Lesson 10: Ephesians 5 :1,.2
- Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.
It should come as no surprise we are instructed to walk in love. After all the two greatest commandments are : to love the Lord thy God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength and to love thy neighbor as thyself. ( Luke 10) Jesus also told us in John 15- if we loved Him, we would keep His commandments. This love is described in detail in I Cor 13 and we are told if we can speak with the tongues of men an angels, have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge and have faith that can move mountains and do not have love- we are nothing. Even if we sacrificially give all our goods to the feed the poor and offer our bodies to be burned but do not have this love as Christ loved us it profits us nothing.
Now that we are saved- going to heaven is an accomplished fact. It was accomplished once and for all time when we placed our faith in Jesus Christ. Now since that is done- how are we supposed to live our lives? That is what Paul is addressing in this letter.
Paul uses the word walk to describe how we live, behave and conduct ourselves. He has told us and will tell us- to walk wisely, to walk a walk worthy of our calling, to walk in light, to walk different from the world and the way we used to walk and here he calls for us to walk in love. ( I believe if we walk in love and get this one right- everything else will fall in place.)
To try and do this in our own strength will never work. Jesus told us apart from Him we can do nothing. The Apostle Paul tells us- we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. The secret to the Christian life as God intended it to be lived is the life of Jesus Christ in us. Christ in me, the hope of glory. We live this life, walk this worthy walk according to the power at work in us. In other words, God has done everything that needs to be done and supplied us with everything we need to live the Christian life- to walk worthy of our calling. There is nothing we will ever need that has not already been given to us. John told us- he who has the son has life. We have the life of Christ in us and His life lived through us will provide everything we need. This is the abundant life Jesus spoke of in John 10, when He said I have come that you might have life and have it more abundantly. The secret to this abundant life is the exchanged life. The secret of the exchanged life is the abiding life.
To help His disciples and us understand the abiding life, Jesus gives us a visual object lesson with the branch and the vine. The branch cannot produce fruit on its own, it can only bear fruit by being attached to the vine. Jesus said he was the vine and we are the branch; His Father is the vine dresser or gardener. The branch represents the believer in a relationship that we call the abiding life. Only sin can block the flow of the sap( the Holy Spirit) from producing fruit. The branch must be attached, it must be cleansed. He, the Lord Jesus abides in us and we abide in Him and then we can live the abundant life,( which is His life) the life that is worthy of its calling.
Our old life had to be cut off from its old way and transplanted or engrafted into the life of the Lord Jesus, who is the Tree of Life. This was accomplished at the cross, where the believer was crucified with Christ. Just as the farmer can cut the branch off of one tree and engraft it into the trunk of another tree, the implanted, engrafted branch now draws its life from a different source. He does this by cutting a place in the good tree and placing the severed branch in that slit and binding them together. It will bear the fruit produced by the tree in which it has been engrafted. (we are known the fruits we bear) So it was such an action that God took when we heard the Word of God and responded in faith. He placed us in the torn side of our Savior and just like Adams bride came forth from his side- so do we the bride of Christ come forth from Him, the last Adam.
The most common mistake we make as believers is having been saved by grace through faith, we then attempt to live out our new position in our own strength. Paul called the Galatians foolish for having begun the Christian life in the Spirit they were now trying to live it in the flesh, the power of the old nature. ( Galatians 3)
So Paul instructs us to be imitators of God To imitate means to mimic. It literally means to be like God. Notice it is not to be God; but to be God-like or as is commonly referred to- godly. So we find ourselves in an increasingly godless society with the command and challenge to be god-like, godly.
There are certain people who are professional imitators, mimics who can sound like or act like someone else. They usually imitate the famous people. These are those who imitate singers, actors, politicians, etc. They study the person they are going to imitate, their mannerisms, their speech patterns, even the way they look and their facial expressions. Then they practice, practice, practice. We must do the same.
What of the many attributes of God should we imitate? Here it is telling us to walk in love as Christ loved us. How did He love us? He gave Himself for us. Loving is giving. Our old nature can love those who love us and can love and give to those who can give back to us. We can forgive those whom we love. But this love is sacrificial love- agape love as described in I Cor. 13. This is a love that keeps no lists of wrongs does not seek its own way. Our old natures cannot produce this kind of love.
Paul has instructed us to put off our old way of living and put on a new way of living. A new life calls for a new way of living. We are to transform our minds so we have a new way of thinking which will result in a new way of behaving. Our minds transformed and renewed by the Word of God, the sword of the Spirit now have the ability to detect and recognize old way of thinking- futile, good-for-nothing thinking that can cause a believer to stumble and give into temptation and sin.
Paul tells us the acts of the old nature, which are easily recognized. (Lying, stealing, unwholesome talk, bitterness, unforgiveness, envy, revenge, immorality etc.) The Lord Jesus provided us with His Righteousness at our salvation. He removed the old filthy robe of sin that comes from our old nature and replaced with the white robes of His Righteousness. He did this by crucifying our old nature. However, when we do not take those thoughts that come into our mind as temptations captive, we are on a slippery slope which will lead to sin.
