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BE YE FOLLOWERS OF GOD
Intro: In 1878, William Gladstone presented himself before Parliament to announce the death of Queen Victorias daughter Princess Alice of Britain, the Grand Duchess of Hesse. In making the announcement, Gladstone told a touching story.
The Duchess had seven children, six of them came down with diphtheria during an epidemic in England. Her youngest child, Marie had a painful death in spite of her mothers tender care. The Duchess concealed the sad news from the other children to protect them from shock and more pain. Later, she had to reveal it to her son Ernest who was very devoted to his little sister. Ernest was overcome with grief and broke down in tears. In an affectionate attempt to console and comfort her grieving son, she clasped him in her arms and kissed him, ignoring the doctors warning.
Alice was very weak from heavy work and severe strain and she easily caught the infection. Within a week after the kiss of love, the Duchess fell severely ill and she breathed her last in the morning of December 14, 1878.
What that mother did was a picture of true love. She loved her child, and she willingly sacrificed herself to comfort her child.
That mothers love is an illustration of the awesome love of God for us. It is also a picture of the kind of love we are to have for others.
As we begin to study the 5th chapter of this great book, we are immediately confronted by a passage the demands that we do the impossible. We are called to be like God. We are called to love like He loves. It sounds like an impossible task. How can we, sinful, human, frail, failing people ever be like Him or love like Him? This text has much to say about this call to be like the Lord.
We will spend our time in these two verses today. I want to draw my title from verse 1, where Paul writes, Be Ye Followers Of God. Please notice with me the challenges that are presented to us here.
I. V. 1 THERE IS A PERSON TO IMITATE
The word therefore again calls our attention backward to the last verses of chapter 4. We are reminded that the saints of God have been saved by the grace of God, and because they have been saved they are are to be different in the way they walk, the way they talk, and the way they think. They are to be different in every area of life. The old man of sin, with all his evil desires and appetites is to be put off, Eph. 4:22. The new man, created in righteousness, with his appetite for righteousness and the glory of God, is to be put on, Eph. 4:24. Since we have been made a new creature in Jesus, we are to live as new creatures in our daily lives, 1 John 2:6.
Having challenged us to bring our tongues, our anger, our work ethic, our bitterness, and revenge seeking under the control of God, and having challenged us to be forgiving, kind and compassion toward one another, Eph. 5:1 poses the greatest challenge of all. Lets examine this challenge.
A. There Is A Command - Be ye followers of God. - The word followers means to mimic to be an imitator. The command here is for the people of God to imitate God. We are to learn all we can about God, and we are to mimic His characteristics.
I look at this command, and I see real problems. We can never imitate God in all ways. We can never truly imitate God in His essential essence.
God is perfect; we are flawed.
God is omnipotent; we are weak.
God is omniscient; we are fools.
God is omnipresent; we are
God is wholly good; we are wholly evil.
God is Spirit; we are flesh.
God is eternal; we are temporal.
God is heavenly; we are earthly.
God is infinitely holy; we are completely wicked.
We are to learn all we can about the Lord from His Word and we are to put into practice everything we know about Him. We are to do the things we see Him doing, and we are to avoid the things He avoids. We are to be like God in every respect. In essence, God is here commanding us to do something that is impossible within our selves. Left to ourselves,s we could never be imitators of God.
B. There Is A Condition - We are told to imitate God, but we are told to do so as dear children. It is natural for children to imitate their parents. Children often have their parents nature, their behavior, and their actions. You can be around a child and you can see their parents in the way they walk, the way they talk, and in the things they do.
While that is true in our earthly families, it is even more true in our heavenly families. Like beloved children, who are ever near the parent, learning, observing, and growing, we are brought near to our Heavenly Father so that we might learn His ways and become more like Him.
When the Lord saved us, He did so with a purpose.
Gods purpose in redemption is to make us more like Him. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren, Rom. 8:29.
To be conformed to the image of Christ is to become holy like God is holy. Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect, Matt. 5:48.
That is Gods plan for each one of His redeemed children. As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy, 1 Pet. 1:14–16.
Ultimately, that is how we will become. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is, 1 John 3:2.
We are unable to imitate God through our own power. While we cant be holy on our own, as redeemed children of God, we have been empowered to live like, act like, and talk like our Heavenly Father. He has empowered us and enabled us to live holy lives for His glory.
We are not mere slaves following in the footsteps of a demanding master. We are the sons and daughters of God. Redeemed by His grace. Adopted into His family. Partakers of His very nature, Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust, 2 Pet. 1:4. We are the temples of God, indwelled by His Spirit, and made able to walk in imitation of our Father.
He is holy; we are to be holy.
He is loving; we are to be loving.
He forgives; we are to be forgiving.
He is truthful; we are to be truthful.
He is patient; we are to be patient.
He is kind; we are to be kind.
He is compassionate; we are to be compassionate.
Everything God is; we are to be.
Where do we learn these things? We learn them from His Word. We learn them from observing Him. We learn them by watching Him work in the lives of others. We learn these things from simply walking with Him. Ill. He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? Micah 6:8.
So, walk with Him. Learn from Him. Be like Him.
I. There Is A Person To Imitate
II. V. 2a THERE IS A PRECEPT TO INITIATE
We have just been told to be an imitator of God. Now, we are told to imitate His love. After all, God is love, 1 John 4:8b. That is, His very nature is defined by His love. Everything He does, He does out of love. The overriding characteristic of Gods Person is His love. His people have experience that love. Since He is love, and since He has placed His love within us, Rom. 5:5, we are to walk in love as well.
