“Live in Christ’s Love”
INTRODUCTION What is the Meaning of Ephesians 5.1-2
Ephesians chapter 5. We have begun a new chapter in this application section of the book of Ephesians. Verses 1 to 6 of Ephesians 5 are one section. Our text, however, will be verses 1-2 this morning. We will study verses 3-6 next time.
Let’s read Ephesians 5:1-6 1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; 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. 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. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.
Our passage this morning is an encouraging and inspiring message. But in verses 3-6, we are greatly warned. Some who practice such sinful lifestyles would like to believe that they are in the kingdom of God and are recipients of eternal life, but in fact, they are not.
We will deal with that next time.
But our passage this morning is verses 1-2. And this is the third time since chapter 3 that Paul uses the term “walk.”
He uses the word “walk” in Ephesians 4:1-3 where he teaches believers to live in unity. Ephesians 4:1-3 1 Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, 3 being diligent to preserve the [here it is … ] unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
And then down in verse 17, we are instructed to walk in holiness. Ephesians 4:17 So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind,
…and now in our passage this morning and in Ephesians 5:1-2 1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; 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.
Last week, we finished end of chapter 4. Chapter 4 verse 32, Paul commands us to be kind to one another tenderhearted forgiving each other just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
And you remember that word for “forgiving” emphasizes the grace in forgiving …it emphasizes the undeserved favor in the forgiving.
And our motivation and power for obeying that command is found in the example that we have of God who has forgiven us. We are to be gracious like God is gracious. In Jesus Christ, God graciously forgives all of our sin. And by the Holy Spirit’s design as we think on the grace of God in the gospel, we are increasingly empowered to be as gracious as He is.
Now, that same motivation is found in Ephesians 5:2. Paul commands us to walk in love. And the motivation and the power to walk in love is, once again, the example of God. Chapter 5 verse 2 … “Walk in love … how are you going to do that? …. Where’s your power going to come from ….? …. just as Christ also loved you and gave himself up for us.”
So I’d like to preach this morning on “Live in Christ’s love.”
TRANS: First, Paul commands us in verse 1 to be imitators of God as beloved children.
Be imitators of God as beloved children (Eph. 5:1)
The word for “imitators” here has the idea of mimicking, or someone who copies someone else in their behavior. Children are well known for mimicking what they see in those around them. Paul knows this as he says in verse one that we are to imitate God as who? … as beloved children.
Once we trusted Jesus Christ as our Savior, the Bible teaches us that we are children of God and God is our Heavenly Father.
In Paul’s writings, this happens through adoption. Ephesians 1 and 2 teach_believers that we were once children of wrath and of the devil. We were sons of disobedience and enslaved to mimic our father the devil.
But God being rich in mercy because of the great love with which he loved us, caused us to be made alive together with Christ and to be, a new creature in Christ Jesus. That means we have a new life and new desires in Christ Jesus.
And so we have become children of God. 1 John 3:1 See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.
And so as children of God, we are commanded to imitate him … to mimic our Heavenly Father. So this illustration takes us into the warmth of a home, where a child mimics the honorable behavior of his dad.
ILL: Children are excellent imitators. You’ve experienced that. You’ve seen it at a very young age.
Researchers have determined that even infants are able to imitate facial expressions as soon as their first few days of life. Within a few days of living, infants are able to imitate facial expressions. This is according to results from experiments performed at the Mailman Centre for Child Development at the University of Miami Medical School. Newborn babies, all but a few days old, were tested to see if they were able to imitate a smile, a frown and a pout, and a wide-open mouth and eyes.
The way they conducted the experiment was through an observer standing behind the experimenter so he couldn’t see what facial expressions were being made by the experimenter. So the observer only watched the baby and the experimenter made the facial expressions.
So by looking only at the babies’ faces, the observer was more often than not able to correctly guess what facial expression the experimenter was making to the child. The researchers concluded that babies have an ability built into them that is able to compare an expression they see with their own facial expression and then match that expression.
You may not have known that … but we all know the experiences as we grow older of children imitating their parents. The kids putting on daddy’s shoes or the son who wants to wear jeans like his dad and the daughter who gets dressed up like her mom. These are common examples of how children mimic their parents.
