This week we picked back up in our sermon series through the book of Ephesians. In the first three chapters of the book, Paul lays out the doctrine we must know to live as Christians. In the last three chapters, he works out what we must do in light of who we are in Christ. Christians have a new identity in Christ and we must live that out.
Our text was Ephesians 5:1-2.
Our sermon followed four words as a track to run on: imitation, identification, intention, and satisfaction.
Imitation. We are to be imitators of God, we are to be like God. This should be the cry of every Christian. We obey because God loves us; not to be loved by God. We love God, therefore we obey Him.
The motivation to forsake the sins which Paul will address is God’s love for us; not guilt, fear, or shame. Law is a poor motivator and will not endure. Love for God and His love for us will sustain us as we pursue holiness; as we seek to be imitators of God.
This is a high calling, and it is easy to make excuses for why we cannot do this. The church at Ephesus was surrounded by sin and evil, but Paul did not give them any excuse. We cannot use our current circumstances as a reason not to take Paul’s words seriously. No matter how evil the culture around us might be; that is not an excuse for disobeying the command to be imitators of God.
You can be an imitator of God because of Ephesians 3:20. Paul does not call us to do this in our own strength and power but in the power of the Holy Spirit. If we try to be patient on our own when we are impatient, we will fail.
We are to imitate God’s communicable attributes. God is gracious, therefore I must be a gracious person. God is forgiving, therefore I must forgive. This is how we seek to imitate God.
Identification. What is our motivation in imitation? It flows out of our identification. We are God’s beloved children. You are not a second class citizen, you are a full fledged member of the family.
To be a dearly loved child of God is to be preferred above all others. God treats us with partiality; He is partial to His children and we are the objects of His affection.
Here are a few searching questions you can ask yourself to determine how you view God’s love for you:
- How do you truly view God?
- Are you totally convinced that God loves you as His beloved child?
- Do you believe that God sees you with eyes of love or with condemnation?
We should naturally gravitate to imitating our Father. We should be careful about the family name. Our conduct should honor God and not bring reproach on His name.
Intention. One of the ways we imitate God is by walking in Love. Our lives should be characterized by love (John 13:34-35).
This love is an active love, a personal love, a sacrificial love. Christ actively gave His life for us. He sacrificed Himself; His love cost Him His life.
“A love that costs nothing will accomplish nothing.” We are to imitate God by having love drive our imitation of Him. If our love for others never costs us anything, we are not truly loving that person.
Satisfaction. Our obedience pleases God. When we imitate Him, He is pleased. Again we must remember: we do not do this to earn God’s love, but because He loves us.
How will you imitate God this week? How will you love sacrificially as Christ loved you?
Personally, the call to love at a cost is an area in which I need to work. It is easy for me to “love” someone when it is convenient for me or if they are like me. It is a lot harder to love the inconvenient or different.
That’s where I am asking God to help me imitate Him this week. May He be glorified in answering that prayer.