Imitators of God
“Be imitators of God” (Ephesians 5:1).
Those words are startling, upsetting, impossible. It is
“the ultimate ideal.”
“Be imitators of God.” There can be no higher standard than
that. The apostle Paul boldly tells us if we are to be like God we must imitate
How is it possible for us depraved sinners to possibly
imitate the sovereign LORD of the universe?
Once we get over the initial shock we realize that as
children we are to imitate our parents. We should behave like them assuming they
are godly role models.
Since we were born into God's family as His legitimate
children when we repented and placed our faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior, we
therefore should be an imitation of God (John 1:12-13).
Let it be clearly stated that “imitating God” has nothing
to do with trying to merit eternal life. It has to do with our sanctification.
We are to grow in godliness. The supreme example of this idea of imitating God
is in the life of Jesus Christ.
The apostle Paul used the word mimetai from which we
get our English word to “mimic.” The idea is to copy closely, to repeat another
person's speech, actions, behavior and mannerisms. Paul is saying get to know
your heavenly Father so you can echo His speech and behave the way He behaves.
How do we “imitate” our Father? We know that the apostle is
not telling us to try to imitate God's sovereignty. He alone is and ever will be
self-existent and self-efficient. That is absolutely beyond our means. He alone
is eternal, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, etc. Those are non-communicable
attributes of God. He alone is God.
We are “to be imitators of God, as beloved children” (Eph.
5:1). Not childish attitudes and behavior, but as His children.
Ephesians 5:2 explains how the believer is to imitate God.
We are to “walk in love.”
Jesus sacrificed His life for us. As the Good Shepherd He
gave His life for the sheep (John 10:11, 15). Jesus “gave Himself for our sins,
that He might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of
God, and our Father” (Galatians 1:4).
God took our sin seriously and He dealt with it fully in
the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. On the basis of that death God chose to
forgive you and me (1 John 4:10; Rom. 5:8; Gal. 2:20; John 15:13; 3:16).
Christ “gave Himself up” for you and me. He surrendered
Himself to death by execution for our crimes against God. He died in our stead,
i.e. in our place. That is how great His love is for us.
Christians can imitate God by loving others, even to the
point of death if necessary (1 John 3:16).
“We are to 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”
“Walk in love” is a constant ordering your behavior within
the sphere of love. The child of God is to order his behavior within the sphere
of this divine, supernatural love produced in his heart by the Holy Spirit.
After a while it becomes a good habit, and we be become more and more like our
Let's be careful to note the context of the admonition. A
couple of verses earlier he wrote, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God by whom
you were sealed for the day of redemption” (4:30). How do you grieve Him? The
next verse says by bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, slander, and malice (v.
31). Let's put it away from us because it causes pain, grief, and distress to
the Holy Spirit of God.
We can please Him by being “kind to one another,
tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven
you. Therefore, be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just
as Christ also loved you . . .” (4:32-5:2).
How do you please Him, rather than causing Him grief? Act
the way He acts; behave the way your Father in heaven behaves; “be kind to one
another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has
forgiven you. Therefore, be imitators of God . . .”
How did our heavenly Father treat us? He dealt with us in
kindness, compassion, forgiving. Praise God that He has not dealt with us with
what we deserved. In grace He has chosen to love us and forgive us of every sin.
The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us of all our sins. That is love. That is how
God treats us.
“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children . . .”
Act like the Father. Love like the Father. Forgive like the Father. Be kind to
one another like the Father. “Just as God in Christ has forgiven you.” “Walk in
love, just as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us.”
Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006
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