Kill Your Sin With Thankfulness
“But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.” (Ephesians 5:3–5, ESV)
In the Bible, cultivating a heart of thankfulness toward God is not just a nice suggestion, it is a strategy for killing sin. Far from the sentimental feeling suggested on holiday greeting cards, thankfulness is one of the absolutely essential offensive weapons Christians must use to put to death the deeds of the body (Rom. 8:13).
Look once more at the passage above from Ephesians 5. Notice how Paul challenges the Ephesian believers to fight against sexual immorality, impurity, filthiness, and the like. He tells them to replace those things with thanksgiving. But why? He gives us a clue in his list of sins by including covetousness.
At the heart level every sin springs out of our own covetous desires. We want what we are not supposed to have, and we are not content with what we do have. It is no coincidence that James writes, “You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel.” (James 4:2, ESV)
Even though the Ten Commandments include laws against both stealing and adultery, the last of the ten reveals that coveting in the heart is the sin that precedes them both: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.” (Exodus 20:17, ESV)
So one of the ways we fight and kill sin in our hearts is by cultivating thankfulness. We need to take regular time to thank the Lord for all that he has given us. When we sing “Count your many blessings, name them one by one,” it’s not just feel-good sentimentality… them’s fightin’ words.