Ephesians 5:1-14,  “As Beloved Children Be Imitators Of God


Jim Bomkamp

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1.     INTRO:


1.1.                     In our last study, we looked at verses 25-32 of chapter 4.


1.1.1.  We saw in that study that Paul began to discuss several things that we Christians need to avoid in our lives because they end up having our fellowship with Him and with each other to be damaged.


1.1.2.  We discussed the importance of remembering that everything that we as Christians do causes a ripple or effect in the body of Christ.  None of us live to ourselves and therefore every single thing that we do has an effect in the body of Christ, whether good or bad.


1.2.                     In our study today, we are going to look at verses 1-14 of chapter 5.


1.2.1.  Being in the second half of the book of Ephesians which begins with chapter 4, in our past three studies Paul has now been applying to the lives of the Ephesians the incredible truths he had taught them in the first three chapters about the riches of God’s grace, the incredible inheritance we have in Christ, the unfathomable riches of Christ, etc.


1.2.2.  Since we began chapter 4 we have seen that Paul first told the Ephesians to walk in a manner worthy of their calling (4:1-10).  Secondly, he began telling them about God’s intended use of offices and spiritual gifts in the church (4:11-16).  Third, he taught them the importance of living life as that new creature that they are in Christ (4:17-24).  Then, in our last study (4:25-32), Paul taught about the importance of avoiding doing the things that destroy fellowship.


1.2.3.  In this study, we will see that the apostle Paul begins to admonish the Ephesians to begin to imitate the Lord in their lives, to learn of His ways, and then to allow those same ways to encapsulate their lives.  Since believers are children of God, Paul admonishes us in this study to behave like our heavenly Father in all of the things that we do.


1.2.4.  It is a fact of history as seen through paganism as well as Christianity that a person becomes like the one whom he worships.  In fact, the very act of worship is to in a sense become like the one whom you worship.


2.     VS 5:1  - 1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; -  Paul tells the Ephesians to be imitators of God as beloved children


2.1.                     We have mentioned a few times that in our consideration of all the admonitions by Paul in this book that as we do these things he admonishes us to do that we are simply being like the Lord.  He acts a certain way and He expects all of His children to act in that same way, to be like Him.  Knowing we are ‘beloved children’ of God is a great incentive for being an imitator of God.


2.2.                     The Greek word that is translated ‘imitators’ here is a word from which we get our English word “mimic.” 


2.3.                     One of the things that we as Christians need to consider is the fact that children tend to imitate their parents.  This is the natural tendency.  Young boys want to grow up and be like their dad and young girls want to grow up and be like their mom.  When my son was about five years old, one Saturday morning he was in the bathroom off of our master bedroom and I was laying on the bed.  Suddenly, Steve came running out of the bathroom with a big smile on his face as he was holding up one of my razors that I shaved with.  He said, “Look dad, I just shaved!”  He didn’t realize that as he said this there was a trickle of blood running down his chin from where he had just cut himself with the razor.  Other times I would catch him sitting in my truck and driving it and I knew that he was imagining that he was dad.  Sometimes he would walk around the house in my shoes.  These are just the natural tendencies that children display in wanting to grow up to be like their parents.  In the same way, a person who has become a Christian has come into a personal relationship with God as his Father and thus his natural desire is to be like his Father in heaven in all that he does.  Paul writes this verse with that very thought in mind.


2.4.                     Parents in raising their kids have the desire for their children to behave well because whatever a child does is a direct reflection of them and their parenting.  When people see a kid somewhere out in public misbehaving and acting bratty the thing that crosses their minds is the parents of that kid and how they must have been raising that kid.  How kids act is a reflection of their parents and the parenting they have received.  We as children of God also reflect our parent in all that we do in our life, that is, our heavenly Father.  When people see us and they know that we call ourselves Christian then if our life does not match up with what they expect that a Christian should be, then they can be caused to stumble spiritually.  Also, people will forgive just about everything that we do as Christians except when we act like something that we truly aren’t and in that we be a hypocrite.