And Paul is telling us in verse 1 here that we are to become imitators of our Heavenly Father. We are to be like God as beloved children. God is gracious in his forgiveness of you, like the last verse of chapter 4 says, and therefore now because that is the way he is, therefore chapter 5 verse 1 … you become imitators of God and be kind tenderhearted passionate and merciful and gracious like he has. Become imitators of God as beloved children.
It is only in this passage in Paul’s writings that he commands us to be imitators of God. Most times, Paul commands his readers to imitate him as he follows Christ.
1 Corinthians 4:16 Therefore I exhort you, be imitators of me
1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1 31 Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 32 Give no offense either to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God; 33 just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit but the profit of the many, so that they may be saved. 1 Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.
Philippians 3:17 Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us.
1 Thessalonians 1:6 You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit,
2 Thessalonians 3:7-9 7 For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example, because we did not act in an undisciplined manner among you, 8 nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with labor and hardship we kept working night and day so that we would not be a burden to any of you; 9 not because we do not have the right to this, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you, so that you would follow our example.
Paul viewed himself as a slave to others, 1 Corinthians 9:19 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more.
And Jesus taught us …
Matthew 5:44-48 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? 48 “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Our Heavenly Father is good. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good and He sends the rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
So also we should not just be kind to those who love us, but we also should be kind to those who hate us just like God is kind to send His rain on the wicked who blaspheme His holy name every day.
As beloved children
And our imitation is in the realm of the home. We are to imitate our Heavenly Father as beloved children. We are not to imitate God as a soldier does his commanding officer or as a slave does his master. No, we are to imitate God as a child does his father.
It says that we are “beloved” children. We are loved by our Heavenly Father. We have been adopted into the family of God and now as a child of our Heavenly Father we have received so much love. Know that love and embrace that love and feel secure in that infinite love of your Heavenly Father. Not only are we privileged sons and daughters in adoption, but we are beloved children of God.
Therefore, Paul commands us to become and to constantly endeavor to be imitators of God who has set his marvelous and infinite love upon us in the gospel of Christ. When we dwell on the love of God in the gospel and we pray over the fact that he has saved us and that we are his children and we think through passages of Scripture and marvel at the greatness of His grace, we will be empowered to imitate Him and to be as kind and gracious and tenderhearted as he is. To be kind, purposefully think about how God is kind.
TRANS: So be imitators of a graciously forgiving and infinitely God. You are His child if He has adopted you into His family, and you are greatly loved.
But what would being an imitator of God, described this way, look like? It would look like one who, verse 2, walks in love…To be an imitator of God would mean that you walk in love.
You are loved by God the Father as a beloved child of God, now live in light of that reality! And live out that reality.
Ephesians 5:2 and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, …
Walk in Love (Eph. 5:2)
So we are commanded to walk in love. What does that mean? The word “walk” for us means “to live.” The way it’s worded here is that we are to make this our habit. “Pursue living in love.”
But that’s still a little fuzzy, isn’t it? How do you live in love? The love of our Heavenly Father seems to be described here as something that we are surrounded by …. like it’s our atmosphere and is what we are breathing.
ILL: Picture yourself as a child in the Father’s home. And the atmosphere of his home is full of love and kindness and tenderness and patience.
It’s a warm and inviting home. Just think of a picture of the warmest and most inviting home that you could imagine. What was the warmest most inviting home that you walked into? What did it look like? What is the ideal home décor that tells us it’s warm and inviting?
As you walk into this home the smell of cinnamon buns baking in the oven wafts through the air. The family is snuggled around a warm, crackling fire in the fireplace. Everyone has a hot cup of cocoa in their hands and smiles on their faces. Children fill the room with their laughter, all underneath the careful and wise and watchful eye of a godly mom and dad. There’s a Bible on the table and godly music playing in the background. …
This is a warm and inviting, godly home! There is love and praise expressed to the kids and mom respects dad and dad fills mom with his love for her …. Everyone feels safe and secure and expresses their innermost thoughts without fear of being lashed out at.
Oh…. and how the children thrive in a home like this. This is your warm home and even greater warmth as a child of your loving Heavenly Father. Live in this love of God towards you. You are safe and secure from all alarms…. And in this atmosphere of the love of God, give attention to filling this home with that same love.
