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Imitate Christ, Ephesians 5:1-21

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Idea for group leader: Have a discussion on this topic: In what ways do children imitate their parents? Listen to the group's examples of mannerisms, habits, sayings, and doings, and then ask, "In what ways should we imitate God? What is God like?"

Review of background and significance for this lesson: Ephesus was an immoral city that practiced sorcery and idolized a goddess named Artemis, whose image supposedly fell from heaven. Ephesus was also a mixed city of Jews and Gentiles (non-Jews). This created a lot of tension between the two groups in the church. This was one of the reasons for Paul's second and third missionary journeys - to encourage the Gentile believers, who were being told that believing was not enough; they needed to observe the Jewish Law and traditions. He also wrote to encourage them to love and accept each other in the new body of believers, the church.

In our last lesson, chapter 4:17-32, we learned that because of our calling to adoption as children of God (chapter 1), because of God's saving grace to Jews and non-Jews (chapter 2), because of Paul's administration (stewardship) of the message that Gentiles and Jews are on equal footing and part of the new body, the church (chapter 3), therefore, we, church members, should walk worthy of the calling we have received (chapter 4:1-16). Since we were adopted into the family of God and have all the blessings and inheritance of his sons, we should walk like we are princes and princesses of the King of Kings and LORD of LORDS (1Peter 2:9-10). We should not live as unbelievers live - in the futility of their minds, expressed in immoral behavior, impurity and greed. We need to learn of Christ. We need to learn to put off our sinful actions and attitudes of the past and put on Christ, being renewed in the spirit of our minds. This can only be done with His help. Our new Christian walk in new spiritual clothes should be manifested by how we talk, our actions and attitudes, and our relationships with God and each other. We have received a gracious calling so we should act with grace. We need to be gracious and forgiving of one another.

Read Ephesians 5:1-21 and answer the question, how is this text divided?

Answer 1


Chapter 5 verse 1 begins, "Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children." The word "therefore" suggests a connection with thoughts previously expressed. What is the connection of thought between Ephesians 4:32 and 5:1? Why then does Paul say "be imitators of God"?

Why do you suppose Paul adds the phrase as beloved (dear) children? How should we act as children of God if we think back to Ephesians 1-4?

Answer 2


Walk in love. What kind of a love did Christ show that we should imitate? Ephesians 5:2

Answer 3


Ephesians 5:3-7 teach us again how we should not walk and can be compared to and are an expansion of Ephesians 4:17-19. How should we not walk? Are these verses saying you can lose your salvation if you do these things?

Answer 4


Walk in light. Reread Ephesians 5:8-14. What are the properties of light? What does it mean to walk as children of light? How should we walk as children of light?

Answer 5


Ephesians 5:14 may be a reference to Isaiah 60:1. Looking at Romans 13:11-12 and Romans 6:11-13 and going back to read Ephesians 5:3-7, In what way are Christians asleep? In what ways do they need to be awakened?

Answer 6

Walk in Wisdom. Re-read Ephesians 5:15-21 In what ways should we walk in wisdom?

Answer 7

How do we make the most of our opportunities?

Answer 8


How do we understand what is the will of the Lord so that we may do it?

Answer 9


Re-read Ephesians 5:18. Why is drinking too much alcoholic beverages not wise? Also read Proverbs 20:1; 23:19-21,29-35. What should we fill ourselves up with? How is that wise?

Answer 10


Ephesians 5:19-20 seem to modify the idea of being filled with the spirit. How is this different than the drunkard? How is singing songs of praise wise?

Answer 11


Re-read Ephesians 5:21. How is living in subjection to one another wise?

Answer 12


Lessons to Live by: (If you are the leader, ask for members' input first)

Today's Bible memory verses: Eph 5:1 Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children (NIV)

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A1: Walk in love, walk in light, walk in wisdom. How do we walk in love, in light, and in wisdom? That is what Ephesians 5:1-21 will tell us.


  • Be forgiving as God is forgiving.
  • "Dearly beloved children" is a reminder that we are adopted into God's family and are sons and daughters of God.
  • We should act with love and grace and tenderness toward each other because God has adopted us, forgiven us and shown us a lot of grace and favor.

A3: Christ loves us with a sacrificial love - he gave himself up for us. The sacrifice was also a sweet smell to God. Are there different ways Christians might sacrifice to God? What would be a sweet smelling sacrifice? What would not be so? Are our sacrifices a sweet smell to God, done with love, or do we do things begrudgingly or half-heartedly and grieve the Spirit of God?

A4: Ephesians 5:3-4

But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people.
Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. (NIV)

Ephesians 4:17b-19

you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking.
They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.
Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more. (NIV)

We will not lose our salvation if we commit these sins, however, those who continually practice such things may want to examine if they are truly saved.


  • Light dispels darkness; it exposes things which cannot be seen in the darkness, like objects and colors. It is attractive and gives hope. Light often times gives heat and health.
  • We are children of light in that God is light. See Psalm 104:1-2; 1John 1:5; John 8:12; 1Peter 2:9.
  • To walk as children of light means to walk like God, with all goodness, righteousness, and truth. The rest of Ephesians 5 will teach us how to walk wisely as children of light.

A6: Your answers on how people walk in darkness. Christians who walk in the darkness of their previous lives as outlined in Ephesians 5:3-7 need to awake and remember they are be dead to sin but alive to God in the way they live (Romans 6:11-13) .

A7: Walking Wisely in a wicked world

  • Make the most of the opportunities God gives you.
  • Don't be foolish but understand the Lord's will (note: you must read God's word to understand his will).
  • Don't be filled with alcoholic beverages but be filled with the Spirit of God.
  • Sing Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs and encourage each other with them.
  • Give thanks to God the Father for everything.
  • Don't insist on your own way; live in submission and consideration of one another. Do this because you love Jesus and want to live as he did.

A8: Your answers.

We must be awake to recognize that certain opportunities are from God. Has God given you opportunities to give or to minister or to help our family, neighbor, church, community or nation in some way? Make good use of them. Perhaps God wants to use you to glorify him in those situations.

A9: Ask God for wisdom (James 1:5-7) and then regularly read and study the Bible, his Holy Word, to discover his will.

A10: Your answers. Additional answers: It leads to sinful indulgence in sensual pleasures. It also leads to lack of judgment, seeing things that are not there, depression, much complaining, poverty, family strife or possible loss thereof and/ or loss of job and reputation. It may lead to personal injury or the injury or death of others. It may also lead to alcoholic dependency.

A11: The drunkard sings songs in his dissipation. We sing, playing with stringed instruments (Psalms) praise to our God (hymns) and other spiritual songs. We give thanks to God. These are encouragements and give us much joy. The drunkard complains of what life has dealt him.

A12: By living in subjection to one another in the fear of Christ, we seek love and become more unified.

Lessons to Live by:

•  We should be imitators of God, as his beloved children

•  We should live in willing sacrificial love for each other as Christ did.

In love for Christ and for each other we should get rid of our old ways of living

•  We should walk in the light - in all the goodness, and righteousness, and truth that Jesus gives us, learning what pleases the Lord and doing it.

•  We should walk in wisdom - use the opportunities the Lord gives us, read God's word daily to discover his will and do it, do not be tripped up by the trap of alcohol but be filled with the spirit, and live in subjection to one another to seek love and unity.

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