February 4, 2024

Imitating Our Father

Pastor: Wade Trimmer Series: Ephesians Scripture: Ephesians 5:1–14

We, as the blood-bought, born-again children of God are given three admonitions in this section of scripture as to what that imitation would look like. God is love (1Jn_4:8); therefore, “walk in love” (Eph_5:1-2). God is light (1Jn_1:5); therefore, walk as children of light (Eph_5:3-14). God is truth (1Jn_5:6); therefore, walk in wisdom (Eph_5:15-17). Of course, each of these “walks” is a part of Paul’s appeal to “walk in purity/holiness.”

I. Walk in Love - 5:1-2

  1. Love like the Father - 5:1-2a – “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love,

Notice what Paul doesn’t say, “Be imitators of God, children.” He says, “As beloved children.” Suddenly the issue of imitation is not like, “Okay, I’m reading in scripture about God doing certain things, so I’ll try really hard to copy Him.” Usually, that’s the point when we think about imitation, but that’s not the point here.

When you think, “Imitate God,” think, “He’s not just loving people, and I’m supposed to do what he does and love people, but he’s loving me, which evidently must mean I’m supposed to get strength from being loved by the Father to imitate the Father. That he loves me is what empowers me to become more like him.” It is the Holy Spirit who enables believers to love in such a way (Gal 5:22). Paul tells the Romans, "God's love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us" (Rom 5:5). The Holy Spirit empowers us to love like the Father and the Son, because we are loved by the Father just as much as he loves the Son! (Joh 17:23, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.”)

2. Love like the Son - 5:2bas Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

Our text shifts from Be imitators of God, as beloved children, with love coming from God, to Walk in love.

Now we know what the imitation is supposed to look like: “Walk in love,” and then he says, “as Christ loved us” (Ephesians 5:2). In Ephesians 5:1 you have the Father loving you, and now you have Christ loved you in Ephesians 5:2. Then you have a massive, central gospel reference: “. . . and gave himself for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

This verse provides a marvelous description of genuine love. Love involves giving ourselves away for the good of another. Paul says Christ "loved us and gave Himself for us." He repeats this idea when he talks about marriage: "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her" (5:25). Christ gave us the ultimate pattern of love.

II. Walk in Light - 5:3-14

In this section Paul describes the themes of light and darkness by contrasting the works of darkness and the fruit of light. Notice in verse 8 Paul states, "For you were once darkness." He does not say that you "were walking in darkness." Instead, "you were once darkness." But through the gospel, he says, "You are light in the Lord." So your identity has changed. Because you are light, Paul says, "Walk as children of light." Once again Paul calls believers to become what they are! You are light! (cf. 1 Pet 2:9; 1 John 1:1-5).

A. Exalt God, not idols - 5:3-6

Ephesians 5:1-2 placed great emphasis on self-sacrifice in imitation of Christ. The attention is now shifted to its very opposite: self-indulgence. Stating it differently, the admonition to "walk in love" is followed here by the condemnation of love's perversion – walking in the flesh and doing the works of the flesh.

  1. Sexual immorality and impurity - 5:3aBut sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.” Paul is eager to eliminate certain behaviors and attitudes from the Christian life. But howdoes he attempt to eliminate these things? If we don’t see the how, then we don’t see the gospel. And without the gospel, the prohibitions become the letter that kills instead of the Spirit that gives life (2 Cors. 3:6). And this is true no matter how well we succeed in getting these things out of our lives. John Piper said, “Success in morality without the gospel is suicide.”

People will try to work around this teaching of Scripture, but remember what Paul says: there should not be even a hint of sexual immorality in a believer's life. Paul's words are clear. You were darkness. Now you are light. Become what you are!

  1. Covetousness - 5:3b, and all impurity or covetousness…”; 5:5b, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.” - The immoral or impure person envisaged here is one who has given himself up without shame or penitence to this way of life, one who is covetous in the sense already defined, namely sexually greedy (4:19; 5:3), that is, Paul adds in parenthesis, an idolater. Such people, whose lust has become an idolatrous obsession, will have no share in the perfect kingdom of God.
  2. Corrupt speech - 5:4,Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.” Christians must also avoid "coarse, crass, and foolish talking or crude joking." Those walking in the light will not use language that is shameful or disgraceful (cf. Col 3:8). Some suggest that "foolish talking" may be associated with sexual sin and drunkenness. And while there is nothing wrong with humor and laughter, humor can be abused in malicious and vulgar ways. Therefore, Paul forbids "crude joking."

