April 16, 2023
Sermon Series: Spirit-Filled Living Is Essential for Christians
Book of Ephesians
Sermon # 8: BELIEVERS ARE TO WALK FOLLOWING GOD
Last Lesson: Believers are to strip off the old garments; part 1 & 2
Today’s Lesson: Believers are to walk following God; part 1
Introduction: All of us would probably agree with this statement: you are likely to follow someone whom you trust. There is a story about an army soldier. Relate this story to your life as you read along:
The night was pitch black, as if every star in the heavens had been snuffled out. And there I was: holding on to the side of a dirt bank waiting for the general’s orders to attack an enemy I could not see. The waiting was eating me alive. For days my division had been unable to go forward because of the enemy’s intense fire. All I wanted was turn around and go back home.
While I was waiting, I began to reflect on all of my training. Follow the leader was a theme that was hammered into each recruit. From the first day, my leader promised to teach me everything that I would need before I fought my first battle.
As I was lost in my thoughts, the command finally came to leave the dirt bank and charge the enemy’s position. Are they serious? Do they know something that I do not know? Do they know what they are doing? I could not move. Victory might be just ahead, but I’m afraid if I follow my leader’s orders…. What if he is wrong?
Like this soldier, we have been trained as Christians to follow orders. There are many times that we do not fully understand why God would have us to do certain things. In the final analysis, we must conclude that God is always right, and so we must trust Him---even when the way ahead appears hard. Battles are never won by running backwards. For the Christians, the victory comes when we choose to follow God. I would like to preach on: BELIEVERS ARE TO WALK FOLLOWING GOD!
I. THERE IS A PERSON TO IMITATE v. 1
The believer follows God, first, by becoming a follower of God. Note the word “be.” It means to become a follower of God. The idea is that of commitment, attachment, devotion, allegiance, attention. Before a person can be a follower of God, he or she must commit and attach himself or herself to God. He or she must surrender and devote his or her life to God and then begin to follow after God.
A. There is a command – “Be ye followers of God.” The word “followers” means to “mimic” to be an “imitator.” The command here is for the people of God to imitate God. We are to learn all we can about God, and we are to mimic His characteristics.
We are to learn all we can about the Lord from His Word and we are to put into practice everything we know about Him. We are to do the things we see Him doing, and we are to avoid the things He avoids.
B. There is a condition – We are told to imitate God, but we are told to do so as “dear children.” Just as children learn imitating their parents, so we are to learn by imitating God.
1. There is a person to imitate
II. THERE IS A PRECEPT TO INITIATE v. 2a
(Precept is a rule to live by; guideline)
Therefore, to imitate God, we must walk in love, as Christ hath loved us. . . (5:2a). After all, God is love, 1 John 4:8b.
The word love causes most people to think of “romantic” love. Worldly love is raging hormones, infatuation, or a “quiver in the liver.”
· The word “walk” means “to regulate one’s life.” Our very lives are to be controlled, to be driven, to be defined by love.
· The word “love translates the word “agape.” We are all familiar with that word. It is the word that is used to speak of God’s love for mankind.
It speaks of a love that is “unconditional, undeserved, unending, and self-sacrificing.” It is certainly not the love the world knows, the love that is ties to the passions. This kind of love arises out of God’s grace.
The “Law of Love”, or God’s expectation of His people, is laid out in Matt. 22:37-40. “Jesus said him, “’You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (NKJV)
1. We are to love God supremely.
2. We are to love others as much as we love ourselves.
1. There is a person to imitate
2. There is a precept to initiate
III. THERE IS A PROVISION THAT ILLUSTRATES v. 2b
To illustrate what genuine love looks like, Paul calls upon the sacrifice of Jesus for His people on the cross. The greatest expression of love ever witnessed was the love that sent Jesus to the cross to die for us.
Christ gave Himself for us as an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savior (Eph. 5:2c). The word translated sweet smelling (EUODIA, yoo-oh-dee’-ah) refers to the acceptability of the sacrifice, which is based on the attitude of the giver. We must do the right thing (love others) for the right reason (as a sweet smelling offering to God.
The point is this: the believer is to walk in love, just as Christ has loved us and has given Himself as an offering and a sacrifice to God. There is not limit to the offering and sacrifice of our lives to God and to men. Remember God’s love----agape love----is always an acting love.
Responsive Reading: Ephesians 5: 1-7