Imitators of God
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. 3 But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. 4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. 5 For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not become partners with them; 8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, "Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you." 15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, (Ephesians 5:1-20 ESV)
Imitating God means walking in love, light, and wisdom.
- Imitators of God.
one who follows another's example imitator, follower. Used of actors who are imitating another person.
We are to be imitators of God. Not Lebron, KD, or Stef Curry. And ladies you dont need to be a Wendy Williams, Martha Stuart, or Oprah. We have bigger goals than that. We want to look to God. As soon as you lower your standards to another person you are going to be destined for frustration and disappointment. If God wanted you to be them he would have made you them. He wanted you. And you need to want him more than you want to be those other people.
Whatever you do, you are to look to God as your example and standard, whether is as a mom, dad, CEO, programmer, engineer, actor, singer. We want to honor him in all we do. How can you imitate God in your life. What does it look like to not imitate God?
And it also reminds us why we imitate God. We are dearly loved children. It doesn’t say imitate him so that you might be love or so that you might be his children. You imitate him because he is your father. This is the amazing thing about Christianity. We don’t imitate God in order to be accepted by him. We are accepted by him in Christ. In Christ we are brought into the family of God. This is a huge difference in Chrsitianity. Every other religion says do this and this so that you can be accepted. Christianity says do this because its who you are. Your a beloved child of God now act like it.
This sets you on track to love your kids rightly. You don’t love your kids because they are perfectly obedient. You don’t poor into them because of how well behaved they are. If you do that then they will never feel secure with you. That is the reason why some relationships fail. Because you are making them earn something. And they are probably going to imitate you in that and require you to earn their love. When you say I love you dearly because your my child that is powerful. But that love also means you do have expectations of how they behave. It doesn’t alter that, but the distinction of how you receive love is powerful.
This is how the gospel changes us. It changes us from the inside out. First three chapters of ephesians Paul gives us some of the deepest explanations in the Bible. After that is three chapters of intense application. Why we imitate God is because of what he has done for us. This motivates service from the heart.
Moralism: emphasizing external behavior more than internal disposition. When our heart changes then the external will follow. Many grew up in churches where its about what you are supposed to do and the internal is forgotten. That is dead religion. Weekend at Bernies. Dead guy you are trying to make alive. Force heart to do what it does not want to do. That is religion. Threatens with eternal damnation to do what you don’t want to. Gospel changes our heart so we want what God wants.
Imitate involves how you live and what you do. Remember our faith is not just the content of what we believe but the content of how we live. We are told to be imitators of God and then we are given three main categories of what it looks like. Three times in this passage we are told how to walk. Walk is a key word in this section (5:2, 8, 15).
- Walk in Love
Verse 2 we are told to walk in love. Qualified with as Christ loved. This is imitating God we walk like he did. Some verse say live a life of love. The use of walk helps you see the theme here.
Now after the command to love he goes into sexual immorality, impurity, greed. Sometimes knowing how to live means first knowing what not to do. These at first seem completely disconnected, but the connection is obvious. Greed is not love. Impurity is not love. Sexual immorality, no matter what our society says, is not love.
V5 Covetousness or greed is mentioned. If you are greedy for your own gain you are not going to love other people. one who wants more than his share, especially of material possessions covetous, greedy or grasping person. Covetousness is idolatry. We are not worshiping God but ourselves. We want more. We want everything we see. OUr time is spent acquiring new things and more stuff for ourselves than it is caring for others.
Emphasis here on sexual purity. The person looking at sexual inappropriate content is not there thinking how to take care of the other person. It is only self gratification. The person posting sexually inappropriate material online is not think how can I love the people who might see this. They have self desires that result in the harm, not the benefit of the other person.
It is a lie you can have sex with others and it not affect you. I know people who the husband could not go on business trips without the wife second guess his every move, always wondering where he is at, what he is doing and who he is with. He felt constrained and would erupt at her. When it all came down to it, they had been immoral before marriage and even before each other and it bled over into marriage. She never heard him say that behavior was wrong so she always lived with a fear that he might continue in that behavior. Sex is powerful and has a powerful effect.
True love honors and respects one another. Singles, you ought to date with the fear of God in you. You also ought to date with an attitude of truly loving the other person, and true love says I m going to honor the other person and if we don't get married I m going to help him/her enter into their marriage with no regrets. That is an attitude that will serve your future marriage immensely, because once you are married, you have to have the same attitude. My marriage is not about me, my own personal gratification, but it is about how I can present the other blameless on the day of the Lord. That is love. That is having eternity in view.
There is a great consequence to these things. v5 “You may be sure of this.” It is a phrase that conveys emphasis. “that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.
People try and smooth over this to make the Christian faith palatable, more socially acceptable. If this isn't true then why did Jesus die for our sins. If it isn't the case why are we to live on a mission to reach the lost. If this isn't true then it doesn't really matter what people believe and how they live. Are you living with an urgency? Are you living like this is true or that what the world says is true.
Let me just say this. If we love people we are going to be concerned about their eternal well being. If you are a Christian the reality of eternal judgment ought to weigh heavy on you. Are you praying for people to be saved. Do you prayers consists of more stuff for you or people getting saved. You may need a new job new kitchen counters or whatever, but there is a big discrepancy between You not getting your counters and your neighbor going to hell. God is reminding this church of that reality. Christians are you living in light of this reality. If the wonders of what God has done for in Christ don’t motivate us then perhaps this will. And also notice that here it is not the culture at large that he is reminding but the church.
