Summary: 1) The Plea (Ephesians 5:1–2a), 2) The Pattern (Ephesians 5:2b), 3) The Perversion (Ephesians 5:3–4)
The world claims to want love, and love is advocated and praised from every corner. Romantic love especially is touted. Songs, novels, movies, and television serials continually exploit emotional, lustful desire as if it were genuine love. Questing for and fantasizing about the “perfect love” is portrayed as the ultimate human experience.
Whatever God establishes, Satan will counterfeit. Where God establishes true love, Satan produces counterfeit love. Counterfeit love characterizes Satan’s children, those who are of the world, just as true love characterizes God’s children, those who are citizens of heaven. In contrast to godly, unselfish, forgiving love, the world’s love is lustful and self–indulgent. It loves because the object of love is attractive, enjoyable, pleasant, satisfying, appreciative, loves in return, produces desired feelings, or is likely to repay in some way. It is always based on the other person’s fulfilling one’s own needs and desires and meeting one’s own expectations. Worldly love is reciprocal, giving little in the expectation of getting much. Speaking of that kind of love, Jesus said, “For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax–gatherers do the same?” (Matt. 5:46).
A biblical understanding of love with not only help us in genuine worship but in every relationship of our lives. We will know how to properly serve God in our relationships with Him and everyone else. Coming to grips with biblical love will help us distinguish genuine from false motives in others and ourselves. It will help prevent deception from others and in our own actions.
In Ephesians 5:1-7, the Apostle Paul first presents the positive truths about true godly love and then the negative truths about Satan’s counterfeit love and its consequences. He shows this through: 1) The Plea (Ephesians 5:1–2a), 2) The Pattern (Ephesians 5:2b), 3) The Perversion (Ephesians 5:3–4)
1) The Plea (Ephesians 5:1–2a)
Ephesians 5:1-2a [5:1]Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, (as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God). (ESV)
Therefore refers back to the last part of chapter 4, especially verse 32. Kindness, tender–heartedness, and forgiveness are characteristics of God, who is love. God Himself is infinitely kind, tender–hearted, and forgiving. We achieve those virtues by imitating their Source.
Mimētēs (imitator) is the term from which we get mimic, someone who copies specific characteristics of another person. The verb is more strictly ‘become’. Those who by grace are made children of God are by constant perseverance, and imitation of the divine copy (cf. 1 Pet. 2:21), to become more like the heavenly Father (cf. Matt. 5:44–45, 48; Luke 6:36). (Foulkes, F. (1989). Ephesians: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 10, p. 144). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.).
As imitators of God, Christians are to imitate God’s characteristics, and above all His love. The whole of the Christian life is the reproduction of godliness as seen in the person of Christ. God’s purpose in salvation is to redeem people from sin and to conform them “to the image of His Son” (Rom. 8:29). To be conformed to Christ is to become perfect, just as God is perfect (Matt. 5:48). The only way we can become imitators of God is for the Lord Jesus Christ to live His perfect life through us. We are totally dependent on His Spirit to become like Him. If we are to obey Paul’s admonition to the Corinthians, “let all that you do be done in love” (1 Cor. 16:14), we must submit to the controlling influence of the Spirit.
Please turn to 1 Peter 1 (p.1014)
When Alexander the Great discovered a coward in his army who also was named Alexander, he told the soldier, “Renounce your cowardice or renounce your name.” Those who carry God’s name are to be imitator’s of His character. By His grace it is possible to reflect Him even in our present limitations.
1 Peter 1:13-21 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy." And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one's deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. (ESV)