Be Imitators of God
Ephesians 5: 1-7
When you were younger, who did you want to become, or be like?
Athlete, Actor, Musician、Bill Gates, Bruce Lee, etc. We often had an idol we wanted to imitate. Even now, who do you want to become like? Who influences you in the way you live? Who do you want to imitate?
Unfortunately, in our hearts, we want to become like God, though we may not realize it. When we insist on doing things our way instead of Gods. Paul calls it idolatry. We are actually worshipping ourselves.
We want to be on top. Therefore, we make “gods” to fit our needs. But if we are the ones making gods in our own image, who is on top? We are.
And in the end, the Bible says we become fools.
Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. (Romans 1:22)
Why do we do this? So that we can be on top, #1, in control of our own lives. Ultimately, it leads to our destruction. When we make ourselves the focus, the Bible calls it idolatry. Christ came to save us from the penalty of sin.
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
This news is why Paul brought the Gospel to Ephesus. Ephesus was known for Diana/Artemis worship, magic, prostitution, banking, and wealth.. 魔法、売春、銀行業
Immorality was a way of life. People came from around the world to enjoy it pleasures. Paul went there to share the love of God and bring hope. And people responded to the Good News of the Gospel. There was a better way! They knew their sin. They knew they needed a Savior. A great revival happened.
After salvation, Paul gave instructions to the Ephesians as to how to live. Without Scripture, we will not know what God defines as sin, what pleases Him, how to live, etc.
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. (II Timothy 3:16-17)
Scripture challenges our former way of thinking and life. It causes us to react. Do we follow or not. But as we humble and submit ourselves to His Word, God blesses and uses us.
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God [b]as a fragrant aroma. (Ephesians 5:1-2)
We are to be imitators of God. What does that mean?
As we read Scripture, we get to know Him, His love, grace, holiness, justice, etc. We begin to understand true love, which is unselfish, others-focused.
1 John 4:19 – We love, because He first loved us.
We cannot walk in Christ’s love unless we understand how he loves us.
Good Friday – I watched “The Passion” (I watch it every year). I cried again. A glimpse of His love for me. The sufferings should have been mine, but Jesus took my place.
I want to love like Jesus. Paul calls us to be imitators of God.
Be imitators of God also means living in Holiness.
3 But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints;
These are the very issues that plagued Ephesus. Immoral lifestyle. We have to humble ourselves and let God be the standard, not the world. The word immoral comes from the word Porneia. Which is where we get pornography. Any sexual expression outside of Biblical marriage is wrong (sex before marriage, gay-sex, incest, animals, etc). It does not fit with the character and holiness of God. But God’s standard goes against our culture today, just like it did in Ephesus. The immorality today is not fitting to holiness. It does not match being “Imitators of God”.
Christ is Holy. Love is holy. Love is not immoral. God calls us out to be holy. The world/Satan wants the church to conform to its standards. God wants the church to conform to His standards. Spiritual Battle.
And Paul also addresses Greed. Ephesus was the banking center of that area. Money was their God. Money gave them power, material goods and ….sex.
1 Tim.6:10 For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
Money is neutral. It is neither good or bad. The LOVE of money is the problem. We are to love the LORD.
Matt.22:37, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’
Have you learned to be content with what you have? Can you trust Him even with little?
Phil 4:11, Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.
To be imitators of Christ means also…
4 … no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.
Is your speech full of thankfulness? Or is it filled with swearing, crude jokes, gossip, or tearing someone down? I remember God used my brother’s speech to influence me. He used to swear a lot. But after becoming a Christian, the way he talked changed. He stopped swearing. Others are full of complaints. We should rather be known for words of thanks.
A warning is given. Not because God is mean. But because God is love, holy, and just.
5 For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not be partakers with them;
God says a similar thing in 1 Corinthians 6
9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.
It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Heb.10:31)
But once you know God and his love and forgiveness, our grateful hearts should want to become more like Jesus. Jesus came to rescue us from this terrifying judgment.
God wants us to turn the other direction and become more like Jesus. But we can’t do it on our own strength. We need his grace and forgiveness. We need the Holy Spirit to help us. As we believe and trust in Him, He will transform our hearts as we walk with Him.
Praise the Lord!
We are being challenged today, much like the Ephesian Church was then. Turn to Jesus and become imitators of Him. Allow Christ to shine in you!
Think of ways to share the good news of the Gospel to your family and friends who need love and forgiveness; who need hope and a new life.
God Bless each one of you. If you have questions, feel free to email me here: firstname.lastname@example.org
20 Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, 21 to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21
(this message is a written version of the words shared with us by Rich Nakamura during our ZOOM worship session last Sunday, April 26, 2020)