Ephesians 5:1-2 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
There are many difficult mandates given in the Bible, none more impossible than the command to be imitators of God. How could fallen, sinful human beings possibly imitate a holy, perfect God?
This may seem like a setup for failure, but that’s far from the truth. God knows very well that we can’t be perfect and He’s only asking us to pursue following His commands with His help, not on our own. Anything He’s asked us to do is something He’s equipped us to do.
It’s interesting how important the theme of love is in God’s Word. So many of the laws and rules boil down to loving the Lord and loving other people. It would seem that there is no better way to imitate God than to love. Maybe there’s not even anything God wants us to do more than He wants us to love. To do so is a “fragrant offering and sacrifice” to Him.
We don’t try to be like God in order to gain favor with Him, we follow in His footsteps because we already have favor with Him as His adopted children. We don’t love Him and other people because we want to earn our place with Him, we love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19) and we’re responding to that epic love in the only way we can. We won’t do it perfectly like only He can, but we’ll be honoring Him by doing it.
Philippians 4:1 “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stay true to the Lord. I love you and long to see you, dear friends, for you are my joy and the crown I receive for my work.”
There are so many great scriptures in the fourth book of Philippians. I know for me, there are many that I have written on my heart to help me live out God’s will for my life. We will go over them in the weeks to come as we close out the book of Philippians, but before we get to those great verses, let’s not overlook this powerful verse that Paul opens this letter with.
If we go back to Matt Cochran’s devotion from January 7th, we learned that God has chosen to adopt us into His family, through His son Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:5). Because of this, everyone who has made Jesus Lord and Savior of their life are truly our brothers and sisters. We should love each other and encourage each other the same way, if not more, than we do our blood relatives. I mean, after all, how much stronger is the Holy Spirit compared to our flesh?
As a big brother, I would always look after my little brother when we were kids. I still do or at least try to. I by no means was a perfect brother, but I wanted nothing more than to protect my brother and see that he was making good choices for his life. I never pulled my seniority card on him, or tried to bully him because I was older and knew more. If anything, I tried to be my brothers friend. Paul models this for us in this opening verse. He was an apostle and far advanced in his walk with the Lord compared to them, but he addressed the Philippians as his brothers and sisters, as his dear friends.
Paul took it a step further and called them his joy and the crown he received for his work. I don’t care what you may have heard through some “prosperity gospel” or some “name it and claim it” ministry, but our ultimate success, our ultimate wealth, God’s ultimate glory shining through our lives can be found in the people who surround us. Your brother who a year ago was an alcoholic on the verge of divorcing his wife who is now serving in the church and excited to tell others about how Jesus transformed him and his marriage. Your sister who three years prior was working at an adult night club who is now a faithful servant of Jesus and leads a women’s ministry. They are God’s miracles that He has produced through our faithfulness and they are our crown’s for the work of Christ in our lives. If you’re having one of those days where you’re feeling down and failing to see the fruits of God’s work in your life, stop looking at your life and start looking at the lives that surround you and you’ll quickly discover that you’re surrounded by joy.
Ephesians 3:17-18 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,
What gives us the ability to really connect with God in a deep way? No matter how hard we try to build a tower up to heaven or how many good deeds we try to accomplish, we’ll never get close to Him on our own. It’s only through the work of Christ that we get reconciliation and relationship.
But you know that; don’t you? You know that only through faith in Jesus Christ can you have fellowship with God. You know that your own good works don’t get you any position with the Father, but only through the completed work of the Son do you have any standing.
You know that, but do you really understand just how broad, how long, how high, and how deep God’s love is for you? Can you even begin to comprehend just how vast that love is? The only way we can even begin to understand is to have Christ dwelling in us. That’s the key to unlock spiritual understanding. But to imagine how far the Father’s love stretches…that will take until we’re with Him, beyond this life, to even grasp it.
Ephesians 2:17-22 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
The startling truth about God’s work to reconcile us to himself through Jesus Christ is that it comes with full acceptance. It’s not just that God forgives us and then forgets about us. He doesn’t forgive in a way that is passive. He fully forgives, so much so that He brings us on in to His own family and His own household.
