Summary: Veterans Day message centered on becoming imitators of God.
Imitators of God
I think everyone in this room knows the old adage, "the acorn does not fall far from the tree". I would have to say that after 26 years in the public school and 5000 students later that particular adage is pretty accurate. I was always amazed when I would finally meet the parent of a child, how the child behaved and in some cases even looked and dressed like the parent. I know they are supposed to look like the parent genetically, but I am talking about the mannerisms, the walk, the figures of speech, and sometimes even the glasses they wore.
Ephesians 5:1 gives us an astounding task. "Be imitators of God". What, are you kidding, that is an absolutely impossible task. Just reading the scripture is overwhelming. The whole verse reads,
Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Whenever I read the word I am confident that through the power of the Holy Spirit we can accomplish what it says. But you have to admit as you read and think on the first four words of the verses it seems impossible. However impossible it sounds, we as individuals and as a body of believers must strive for this goal in our lives.
So how is this imitation of God to take place? How do we become imitators of God? Paul is pretty clear in his previous verses. That’s what the "therefore" is there for.
Put Off the Old Self
Anyone who joins the military knows that the first 12-16 weeks are some of the toughest weeks of life you will ever endure. It is called basic training. Some of you in this room have joined the military and some of you have seen war up close and personal. Let me take a moment to take you back to the beginning.
When you walk through the gate of the recruiting depot, whether army, navy, air force, or marine, and you take the oath of loyalty and swear you allegiance to the United States of America. From that point on your life is no longer your own, you become the property of the government, a G.I., until the United States military says otherwise.
One of the first things you do is empty your pockets of all personal belongings. Any ID, cell phone, pictures, clothes, is stripped away and all your identity is suddenly gone. You are to strip away anything or anyone that was a part of your old life. You cannot make any phone calls, except to let your parents know you are O.K. You are from that point no longer an individual with dreams goals, and aspirations, you are a soldier in the making. You are a serial number.
Paul tells us the first step in becoming imitators of God is to take off or put off our worldly clothes. Ephesians 4:22
You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires;
This is the first step in becoming imitators of God. You must shed all of your old self. The Greek in this passage is in the aorist tense which means it is a once and forever action. We take off the old self one time. Old clothes signify filthy, stinky, dirty clothes that are unusable any longer. The apostle Paul even went so far as to declare his old life a pile of manure. Philippians 3:7-9 says,
But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.
How do we shed the old self when that is all we have? We shed the old self by first coming to Jesus Christ, God’s Son. When we come to know Jesus Christ as Lord we are immediately changed before God and we are clothed in the righteousness of Christ. Romans 13:14 says,
Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.
We are immediately transformed by God’s power to a new creation. We are no longer the world’s property, or satan’s, we are a new creation in Christ Jesus. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says it is an immediate change.