Summary: Ways to imitate God and thereby cash in on the spiritual riches in Christ. (Expository sermon)
We’re in the series "Simple Living," based on the 2nd half of Paul’s correspondence to the Ephesian Christ followers of the First Century.
In the first half of the letter, believers are described as “spiritually rich,” and in the second half, the part upon which this series is based, we’re told how to spend our spiritual riches!
One of the simplest techniques for simple living and thereby be able to cash in the spiritual riches we have in Christ, is to IMITATE GOD.
Our grandson Andrew is at the age of imitation. We don’t get to see him in person that often since his mom and dad serve the church in Spain, but we do use our video camera frequently enough to notice him mocking what he sees. At nearly two years of age he apes what he sees mom and dad and others around him doing.
Here’s a brief video to show you what I mean.
Today I want to talk to you from Scripture about imitating our heavenly Father. He has set this wonderful example of behavior for us and a simple rule of living is to act how God acts. Look at Ephesians 5, verses 1 and 2.
1 Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. 2 Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God. Ephesians 5:1-2 (NLT)
Notice the Bible says imitate God in “everything you do.” We’re not just to imitate God on Sundays or set times of spiritual activity. We’re to imitate God in everything we do. This is a simple maxim but it has a broad application. I’m to imitate God in my relationships, my thought life, my private life, my leisure, my business, etc. And this imitation centers on the sacrifice of Jesus on skull hill. The pivotal event of the biblical narrative, the sacrifice of Christ for our sins, is to become the primary focus of my imitation of God lifestyle.
WAYS TO BE LIKE GOD
3 Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, ["Impurity" means "morally impure." By using the word impurity, Paul is going beyond the specific act of having sex before or outside of heterosexual marriage and saying that we should be free from all association with sexual sins. Impurity includes stuff like porn, and any thought or activity that leads to sexual lust. The word “impurity” is translated “uncleanness” in the KJV. Demons were often referred to as “unclean” spirits, so impurity is something associated with Satan’s followers.] or greed [Excessive desire for wealth or possessions.] among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people. 4 Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes—these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God. 5 You can be sure that no immoral, impure, or greedy person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God. For a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Ephesians 5:3-5 (NLT)
God’s nature is pure and holy. That’s one of the things we love so much about Him! It’s one of the primary reasons we worship Him. Who would want to worship an impure God?
Because God is holy and pure and righteous He says to those who follow Him:
So the directives to refrain from sexual sins and greediness are only a natural outflow for followers of Christ. Pure living is part of the family resemblance.
The big danger of these sins is what they do to our relationships. Sex sins and greed are based on selfishness. Selfishness eats away at relationships. Selfishness rewards us with instant gratification but purity and generosity reward us with strong relationships that stand the test of time. God is unselfish and He wants us to be like Him and it is for our own good. Our friendship with a holy God and others will not be enjoyable unless we’re walking in holiness and purity.
Are we surprised that a totally pure and holy God gets angry at impurity? In many ways we don’t like impurity either. Recently my wife Deb asked for a “to go” box to take her leftover food home from the restaurant. When she opened the Styrofoam box there was a cough drop wrapper inside. She wasn’t going to use that box to take her food home. Perhaps the person who put the cough drop wrapper in the box had coughed in the box. So she asked for another box.
We don’t use dirty containers and neither does God. But its not because God is mean and unloving. It’s because He knows that impurity is dangerous to us. My wife wasn’t being “hard to get along with” when she asked the waitress for another Styrofoam container. She was only being cautious of the danger of germs.