Summary: The command to imitate God in Ephesians 5:15-17 teaches us to walk in wisdom.
Two weeks I began a sermon series in Ephesians 5:1-21 called, “Be Imitators of God.”
In his letter to the Ephesian Christians, the Apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:1a, “Therefore be imitators of God.” That is Paul’s overall command for this section of Scripture. He then gave three ways in which Christians imitate God. Christians imitate God by walking in love, by walking in light, and by walking in wisdom. We have previously examined walking in love and walking in light. Today, I want to examine how Christians imitate God by walking in wisdom.
Let’s read about walking in wisdom in Ephesians 5:15-17:
15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. (Ephesians 5:15-17)
Dr. Hershel Hobbs writes that when he was a seminary student he recalls hearing of a man with a Ph.D. who ran an elevator in a downtown Louisville, Kentucky, office building. Just prior to his oral examination for the same degree the faculty examining committee failed to pass a philosophy student. Dr. Hobbs was concerned, thinking the faculty committee was getting tougher. He asked one of the professors why they failed to pass the man. The professor said the student was able to answer all the questions about the philosophy of others, but he had no philosophy of his own. Both the elevator operator and the student had knowledge, he said, but neither had wisdom.
And then Hobbs states, “Knowledge is a mental accumulation of facts. Wisdom is the ability to use knowledge properly in the ordering of one’s life.”
After King David died, his son, Solomon, became the third king of Israel. The Bible says that “Solomon the son of David established himself in his kingdom, and the Lord his God was with him and made him exceedingly great.”
One night God appeared to Solomon, and said to him, “Ask what I shall give you.”
And Solomon said to God, “….Give me now wisdom and knowledge to go out and come in before this people, for who can govern this people of yours, which is so great?”
God answered Solomon, “Because this was in your heart, and you have not asked for possessions, wealth, honor, or the life of those who hate you, and have not even asked for long life, but have asked for wisdom and knowledge for yourself that you may govern my people over whom I have made you king, wisdom and knowledge are granted to you. I will also give you riches, possessions, and honor, such as none of the kings had who were before you, and none after you shall have the like” (2 Chronicles 1:1-12).
One of the characteristics of those who imitate God is that they possess wisdom.
The command to imitate God in Ephesians 5:15-17 teaches us to walk in wisdom.
Let’s use the following outline:
1. What Christians Do to Imitate God (5:15)
2. How Christians Behave to Imitate God (5:16-17)
I. What Christians Do to Imitate God (5:15)
First, notice what Christians do to imitate God.
As I have already mentioned, in his letter to the Ephesian Christians, the Apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:1a, “Therefore be imitators of God.” That is Paul’s overall command for this section of Scripture. He then stated three ways in which Christians imitate God.
First, Christians imitate God by walking in love, as Paul wrote in verse 2a, “And walk in love.” We examined that two weeks ago.
Second, Christians imitate God by walking in light, as Paul wrote in verse 8b, “Walk as children of light.” We examined that last week.
And third, Christians imitate God by walking in wisdom, as Paul wrote in verse 15, our text for today, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise.” The moment a person becomes a Christian by repenting of sin and believing the Lord Jesus Christ, God makes that person wise. John MacArthur writes, “The moment we were saved we became a repository of wisdom that henceforth renders us responsible for our behavior. Because we are in Christ, ‘the treasures of wisdom and knowledge’ that are hidden in him (Col. 2:3) are therefore also hidden in us.” MacArthur continues, “The believer begins his new life in Christ with all the wisdom necessary to live for his Lord, but he is also to continually grow in wisdom, that he can be even more mature, more faithful, and more productive in his service.”
That is why Paul is so precise in his statement when he says, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise.” Paul knows that Christians can revert to walking in foolishness. In fact, Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, eventually slid into half-hearted obedience to God by marrying unbelievers and worshiping other gods. So, Christians are not immune from reverting to walking as unwise.