    B. Expect Judgment, not Just Momentary Joy - 5:5-7

“…has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them;”

God never tolerates sin, which has no place in His kingdom, nor will any person whose life pattern is one of habitual immorality, impurity, and greed (see Eph_5:3) be in His kingdom, because no such person is saved. This doesn’t mean that if or when a believer gets tripped up and commits one or more of the sins Paul has been denouncing, that they aren’t saved or that they lose their salvation. The key phrase is, “a life pattern is one of habitual immorality, impurity, and greed.”

Three offenders are specified, the same three found in verse 3—the fornicator, the unclean person, and the covetous man. Here the thought is added that a covetous person is an idolater. One reason he is an idolater is that he has a false impression of what God is like: his concept of God is a Being who approves sensual greed, otherwise, he would not dare be covetous. Another reason why covetousness is idolatry is that it puts the person's own will above the will of God. A third reason is that it results in the worship of the creature rather than the Creator (Rom_1:25).

C. Exhibit the Fruit of Light, because you are Light in the Lord - 5:7-10
  1. Display light by not joining those in darkness - 5:7 - Darkness describes the character of the life of the unconverted as void of truth and virtue in intellectual and moral matters. The main concern in verse 7 is neither fear of defilement by contact nor avoidance of non-Christians. Rather, it is that the light will be truly light and do its job. Certain actions do not fit with the light, and people of the light should not allow the darkness to define them. The issue again, as it always is with the gospel, is definition and identity.
  2. Display light by living out your identity - 5:8for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.” “You are all sons of light and sons of the day,” the Thessalonian Christians are told; “we are not of the night or of darkness” (1Th_5:5); the Philippian Christians are said to “shine as lights in the world” (Php_2:15)
  3. Display light by doing all that is good, right, and true – 5:9 for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true.” The phrase "fruit of the light" describes the result of dwelling in God's light. God is goodand right and true. As His imitators, Christians are to do that which is good and right and true. Here this trio of virtues seems to be a summary of the ethical content previously covered in Ephesians and resembles the fruit of the Spirit. Those who walk in light do "good works" (2:10), they live righteously (4:24), and they speak truthfully (4:15).
  4. Display light by pleasing the Lord - 5:10 - To discern or find out what pleases the Lord does not mean that God makes it difficult for us to know what he wants. Rather, we should test carefully whatever we consider doing to be sure he would approve.

    D. Expose the darkness, by Being Light - 5:11-14

    1. Light exposes the sin of unbelievers - 5:11-13 -
    The believer is called not only to abstain from the unfruitful works of darkness, but positively he is called to expose them. He does this in two ways: first, by a life of holiness, and second, by words of correction spoken under the direction of the Holy Spirit.

    2. Light transforms unbelievers into the realm of light - 5:14 – The quotation is best interpreted as a primitive baptismal hymn, in which the congregation greets the new convert as he or she emerges from the water picturing a resurrection from the sleep of spiritual death into the light of life. They express a capsule view of the gospel.

Paul says it like this in 2 Cors. 4:6, For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

In summary, Paul doesn’t want mere obedience under the fear of divine penalty. He wants new creatures, who have new ways of seeing the world: new values, new tastes, new desires, a whole new vision of the world, so that things like fornication and uncleanness and covetousness and filthiness and silly talk and levity, and a hundred other sins, will just seem out of the question because they don’t fit anymore the way we are.

other sermons in this series

Feb 25


Being Filled with the Spirit

Pastor: Wade Trimmer Scripture: Ephesians 5:18–21 Series: Ephesians

Feb 11


Living In and Loving the Will of God!

Pastor: Wade Trimmer Scripture: Ephesians 5:15–17 Series: Ephesians

Jan 28


Do Not Grieve the Holy Spirit!

Pastor: Wade Trimmer Scripture: Ephesians 4:25–32 Series: Ephesians