The Gospel Observer
"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations...teaching them
to observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always,
even to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:19,20).
September 2, 2012
1) Ephesians 5:1-3 (Tom Edwards)
2) News & Notes
by Tom Edwards
We often express the need to follow in the footsteps of the Lord so
that we will become more like Him. For to develop the
qualities of Jesus is to develop the characteristics of God, which
is truly what the Lord wants us to do and has so commanded through
the apostle Paul: "Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved
children" (Eph. 5:1).
The "therefore" links this verse with what we saw in the previous
chapter of things we are to put off and things we are to put on,
especially toward the close of the chapter where the instruction is
to "Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other,
just as God in Christ also has forgiven you" (Eph. 4:32). So
it is traits like these that we are to strive to develop to be more
like the Lord -- and not that we are to imitate God in the sense of
receiving worship from people, carrying out vengeance, or being a
final judge who sentences sinners to hell, etc.
Jesus also shows the need for us to be like God in Matthew 5:48:
"Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is
perfect." This, however, does not mean we are perfect in every
way, as God is; but, according to the context, we see of God's
impartial love toward the righteous and the unrighteous:
"...for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and
sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous" (v. 45). So
our love is to also reach out to even our enemies and those who do
not love us (vv. 43-47).
Notice, too, how this is expressed in Luke 6:35,36, the parallel
account: "But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting
nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be
sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil
men. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful."
Here, instead of saying "be perfect, as your heavenly Father is
perfect," it says, "Be merciful, just as your Father is
merciful." So we are to imitate God in that sense also.
The phrase "be imitators of God" is also rendered as be "followers
of God" in some other translations, but the Greek word is the word
that our English word "mimic" stems from; and though we normally
think of this word as being used in a negative sense -- such as
those who would mimic someone playfully, derisively, or mockingly --
here it pertains to imitating in a very sincere, serious, solemn
way. For we truly do want to develop those same virtues in our
lives and not merely play-act with them.
After washing His disciples' feet and showing His willingness to
give Himself over to menial and humble servitude, Jesus then states
in John 13:15, "For I gave you an example that you also should
do as I did to you." Just as Christ came into this world to
serve and not to be served, according to Matthew 20:28, it should
also be our desire to follow that same example of humble, willing,
and unselfish service to put others above ourselves. So,
though we do not have the custom of foot washing here in 21st
century America, the principle the Lord has set forth can still be
carried out in other ways as well.
Peter also points to the Savior as being our role model: "For you
have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for
you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps" (1 Pet.
In thinking of how He served His Father, Jesus did so even when the
commands would lead to the extreme of torture and death! If
Christians today, therefore, would ever have to become martyrs for
serving Christ, as many were during the early church, would our
faith in the Lord and our love for Him enable us to give up our
lives, too, if need be, for righteousness' sake?
When someone is truly imitating God or striving to be a follower of
Him, then that person is also developing qualities we can
imitate. For example, think of the apostle Paul. How
truly devoted to the Lord he was; and because of that, he was able
to also say, "Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ" (1
And Paul wasn't the only one setting forth that kind of
example. Consider, for instance, Philippians 3:17: "Brethren,
join in following my example, and observe those who walk according
to the pattern you have in us."
Isn't it also encouraging to know that there are many people -- even
today -- who strive to maintain those examples and patterns to keep
Christ first in their lives? And in their doing so, they, too,
become a good example for others to emulate, such as the
Thessalonians whom Paul commends in 1 Thessalonians 1:6,7: "You also
became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in
much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became
an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia."
Imitating the right people can lead to great results, as we see in
Hebrews 6:12: "so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of
those who through faith and patience inherit the promises."
The Hebrew writer refers to some of these people in Hebrews 12:1,2:
"Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding
us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so
easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is
set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of
faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising
the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."
These "cloud of witnesses" is pertaining to the great people of
faith in the previous chapter (Heb. 11), and how they obeyed God by
their faith -- even in spite of difficulties. They are, therefore,
witnessing toward what faith in God can do, and leaving us an
example to also have that same type of obedient faith.
So we should not only be concerned with following the right example,
but also being that right example ourselves. And the best time
to begin is when we are young. In thinking of this, consider
Paul's exhortation to Timothy: "Let no one look down on your
youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity,
show yourself an example of those who believe" (1 Tim. 4:12).
