Summary: How should we celebrate our independence from sin? Paul gives us the way in Ephesians 5 as beloved children Imitate God." If this were our focus as churches we would see revival, lives filled with the power of the Holy Spirit and transformation in lives
Intro: This Friday was the Fourth of July. The Fourth celebrates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence July 4, 1776 and freedom from the cruel rule of the British Empire. It is marked with Bar B Que, fireworks and going to the lake.
Paul is calling us to a similar celebration in this passage today. Be imitators of God. He is saying because of everything we have learned so far. The riches we have in Jesus in the heavens. The power we have in Jesus to overcome sin. The unity we are called to as brother and sisters in Christ. The partnership we are to have in the gospel, the growth and building up of the church. Because of all that here in chapter 5 Paul says, “Celebrate your independence from sin! Celebrate your dependence on God!” However, we don’t shoot fireworks and have cookouts to celebrate.
We follow the command “Be imitators of God as dearly beloved children.”
What does America need more than anything today? Christians that would imitate God. In fact the mocking title Christian, found in Acts 11:6, meant little Christ. If we want God to bless America then we can begin with blessing God by imitating Him!
I. Why should we imitate God?
A) We imitate God because of His clear command (Ephesians 5:1)
Imitate comes from a Greek word that we get our word mime. A mime lets their actions speak for them. We are commanded to let our actions speak the Gospel and grace of God. Paul was saying something that would have been clear to the Ephesians. Learning to be a speaker, teacher, story-teller depended on three things theory, imitation and practice. The main part of training was study and imitation of the masters. Paul has told us in 1 Corinthians 11:1 “follow me as I follow Christ.” We are encouraged again and again to learn our Bibles to memorize its verses. Why? Because the masters of following Christ are found in its pages.
This is not a terrible command it is a tender call. As beloved children.
In the command there is a caution. Children often bear a deep family resemblance. If you do not resemble and imitate God then what family are you imitating?
Matthew 25:21 “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave! You were faithful over a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Share your master’s joy!”
John 14:15 “If you love Me, you will keep My commands.”
2 Timothy 2:4 “No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in the concerns of civilian life; he seeks to please the recruiter.”
Hebrews 11:5, 6 “By faith Enoch was taken away so he did not experience death, and he was not to be found because God took him away. For prior to his removal he was approved, since he had pleased God. 6 Now without faith it is impossible to please God, for the one who draws near to Him must believe that He exists and rewards those who seek Him.”
We as Christians are called to please God not men. We as the church are called to please God not culture. If we discover the joy of faithfully pleasing God we will also discover peace and power in the Holy Spirit
II. How should we imitate God?
A) We imitate God by walking (living) in love
1) We must have a biblical and not a cultural definition of love
Cultural love is based completely on feelings. I love pizza, I love the longhorns, I love ice cream. Feelings come and go and are no basis for true love.
Biblical love is based completely on choice. Romans 5:8 God’s love is revealed in choosing “While we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” John 3:15 God’s love is revealed in giving. John 15:13 God’s love is revealed in sacrifice “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.”
So with these passages we can have a biblical definition of love; Love is a self-sacrificing, caring commitment that shows itself by seeking the highest good for of the one loved.
There are five elements of this definition of love
a) God’s love is a costly love
He gave his only Son. We may not have to go as far as to actually die for someone. We do often have to lay aside our selfishness, our pride and our rights in order to practice God’s love toward others.
b) God’s love is a caring love
Psalm 103:13 “As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord as compassion on those who fear Him.” God cares about us more than any earthly father ever could. If we don’t care about what happens to people then we don’t love them. The poor, the rejected, the disliked, the widow, the orphan God cares for them all. We imitate God when we care for those He cares for. What ministries does God want to rise out of that caring? What people does He want to rescue as we act like the Good Samaritan not the self-righteous Pharisee?