The word walk means to regulate ones life. Our very lives are to be controlled, to be driven, to be defined by love.
The word love translates the word agape. We are all familiar with that word. It is the word that is used to speak of Gods love for mankind. In ancient Greece, it was a very common words. It was often interchanged with the words for affection and for sexual love. The New Testament takes this common word and it elevates it. The New Testament takes this word and redeems it, using it to speak of the love of Almighty God.
It speaks of a love that is unconditional, undeserved, unending, and self-sacrificing. It is not just mere fondness. It is not just the kind of love that one would find in a family setting. It is certainly not the love the world knows, the love that is ties to the passions.
This kind of love arises out of God grace.
It is a love that sets itself toward the underserving.
It is a love that cannot be bought our turned away.
It is a love that is powerful, eternal, redemptive, and undeserved.
It is a love that has no counterpart in the universe.
Yet, it is a love that we are commanded to imitate. That is a tall order!
The Law of Love, or Gods expectation of His people, is laid out in Matt. 22:37-40. That passage says: Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.This is the first and great commandment.And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
Lets take a look at that important text.
We are to love God supremely - We are told to love Him with all out heart soul and mind. The heart refers to the core of our beings. The soul to the emotions. The mind to our intelligence, our will, our determination. We are to love Him with our whole person. Our love for Him should be all-consuming and complete. It should be emotional. It should be a love based on the knowledge of Who God is. It should be a willful love, in which we are determined to love Him no matter what. Genuine love is intelligent, feeling, willing and serving. It involves thought, sensitivity, intent and appropriate action. Every act, every thought, every attitude, everything, is to be a response of our love for Him. If we love God, that love will demonstrate itself in every area of our lives.
We are to love others as much as we love ourselves - We love ourselves, dont we? We do everything we can to meet our own needs. When we are hungry, we eat. When we are thirsty, we drink. When we are sick, we go to the doctor. When we want something, we find a way to get it. We take care of self. In the same manner, we are commanded to actively seek the good of others. We are called upon to be the embodiment of the love of God in our interactions with others. We are to seek the best for others, in all things, and at all times. Our love for others is to be the same sort of love we are to have for God.
This is not a new notion. Deut. 6:4-9, 11, 13-21 and Num. 15:37-40 both declare the obligation for the people of God to love the Lord. Deut. 6:4-5 says, Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. The Jews recited this text twice every day. This is the same command Jesus gave to His people in the New Testament. God has always wanted His people to love Him.
How do we know that we are walking in love? The Bible is clear about this too.
If ye love me, keep my commandments, John 14:15.
He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him, John 14:21.
When I love Him, I will be like Him. When I am like Him, I will love like He loves.
I. There Is A Person To Imitate
II. There Is A Precept To Initiate
III. V. 2b THERE IS A PROVISION THAT ILLUSTRATES
To illustrate what genuine love looks like, Paul calls upon the sacrifice of Jesus for His people on the cross. The greatest expression of love the world has ever witnessed was the love that sent Jesus to the cross to die for us. The Lords love for us was not just a deep affection. It was not an emotional attachment. He did not give Himself for us because we deserved anything from Him. He did what He did simply because He set His sovereign, unconditional, gracious love on us.
His love for us caused Jesus to leave Heaven above to come to this world to live and die for us, Phil. 2:5-8. He is called an offering. His life was poured out on the cross that we might have life in Him.
His love for us caused Jesus to bear our sins on the cross, Isa. 53:4-6; 2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Pet. 2:24. He is called a sacrifice. Because, like a sacrifice, He was slaughtered for our sins. His love caused Him to suffer unspeakable cruelty for us, Isa. 52:14.
His love for the Father caused Jesus to give Himself as a sacrifice to God. Yes, Jesus loves us, but He loves His Father far more. When Jesus died, He died for us, but He died primarily for the glory of the Father. We benefit from the Sons love for the Father. Gods love for Christ, and for us, caused the Father to accept the offering and sacrifice of the Son on the cross, as a sweet smelling savor. God was pleased when the love of Christ sacrificed itself to redeem lost sinners for the glory of God. If you want to know what love looks like, go the Calvary and behold the Lamb of God dying for sinners, Rom. 5:8.
Verse 2 says Christ, hath given Himself for us He did that because He loved us. We are to manifest that same kind of selfless, self-sacrificing love toward others. Literally, we are to give ourselves out of love for God and others.
The call here is for the people of God to imitate their Father and their Savior by practicing unconditional, sacrificial love. When we practice His kind of; it is a statement of our faith. When we practice that kind of love; it is a sacrifice that pleases Him! We are never more like the Father than we we love like He loves; forgive like He forgives; blesses like He blesses; walk like He walked; think like He thinks; and when we do the things He does.
We need to remember this: Genuine love is always measured by what it gives, not by what it gains.
Conc: In all honesty, can others see the Father in you? We are challenged to be so surrendered the Father that we become like Him.
When we imitate the Father, we will love like He loves, and that kind of love has the power to change your life, your home, your church, your city, your notion and your world.
That kind of love advertises the Father like nothing else can.
That kind of love is unstoppable as it assails the hearts of lost sinners.
That kind of love is essential in maintaining human relationships.
That kind of love is necessary if we are to live holy lives.
That kind of love is priceless in our world.
That kind of love is available to all who will imitate the Father.
Are you His child?
If you are, strive to be like Him. Learn to live like HIm. Learn to love like Him.
If you arent, come to Jesus so that He can change your life and so that you can experience His wonderful love.