Be Imitators of God
Topic: Culture Passage: Ephesians 5:1–5:14
On Friday, June 26 the Supreme Court of the US effectively redefined marriage in the United States to include gay couples. This was tragic, though not surprising. The expectation of something and the actual arrival of it are two different things. You are excited when expecting a baby, but when the baby comes, the excitement increases exponentially. The weight of this Supreme Court ruling seemed to hit me with unusual force this past week and a half.
John Piper called the redefining of marriage to include gay couples the "new calamity. He said, "What’s new is not even the celebration and approval of homosexual sin... What’s new is normalization and institutionalization. This is the new calamity."
We all should feel the weight of this for at least a few reasons.
1. It is an affront to God and a profaning of marriage as God has defined it.
In truth, five robed lawyers redefining marriage is like them deciding that triangles will now have four sides. No, a triangle has three sides. God has defined marriage. In fact, one thing I would love for you all to equip yourself to step through four or five passages in the bible if asked why you believe marriage is between one man and one woman. For instance:
- Genesis 1:27
- Genesis 2:24
- Matthew 19:4-6
- Ephesians 5:22-31
2. The lives of those caught in this lifestyle are at stake.
I want to make it clear there is a difference between those who struggle with temptation of same sex attraction and those who are engaged in lifestyle of homosexual sex. This tsunami of sin will bring with it a tsunami of misery. Romans 1:27 says, "Men committing shameful acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty of their error."
There is misery and confusion and there will be more misery and confusion. And the end is eternal separation from God.
3. The church, at some point, will be in the crosshairs.
What will this mean for the church? It is hard to say. For those who are faithful to the bible, it will at least mean increasing disdain from the world. But we can't and won't capitulate to the cultural pressures. We will not perform gay weddings. And there are plenty of people who want to punish all vestiges of dissent. So this will cost us at some point. So be it. We will serve the Lord.
But let's be clear about something. God has placed us in this world at this time for this present situation. So you are just the right person in that seat you are in and in the neighborhood you live in.
How should Christians respond? Verse 1 tells us:
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.
We are called to imitate God. The rest of our text tells us to imitate God by 1) Walking in love, 2) Walking as children of light, and 3) Exposing darkness.
Walk in Love
Beloved child of God, walk in love. Love must be preeminent! Walk in love. Don't just talk about love. Don't just celebrate love or sing about love. Walk in love. Then Paul gives a really important ingredient:
as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us...
Paul points us to the love of Christ. I think he does this for two reasons. First, he wants us remind us of the love of Christ that we have received. Two, he wants us to follow in Christ's example.
So as a reminder of Christ's love, we need to know the love of Christ and see his great love for us. Galatians 2:20 says the life of faith is lived in the "one who loved me and gave himself for me."
But we also want to follow in the footsteps of Christ as we love others. The Greek word translated love is agape which is not romantic love or brotherly love, but a self-giving love. It is love for the undeserving - like us. Agape love sacrifices.
Just as the love of Christ pleases God, so does ours:
a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God
Walk as children of light
When we see and feel the weight of what is going on in the culture, now should we respond? Get out of the darkness, walk in the light! The end of verse 8 says,
Walk as children of light.
There are times we need a reality check. It is easy to see what's wrong out there (outside the church), but we need to be honest about what is going on in here. We need to be men and women of integrity before God. So the apostle Paul addresses sins that he says has no business even being noticed among God's people.
The two things Paul highlights is 1) sexual immorality and 2) covetousness
Verse 3 says,
These things should not even be named among you, as is proper among the saints.
The Greek word translated immorality is "porneia". I want to take aim at pornography. It is an epidemic in our culture! It is destroying the lives and families. Did you know that two out of three American men view porn monthly? Men who profess to be Christian are at almost the same rate. The average age is 11 when a child is first exposed to internet porn. Men and boys are being swept away in their lusts through porn. So much so that secular psychologists Philip Zimbardo and Nikita Duncan said these chilling words, "We may lose a generation of boys to pornography"
This is named among us, but it shouldn’t be!
Covetousness is always wanting more. It is produced by envy in what others have! I want their husband, their wife, their house, their car, their bank account, their job, and on and on. Sadly, much of our economy runs on the fact that people are covetous and full of envy!
And it is not to be named among us!
Paul gives 2 motivations for these things not being named among us. One is in the form of warning - judgment. The other in the form of reminder - gospel truth.
Paul says that judgment will come upon those who live in these sins in verses 5-6:
For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.
The phrases, "You may be sure of this..." "Let no one deceive you with empty words..." make it clear that these words are to be taken with great care and seriousness.
You may think, "he's talking about those out there who don't believe in Jesus." Well, yes it certainly applies to those who reject Jesus. But remember, he is writing to the church at Ephesus.
Wisely, Paul also wants to remind us of the gospel and what has happened to those who are joined to Christ by faith.
Therefore do not become partners with them; 8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light
There has been a fundamental change for Christians. At one time we were darkness. Now, in Christ, we are light.
Expose the darkness
We have to get the first two right before we get to this. We must walk in love and we must walk in the light. But we also must expose darkness. Verse 11 says,
Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.
The dark world of gay marriage needs to be exposed to the light. What's the point? Are we just trying to make people feel uncomfortable or bad about themselves? No, it is for the name of God and the salvation of those caught in the homosexual lifestyle.
Here is where we start. We have to speak the truth in love. We cannot stay silent. The flashlight of truth must be shone on the dark world of homosexual sex and the "new calamity" of gay marriage, so that people may come to the light of Christ and find him to be a gracious Savior.
How should we respond to the gay marriage ruling?
Imitate God by walking in love, walking in the light, and exposing the darkness.