But Instead Let There Be Thanksgiving

Ephesians 5:3-4
May 19, 2019
Abraham Hong

 

Dear brother, dear sister, dear saint, I want to begin by saying this: Jesus loves you. Your Lord and Savior loves you very much. He lived for you. He died for you. He rose again for you.

And in him, you are set.

You have forgiveness. You have eternal life. You have the inheritance of the kingdom of the new heavens and new earth. You have God himself. This is your salvation. Nothing is better than this salvation that you have in Christ Jesus.

It makes perfect sense then that the tried and true believer in Christ is a person who is full of thanksgiving - a thanksgiving that flows from a satisfaction and contentment in the Lord and the joy of his salvation.

And it is this thanksgiving, this joy of salvation, that serves as the remedy for one of the most difficult sins to overcome in the Christian life: sexual immorality.

Sexual immorality can involve many things. It can be adultery, when a married person is unfaithful to his or her spouse and has physical intimacy and an affair with another person. It can be fantasy and just looking at another person with lustful intent in the mind and heart. It can be prostitution. It can be homosexuality. It can be pornography and masturbation. It can involve many terrible things.

And with sexual immorality comes words about it. Filthiness. Foolish talk. Crude joking. Comedians talk about sexual immorality as audiences laugh about it. Teenagers text one another about it. Characters on television shows throw it around like it’s no big deal. Such words often involve sexual innuendo or vulgarity. Such words can also involve cursing, bullying and verbal abuse or objectification and dehumanization.

Brothers and sisters, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ commands us to put off sexual immorality and all impurity. There is zero tolerance. There is no discussion on the matter. There is no uncertainty. Jesus will have none of it in your life. Such things must not even be named among you.

So do not have physical intimacy with anyone outside of the God-given context of marriage. Do not entertain lustful thoughts in your mind. Do not wander in your wanderlust and end up in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong people. Walk away from all temptation on your computer or any darkness in your workplace or school. Be careful of all the lies and foolishness and all the plastic love of the world. Guard against seductive or smooth words. Rejoice in your husband or wife.

And brothers and sisters, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ commands us to put off filthiness, foolish talk and crude joking. There is zero tolerance. There is no discussion on the matter. There is no uncertainty. Jesus will have none of it in your life. Such things are out of place.

So do not speak about sex in a manner unworthy of the gospel of Christ and unfitting of the holiness of God. Do not laugh at jokes about sexual immorality. Stay away from vulgar people and dehumanizing conversations. Do not be brainwashed by the world and do not imitate it. Be careful what you listen to and what you consume. Wake up and realize that words about sexual immorality are pervasive in our culture and society. Resist all the lyrics of the evil anthem of the Devil.

The church needs to hear this command. The new believers in Ephesus needed to hear this command because many of needed to completely put off their old worship and religion to the city’s goddess Artemis, which upheld and encouraged sexual immorality. And we who are in Christ today need to hear this command because we live in a world that upholds and encourages sexual immorality in movies and music and clothing and comedy.

But how do we do this? How can we put away sexual immorality and its words if we struggle with it? The answer is profound. You put away sexual immorality by putting on thanksgiving. You put away everything that comes with it by putting on satisfaction and contentment and the joy of salvation.

It is crucial to see in today’s Scripture text that sexual immorality is profoundly linked to covetousness, and that the opposite of a heart that overflows with sexually immoral words is a heart that overflows with thanksgiving. To put it all in another way, sexual immorality is rooted in self-love and discontentment.

A person who commits the sin of sexual immorality has a self-centered desire to have someone that he or she does not have, or indulge in sexual pleasure for self-gratification. People who are addicted to sexual immorality have self-serving hearts. They selfishly think to themselves, “Above all else, my pleasure, my desires, my satisfaction and my needs must be met.” And so they use other people and their own bodily pleasures to give them the self-indulgence they want. This is the heart and mind of a person who struggles with the sin of sexual immorality. Sexual immorality is rooted in self-love.

And a believer in Christ who commits the sin of sexual immorality has lost the joy of salvation. Christians who are addicted to sexual immorality are dissatisfied with the love and grace of God. And so in their restlessness and unsettledness they turn to other things to fill their hearts and minds. They often knowingly or unknowingly grumble, complain and question God’s providence and care in their lives. They are often unhappy or depressed or angry about their lot in life. This is the heart and mind of the believer who struggles with the sin of sexual immorality. Sexual immorality is rooted in discontentment.

Dear brother, dear sister, dear saint, if there is sexual immorality in your life, then this is what I want to say to you: Jesus loves you. Your Lord and Savior loves you very much. He lived for you. He died for you. He rose again for you.

And in him, you are set.

You have forgiveness. You have eternal life. You have the inheritance of the kingdom of the new heavens and new earth. You have God himself. This is your salvation. Nothing is better than this salvation that you have in Christ Jesus.

This means that there is much to be thankful about. Thanksgiving is a big deal. Giving thanks is not just for turkey time in November. It’s not just a sentimental feeling or a half-glass full thing. It’s not just about praying before you eat. Giving thanks and being thankful is a spiritual skill, a holy mark and a comprehensive outlook on life. Christians have ultimate satisfaction and contentment in the Lord Jesus Christ. Our joy of salvation makes us want to say, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.” (Psalm 73:25)

Our joy of salvation makes us want to say to God, “‘You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.’ As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight. The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply; their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out or take their names on my lips. The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. I bless the LORD who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:1-11)

And dear brother, dear sister, dear saint, if there is sexual immorality in your life, then remember this (especially from last Sunday’s sermon): your King calls you to die to yourself. Stop living for yourself. Start living for God and for others. The Christian life is a life of self-giving, self-denying and self-sacrificing love for God and for others. May you know Christ Jesus and share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death (Philippians 3:10). For you are not your own. You were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

End