Sermon Title: “Be Like God by following God’s Examples”
Text: Ephesians 5:1-20
Date: Sunday, May 6, 2018
Speaker: Pastor Joseph
- Who is your role model? Or do you have someone in your life you look up to?
Who is your inspiration and why?
- Who do you want to be like in life? Or as most teachers would ask their students, what do you want to be when you grow up?
- Who are you imitating in life?
Is it cultural icons, political figures, Hollywood stars and superstars?
- Tomorrow morning (Sunday, May 6) at Jesus Center Community Church, I will be talking about the biblical idea of imitation and Paul’s command to Christians to “be imitators of God” in Ephesians 5:1.
- What does it mean to imitate God?
What are the divine attributes and moral virtues we should emulate from God and practice daily?
- I will share some words of wisdom and advice in the preaching moment.
Definition: To imitate God is to live a life in daily connection with Him in sanctification, holiness, and obedience by the empowering presence and guidance of the Holy Spirit. It also means to be good relationship with people, to show kindness to strangers, to serve and love people wholeheartedly without reservation or any complaint.
The call to be like God or to imitate God in Chapter 5 is connected to a Christ-centered lifestyle consistent with God’s standards for the Christian life. The command is also associated with relationships, that is your attitude and actions toward people that must be God-like.
What are the qualities of an imitator?
- An imitator copies the one being imitated.
- An imitator reproduces the character of the one being followed.
- An imitator emulates the one being pursued.
- An imitator replicates the attitude and actions of the one being followed.
- An imitator consistently tries to be life the individual he or she wants to be like in life.
From Merriam Webster
Definition of imitate for English Language Learners
- : to make or do something the same way as (something else)
- : to do the same thing as (someone)
- : to copy (someone’s or something’s behavior, sound, appearance, etc.)
Three major areas to follow God’s examples are given:
- To follow God’s example means to live in love/walk in the way of love/to live a life of love (5:2)
- Motivation: We are God’s beloved children
Children of God are called to be like God. As the people of God who are in covenant with him and whom we love, we need to take our character from God:
Leviticus 19:2; 11:44-45
- Example: Christ’s loving sacrifice: the highest expression of God’s love is through the cross of Christ, in which God deliberately offered Christ as an offering for the forgiveness of sins (5:2). Here, followers of Christ are called to imitate Christ and his love. “Love is the sphere in which the believer lives. The standard by which Christian love is shaped and energized is the self-giving love of Christ on the cross…Christ’s death is presented here as an example for our lives, but his death is never merely an example. With it comes to a theology of atonement grounded in the love of God and Christ” (Snodgrass, Ephesians, pp. 252-3). The Christian life characterized by being like God is linked to the call to follow or be like Christ? That is to cultivate Christian compassion, to have the mind of Christ (Phil 2:5-8), and to maintain a good reputation in your community (Luke 2:52) and to be full of God’s grace and wisdom (Luke 2:40)
- Matthew 5:43-48: to love our enemy the way God loves them. Jesus told his disciples to love our enemies to be like God.
Example on how God loves and how to love: Matthew 5:43-45)
- To be like God means to pray for good things to happen to your enemies
- How God loves: the metaphor of the sun and rain (Matthew 5:45)
- To imitate God means to love both your friends (those who love you) and enemies equally and to wish for their safety, welfare, protection, etc. on the same level. The follower of Christ is called to love God wholeheartedly and to sever others sacrificially in the manner of Christ. To imitate God is to live a life in daily connection with Him in sanctification, holiness, and obedience by the empowering presence and guidance of the Holy Spirit. It also means to show kindness to strangers, to serve and love people wholeheartedly without reservation or restraint.
- John 3:16
- Romans 5: Christ died for our sins
- To follow God’s example means to maintain moral purity and moral goodness in all things (vv.3-15)
The negative things to avoid:
- Do not associate yourself with individuals who not imitate God (v.7) why? Because they have no self-control over their tongue; their words do not lift people up. Therefore, watch your tongue and be careful how you speak and when to speak.
- These individuals hurt and offend people through their words (v.4)
- They have no boundary in life and in their sexual life (v. 5). Their life and attitude are Therefore, followers of Christ are called to separate themselves from negative, ungodly, and bad people.
On moral goodness and sexual purity:
- Watch the heart and its inclination: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer “–Ps 19:14
- Watch the eye: I will keep my eyes pure (Job: 31:1, “”I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a young woman”)
- Faithfulness in marriage and relationship:
How to help your husband or wife with sexual temptation:
“2 But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. 3 The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise, the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 5 Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”—1 Corinthians 7:2-5
- If you’re dating someone: stay sexually pure and don’t be with that person in a place where both of you will get tempted.
- Avoid pornographic and lust of the eye.
- Avoid sexual jokes about women’s body or foolish and inappropriate talks and gestures that objectify the female body.
The commitment to moral purity: “…Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh” (Romans 13:14)
Characteristics of Children of light
- They do not follow cultural standards
- They separate themselves from bad and negative influences
- They live in the light by exposing darkness
- They do not compromise God’s truths to please the world. Children of light do not approve of what is unjust, unrighteousness, and unkind. (God will judge children of darkness, v.7)
- They practice righteousness, goodness, and truth (v.9)
- The commitment to moral goodness and separation: “I will refuse to look at anything vile and vulgar. I hate all who deal crookedly; I will have nothing to do with them” (P. 101:3)
- To follow God’s example means to forgive one another (4:32)
–to imitate God means to (1) walk in righteousness and holiness (4:24), (2) to be slow to anger (4:26), to show kindness to people who are mean to you (4:32)
Forgiveness is a divine attribute, and it is also an attribute of Christ’s followers:
Promises of forgiveness from God.
- Isaiah 1:18:
- Isaiah 43:25-26
- Micah 7:18-19
- Daniel 9:9:
Our call to forgive and practice forgiveness
- Colossians 3:13
- Matthew 6:14-15
- Luke 17:3-4
- “He who cannot forgive breaks the bridge over which he himself must pass.” – George Herbert
- “Without forgiveness life is governed by… an endless cycle of resentment and retaliation.” – Roberto Assagioli
- “As long as you don’t forgive, who and whatever it is will occupy a rent-free space in your mind.” – Isabelle Holland
- “Anger makes you smaller, while forgiveness forces you to grow beyond what you were.” – Cherie Carter-Scott
- “Forgiveness is like faith. You have to keep reviving it.” – Mason Cooley
- “Only the brave know how to forgive. … A coward never forgave; it is not in his nature.” – Laurence Sterne
–You need to pray for discernment, so God can guide you and enable you to live as children of light and imitators of God (v.10). The Apostle Paul knew that Christians need divine empowerment and the guidance of the Holy Spirit to live a life that pleases and honor God (v. 10). The call-in verse 10 is to honor God with our life, our body, words, actions, character, choices, preferences, relationships, and selections. Hence, we are called to moral goodness in our relationships, moral purity, fidelity in marriage, genuine in friendships and relationship, faithfulness in relationship, kindness in your treatment of others.