Paul also touched upon this when writing to Titus: "in all things
show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in
doctrine, dignified, sound in speech which is beyond reproach, in
order that the opponent may be put to shame, having nothing bad to
say about us" (Titus 2:7,8).
So Paul says to "...be imitators of God, AS BELOVED CHILDREN"
(emphasis mine). As we think of children who would imitate
their parents, we who are children of God are to do the same with
regard to our Father in heaven.
Paul then says in 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."
We have seen before that our "walk" is our manner of life, how we
conduct ourselves, how we live. And just how often should love
be a part of our walk? Paul answers that in 1
Corinthians 16:14: "Let all that you do be done in love."
Notice Paul's desire for the Thessalonians concerning this: "and may
the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another,
and for all people, just as we also do for you" (1 Thess.
3:12). In addition, not only are we to love, but notice again
the intensity of it in Ephesians 5:2: "...just as Christ also loved
you and gave Himself up for us...." To love as Christ loves is
a command that the Lord also gives in 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." Notice that He calls this a
"new commandment." For though the command to love had been
given before, now one is to love as even Christ does. Jesus
also goes on to show in the very next verse the impact this type of
love would have on the world: "By this all men will know that you
are My disciples, if you have love for one another" (Jn. 13:35).
So we are to love "even as" Christ has loved us. And to what
degree did He love us? Paul shows some of that in Romans 5:8:
"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were
yet sinners, Christ died for us." The Lord was willing to give
His all in loving others; and He even loved those who hated,
ridiculed, and tortured Him -- not for what they did, of course, but
because He could see them as lost sheep without a
shepherd. Compare, for example, Luke 23:33,34: "And when
they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified Him
and the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left.
But Jesus was saying, 'Father, forgive them; for they do not know
what they are doing.' And they cast lots, dividing up His garments
among themselves." We are reminded in Ephesians 5:25 that
husbands are to love their wives "just as Christ also loved the
church and gave Himself up for her." And Christians, in
general, are shown in 1 John 3:16, that "We know love by this,
that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our
lives for the brethren." If we are to love as Christ, is there
any wonder why Peter instructs the brethren to "keep fervent" in
their love for one another (1 Pet. 4:8)? So Jesus' love is a
very deep, unselfish, and sacrificial love, a love that gives its
all -- and does so even when unrequited.
What Jesus did is described as "...an offering and a sacrifice to
God as a fragrant aroma" (Eph. 5:2). Though not in every case,
the term "offering" is often used in the Scriptures to denote a
bloodless sacrifice, such as the grain offerings or the
sweet-smelling incense offerings. However, it was not just an
offering, but also a sacrifice which Jesus had offered unto God as a
fragrant aroma. So, this fragrant aroma is figuratively
indicating that what the Lord did was pleasing to His Father in
heaven, which is implied in John 10:17,18: "For this reason the
Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it
again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on
My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have
authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My
Father." So Jesus not only pleased the Father during His life
on earth, but also in His death, which was prophesied about 700
years before the actual event: "But the LORD was pleased To crush
Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt
offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, And
the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand. As a
result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied;
By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the
many, As He will bear their iniquities. Therefore, I will
allot Him a portion with the great, And He will divide the booty
with the strong; Because He poured out Himself to death, And was
numbered with the transgressors; Yet He Himself bore the sin of
many, And interceded for the transgressors" (Isa. 53:10-12).
Paul then instructs in Ephesians 5, "But immorality or any impurity
or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among
saints" (v. 3).
The Greek word for "immorality" is "porneia," which Thayer defines
as "illicit sexual intercourse 1a) adultery, fornication,
homosexuality, lesbianism, intercourse with animals, etc." and
incest. It is a general term, and the one which the Lord uses
in Matthew 19:9 to warn: "And I say to you, whoever divorces his
wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits
After "immorality," Paul then mentions "impurity," which would
certainly include these sins of immorality; but it also goes beyond
that. For note how it is used in Ephesians 4:19: "and they,
having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for
the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness." The
phrase "every kind of impurity" implies that there are various forms
of it. And even our verse under consideration, Ephesians 5:3,
uses the phrase "any impurity." Thayer shows that the Greek
word also includes "the impurity of lustful, luxurious, profligate
living" and even "impure motives." According to 1
Thessalonians 4:7, it appears to be the opposite of holiness: "For
God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in
sanctification [holiness, KJV]." This can also be inferred in
Romans 6:19, where "impurity," along with "lawlessness," seems to be
summing up the life of one before coming to Christ: "I am speaking
in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as
you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness,
resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as
slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification [holiness,
KJV]." So impurity can stand for many sinful things; and the
phrase "any impurity" (Eph. 5:3) is also rendered as "all
uncleanness" in many other versions.