3.     VS 5:2  - 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. -  Paul tells the Corinthians to walk in love just as Christ has loved them


3.1.                     We have already mentioned a few times in our study of the book of Ephesians the fact that the Christian life is a life of walking in love and loving others with God’s love, what the scriptures call “agape” love.  Here, Paul tells us that we are to walk in “agape” love.


3.2.                     When a person gets a good glimpse of the realities of God’s love and grace that has been given to Him through Jesus Christ, the overwhelming impact of that has to produce in him a reciprocal effect of treating others in the same way that he has been treated.  A person who does not treat others with love and grace has to have his very salvation experience be in question.


3.3.                     If we as people are to honestly look at our lives, we have to come to the conclusion that we are not worthy of God doing anything but judging and condemning us.  We have all broken all of God’s Laws too many times to count, whether in thought or deed, sins of commission or sins of omission.  We were vile sinners who had lied, stolen, cheated, hated and abused people, etc., etc., and, we were also enemies of God in that state.  Yet, it is in spite of all of the evil that we had done that God sent His Son to pay our sin debt and take upon Himself the very punishment which was due us.  Paul wrote about this amazing reality in Romans 5:8, “8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  Now, having come to know Christ as our Lord and Savior God expects us to treat others who treat us poorly, and hate and abuse us, in the same gracious and loving way He has treated us.


3.4.                     As people, we all love those who love us, treat us nice, do good to us, will reciprocate the nice things that we do for them, etc.  However, the love that Christians have experienced through Christ, the love that they are to have for people in this world, is a much different love.  It is an unconditional love that is not based upon what anyone can do for you or what anyone has done to deserve that love.  In His Sermon On the Mount, Jesus said in Matt. 5:44-47, “44 “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 “If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?


3.5.                     Notice here that Paul writes about what Jesus Christ was doing for mankind on the cross of Calvary as being an offering up of Himself.  Jesus Christ came to the earth for one purpose, that of making His life be a substitutionary sacrifice for the sins of mankind.  He came to be that One whom all of the spotless and innocent lambs for sacrifice in the Old Testament symbolized, He came to be a sin sacrifice.  Just as each of the lives of those Old Testament lambs were a substitutionary sacrifice, so Jesus Christ’s life was a substitutionary sacrifice. 


3.6.                     As a lamb that was without spot or blemish, Jesus Christ was also a sacrifice that was a ‘fragrant aroma’ to God, one with which the Lord was pleased, one which brought glory to the Lord.  This is what the Old Testament offerings were to be, a ‘fragrant aroma,’ and thus this is what Jesus Christ was.  In the same way, our life as Christians is to be lived in such a way that we are not to think first of all of what is best for ourselves, but rather what is best for others.   We are also to live a life of sacrifice for others, and do this by simply imitating our heavenly Father.


3.7.                     I do want to say that our imitating of God is not to be such as the imitation of an actor but rather a life that is lived under the leading and empowering of the Holy Spirit.  We are to live a supernatural life and it is as we simply keep our eyes on the Lord that we become like him, just as Paul wrote in 2 Cor. 3:18, “18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” 


3.7.1.  What a difference it makes in our lives as Christians when we take our eyes off of man, off of ourselves, worrying what others will think of us or being fruit inspectors of others’ lives, and simply keep our eyes focused on the Lord!


4.     VS 5:3-5  - 3 But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; 4 and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. -  Paul tells the Ephesians that immorality, impurity, and greed must not be named among them, nor any filthiness, silly talk, or coarse jesting


4.1.                     Paul knew how wicked the city of Ephesus was in which the believers in the church lived.  He knew the great temptations that they faced along with the patterns of behavior from their before Christ life that many of them possessed.  Thus, he writes here for them to avoid all of the horrible sins of the people in the city around them. 


4.1.1.  In the same way, we Christians today need to beware of the sins of the people in the world around us.  We also face many temptations and living our life for Christ in this world is not easy.  Yet, we must strive to be like our heavenly Father and be holy as He is holy, in all that we do.


4.2.                     The Greek word translated ‘immorality’ here is “porneia” and is the word for which we get our English word, “pornography.”  It refers to any kind of a sexual relationship that is outside of monogamous marriage. 