Stop, think about that for a minute. You’re part of God’s own household. Does that seem a little crazy? It’s right there in His Word. It says it plain as day. He joined us together with Him and welcomed us into His household. We’re not strangers, not even just acquaintances. We’re His children and we belong in His home.
You know what you do with people who are truly welcome in your home? You invite them to make themselves comfortable, to eat of your food, to use your facilities. “My home is your home,” as the saying goes. But God is the one calling us to His home, allowing us to partake of everything that is His. This passage rightly points us that we are being built together as a dwelling place for God, with Jesus as the cornerstone. What a picture. What a home!
Now you can download Matthew J. Cochran’s Devotions for Disciples: Children of God for free on Noisetrade! This 1-month devotional covers Romans chapter 8 verse by verse and takes a close look at the mystery of being adopted into God’s family as His own children.
Ephesians 2:4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,
God loves you. You’ve heard that before, right? If you’re like me, you’ve heard that statement thousands of times over the course of your lifetime. But the thing is, many of us hear that God loves us and just let that pass over like it’s nothing. There may be nothing more significant, ever.
The Creator of all things LOVES you. He created you because He loves you. He shows you mercy because He loves you. He showers grace upon you because He loves you. The blessings never end.
When you and I were walking as dead men, He made us alive AND adopted us into His family through Christ Jesus. And He did that because of His great love. Don’t ever let that pass by you. Let it sink in. In fact, right here and right now, take some time to really meditate on that. GOD LOVES YOU.
Ephesians 2:3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
The people of this world, those haven’t yet been redeemed by adoption into God’s family, are just walking around like dead men. They have no more control over themselves than a newborn infant does. The are slaves to sin, led around by their own passions, unable to choose what’s right.
Those of us who have been made alive with Christ used to be like those lost souls. We were children of wrath, destined for destruction. That’s the bad part. The good part is that God rescued us and He’s willing to do it for them too. They’re all around us, sheep without a shepherd.
When Jesus looked out on the multitudes who were like sheep without a shepherd, He took pity on them (Matthew 9:36). This should be our response too. We can’t look past the people who surround us that are so in need of what we have. We have a Rescuer, a Redeemer, a Savior. We’ve been made alive even though we didn’t know we were dead. How can we not help the others who are lost find this life?
Ephesians 1:11-12 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.
God’s promises are going to be fulfilled. There’s no chance, none whatsoever, that He’ll go back on anything He’s promised. You and I have been granted an inheritance, and just like an inheritance would be from an earthly family member, it’s documented.
From eternity, before there was such a thing as time, the Father had a plan for those whom He would love and call to be His own. To the adopted sons of God, there is an inheritance that includes everything that a true son would be entitled to.
The Son of God obtained for us this right to be called sons of God (John 1:12) ourselves. Now we’re coheirs with Him (Romans 8:17), sharing in every blessing. This hope we have that we’ll receive this inheritance brings glory to the Lord. Those blessings that we cannot see today, we’ll see later, when we can better understand and better enjoy. He’ll see to it. He’ll fulfill every promise.
Ephesians 1:5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,
What’s the foremost priority on God’s agenda? Honestly, you and I will probably never know the answer to that question, but consider the fact that before He created anything and brought a single thing into being, He predestined us to be adopted into His family. That’s pretty big.
In fact, that’s unfathomable. The Creator took you and me into consideration and decided that He’d like to adopt us before He even made time. Does that seem a little bit amazing to you? Now, people focus on the whole argument surrounding predestination, but I think they’re missing the real point. God wanted you in His family. He wanted me. He created a rescue plan for us and sent His Rescuer to redeem us and ransom us from this lost world so that we might be part of His kingdom.
Somehow, your adoption into God’s family as His own fits into His grand plan. It says so right in this letter to the Ephesians that God inspired Paul to write. “According to the purpose of His will,” you have been grafted in as one of God’s people. How does that change the way you live your life?