In addition to putting off immorality and impurity, the child of God
is to also put off greed, which Solomon refers to as a type of trap:
"The righteousness of the upright will deliver them, but the
treacherous will be caught by their own greed" (Prov. 11:6).
One of the bad things about greed is that it is an insatiable desire
that leads the person away from what life is really all about.
Jesus shows this when warning to "...'Beware, and be on your guard
against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance
does his life consist of his possessions'" (Luke 12:15). Jesus
made this statement to an individual who wanted the Lord to help him
receive his share of the family inheritance. For his brother
was withholding that from him. The Lord then illustrates His warning
with the parable of the rich productive farmer whose crops were so
great that he had to tear down his barns to build larger ones.
He then thought that he would have many years to come, in which he
could eat, drink, and be merry; but he soon found out that that very
night his soul was required of him, and he would be leaving all of
those goods behind (Luke 12:16-21). So the tragedy in this
man's life was that he had left God out of it; and, therefore, did
not have the kind of spiritual life the Lord wanted him to
have. The Lord then goes on to show in Luke 12:22-31 that one
should not be overly concerned with even the necessities of food and
clothing; but, rather, to be more concerned with seeking God's
kingdom first and all His righteousness (v. 31). And when we
are doing that, there is no room in our hearts for greed.
Another reason why greed is so bad is because it is also equated
with idolatry: "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" (Eph. 5:5) For
whatever a person is greedy for has become his idol, which he wants
more than he wants the true and the living God. And, as Paul
shows in this verse, the greedy or covetous man will not have an
inheritance in God's kingdom.
So let those of us who are Christians take heed to Paul's
instruction in Ephesians 5:1-3 to "be imitators of God," so that we
will develop the proper traits in our lives; "to walk in love," just
as the Lord has loved us (unselfishly, fervently, and
sacrificially); and to abstain from all immorality, from any
impurity, and from all greed. For this is all part of becoming
more like Christ, so that we may follow His steps that lead to
News & Notes
Though for a while it had reached hurricane status, even as a
tropical storm, Isaac brought much wind, rain, power outages, and
flooding to Louisiana. It had even brought death to some and
destruction of homes and property. More than 900,000 homes
were without power. Mine had been off from Wednesday 12:35 PM
to Friday 3:45 PM, which was much shorter than I had expected.
For during Hurricanes Gustav and Katrina, my power had been out
about 5 or 6 days each time. We had cancelled our Tuesday
evening service at Park Forest. Many of us had also been under
a dusk-to-dawn curfew for a few days. Some folks were seeing
more water -- around or in their homes -- than ever before. I
had about 7" in the backyard of standing water and a few in the
front. It was just a couple inches from passing over the
thresholds of my front and side doors; so I had taken the precaution
to move low items (such as books on the bottom shelves or LPs
leaning against the wall) to higher locations. It was a very
long, continual rain; but I was glad it had not made its way over
those thresholds. Three of the men, who had been working
in my neighborhood to get the power back on, were all the way from
Kentucky, having driven about 800 miles in three trucks. Last
I heard, there had been workers from at least 23 states to help
Let those of us who are Christians continue to remember these
following people in prayer:
Linda Lefort (Harris Lefort's sister-in-law) who has throat
cancer, fluid buildup, and is receiving hospice care; Bill
Barfield (Virginia Fontenot's brother) who was admitted to ICU
last March and has been in a step-down unit ever since; Jean
Calloway, who has been having a foot problem; Shirley
Young, who experiences fibromyalgia every day; and Cheryl
Crews, who is now undergoing therapy for some of her physical
The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation
1) Hear the gospel,
for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the
deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins
(Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in
Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water
for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4;
Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith;
for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet.
CHURCH OF CHRIST
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Sunday services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 6 PM (worship)
Tuesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (225) 667-4520
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