Summary: The word "imitation" has three distinct meanings, each of which has a significant spiritual application. This outline sets forth these distinctions.
IMITATIONS: GOOD AND BAD
"Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ."
1 Corinthians 11:1 (NKJV)
The word "imitation" has three distinct meanings, each of which has a significant spiritual application.
I. IMITATION: "AN ARTIFICIAL LIKENESS UNFEIGNED."
Unfeigned: No effort is made to deceive others as to its being genuine, such as artificial flowers, sweeteners, lighting, etc.
In affairs of commerce and marketing, these types of artificiality are quite acceptable, even appreciated. But in spiritual matters, such is not the case. In the Old and New Testaments there are several who manifested this type of unfeigned imitation.
Such a one was Diotrephes. Consider the Apostle John’s stern statement about this proud hypocrite in the early church.
"I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence among them, does not receive us. Therefore, if I come, I will call to mind his deeds which he does, prating against us with malicious words. And not content with that, he himself does not receive the brethren, and forbids those who wish to, putting them out of the church".
3 John vs. 9-10 (NKJV)
II. IMITATION: "AN ARTIFICIAL LIKENESS FEIGNED."
FEIGNED: A concerted effort is made to deceive others in thinking it is genuine, such as counterfeit money, jewelry, watches, etc. Individuals who follow this course are called "hypocrites". Biblical examples are the spies sent by the scribes and chief priests in an effort to entrap Jesus.
"And the chief priests and the scribes that very hour sought to lay hands on Him, but they feared the people--for they knew He had spoken this parable against them. So they watched Him, and sent spies who pretended to be righteous, that they might seize on His words, in order to deliver Him to the power and the authority of the governor.
"Then they asked Him, saying, ’Teacher, we know that You say and teach rightly, and You do not show personal favoritism, but teach the way of God in truth: ’Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?’
"But He perceived their craftiness, and said to them, ’Why do you test Me? Show Me a denarius. Whose image and inscription does it have?’ They answered and said, ’Caesar’s.’ And He said to them, ’Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s."
"But they could not catch Him in His words in the presence of the people. And they marveled at His answer and kept silent." Luke 20:19-26 (NKJV)
Another example is Judas. In John 6:68-69, notice Simon Peter’s statement: "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
Judas had fooled Peter into believing that he was as devout in the faith as the other disciples. Jesus was prompt to inform Peter and the other disciples that Judas was counterfeit...yea, more than counterfeit, Judas was a devil!
Consider: "Jesus answered them, ’Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?’ He spoke of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, for it was he who would betray Him, being one of the twelve." John 6:70-71 (NKJV)
III. IMITATION: "FOLLOWING AFTER A PATTERN, MODEL, OR EXAMPLE WITH INTENT TO COPY OR STRIVE TO COPY." "Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children." Ephesians 5:1.
1. If we try to imitate God, we will strive to live a holy life
"But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, "Be holy, for I am holy." 1 Peter 1:15-16 (NKJV)
2. We will evidence love toward others
"And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him." 1 John 4:16 (NKJV)
"For God so loved the world..." (John 3:16)
3. We will be compassionate in regard to others
"But You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth." Psalms 86:15
4. We will be forgiving in nature
"For Thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive, abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon Thee." Psalms 86:5