Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians has been correctly described as an apostolic syllabus of the New Testament church. A correct understanding of New Testament Christianity brings us to a correct understanding of what it really is. The church of the Lord is not an unattainable ideal. The apostles and first century Christians both correctly understood and believed that the church constituted the kingdom of Christ and would be perpetuated by God’s divine revelation to humanity (Dan. 2:44; 7:13-14; Luke 8:11).
In our text, Christians distributively and the church collectively, are described as, dear children concerning their relationship to God. The KJV translators indicated the importance of this saved relationship that is “in Christ” as being followers of God. While indeed such is an accurate translation of the inspired instruction that Paul gave, the ASV, 1901 translators added strength to the term followers (mimhtai) by rendering the term imitators. From this word our English word mimic is developed. Paul is writing these brethren to imitate God.
While we need to strive to copy God in our lives, we cannot become like god in his ultimate attributes. Indeed they are beyond the scope of our ability in that none of us have the nature of Deity. On the other hand, we all can learn the word of God, apply the word of God to our own personal lives, and develop our lives in submission to the will of God in becoming the type of people that God would have us, as Christians, become. Christ has saved Christians from sin not only to remove the guilt of sin from their lives, but also to grow into the type of individuals and local churches that he would have us to become in giving Him the service that He requires. We do so by obedience to His will as revealed in His word. Becoming imitators or followers of God is accomplished by growth in the truth when we:
Walk in the Highest Form of Biblical Love (5:2)
When Paul makes use of the term love, he writes with reference to that of love (agape) in its highest sense: A will to do good; benevolence, having the desire to put the interests and well being of others before our own good. This is the type of love that drove Christ to the cross of Calvary (John 13:34-35; 1 John 4:14; Eph. 5:22-25; Phlp. 2:3-8). This love is a sacrificial love. A love perfectly demonstrated toward those who would reject the perfect sacrifice of Christ, refuse to accept the gracious offer of Salvation and suppress the message of Christ in hatred and contempt never believing the saving gospel, nor obeying its conditions to be saved from the horrible alienation of sin enabling one to live as God would have them live.
Reject Moral Impurity (5:3-5)
Since the garden of Eden humanity has always been under attack by Satan. One area where Satan has had a great deal of success in opposition to the plan of God is the means of impurity and immorality (1 Cor. 6:9-11; Gal. 5:19-21; 1 Pet. 4:1-6).
We must reject immoral acts (Eph. 5:3). Such is inclusive of covetousness (Luke 12:15; Matt. 6:33). Filthiness and foolish talking and jesting (Eph. 5:4) which are not convenient: but rather the giving of thanks.
Guard against false teaching (5:6-7). Every New Testament book warns against false teachers. By false teaching we refer to doctrine that is untrue and leads individuals away from truth and fellowship with God (Matt. 7:13-23; 2 Pet. 2:1; 1 John 4:1). The only possible solution to false teaching is constituted in the Scriptures (John 8:32; 17:17). The only way to be imitators of God is to obey God’s truth (Gal. 4:16; 1 Pet. 1:13-23).
Christians need to be on guard at all times. We must be diligent to obey only the word of God. We must realize that the New Testament of Christ is our only standard of authority knowing that we must seek Bible authority for all things (Col. 3:17). This means that we must be committed to the practice of giving affirmative evidence for all that we do and/or teach (1 Thess. 5:21).
Be Lights in a World of Darkness (5:8-13)
God has always drawn a clear line between light and darkness; good and evil (Col. 1:13-14; 1 Pet. 2:9). Because Christ has delivered Christians from the darkness of Satan we must live with him in light and dare not return to the darkness from which we have been delivered (John 8:12; 1 John 1:5-7). Those who are in covenant relationship with God must have no fellowship with the darkness of sin (Eph. 5:11; 1 Thess. 5:5-6). This does not mean a limited association. It means no joint-participation period.
Make Proper Use of the Time That God has Given Us (5:14-17)
Responsibility is placed upon those in darkness to do two things: awake and arise. The false doctrines of Theological Determinism and/or Calvinism falsely teaches that the sinner can do nothing to be saved and the Christian can do nothing to be lost, yet the words of Biblical inspiration say to awake and arise. The gospel of Christ raises those who are spiritually dead (Col. 2:12; Rom. 6:3-4). Christians have the responsibility for personal reflection and correction (1 John 1:6-10). This mandates that we make proper use of the time that God has allotted for us to be in this world (Eph. 5:16-17). One day, time will cease for us either by death or the final coming of Christ. Eternity looms before us over the vast horizon. May we have the love of truth and the courage of conviction to be imitators of God.