4.2.1.  There are few things that a Christian can do that will cause him/her to stumble more greatly and become hardened to the Lord than committing immorality.  God has created us with sexual natures and desires however if we use those in a selfish or self-seeking way, on the level of an animal, then we will suffer in our consciences greatly.  A sexual relationship between a husband and wife is a wonderful experience, in fact the Bible tells us that in many ways it symbolizes the relationship that we can have with the Lord.  However, outside of marriage that relationship dehumanizes and degrades a person.  Paul stated that the effects of this sin were so serious that a person sinned against his own body if he committed the sin.


4.3.                     The Greek word translated ‘impurity’ here is “akatharsia” and it refers to sexual uncleanness and impurity.


4.4.                     Paul says here that these sins of ‘immorality’ or ‘impurity’ are sins which ‘must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.’  There are things that we as Christians just must not do and these are some of them. 


4.5.                     Filthiness,’ ‘coarse jesting’ refer to speaking of things that are sinful in nature and/or that are abusive to people.  If you watch comedians on television the vast majority have their entire monologues based upon this type of speaking.  They use profanity and speak of sinful things in such a way as to make people laugh however we as Christians who are children of our Father in heaven must never find these sorts of things to be funny.  I don’t know why comedians now think that they have to use such profanity and profane humor to make people laugh.  Bill Cosby, Red Skelton, Jonathan Winters, and others didn’t do that sort of thing and they were some of the funniest comedians ever.


4.6.                     Silly talk’ may refer to using our tongues to speak of things that non-Christian people in our world believe philosophically, as if those things might be true, or to simply dream up ridiculous notions about God or gods.  As a for instance, some of the cults in our world believe some of the most outlandish things, ideas that make no logical sense and which can only be accepted by those who are deceived and trying to push any truth completely away from their minds. 


4.7.                     Certainly Christians ought to use their minds for learning about and committing to memory the things that are truly important, such as the truth of God’s word.  It is a sad thing when a person claims to have been a Christian for a good while and yet he/she knows little about God and His word yet much about the things of this world.


4.8.                     Paul tells us here that our tongues should rather be used for ‘giving thanks.’


4.9.                     This issue of these horrible sins is very serious, for Paul writes here, ‘no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.’  A child of God must reflect in his behavior his Father in heaven not the sinful world in which he lives.


4.10.                Notice here that Paul writes that covetousness is idolatry.  The Law of Moses says, “Thou shalt not covet,” and to covet is to desire something that does not belong to us or is not God’s desire for our lives.  This sin is equivalent to pagan idolatry. 


5.     VS 5:6-10  - 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not be partakers with them; 8 for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light 9 (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), 10 trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. -  Paul tells the Ephesians that because of committing the sins he has discussed that the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience


5.1.                     Paul tells us to ‘let no one deceive you with empty words’ and this is a reference to the fact that there were some Christians in his day who were going around saying that if you were a Christian that it did not matter how you lived, for you could do anything that you wanted to do.  These were ‘empty words’ because they were lies and contained no truth in them.  The people saying these things were “antinomian” which means that they believed that if you were saved that you did not need in any way to consider God’s laws regarding your behavior.  Today, sadly and tragically there are many who profess to be Christians who are living their lives in a similar way. 


5.2.                     Those who are immoral and impure and use their mouths for speaking filthiness, silly talk, and coarse jesting are those whom Paul refers to here as ‘sons of disobedience.’  That is, they are walking in disobedience towards the Lord in their life.


5.3.                     Paul’s reasoning to the Ephesians for why they must not do these things is that they ‘were formerly darkness’ but that now they are ‘light in the Lord.’  Because they are now light in the Lord they are to ‘walk as children of light.’


5.4.                     Light’ in the scriptures refers to the knowledge of God as well as to the conduct that reflects the character and nature of God, in other words what is referred to as the deeds of light.


