Be Imitators of God: 5:1-7.
As children of God we ought to obey God, our heavenly Father (5:1). Paul’s argument is that children are like their father. He gives two motivations to imitate God, their identity in Christ and the future judgment of Christ. How do we imitate an invisible God and please Him? The Bible says, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalms 46:10). God does not ask us to do something he wouldn’t help us accomplish. He revealed himself in Jesus Christ (John 1:18). Christ is the express image of God and he pleased to dwell in us (Col 1:19; Heb 1:3). There is a difference between imitating Jesus and duplicating Jesus. No one can duplicate his death (Heb 7:27). To imitate Christ, we must model Christ’s love and follow his footsteps (1 John 4:8). The Holy Spirit implanted his love in our heart to follow Christ (Rom 5:5). In John 13, Jesus sets an example for his disciples to follow his example. The Old Testament sacrifices typify Christ’s death on the cross (Leviticus 1-7). The burnt offering pictures Christ’s total devotion to the Father. The meal offering shows his perfect character. The peace offering typifies that Christ is our peace. These are sweet smelling sacrifices. The sin and trespass offerings show his atoning death on the cross. There is no sweetness or beauty in these two offerings (Isaiah 53:2-5). Those who trust in the grace of God will turn their lives from sin and lead a life of obedience. God gives us a desire and strength to obey him.
Walk as Children of light: 5:8-17.
Our motivation to follow Christ is our identity in Christ as beloved children of God and the coming judgment (5:3, 6, 8). The behaviors mentioned in verses 3-5 are to be detested. Christians are saints and separated to live for Christ. Those who are truly saved by grace will turn away from sin and pursue holiness. The faith that saved us is not a fruitless faith. Those who bear good fruit have no need to fear judgment. Those who choose to live in sin have no assurance of salvation. Those who willfully practice sins will have no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ (5:5). Once we were full of darkness but now we are light in the Lord. Therefore walk as children of light (5:8). Walking in love and light do not come naturally. The Christians must pay careful attention how they live. Do not live like fools, but like those who are wise (5:15). Because we live in a dark world, we need frequent reminders to be watchful (5:14). Make the best use of our time and opportunity serving Christ because the days are evil (5:16). Do not be thoughtless but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Wisdom and love grow as we seek them in Christ.
Be Filled with the Spirit: 5:18-21.
Paul urges believers to be filled with the Holy Spirit. We should shun the foolish ideas of the world and exercise good judgment knowing the will of God. The entrance of the word of God enables us to understand the will of God (Psalms 119:130). When we are filled by the Spirit we live in a way that pleases God. Then our lives will be marked by the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23). Intoxication by strong drinks will lead to abusive behavior. It can destroy Christian testimony. For Christ to dwell in our hearts we must be controlled by the word of God (Col 3:16). Paul gives four results of being filled with the Spirit. Spirit filled Christians address one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. They sing and make melody in their hearts to the Lord. They are thankful people. Also they submit to one another out of reverence to Christ (5:19-21). The natural man does not have the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 2:14). The believers are baptized into the body of Christ (1 Cor 12:13). Paul explains the filling of the Spirit in verses 18-21. It is to be repeated and is an ongoing Christian experience (Act 13:9). Filling is a passive verb. You can’t fill yourself but ask God to fill you with the Spirit (Acts 9:17). Every believer has the Holy Spirit but the Holy Spirit does not have every believer. Unbelief and disobedience can hinder the filling of Spirit (Acts 7:51; Ephesians 4:29-30; 1 Thess 5:19). Only when we confess our sins and forsake, we will be filled by the Spirit (1 John 1:7-9; Luke 11:11, 13). Spirit filled believers will submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Pray that God would give us a desire to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
Harmony in Christian Marriage: 5:22-33.
Marriage is a symbolic of the union between Christ and the church. Marriage has many purposes. There is an emotional purpose (Gen 2:18). There is a social purpose of bringing forth children into the world (Gen 1:28). Also it has physical purpose of finding natural fulfillment. God divinely ordained marriage and blessed it (Gen 1:27-28). Most of all, marriage has spiritual purpose. The ultimate example and meaning of marriage is seen in the relationship between Christ and the church. Christ provide the model of sacrificial, loving, strong and tender leadership. The church is submissive, gracious, trusting and respectful to Christ. Paul had much more to say to the husbands than wives. In Christ, husband sees a model for sacrificial love and tender care for wife. Here love is a verb and not a noun. It is also sanctifying love which has a cleansing effect on wife (5:26-27). Christ’s love is also a satisfying love. In marriage couples find mutual satisfaction and nourishment (5:29). Adam gave his rib to get a bride but Christ gave all (John 19:34). A loving husband will do whatever necessary to protect and cherish his wife. The purpose of Christ’s death was to cleanse and to sanctify the church by the washing by God’s word (5:26). The washing of water refers to “the washing of regeneration (Titus 3:5). The Holy Spirit uses the Word of God to accomplish this in the church and in marriage (1 Pet 1:23). Husband should bring godliness in marriage by confessing sins and getting closer to the Lord. Like Christ, husband should nourish and cherish his wife to present her without blemish to God (5:27-30; Jude 24). Like the union between Christ and the church, marriage is an inseparable union (5:31).
The Church’s Submission to Christ. 5:22.
Paul instructs wives to submit to their husband as to the Lord (5:22). Submission is a difficult concept to understand in our culture today. It is confused with subservience. Submission does not mean accepting abuse. When a wife knows that her husband truly loves her like Christ loved the church, her resistance to submission disappears. It is a respectful submission to husband. Submission is a military term, means stand in line or in order. Christ is the head of the church. Likewise husband is head of the family. Headship means accountability for the family (Heb 13:7). This is God’s order and plan for the marriage. Someone has said “Christian submission is reciprocal, mutual, voluntary and personal”. This is a great mystery but it is revealed in the Word of God to illustrate the union between Christ and the church (5:32). So husbands should love wives as Christ loved the church and the wives should respect their husbands. Many marriages are failing because couples fail to understand the biblical definition and meaning of marriage.