Summary: True thankfulness to God, is the fruit of accurate knowledge of what God has done, is doing and will do, so far as is revealed in His word. (#2 in The Christian Victor series)
“But do not let immorality or any impurity or greed even be named among you, as is proper among saints; and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.”
Brian La Croix, of the Aberdeen Wesleyan Church in Aberdeen, South Dakota, tells of an episode of the old country western funny show, "Hee Haw."
Doc Campbell (a character on the program) is approached by a patient who says he broke his arm in two places. The doc replies, "Well then, stay out of them places!"
My brother Brian used the story to illustrate that the best way for us to avoid temptation is to stay out of the places where temptation thrives. Good advice.
The sad fact is, that in a day when all of us are surrounded 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, by newspaper, magazines, television, radio, internet, telephone, cell phone and I don’t know how many other ways there are to communicate, advertise, preach, sell and otherwise impose, it’s near impossible to stay out of ‘them places’!
Paul is exhorting the Christian not to let any of these evil things be even named among them,. He means there shouldn’t be a hint of any of those things connected with the believer’s life. And I submit to you, fellow Christians, that in our day and age guarding against exposure to the evils on this list of Paul’s could work into a full-time job!
Now before I continue on with this thought, let me point out once more that Paul is addressing Christians, not unbelievers. He is not sending a message to the non-Christian world as to how they should behave and how they should speak. Neither should we. We need not tell the world to obey these Godly principles laid out for us in this Epistle, or any other. They need salvation, not moral reform.
Where the church has gotten herself in trouble with the world, and severely damaged her witness and her message, is by trying to legislate morality; trying to tell people what they should and shouldn’t do.
They are sinners, helpless, deceived, and in need of a savior. Our only message to them should be one of acceptance in Christ, and the possibility of eternal life for them through repentance and faith.
By the same token, and getting back to what I was saying, if we go into these verses defining each of these words, ~ immorality, impurity, greed, ~ and then spending the next 20-25 minutes exhorting you not to do them…not to entertain them in your life, then we’ve missed the point.
Yes, Paul is saying that we should shun these things as part of our Christian existence. There’s no room for them in our life anymore; they are contrary to the Christian character. We talked about that in the last two sermons from chapter 4.
But if I go on, brow-beating you about your behavior and sending you a message that the ‘good Christian’ doesn’t engage in these things, I would only burden you down with guilt, or stimulate your defenses, and in either case, send you out in a dark and possibly confused mood.
So I want our focus to be positive today, and rather than saying, ‘these things a Christian does not do’ I want us to see what Paul is telling us a Christian does, and why understanding his message and translating that into the life would make us much more pleasant people to be around.
LET’S DEFINE ‘THANKFULNESS’
I think we need to spend some time talking about Christian thankfulness, and not only what it is, but what it is not.
You see I’ve heard this word come up in the past with different emphases, some of them good, but some of them questionable.
There is a doctrine that is at least a fraternal twin, if not an identical twin, to the ‘name-it-claim-it’ doctrine. It says that if we thank God for things we don’t have, whether it be material things, healing of illness or whatever, we will have it.
“Thank you, Lord, for saving my son”, even though the son is off carousing,
living a Godless and immoral life and is even violently opposed to the gospel.
The teaching is that if you ask God for it, the act of asking in itself is an expression of doubt that you will receive.
So you see, once more, it’s just the magic mouth doctrine with a different dress on.
A spiritualized ‘power of positive thinking’ teaching.
This is not thankfulness. This is presumption. This is ignorance of the scriptures. This is ‘fat baby’ Christianity.