In the picture I pictured for you, imagine a child acting out selfishly throwing a temper tantrum… what? Surely, that makes no sense! Think of the security the child has and the love that the father has expressed to his kids and … to think that those kids would selfishly grumble at each other or to their own dad…what? Has your dad not been good to you?
We too must imitate our Heavenly Father and express to others the love that we live in every day. Express to others, in words and actions, the love that you have been loved with. To walk in love means to live in love.
TRANS: But how are you going to live in the love of God like this? You need to know a little bit more about the love of God in Christ Jesus. You need motivation and you need power to live in love and to live a life out of love that expresses to others God’s love toward you. … You need power for this task.
So, what example do we have to better understand the kind of love that were thinking of?
“Live in God’s love for you … ephesians 5:2… just as Christ also loved you and gave himself up for us.”
Just as Christ also love you and gave Himself up for us
What kind of love is this atmosphere in our home? It is Christ’s love that is the model to follow. This is the kind of love we are to imitate. The love of Christ is what fills the atmosphere of the home of our Heavenly Father.
The love of Christ is a self-sacrificial love. He “gave himself up for us.”
John 15:13 “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.”
Romans 5:6-8 6 For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
And Jesus as the Good Shepherd of the sheep, lays down His life for the sheep. John 10:11 “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.
He laid down his life of his own will. He gave his life! He gave it! He used sinful wicked men to unjustly torture and crucify Himself.
“He gave Himself up for us.” This is a substitution. It was “for us.” The idea here in “for us” is on our behalf. “He gave Himself up for our benefit.” He suffered the eternal penalty that we deserve for our sins. When he died on the cross, God the Father forsook God the Son and Jesus cries out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” God the Father could not look on the sin that Jesus had become …. As Paul writes in …
2 Corinthians 5:21 [The Father] made [the sinless Son of God to actually become] sin on our behalf… [not to be a sinner, no He’s sinless. But to become sin on that cross and God pours out His wrath on sin while Jesus is on that cross.]
Galatians 3:13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, [by becoming] a curse for us—for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE”—
God the Father was separated from God the Son on the cross so that we do not have to be separated from God for ever.
TRANS: We live in this atmosphere of self-sacrificial love. Christ voluntarily subjected Himself to the very wrath of God for you! What load are you bearing for another?
Galatians 6:2 Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.
Bear someone else’s sin; don’t mention every detail they do wrong and shove it in their face.
And indeed, Christ’s sacrifice is a true sacrifice….
Ephesians 5:2 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.
An Offering and a sacrifice to God
When Christ gave himself up for us on the cross it was an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.
We needed someone to be a substitution in our place, to pay our penalty, so that we can be made righteous and have eternal life. And the Bible teaches that when Christ made this substitution, it was a sacrifice.
God is righteous and demands that justice be made concerning our sin. And sin deserves an eternal penalty because we have sinned against an eternal God.
And so God requires that somebody die for our sin. God’s judgment on our sin must be executed.
But it couldn’t be just anything that could die for us. The sacrifice to effectively take away our sin had to be perfect. In the Old Testament, God’s people were required to offer animal sacrifices. These animal sacrifices were required to be “without blemish.” What that means is that there was to be no physical deformity. Those animals had to be of great value to the one offering the sacrifice.
But those animal sacrifices could never take away our sins. They merely covered them, the Old Testament teaches. As sinful humans, we needed a perfect human without blemish to be sacrificed. And because of this, it was the will of God the Father and God the Son that there be a human body prepared for God the Son.
So God the Son took on human flesh and he came to do the will of God. And that will of God was that the Son of God offer himself as a sacrifice to God …. One time … For all of time.
Under the Old Testament, every priest would stand every day offering time after time the same sacrifices which could never take away sins. But God the Son when He came, he offered one sacrifice …. The sacrifice of Himself for all the sins for all of time …. And then he was raised from the dead and he ascended back to the Father and he sat down at the right hand of God, after having completed the will of God.
And so what we have in the sacrifice of Christ on the cross is the Great High Priest Himself offering a sacrifice. And the Great High Priest offered the sacrifice of Himself.