5.5.                     Being children of light in the Lord, Paul writes to the Ephesians here about what walking in the light consists of, ‘for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth),  trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.’  These are the things that a person who has come out of the darkness into the light of Christ should be doing in his life, he should be doing ‘all goodness and righteousness and truth,’ and he should also be always ‘trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.’


5.6.                     There are many who claim to be Christians today who are really not interested in what the Bible has to say about their lives.  They do not regularly read their Bibles (many churches encourage Christians not to even bring their Bibles to church) and these people do not like a church service where there is any kind of in depth Bible study.  However, Paul is telling us in these verses that such a lifestyle is contradictory to what is suppose to be true of our lives as Christians.  We Christians have been made new creatures in Christ, and everything is new in our lives now (2 Cor. 5:17), therefore we must be people who are trying to live in this new life that we have in Christ, people who are always trying to learn what God’s word tells us to do and believe.  Our motive for doing these things is our love and gratitude to God for His incredible grace and love in our lives.  Consider what Jesus said about obedience to His word and remaining in His word as disciples:


5.6.1.  Luke 6:46, “46 Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?”” 


5.6.2.  John 14:15, “15 If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”” 


5.6.3.  John 8:31, “31 So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine.”  


6.     VS 6:11-14  - 11 Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; 12 for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. 13 But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. 14 For this reason it says, “Awake, sleeper, And arise from the dead, And Christ will shine on you.”” -  Paul tells the Ephesians not to participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness but instead to expose them


6.1.                     Paul admonishes the Ephesians to ‘not participate’ in the things that the people of this world do in their sin, and how could one who is truly born again with a new nature and now a child of such a great, loving, and gracious Father and King ‘participate’ in the sins that the people of this world are constantly committing.


6.2.                     Paul writes here that some of the things that people do in this world are so evil that it is a ‘disgrace even to speak of the things done by them in secret.’  It is best at times to not even repeat a story or not tell the details of what a person has done in his life of sin.  Some things are just better not to speak of.


6.3.                     If you are in a dark room what do you need to do to get the dark to go away?  You simply turn on the light switch!  This is what Paul tells us to do when he says to ‘even expose them.’  The best thing to do to combat the darkness that is around us all of the time is to turn on the light.  This does not mean that we as Christians should go around like secret agents looking for someone in sin to rebuke, neither should we consider ourselves fruit inspectors, but rather if we will simply let Jesus be our Lord, walk in the power of the Holy Spirit, and let Jesus be our Lord, then our lives will ‘expose’ the deeds of darkness and be a great testimony to the people of this world.  Our very life will expose the darkness if we will do this.  Jesus said, “Let your light so shine that men may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”  This is what it means to turn on the light! 


6.3.1.  H.A. Ironside tells the story of a Christian man who came to live with him and his family when Ironside’s kids were growing up.  He wrote that the man didn’t go around being critical or condemning anyone for anything wrong that he had done, however the man’s mere presence affected his household.  Soon, things that Ironside’s kids might previously have done they quit doing when the man was around.  However, after awhile the kids even quit doing those things when the man wasn’t around.  This man’s relationship with God was so close that his merely walking in the light with the Lord was used to bring conviction of sin to those around him.


6.4.                     In verse 14, Paul is not directly quoting any one Old Testament scripture, rather there are several places in the Old Testament where people are told to awaken from their spiritual slumber and know and serve the Lord.  God’s people sometimes need to be awakened from a life of compromise that can come gradually upon them and if not stopped lead to a life of backsliding.  Someone once defined “backsliding” as “slack abiding” and I think that at times we Christians can become lazy and complacent and God does need to awaken and restore us to new and refreshed zeal for Him.




7.1.                     As we consider this study and how it applies to our lives, lets commit ourselves to imitating God.  In the power of His Spirit and by the Spirit’s leading lets allow ourselves to love people as He loves them, to forgive others as He has forgiven us, to encourage others as He has encouraged us, etc., etc.


7.2.                     As we do these things lets be committed to also avoiding the things that are sinful and greatly hinder our relationship with the Lord. 


7.3.                     Lets be careful that we do not become enamored by the world and thus be led to value the things that the world values.  That which the world values is an abomination to the Lord.

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