Be Imitators of God as Beloved Children – Ephesians 5:1-21

Be Imitators of God as Beloved Children – Ephesians 5:1-21

Ephesians 5:1 – Ephesians 5:21

Ephesians 5:1-21 expands on how Christians should behave themselves.

It’s not always easy to approach this passage unless you take each verse on individually.

Introduction to Ephesians 5

Ephesians 5:1 – “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children.”

Christians are called to imitate God in light of the apostle Paul’s previous points, e.g. Ephesians 4:17-32 and even earlier remarks.

The apostle John says elsewhere, “The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.” (1 John 2:17 NASB95)

Paul says similarly in his letter to Titus,

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all people, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously, and in a godly manner in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, eager for good deeds.” (Titus 2:11-14 NASB95)

How do we imitate God?

Ephesians 5:2 – “And walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.”

When we worship, we carry a fragrant aroma of worship. What can hinder this aroma are the other aromas of spending time elsewhere sinning.

Paul says to us in another letter, “that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor,” (1 Thessalonians 4:4 NASB95)

Are you in control of your body? Do you practice sinning or practice learning self-control?

Ephesians 5:3,4 – “But immorality (Πορνεία) or any impurity (ἀκαθαρσία) or greed (πλεονεξία) must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; and there must be no filthiness and silly talk (μωρολογία), or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.”

Sexual immorality (Πορνεία)

Paul says, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13 NASB95)

Again Paul says to the Corinthian church, “Flee sexual immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body.” (1 Corinthians 6:18 NASB95)

For many, lust can begin with the eyes, but it usually involves one of the 5 senses.

Jesus said, “Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are good, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are bad, your body is full of darkness.” (Luke 11:34)

Jesus said, “If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into Hell. If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into Hell.” (Matthew 5:29,30 NASB95)

In the Bible, sexual immorality is closely associated with idolatry, as practicing sexual immorality often involves idolatry or leads to idolatry; we are the temple of the Lord and we should not join ourselves and the temple of the Lord to prostitutes and to the sexually immoral.

The word Πορνεία is all-encompassing of all kinds of sexual immorality, but it is directly where we get our English word for pornography.

Jesus said, “but I say to you, that everyone who looks on a woman to lust for her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28 NASB77)

In Job 31:1, Job says, “I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a young woman?”

Have you made a covenant with your eyes not to look at pornography?

We must behave as Job did by strategizing how to control our own bodily impulses which lead us into sin.

We need to learn to govern our own bodies and put our flesh into submission to the spirit.

1 John 2:16 says, “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.”

We must acknowledge that what is tempting us leads to deception and that leads to destruction; it never leads to our good or to glorifying God by sinning. Except that God extends His grace upon grace and He actively pursues right relationship and true fellowship with us if we will confess our sins and repent.

Watch out for deceivers!

Peter says in 2 Peter chapter 2 to watch out for false prophets and false teachers who entice people by fleshly desires and by sensuality–the same people trying to escape from sinning fall prey to deceptions of prophets and teachers who are themselves slaves to immorality.

2 Peter 2:14a says of such false brethren, they have “eyes full of adultery that never cease from sin,”

Peter goes on to explain why lust is so destructive.

2 Peter 2:19b says, “for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved” (NASB95)

Are you overcome by Jesus? Are you enslaved to Jesus? Ask yourselves.

Are you a slave to sin?

Brothers, we should consider our bodies dead to sexual immorality.

Colossians 3:5 says Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry.

Will those who practice such things inherit the Kingdom of God? No, according to Paul’s letter to the churches of Galatia.

Galatians 5:19-21 says 19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Impurity (ἀκαθαρσία)

Impurity is an unclean mixture, such as the combining of light and dark or good with evil. We must be free from mixture with the world and instead be set aside for righteousness.

1 Peter 1:16 says, Because it is written: “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.”

The prophet Isaiah said, “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20 NASB95)

Greed (πλεονεξία)

Greed is the evil desire for more and in particular, what is not rightfully yours. It does not belong to you, but you want to make it yours by whatever means.

Greed and selfish ambition divide the body of Christ when they go unchecked.

Do you see such disorder around you in your fellowship with other believers? Look for a root of jealousy and selfish ambition.

For James 3:16 says, “For where jealousy (ζῆλος) and selfish ambition (ἐριθεία) exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.”

Should Christians have selfish ambition? Or is the grace of Jesus Christ enough for us?

The word jealousy in Greek is also translated as zeal.

Hebrews 13:5 says, “Let your character be free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, ‘I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU,’”

Is Jesus Christ your sufficiency or are you zealous for more? Are you zealous for what is not from God?

The Bible says in Proverbs 19:2, “Even zeal is no good without knowledge, and he who hurries his footsteps misses the mark.”

It is sin to hurry to action without the knowledge of what is good and right. You will miss the mark if you do this.

Obscenity, baseness, indecency (αἰσχρότης)

Titus 1:11 uses the word shameful, obscene and base (αἰσχροῦ) to describe the sordid financial gains which the greedy acquire by teaching things they should not be teaching. Paul even tells Titus to work to silence those who do that.