The sacrifice that effectively takes away our sin is none other than the sacrifice of the Perfect Lamb of God, the Son of God, the sinless Jesus Christ. This is a costly sacrifice.
He willfully offered himself as a human sacrifice to God so that our sins could be effectively taken away and so that we could have the very righteousness of Christ credited to our account.
Our sins were laid on Jesus at the cross and he bore them all and he paid the entire penalty of our sin. And in the cross and in the resurrection, Jesus’ righteousness is credited to our account. Our sins were credited to his account and his righteousness is credited to our account. The price paid was the blood God the Father’s own precious Son.
Only the genius of God could have devised such a marvelous plan to release us from the penalty of our sin and to give us eternal life and perfect righteousness before Him … All the while God can remain righteous as he declares righteous guilty sinners such as ourselves.
The price has been paid to declare you righteous in God’s sight. Trust Him and turn from your sin and receive the gift.
As a fragrant aroma
And the sacrifice of Jesus Christ has truly been accepted by God. Ephesians 5:2 Christ gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.
The sacrifice of Jesus Christ is a fragrant aroma. This is Old Testament language to describe the fact that God has accepted the sacrifice. And under the Old Testament, for God to accept the sacrifice, demanded that the sacrifice itself be without blemish [*left hand*] and that the heart of the worshiper be right before God [*right hand*].
And so Christ himself was for us the perfect sacrifice [*left hand*] with the perfect heart [*right hand*], because he himself is God in flesh.
Now, this self-sacrificial love that God the Father has given in God the Son is our example. “God did not spare his own son, but gave him up for us …” This is our example; this is the atmosphere of love that we live in. He made the ultimate sacrifice on our behalf.
And this ultimate sacrifice is our example. We are to have the same love ,…. the same costly sacrificial love toward one another.
Jesus says …
John 13:34 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. (John 15:12, 17).
We must be filled with the love of God in Christ to the extent that we are self-sacrificial in our desires and attempts at pleasing God and pleasing others. Christ’s love cost Him his life!
Christ’s death for our everlasting benefit is the epitome of going the extra mile and going out of your way for somebody else. Oh, how He has loved us!
And it’s interesting in 1 Corinthians 13 how, when Paul describes love, he first goes to what love does not give. Love does not give any outbursts … doesn’t make someone else feel the brunt of our day; it does not give out harsh tones or words … 1 Co. 13:4 … “Love is patient.”
How are we going to express this love and live in this love, and live it out? To express this same self-sacrificial love we must meditate and consider and pray over the great love of God in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:2 and walk in love, [how, knowing… really knowing how ] … Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us,
And now, we ourselves are to be a fragrant aroma to others, in this lost and dying world … 2 Corinthians 2:14-15 14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. 15 For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing;
Praise the Lord for his sacrifice on our behalf! Do that, make conscious effort to praise the Lord for what He has done in His Son, Jesus Christ. As you do it is God’s design through the Holy Spirit that you be motivated and empowered to be gracious and loving and even as he is gracious and loving.
CONCLUSION What is the Meaning of Ephesians 5.1-2
And so endeavor to be imitators of God as children who are greatly loved. Imitate him and live in light of that love. And that love he demonstrated to us through Christ, who loved you and gave himself up for us … Offering himself and sacrificing himself to God as a fragrant aroma.
Our imitation of God is the end goal of our lives. God is causing all things to work together to the end that would become like Jesus Christ. This is the end goal. He wants us to be like Him now and in the end, He wants that forever…
1 John 3:1-3 1 See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2 Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, [here it is …. ] we will be like Him [that’s the end goal, to be like Him], because we will see Him just as He is. 3 [Do you have that hope? … Well…] ….everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.
Purify yourself; purify your life!
We imitate him empowered by his Holy Spirit here … and in the last day, we will be ultimately conformed entirely to his image in both body and spirit … Philippians 3:21 [Christ] will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.
Our bodies will be conformed to his glorious body and our hearts will be made like unto his when we see him just as he is. This is our longing and desire in the end of time. Let that desire feed you now as you seek to become imitators of God.
75, The love of God. Do you understand the picture of the last line, stanza 3?