Summary: This sermon series asks the question - Do we really look like Jesus? Are we disciples or are we just tagging along? Are we becoming imitators of God?

The Next Best Thing

Eight Secrets to Imitating Christ Pt 2

Ephesians 5

Last week we began this series looking at Paul’s challenge to the church to be Imitators of Christ. The question that we posed last week and will continue to pose during this series is “Are you the next best thing to Jesus in the lives of those around you?” Paul shares eight secrets to imitating Christ in this passage - practical stuff to help us look like Him. We have looked at the first two - Being careful how we walk - and redeeming our time making the most of life.

Today I want to continue with

1) Secret #3 - Make it your purpose to understand the will of God (v17) - Paul says to us in this attempt to imitate God - don’t be foolish - the Greek word is aphroneand it means to be foolish, ignorant, or stupid. It actually infers madness. Paul says that instead we are to purpose to know the will of God in our lives. This idea of knowing the will of God brings up two crisis that I believe exist in the Church to day.

• Crisis of Identity - I believe that we suffer greatly from a crisis of identity in the church today. By far the greatest number of our church folk don’t have a clue in heaven what their purpose in life is. The church is suffering from and identity crisis. Psalm 139 says that we are fearfully and wonderfully made - that God has a plan for our lives - in fact it says “in his book are written all the days that are ordained for me when as yet there was not one of them.” Humor me this morning - I know that we have done this many times but lets do it once more - I am a unique unrepeatable miracle of God and He has a plan for my life.” Now how many of you need to add - “but I don’t have a clue what that is.” Friend if you don’t know - it’s time you did know - it’s time you began following so hard after God that His purpose and plan will become clear to you. You need to identify your Spiritual Gifts, you talents, abilities and your hearts desire - in them you will find the framework for the plans and tasks that God has for you.

• Crisis of Obedience - suniemi - means to comprehend but it also is joined with the idea of action. In other words its not enough just to know the will of God - you must be willing to act on the will of God. You see understanding is married to action. The reality is that for far too many of us we know what God wants, we just don’t do it. In today’s Christianity we are educated far beyond the level of our obedience - and the problem is most of us are still biblically illiterate. What I’m saying is that for many what little they do know they don’t live. Friends it ought not be this way. Look at Joshua 1:7-8 with me - God says there is a reward for obedience - success. James writes “be doers of the word not merely hearers who delude themselves.” What he says is that if we know more than we obey we are simply fooling ourselves. We don’t really even know who or what we are.

2) Secret # 4 - Be careful what touches your heart (v18) - Friends I want you to listen to me this morning - everything that is lawful for you to do is not good to do. There are plenty of things in this world that are lawful for you, that are socially acceptable for you, and are even touted as good for you to do but in reality they are the destroyers of your heart. Turn to 1 Peter 4:1-5. I want you to understand this morning that the things that you do, the things that you own, and the things that you see and listen to can touch your heart deeply.

• What you do can touch your heart - The choices that you make - make you. Sin will touch your heart. II Peter 2:17-22 Promising freedom sin ensnares the heart - and drags you down a road that you don’t want to be on. Sin is sin and the traps of satan are all alike they feel good for the moment but like a mouse trap they snap shut with painful results. You know the last thing a mouse feels before he is smashed in the head by a steel rod is pleasure - he’s eatin cheese then bam. Well friend I want you to understand this morning no one shoots up with heroin, snorts cocaine, or puffs crystal meth - thinking man I want to loose everything in my life, my family, my friends, my teeth - they are thinking man this feels good. But soon feeling good is replaced with just feeling normal - and then by shooting up just to feel bad because bad is better than hell. No one starts to gossip to ruin peoples lives - but friend that is the outcome. Loose lips sink ships. The bible says “Even a fool, when he keeps silent, is considered wise;” That goes along with the old saying it’s better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt. Drinking, smoking, dipping, sexual promiscuity, and even gossip may be socially acceptable and even socially promoted but friend “the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.” Pastor Dan you can’t possibly be saying this - oh yes I can - as Brother Terry has said so many times this week “I don’t write this stuff I just read it.”

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