“That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in [his] kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.”
The Grace Of Imitation (5:1-14)
Eph 5:1-14 KJV
“Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.
But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.
Be not ye therefore partakers with them. For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.
And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light. Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.”
This devotional, continues to look at the second main division of the book of Ephesians. Previously, we have looked at “Reflections Of His Grace Revealed” (chaps 1-3). It that section, Paul revealed to us the gracious works of the Lord in the lives of His chosen people.
In this new section “Reflections Of His Grace Applied” (chaps 4-6) Paul will be explaining to us the practical effects of God’s grace in the lives of His people.
- The Grace Of Unity (4:1-6)
- The Grace Of Maturity (4:7-16)
- The Grace Of Renewal (4:17-32)
- The Grace Of Imitation (5:1-14)
- The Grace Of Wisdom (5:15-21)
- The Grace Of Relationships (5:22-33)
- The Grace Of Authority/Submission (6:1-9)
- The Grace Of Preparedness (6:10-21)
The next effect of God’s grace we will be looking at is the grace of IMITATION (5:1-14). The word translated “followers” is a Greek word that carries with it the idea of “to mimic” or “to imitate”. It is from this word that I got the title for this section of our study.
Keeping all this in mind, lets turn our attention to this is a very basic outline of this section of Scripture:
I. Imitate Christ (vs 1-2)
II. Do Not Imitate The Children of Disobedience (3-7)
III. Imitate Children Of Light (vs 8-10)
IV. Wake Up and Forsake Darkness (vs 11-14)
Paul begins our look at being imitators by getting directly to the point…
(Eph 5:1) Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;
Be ye therefore followers of God,
Paul begins by explaining our need to imitate God. The Bible explains to us, repeatedly, that it is essential for Christians to mimic God:
1. Kindness – Ephesians 4:32
2. Holiness (separated from sin for the use of God) – Leviticus 11:45 with 1 Peter 1:15-16
3. Loving Our Enemies – Matthew 5:44-45
4. Loving Other Christians – 1 John 4:11
5. Perfection – Matthew 5:48
Please especially note: The most important passages that speak of our need to imitate God are the 1 Peter 1:15-16 and Matthew 5:48 passages…
“But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.”
“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”
Here we are told to be a follower of God by being “perfect” and “holy” like Him. Are these verses teaching us to be sinlessly perfect as He is?
Based upon the writings of Scripture (Romans 7:12-25, Galatians 5:16-17, 1 John 1:8-9 etc ) we are clearly told that, as Christians living in our fleshly fallen bodies, sinless perfection is impossible. It will only be at our receipt of glorified bodies that our sanctification will be brought to completion (Romans 8:19-25) and our sinless state will begin.
If this is the case, then what do these verses teach us? We can understand these verses in one of two ways and still remain faithful to the teachings of God’s Word…
1. First of all, we can understand both the terms “perfect” and “holy” are speaking of sinlessness. If this is the case, then we have God commanding His children to do something that cannot be accomplished this side of heaven.
Would the Lord command us to do what we cannot do? I believe this is possible. He does this in several other cases as well. The best examples are concerning the responsibilities to “repent” and “believe” the gospel for our initial salvation experience. Although we are told to repent and believe, we are also clearly told that both of these are impossible for fallen man to accomplish apart from His divine intervention ( Ephesians 2:8-9 and Acts 11:18).
He has given to man His Ten Commandments which we are responsible to keep. And yet, we are clearly told that “all have sinned” proving to us that none of us have kept, or are able to keep, His Ten Commandments perfectly.
How do we reconcile these ideas? The only reason why men cannot fulfill God’s commands perfectly is because they have sinned against Him. It is a part of their fallen nature and the curse of sin upon them. Therefore, it must be an act of God’s grace to remove this condition from them, which then will allow them to please Him perfectly throughout eternity. This will take place at the receipt of our glorified bodies.
God’s command for His people to be “perfect” and “holy” is no different from His commands to “repent and believe” or to keep His Ten Commandments. No one can do any of these things apart from His grace shown to mankind. He will give us the ability to do all these things in His time based upon His will for us.
2. Secondly, it is not necessary to understand the terms “holy” and “perfect” to describe sinless perfection.
The word for “holy” simply means “to be separated to the use of God”.
While the word “perfect” simply means “to be whole, complete, mature”.
If we look at these verses, with these definitions in mind, we can see that we are being told to be separated to God, placing Him first in our lives, and being spiritually mature and strong in the faith. This type of man was illustrated for us in the life of Job…
“There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name [was] Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.” (Job 1:1)
Job’s maturity and spiritual strength is exemplified for us by these phrases “upright” (pleasing to God), “feared God”, and “eschewed evil” (declined and stepped back from evil). It is obvious Job was a very mature Christian, yet he certainly sinned against God as is evident throughout the book of Job.
Our responsibility is to be like Job and constantly strive to rid sin out of our lives and seek to follow God in every aspect of our lives. Knowing that we will always be a “work in process” keep us from becoming lax and satisfied with our level of spiritual growth…
Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but [this] one thing [I do], forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.” (Philippians 3:12-15)
as dear children;
We are to follow our Heavenly Father much like a child follows the example of his human father…
“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect”
May we thank the Lord for His grace in allowing us to being followers of Him. Being a follower of our Father is one aspect of our love and appreciation for what our Heavenly Father has done for us!
May we all get a clearer picture of our Lord and Savior, and the great grace He has shown to us. Let us be always watchful to keep His great acts of grace on our behalf in the center of our attention… In doing so, may we be motivated to LOVE Him more, APPRECIATE Him more and SERVE Him more!
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