Three Powerful Things to be Thankful for and Defeat Sexual Coveting

December 13, 2012 — 1 Comment

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Yesterday I talked about how Ephesians 5 says that thankfulness will keep you from coveting immoral sexual pleasure thus saving yourself from being denied entrance to the Kingdom of God.

But I also pointed out that there are many times where I cannot come up with anything powerful to be thankful for when the temptation to lust is strong.

Today I want to help us work toward an understanding of what we have in Christ that will equip us to be thankful.

If you look at the first three chapters of Ephesians you’ll see that Paul is actually building a very strong case for what we can be thankful for. In the first chapter alone I count at least 20 things God has done for us that we can be thankful for.

In this post I want to focus on three of those:

“I do not cease to [pray] for you… that you may know what is [1] the hope to which he has called you, [2] what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and [3] what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come” (Ephesians 1:18-21).

The hope to which he has called you

This is not a wishful hope despite probabilities. It is a confident hope based on the faithfulness of God. He has proved himself faithful time and time again throughout history. You can place the hope for your entire life on him.

But what are we hoping for? What is it that he is calling us to?

The largest inheritance the world has ever known

He adopted us through our marital union to Christ. We are co-heirs to everything the Father owns. And he owns everything. The world belongs to us. It is already ours. It will forever be ours.

We are the incognito princes and princesses living modest lives among the common folk. But one day The Prince will come and bring his Bride in all her beauty and splendor to the Kingdom he prepared for her.

We will inherit every pleasure imaginable: material, emotional, spiritual, physical. But what will make everything so eternally enjoyable is the fact that we will finally see clearly how every pleasure is a reflection of the glory of God himself.

Meditate on that and be thankful.

The riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints

Now this is remarkable. Paul not only prays for us to fully understand our inheritance but also that God receives us as his inheritance! What? He considers us to be a rich and glorious inheritance? Has he seen us?

Looking at myself and other believers around me I would not think that God would consider us as his riches. But then I am reminded of what Paul says of our future state later in Ephesians:

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish” (5:25-27).

Paul wants us to know that God treasures us. Not because of who we were in ourselves but because of who we truly were meant to be all along in Him. He is making us our true selves, radiant reflections of him.

Meditate on that and be thankful.

The immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe

Last but definitely not least, Paul prays for us to know the power available to us right now. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is in us, at our disposal to live for him.

Sex addiction is so damn powerful. It controls so many of us. It has destroyed so many of our lives. We have tried to escape so many times but always end up back in it’s grueling cell shackled against the wall. What could be more powerful than sex addiction?

Paul prays that we understand God’s power because we do not now understand it. It is not a command that we take hold of this power now and break free from our addictions right this second. It is a prayer that we grow in our understanding of His power. Growth takes time.

God had the power to raise Jesus from the dead the second he came down from the cross. But he waited three whole days. You are not still enslaved to sin because God is weak or because he is waiting for you to do something right. You are where you are because in his infinite wisdom and mercy it is part of the whole story of how he shows his power in you.

God is infinitely more powerful than your addiction. Read the passage above again. Paul stacks synonym upon synonym to describe God’s power. He cannot use enough words to describe the magnitude of God’s strength.

Not only that but he uses every word imaginable to describe God’s potential opposition and still says that God is more powerful than any of them. This is the power working in you for your salvation and sanctification.

Meditate on that and be thankful.

Now read yesterday’s passage again in light of these three things:

“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)

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