Peter 5:5-9
11. There was a time when all of us were stockpiling money and goods here on earth so we could live comfortably. But after following Jesus for a time there comes a shift in our thinking and our priorities. What is the shift?
Luke 12:32-34 / John 12:25
12. Before following Jesus we focused all our thought and energy on the life we were living here on earth. But now what has shifted in our thinking?
If we don't live in constant readiness for Jesus to return what could easily happen?
13. Once we begin to follow Jesus it is almost certain that trouble and persecution will find us. Satan hates losing a member of his kingdom to Jesus and will stir up whatever he can to draw you back. What is needed by us in times like this?
Hebrews 10:35-39 / James 1:12
HOW DO WE PLEASE GOD AND BRING HIM GLORY?
When we love someone we naturally want to please them and "lift them up" in some way. It's no different in our relationship with God.
14. What brings Jesus and our shepherds here on earth great pleasure?
3 John 3-4
How do Kingdom of God citizens show that they walk in God's truth?
1 John 3:18
15. Jesus sets the example for all Kingdom of God citizens in this prayer. Whose will is most important in the Kingdom of God?
Mark 14:36 / Luke 22:42
Therefore like Jesus, we bow to wanting God's will over our own.
16. How did Jesus bring glory to God?
In the same way we will bring glory to God and it will mean a whole shift in our priorities.
17. How is it that Kingdom of God citizens best please the Father?
Hebrews 10:38 / Hebrews 11:6
And what is this life of faith that pleases God?
The only way we can be sure and certain that we are citizens in God's kingdom is to walk daily with Jesus, then believe and act on God's word and the word of Christ's Spirit within us. Jesus assures us that even if our faith is small it will grow.
HOW DO WE RELATE TO OTHER PEOPLE?
18. There are all kinds of people that Kingdom of God citizens will come in contact with. How will they treat each and everyone?
Before becoming citizens we would have shown prejudice and priority to the one most useful to us. But that can no longer be the case for God loves everyone of his sons and daughters.
19. If we say that we love God then we also must love his children. For example -- let's say you said to your friend, "I really love you but I can't stand your wife and kids." What would your friend know for certain? He would know that you are not serious about loving him if you don't love his wife and kids.
How does God know that we love all his children?
1 John 5:1-3
20. Our lives are constantly interacting with others. What happens when we walk in the light with God?
1 John 1:6-7
21. Kingdom of God citizens have a standard of behavior that is different from that of worldly citizens. But we are not called to judge the citizens of this world. Jesus set us an example.
22. Kingdom of God citizens are constantly urged to pray for what they need here on earth to fulfill what God has planned for us.
But whether or not God will be able to answer our prayer is tied to our own action.
When we let offenses go, then God forgives us of our shortcomings and failures. This keeps us clear with men and God and therefore God can give us what we need. Forgiveness is a decision we make despite whatever emotions we feel.
TRANSFORMATION OF OUR CHARACTER
A lot of discouragement occurs in believers when they start to follow Jesus yet find their behavior not matching up. There is an immediate change that occurs right away. You might say that the big sins drop away as we repent (change our thinking) and start following Jesus. But soon we find more sin exposed and this leaves us doubting that we ever made a decision to live for God. It will help us to see that each of us is like an onion. We have layers upon layers of behavior from our old life that needs changing.
23. Paul expressed a frustration that all of us have who want to follow God. Paul had given himself to be a devoted follower of the law. He knew all the right and wrong ways to act. But he faced the constant struggle of doing what was right -- of living out the law. He had the law but no power to obey it fully and it was driving him almost mad!
24. Paul did not as yet have Christ's Spirit indwelling in his own spirit. He was religious, but not in God's kingdom. The Holy Spirit dwelling within us is the light and power that we need to obey God.
John 14:26 / John 16:13-15
25. Paul, after his conversion on the road to Damascus, received Christ's Spirit (Acts 9:17) and came through to the realization that there is a law greater than the law he had devoted his life to.
26. Kingdom of God citizens have the King's Spirit (the Holy Spirit) indwelling them and therefore they are transformed from the inside out. Because the indwelling Spirit is righteous, what do we naturally do throughout our lives?
1 John 2:28-29
27. It's Christ's Spirit indwelling our own that makes us children of God and eventually changes us to become like Jesus.
1 John 3:1-3
It's not our own straining and striving to "try" to be better but it's a natural transformation occurring slowly but surely over time.
28. Peter has just explained in his letter that all of us who follow Jesus have been born again of an imperishable seed - Jesus. Then he continues with a "therefore". What behaviors does Peter say to get rid of?
1 Peter 2:1
29. How do we do this?
Hebrews 12:1-4 / 1 Peter 1:13-15 / 1 Peter 2:2-3
Pure spiritual milk is the Word of God. Putting these verse together we need to prepare our minds for action by diligent study and obedience to the word of God and by fixing our eyes on Jesus. Here is how Paul expressed it.
We are called to a holy life -- or a life set apart for God's use. It starts with a transformation in our mind before it can work out to our behavior. As we study God's word, the Holy Spirit then helps us to apply it to our life and the unique situations we live through.
30. Good behavior will always come from a heart that is clean and clear before God and men. The Jewish Pharisees were consumed with how they looked on the outside but Jesus is concerned with the state of our heart.
Matthew 15:10-20 / Luke 6:43-45 /Luke 11: 39-53
Without a clean heart the filth that is inside of us eventually will come out.
31. Once the Holy Spirit has revealed another layer of sin in your life, immediately thank Him for the revelation and then pray this heartfelt prayer alongside of King David when the Prophet Nathan exposed his sins of adultery and murder.
There is no need to spend a minute wallowing in self pity and self-flagellation. We must immediately turn to Jesus and say something like this: "Dear Lord, thank you for exposing what I have done. It was wrong and I am sorry for it. I know that your shed blood covers my life which includes this sin (name it). Therefore, I am getting back on my feet and with your dear Holy Spirit helping me, I will be able to make the right choice next time."
Every time we do this another change occurs in us. The faster we acknowledge our sin and the blood of Christ that covers our transgressions, the more progress we make.