Online Bible Commentary
Be Imitators of God
Ephesians 5: 1 Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. 3 But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; 4 neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any 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. 7 Therefore do not be partakers with them. (NKJV)
In this passage Christians are called to be “imitators of God” since we are children of God (v. 1). God is love, so we should “walk in love”, (v. 2a). Since He died for us, we should live for Him (v. 2b).
In other words, this is the way we can thank Jesus for dying on the cross for us. We should strive to become more Christ like, following His example and walking in the way of love, every day by allowing the Holy Spirit to work in us.
Sin is not “fitting for saints”, Christians (v. 3). It is not Christlike, because Christ was without sin.
Not only that, when we sin we grieve the Holy Spirit and quench his power to work in us. Paul lists the sins of “fornication”, “uncleanness”, “covetousness”, “filthiness”, “foolish talking”, and “coarse jesting” (v.3-4). In today’s words these sins would be sexual immorality, impurity, greed, obscenity, foolish talk, and coarse joking.
He gives greater importance to sexual immorality, impurity, and greed by writing that these people are idolaters and, as such, will not be going to Heaven (v.5). When Paul labels them as “idolaters”, he is saying that they have given themselves over to worshipping the creation instead of the Creator. It does not matter that they may think they are Christians. They never truly gave their hearts to Christ, as shown by their idolatry, and therefore never became a Christian.
Paul first mentions the sin of sexual immorality. Sexual immorality is generally identified in the Bible in three ways: pre-marital sex, which is called a lack of self control (1 Cor. 7:9); extra-marital sex, which is called adultery (Jn. 8:4); and homosexual sex, which is called perversion (Ro.1:27).
These lifestyles are all sins and will result in earthly consequences. Not only that, those who do not confess and turn from these sins will not go to Heaven. The other two sins Paul writes of in verse five are “impurity” and “greed”. The Greek word used for “unclean” is “akathartos”. It means evil. Evil and greedy people will not go to Heaven, unless they confess and turn from their sins.
Paul also cites the sins of obscenity, foolish talk, and coarse joking. These are certainly not qualities that Christians should exhibit. These are sins that plant seeds in us that grow into even greater sins. They are a product of our human spirit, not the Holy Spirit. It is a sign that we are not allowing the Holy Spirit to work within us, that we are choosing not to be Christ like.
Paul concludes this passage with two warnings. He warns us that we should not be deceived by those who try to tell us that these behaviors are a result of anything but sin (v.6). He also warns us not to “partake” with these people in their sin (v. 7).
So an imitator of God is one who walks in love. His walk, his way of life, is to resist sin in every form. We show our love for God by our obedience to Him. That means that we resist sin, which includes not partaking, joining in, with those who do. To God, love means obedience. Obedience to His word, the Bible, is how we can be imitators of God.