Now having been saved- how do we put off this old nature when we have slipped back into sin. We put them off by confession. Confession is agreeing with God. Do not just say to God, I have sinned. State what the sin was ( be specific) and agree with God, seeing it from His viewpoint. Then determine you will not do it again and put it out of your life. Godly sorrow leads to repentance and repentance is a change of mind which leads to a change of direction. It is important we verbalize our specific sin to God. Call it by its name. Then the scripture tells us: If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and will cleanse us( purify) from all unrighteousness. I John 1:9
If we are not careful,we will rationalize our sins- especially those we view as insignificant or less serious, little sins. That is not how God views sin or sins. The seemingly small and insignificant begins to pile up.
Putting off the old makes way for the new. Right now the leaves are falling off of my trees and we have a lot of trees. The dead leaves must fall off for the new leaves to come in the spring.When they fall in my back yard, I have a cover over our swimming pool which keeps them from getting into my pool. This cover protects my pool from being infiltrated with the dead leaves. It is to my pool like the armor Paul speaks of in Ephesians 6 is to the Christian. Since the leaves do not have chlorophyll in them, if they fell in my pool they would not create algae or turn the water green. They would sink to the bottom and on the surface everything would appear clean. But then if someone or something stirs them upthe dirt and filth would come to the surface and the water would turn filthy.
That is the way unconfessed sin is in the life of a believer. When we do not confess it- we cannot be cleansed from it. When this occurs, those unconfessed sins are covered under a façade of apparent cleanliness- but then the Holy Spirit allows circumstances to stir up those sins and reveal what the real situation is.
In fact if my pump is turned on- the leaves will be drawn to the drain and will clog it up. If I am the branch and the Lord Jesus is the vine and the sap that flows into my life is the Holy Spirit. Then sin can block that flow and the fruit cannot be produced. And we the branches cannot produce fruit – only bear it. Guess what is the first fruit of the Spirit is as listed in Galatians 5? Thats rightlove. Whose love am I to imitate? The Lords. Who gave Himself up for us. I cannot walk in love when I have unconfessed sin and unforgiveness in my life- it blocks the flow of the Holy Spirit- it quenches- it grieves Him.
If we are to walk in love and that love is an imitation of the love of the Lord we must not have even a hint of sin, the next verses tell us.
And what manner of love has the Lord Jesus exhibited that we should imitate? He gave Himself up for us, a sacrifice to God. He paid the penalty- He redeemed us. Not only did He create us- He redeemed us. So if we are to mimic Him in the manner in which we love , this agape love which is described in length in I Cor. 13 is known for not being self-seeking, keeps no list of wrongs, is not puffed up, is patient and kind,is not rude, is not easily angered. This love is the love Peter speaks of that covers a multitude of sin. This quality of undeserved forgiveness is the proof of our love. It will reveal itself in mercy and forgiveness.
It is easy to love and forgive those who love us. However if we are to imitate this God-like love we must remember: He gave Himself for us while we were still sinners. ( Romans 5) How can we possibly love someone who is not lovable and how can we forgive someone who will not even acknowledge they have done us wrong? Paul tells us these great spiritual truths and/or facts that will empower us to live this way:
- Nothing good dwells in my flesh, my old nature. Cannot love or forgive the unlovable in my old nature.
- My old nature has been crucified. (The old man is crucified with Him that the body of sin might be destroyed that henceforth we should not serve sin. Romans 6)
- I am a new creature- indwelt by the Holy Spirit. I now possess the nature and the very life of Christ.
- My mind has been and is being transformed. So I am to exhibit the same attitude as Christ.
Therefore I can love them in the power of Christ in me, in the exchanged life Paul tells us of in Galatians 2:20. You cannot do this based on your feelings, you must do this based on these facts. Paul said consider yourself dead to sin. Count upon that fact. You say I do not feel dead to sin. Sin seems as strong as ever to me- but Paul never said feel dead to sin- he say consider( reckon, count it as true and accomplished ) yourself dead to sin because the Word of God, (which we believe is true) says we are.
There are also other motivations for walking in this type of love: (1) Christ has commanded us to love one another, so obedience is a reason; (2) He has told me if I forgive men when they sin against me, my Heavenly Father will forgive me; when I do not forgive men their sins, my Father will not forgive me my sins.; (3)an unforgiving spirit creates bitterness and causes all types of problems in my life and my relationship with God and others; (4) if the Lord Jesus to whom I owe everything asks me to do something in His Name for His Sake- how can I not do what He asks me to do. Remember the story of Peter and the Lords request: Peter who was exhausted and had fished all night, when the Lord asked Peter to push out into the deep water and put down their nets. Peter replied- Master, weve worked hard all night and havent caught anything. But because you say so I will let down the nets. (Luke 5)
Do you see what happened when Peter obeyed the Lord even though he did not want to obey Him, did not feel like obeying Him? They had a record catch! The Lord also exhibited this self-sacrificing, love when He washed the feet of the disciples at the Last Supper- said : I have set an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. ( John 13) And later that same night, the Lord Jesus said: A new commandment I give to you- to love one another as I HAVE LOVED YOU.:(John 13)
Why did God in His Wisdom leave us as new, born-again believers in these sinful bodies? The answer to that question is found in 2 Cor. 4:7 We have this treasure in these earthen vessels that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not us. God has left us in these sinful earthen vessels that we might learn to live and walk by faith and demonstrate His power in our weakness.
I can see Peter on the Day of Pentecost when 3,000 souls came to know the Lord got saved. Peter looked at those disciples- those former fisherman and Peter must have thought or even said- did He not tell us we would be fishers of men?!