If we live according to the word of God, then we must become imitators of Jesus Christ. The only way that can happen is through the power of the Holy Spirit. There is absolutely no way we can imitate Jesus without this power. When man tries to imitate, which they do, it only becomes a cheap imitation of the original. This is how you end up with only a form of godliness while denying the power. A cheap imitation is exactly what it says, cheap. There are many products on the market that are cheap imitations. Yes they look like the original but are far from it upon closer inspection. Now if the product were an imitation it would be exactly the same as the original.
                Yesterday we talked about the problem of following the wrong teachers. Because of a lack of discernment many have been deceived and have bought into a cheap grace and a watered down gospel. I used to drink a lot of Coke (thankfully God healed me of this desire). I loved the taste after opening a can of Coke and guzzling until I could no longer drink it, you know the burn.  Now for me there was nothing worse than drinking a glass of Coke that has been sitting out and the ice-cubes had all melted. That tasted awful, almost enough to spit it out of my mouth. I believe Jesus also had something to say about that. We do not want to be part of a watered-down gospel that leaves us lukewarm. It is necessary for us to imitate the original of which there is only one. Today many are imitating fakes, thinking they are real but are only cheap imitations.
                Now to gain a better understanding of imitating the right teacher, take time today, actually now, to read 1 and 2 Thessalonians. There I just read them in less than 15 minutes. Trust me you have time! It is really important for us to follow the right message. You do not want to pay top dollar for a product you thought was real only to find out later it was a fake or a cheap imitation. Jesus did not die on the cross so that we could water it down and sell it as something different. Many Christians have been buying products from charlatans (someone who leads you to believe something that is not true) for a long time. You do not want to hear from Jesus I don’t know who you are. We are supposed to imitate the word of God. 1 Thessalonians 1:6 “You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.” 1 Thessalonians 2:14 “For you, brothers and sisters, became imitators of God’s churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus: You suffered from your own people the same things those churches suffered from the Jews.”
                When you imitate the gospel you will not be popular. Whether you are the teacher or the student, as you follow you may find yourself standing alone. The group Kutless sings a song called “Stand (The Way)” Here are a few of the lyrics. “Here I will stand and I will proclaim, You are the Way Jesus, You are the Way, Here I will stand, I lift my hands, You are the Way Jesus, You are the Way, There’s no other way, there’s no other way. I'm gonna stand, I'm gonna stand, Even if I have to stand alone, I'm gonna carry the torch in this dark world, Even if I have to stand alone.” Don’t be surprised when you begin to follow and imitate the word of God wholeheartedly that those around you will think you have lost your mind. It does not matter because you are not trying to imitate them but Jesus Christ.  1 Thessalonians 2:4 “We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts.” Remember Matthew 10:24 “The student is not above the teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25 It is enough for students to be like their teachers, and servants like their masters. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebul, how much more the members of his household!” Luke says it like this. Luke 6:40 “The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher.” So when you are being taught correctly you will face persecution by those around you. Don’t be surprised at this as Paul said about the Thessalonians that they suffered from their own people.
                When we begin to imitate Jesus the Holy Spirit then can empower us to fulfil our mission. Lets look at these verses again. John 14:10 “Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. 12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. 15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” Yes there will be people probably right away who will say; I’ve never seen it so it must not be real! By the way I said that last line with much sarcasm. Just maybe if we started believing the word of God, we would start imitating the word of God and then we would start imitating the early church in power. Are you really happy imitating a form of godliness that has no power or are you willing to lay down your life and carry the cross. Should it not be said of us also, 1 Thessalonians 1:9 “They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.”
                In order for us to be imitators, we must receive the word of God as truth. 1 Thessalonians 2:13 “And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe.” Please notice what happens when you do not believe and are deceived. 2 Thessalonians 2:9 “The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, 10 and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie 12 and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.” Please make sure you are imitating the truth of the gospel and not some watered down truth that does not include power. 1 Thessalonians 5:3 “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.” Tomorrow I am going to talk on the counterfeit gospel.