If You are Going to be Imitators of God …
Ephesians 5:3-20, May 9, 2021
v1-2 Last week we spoke of how to we are to follow God’s example or to be imitators of God. The first instructions are in verses 1 and 2. Walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Simply look at the first six words, Walk in the way of love, and ask yourself how you are doing in terms of walking in the way of love, especially love just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us. I work at this and I work at it really hard as it is contrary to my nature. I would rather fight and fighting, even with words, is often times not walking in the way of love. At least not for me.
v3. Do we even need to talk about this? Initially I thought not, but then I was prompted to think and speak about the word hint and the word improper. I have to admit to failing the hint test. Then there is the word improper where we read, because these are improper for God’s holy people. I find the word improper in the NIV to be too weak for what is being said and prefer the CJB which says, these are utterly inappropriate for God’s holy people. Yes, utterly inappropriate!
v4. This, to me, is a just in case verse. What do I mean by that? Just in case you did not understand what 4:29 said, Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
v5. This is why we have verses 3 and 4! There is a measuring stick for those who will inherit the kingdom of Heaven. This is not speaking to those who fall down and get back up thanking God they can repent and be saved. This is for those who never gave up their sinful ways, thinking such did not matter. Paul is unequivocal here, IT MATTERS!
v6-7. We see this all around us today. We are asked to be tolerant, accepting of sin, paying no attention to it. If we are not, we are haters. The opposite is true. We hold to the truth of God and going back to verses 1 and 2, we pray for the lost, those living in a life of sin in opposition to God. The warning in these two verses is not to fall into the sin being promoted with empty words, becoming disobedient, nor are we to partner with such individuals or groups. We would do well to remember what Paul had to say in Romans 1:18. Let us not be deceived by them and let us not partner with them.
v8-10. Never forget we once were unsaved, sinners, lost, in the darkness, condemned to Hell. It is because we are children of light, that we are continually shining light into the dark areas of our conduct and at the same time Jesus said we are to be a light to the world, letting the world see our light by our good deeds that glorify God. (Matthew 5:14-16) We must not be silent. God told Paul in a vision in Acts 18:9, Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. In Acts 5, Peter and John were arrested and flogged, then ordered not to speak the name of Jesus when they let them go. What did they do? Acts 5:42 tells us.
v11-12. When I read these, now, just like the first time, they seem to be contradicting each other. Not only that, verse 11 seems to repeat verse seven as well, Therefore do not be partners with them, with the them being idolaters and those seeking to deceive – those of the darkness. Here, however, in verse 11, the focus is on how the deeds of darkness are fruitless. Works of darkness produce nothing good, provide no real satisfaction requiring one to go deeper and deeper into the darkness. This is very much like drug use or alcoholism, always needing more, never being satisfied. The deeds of darkness eventually do produce fruit of a sort, shame, remorse, despair, hopelessness. All of this in contrast to the joy and fruits of righteousness.
v13. First of all, nothing is hidden from God, nothing can be hidden from Him from His light. Maybe a secret sin can be hidden from those around you, but it cannot be hidden from God.
v14. How odd that this would follow verse 13 or at least so I thought initially. The sleeper is us, as Christians. Have you ever heard the saying He was asleep at the switch, he appeared to be awake?
We are not to do that. We are to be engaged, making use of the light of Christ, being active bringing Jesus’ light to the world. We are not to be asleep, effectively dead. That is an instruction for us as individuals and us as a church.
v15-16. Throughout today’s verses we have seen a contrast between light and darkness, now the contrast is between being wise or being unwise. The best example of what is wise vs unwise is given to us in James 3:13-17.
But what about the days are evil? This is another reason to live wisely. Jesus told us there would be a time in Matthew 24:11-12 when, many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold.
v17. Another contrast, now between being foolish vs seeking understanding. Do you want to know God’s will? If you do, you will spend time in prayer and time in your Bible. Do you want to avoid spending time being foolish? Read the next three verses.
v18-20. Don’t get drunk – ever! Be filled repeatedly with the Spirit. The difference between the two is made clear as verses 19 and 20 define behavior if you are filled with the Spirit.
How will you live? In the world imitating the world or in the world following the example of Christ, imitating Christ as best you can? This is the choice we live with every day, every waking hour of our lives. How will be live? Will it be foolishly seeking our own desires? Or will it be wisely, seeking to understand God’s will for our lives? The choice is always ours.