Speaking of such people, Paul says they “must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain.” (Titus 1:11 NASB)

It is best that we silence ourselves when we should be silenced, rather than oblige our brothers or sisters to rebuke us for speaking or acting indecently, with baseness or obscenity.

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” (Ephesians 4:29 KJV)

Ahead a little in Ephesians 5:12, Paul will use this word shameful (αἰσχροv) again to say that we should not entertain conversations about shameful deeds.

Now you may ask how it is we are naming specific sins if we should not talk about the deeds done in darkness.

Except what we are doing today is we are shedding light on such deeds rather than merely entertaining them or engaging in sinning. The purpose first of all, of bringing up such deeds, today is to exhort you to repent of your sins if you’re sinning, and and to exhort you to now walk instead in the light, as Jesus is in the light.

Silly talk (μωρολογία)

Jesus said, “But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:36,37 NASB95)

Proverbs 17:28 says, “Even a fool, when he keeps silent, is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is considered prudent.”

If you struggle with your mouth, learn to be quiet. Not every thought should be said or shared with others.

Practice in the quiet of your heart speaking to God and meditating on whatever is good and right so that your mouth will overflow from your heart’s predisposition for right thinking. For Jesus said that the heart speaks what it overflows (Luke 6:45)

Coarse jesting, crude joking (εὐτραπελία)

Paul uses a related word in Romans 13:13 to tell us to behave ourselves like it’s daytime and not act like we have the cover of darkness in which to hide.

“Let’s behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and debauchery, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.” (Romans 13:13,14 NASB95)

“Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, ‘The Lord knows those who are His,’ and, ‘Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness.'” (2 Timothy 2:19 NASB95)

Ephesians 5:5

“For this you know with certainty, that no sexually immoral or impure or greedy person, which amounts to an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.” (Ephesians 5:5 NASB95)

Ephesians 5:6-11

Ephesians 5:6 – “See that no one deceives you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.”

Empty words. Your deception leads to your disobedience. If you are off-course by so much as a single degree, you are missing the mark 100%.

So do not let anything or anyone deceive you.

God will judge such deceivers with the full extent of His wrath at the coming of our Lord Jesus. Do not be counted among the children of disobedience on which the wrath of God abides as we speak.

Ephesians 5:7 – “Therefore do not become partakers (συμμέτοχοι) with them;”

Ephesians 5:8 – “for you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light”

Ephesians 5:9-10 – “(for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), as you try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.”

How much goodness, righteousness and truth does the fruit of the light consist in? In all goodness, righteousness and truth.

There is no mixture of light with shadow. For with God, there is not even the turning of shadow with Him (James 1:17).

For God is Light and in Him there is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5)

Ephesians 5:11 – “Do not participate in the useless deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them”

A better English word here may be to say, “Do not participate in the fruitless deeds of darkness.”

Speaking of fruit and light, are there any horticulturists present; any linguists or etymologists? Any gardeners?

If you have a fruiting plant, what parts of your plant respond to the sunlight to grow: to produce more leaves and branches, and flowers that fruit?

And what part of the plant grows in the darkness away from the light?

The roots grow under the dirt, among the manure, away from the light.

So whatever you do in the darkness, consider it where you’re putting down roots.

Ephesians 5:12-14

Ephesians 5:12 – “for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret.”

We don’t need to go into detail describing every kind of sin to illuminate the truth.

Ephesians 5:13 – “But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light.”

1 John 1:5-7 says, “5 This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; 7 but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:5-7 NASB95)

Ephesians 5:14 – “For this reason it says, ‘Awake, sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.‘”

Ephesians 5:15-21

Ephesians 5:15,16 – “So then, be careful how you walk, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.”

Ephesians 5:17 – “So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”

What is the will of God for us?

For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; (1 Thessalonians 4:3 NASB95)

Beyond abstaining from immorality, how else can we prove what the will of the Lord is in our lives?

As we become living sacrifices, we will learn the perfect will of God:

Romans 12:1-2, “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Ephesians 5:18 – “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit,”

Peter says, “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8 NASB95)

It does not say, “But be drunk with the Spirit,” for that would contradict the very fruits of the spirit; one of which is self-control.

Be filled with the Spirit!

Whatever you do in the darkness, consider it where you’re putting down roots.

A better translation of the command Paul is giving here would be to say, “Be ye being filled with the Spirit,” or “be in the state of being filled,” or, “be continuously filled with the Spirit.”

Ephesians 5:19,20 – “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father;”

What Paul is saying is no longer talk like the world, but talk like Christians. Speak to one another as Christians. Give thanks in everything you do as Christians.

Paul closes with this command.

Ephesians 5:21 – “and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.”

Why be subject to one another in the fear of Christ?

We should lift up one another in love, as servants of Christ and of each other.

Proverbs 8:13a says, “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil.”

Proverbs 16:6a says, “by the fear of the LORD one turns aside from evil.”

We should subject ourselves to one another in the fear of Christ because we all belong to Christ. As His servants, we should serve one another. As His children, we should love another.

In conclusion, Paul has given us many instructions on how we are to behave as Christians. Our works do not make us Christians, but our obedience to Jesus Christ should flow our of our changed hearts to govern our behaviors.

“For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:20 NASB95)


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