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From Doctrine to Duty: Imitation of God

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children (Ephesians 5:1)

Paul tells the Ephesian Christians to “be imitators of God . . . and to walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us...” (Ephesians 5:1-2).

By this point in his letter, Paul has shared much doctrine with his readers. He had commanded them earlier to “put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth” (Ephesians 4:24).

“Therefore,” because of these great blessings, and because Christians have been granted a new nature “created in righteousness and holiness of the truth,” we are to be “imitators of God.”

Paul commands this pursuit of righteousness. It is not optional.

The call to righteousness permeates Scripture. Jesus said, “You are to be perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect” (Matt 5:48). Peter wrote, “Like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior” (1 Pet 1:15).

What a lofty call! Our standard for living is nothing less than the holiness of God. How is this possible for sinful men like us?

God grants His indwelling Holy Spirit to those He saves. The Spirit creates in us a new nature and a renewed mind. That supplies supernatural power to fulfill the call.

When God saved you, he so worked in your heart as to change your very life desires. Those new desires produce new behavior that conforms to God’s own holiness.

Scripture calls this change “sanctification.” We must actively work it out in a practical manner, yet we do not pursue it alone. We are enabled to do so by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Are you an imitator of God? Your Christian life is nothing less than a pursuit of that noble end. As we grow in sanctification, we increasingly fulfill Paul’s call.

Pursue that growth with prayerful dependence. God answers us when we pray, “Father, make me holy as You are holy.”