- Walk in Light
Therefore do not become partners with them; 8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light . God is love, so if you imitate him you will love others. God is light, so live in the light.
Light and darkness are used as metaphors in the bible and they have clear ethical connotations. We do the same today. Walking in the light means walking in the path God calls us to walk. The light and darkness metaphor show distinction that children of God are to have. You know the difference in the day and the difference at night. If you have trusted in Christ then people should see a distinction in your life. They should see a difference in the way you celebrate and rejoice, in the way you cry and grieve, they should see a difference in how you relax and have fun and how you work and accomplish things.
Be distinct from what others are doing. He says don’t even speak (12) of what they speak of and consider OK. Its shameful to even mention what some proudly boast of.
Know what is pleasing to the Lord v10. Bearing light begins with knowing the light, it begins with knowing what God calls you to do in the situation you are in.
But also notice that the light is transformative. It is not just make them feel guilty. In light the deeds are darkness are seen for what they are. It is the sense of “setting right reprove, correct.” Do you do things focused on how it serves you or how it serves others. Go into situations wanting to see others transformed.
JB Phillips “It is even possible for the light to turn the thing it shines upon into light also.”
Mom’s this is a big part of what you want your kids to know and do. You want them to know what is right and do it. We want to be a church that we are influencing others. I pray that for my kids and the kids in our children’s ministry. They are going out into an unChristian world and post Christian world. They should not be ashamed or scared. They should go knowing what is right, knowing what pleases the Lord, and willing to stand their ground. Its hard but light shines more distinctly in darkness.
Go wanting to transform others because you too have seen the light. You have been transformed. Remember you are a child of God because of what Jesus has done for you. The only thing you contributed was the sin that put Jesus on the cross. So don’t go out thinking you are better than others. Go out knowing you have seen the light, there is a different way to life, its the true way the real way life was meant to be lived. It’s better than everything else.
- Walk in Wisdom
Many times we need wisdom when things are not black and white. If it is black and white it is clear what you should or should not do. Don’t kill anybody. That is clear right. Hopefully we are all having a good week there!
But there is another question, are you making the most of your days. Are you spending time on the things you should be spending time on. All the sudden a whole other category of stewardship and life opens up. Are you imitating God every, are you imitating him to the fullest.
There are gray spots in life. That is absolutely true. But let me tell you this. The better you know the black and white the better you know the gray.
Consider summer vacation coming up. You probably dont have any conspicuously evil things planned. But how can you make the most of your summer?
Doing this means prioritizing knowing his will. That means you are reading your word. Don’t just say what shouldn’t I do, but say God what are you calling me to do. What can I do to most glorify you. You have summer break coming up. What can you do to most glorify God. Maybe you read some theology books to go deeper in your relationship with Jesus. Maybe you decide to cut grass so you can give to a cause. Adults, what can you do to make the most of the current season you are in. What is God calling you to do now?
In this section of making the most of the days and living with wisdom it brings up the subject of alcohol. Can drinking alcohol be done to the glory of God. Yes it can. Can it lead to sin. Yes it can. There can be some gray areas here. Live in the gray as little as possible. Live in the light.
V18 Don’t get drunk. Be filled with the spirit. Command. Drunkenness leads to debauchery. We ought not give into that, we also ought to be wise enough to keep a safe distance away so that even the appearance of what we do is not confused. Key to v17 understand what the Lord’s will is.
“Be not among drunkards or among gluttonous eaters of meat, 21 for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and slumber will clothe them with rags. (Proverbs 23:20-21 ESV)
We have talked about the abuse of drugs in our area. We live in the Heroine triangle. More people are dying of opium overdose than car wrecks. But do you know alcohol is still the most commonly abused substance.
Leads to debauchery, that is wastefulness, dissipation. It’s wasting the life God has given to us. Drunkenness is a form of escapism. You need to deal with your problems, be transformed, and help others transform. Drunkness is an abandonment of the purpose God has created us.
Are you looking for alcohol to do something that only the Lord can? Are you looking for refuge, encouragement, . Can you socialize without alcohol? If you can’t or if you struggle or if you are not certain I want to encourage you to make it clear, push for growth. Fast alcohol. Go 30 days without it. Fasting forces you to depend on the Lord in new ways and it can show you if something has you.
What does drunkenness convey to others of the hope that we have, the comfort that is in the gospel, the power of having the Spirit of God at work in our lives.
Beautiful picture of what being filled with the Spirit looks like. You are a beloved child of God. Adopted into his family through Christ. If you are walking in love, knowing you are loved and loving others. If you are walking in the light, you know the light and are a light for others. If you are walking in wisdom and avoiding all the godlessness, debauchery,
addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” CS Lewis. The Weight of Glory.
The way you live reflects who you are living for. Who you imitate is who you worship. Does your life look more like Kim Kardashian or Jesus. Are you more committed to yourself, your image, and being popular in the world or are you committed to following Christ and treating others well.
Light, Love, Wisdom. Want to imitate God, then this is what you will radiate.
Follow the world and it will be hate, darkness, and foolishness.
One person truly worthy to imitate, and it is the one person that when you fall short pulls you up and transforms you rather than condemns you.
So much more important than fancy clothes, uppity attitudes,