The Christian's Model
James Smith, 1860
"Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." Ephesians 5:1-2
In God's word, we always find privileges and duties connected. The former is to prepare us for, and stimulate us to, the other. God's love to us, calls for befitting behavior toward him; and not toward him only — but toward his own people, and the world. Not only have we rules laid down, by which we are to walk — but we have models placed before us to imitate. More than this, God presents himself to us as a model, and his apostle says, "Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God."
To follow here signifies to imitate, or take as a model; and is the same as if he had said, "Take Jesus for your model."
THE INESTIMABLE PRIVILEGE.
All true believers are . . .
the dearly loved children of God,
those whom he predestined to the adoption of children,
those whom he prepared for himself, by the operation of his Holy Spirit,
those who are taught by him, and are being trained up, to dwell forever with him,
those who having met at the cross, have united together to walk in all the commandments of the Lord blameless.
O what a mercy, what a privilege, for such worms as we are to enjoy! "Dearly loved children."
Adopted into God's family,
born of God's Spirit,
united to God's people,
professing Christ's name,
and being trained up for glory!
"Dearly loved children" whom he loves tenderly, wisely, constantly, eternally. Dear to God . . .
as his jewels, which he highly values,
as the children, which he tenderly loves,
as the apple of his eye, which he carefully guards.
"Dearly loved children!" But how dear? See . . .
what he has done for them,
what he has given to them, and
what be has set before them —
and then say, how dear!
THE EARNEST EXHORTATION.
Imitate God as dearly loved children . . .
in his justice, rendering to all their due,
in his sincerity, always meaning what you say,
in his faithfulness, always fulfilling your promises,
in his mercy, sympathizing with those in misery,
in his forbearance, being slow to anger,
in his benevolence, see what he has given,
in the sacrifice he made, in delivering up his Son,
in his readiness to forgive.
See how he forgives his enemies, and how often he forgives his friends. Therefore, "be kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake has forgiven you." In this especially take God for your example, for in the present imperfect state of the church, you will have much to forgive, and often need to be forgiven. Be as much like God as possible, for practical religion is imitating God, it is God-likeness, or being like God.
In order to imitate God, study his character. It is revealed . . .
partly in his works,
fully in his word, and
perfectly and intelligibly in the person of his Son.
In Jesus, we see God . . .
walking with us,
talking to us,
acting before us, and
setting us an example, that we should do as he has done before us.
In order to imitate God, let us keep his company. If we are much with God, we shall become like God. We shall . . .
learn of him,
receive from him, and
be gradually changed into his image.
If we become familiar with God in private, we shall resemble God in public.
In order to imitate God, let us seek his Spirit. The indwelling of the Spirit is the source of our strength. Only by the supplies of the Spirit of Christ, shall we be able to . . .
conquer our corruptions,
overcome our natural tempers,
crucify the flesh,
put off the old man, and
imitate our Father in Heaven.
Let us then not be satisfied with what we have received — but seek the fullness of the Spirit, that we may walk before the Lord, pleasing him in all things.
In order to imitate God, let us walk by rule, and let our rule be God's word. He who runs at random, is not likely to run right. He who . . .
carefully studies God's precepts,
keeps his eye on God's glory, and
seeks to copy God's conduct as his model
— will never wander far from the right way, nor be long out of the way. Let us often compare our conduct with, and correct our conduct by his conduct.
Keep your eye on your copy, if you would write correctly.
Compare yourself with your model, if you wish to resemble it.
In word, attend to the exhortation that speaks unto you as unto dear children, "As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do. For it is written: Be holy, because I am holy." 1 Peter 1:14-16
Reader, are you a child of God? Do you realize, and daily live under the impression, that you are one of God's dear, and tenderly beloved children?
A child of God — or a child of the devil you must be; and you ought to know which!
If you are a child of God, you should realize the greatness of your privilege, and endeavor to copy the lovely, the holy, the perfect example of your Father in Heaven.
If you are child of God, you have a divine nature. If you have a divine nature, it will manifest itself by constant longings after holiness. If you are the subject of constant longings after holiness, you will imitate God.
On the other hand, if to imitate God, is the object, aim, and end of your life — then you must possess the Spirit of holiness, and are renewed in the spirit of your mind. And if renewed in the spirit of your mind, if you have the Spirit of holiness, you are unquestionably one of God's dear children!