"Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God. Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people. Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes—these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God." Ephesians 5:1-4 (NLT)
The Bible says in Genesis 1:27, "So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him." Whether we know it or not we live from our identities (who we believe we are). The Bible starts out telling us that we are God's image (reflection) and likeness (able to relate; have a relationship). This is who we are; sons and daughters of God. It would only make sense that we look like God in how we live. It would just make sense that we would follow the example of living a life of love that Jesus embodied.
A life of sin and rebellion is not "for us." We were not made "for sin." Instead, we were made "for Jesus." We were made to live with and love Jesus and live with and love others . That is why sin ultimately feels uncomfortable and never fits us well. It becomes painful and uncomfortable over time and before we know it, it becomes harder and harder to take it off. Eventually, our sin becomes the thing we are defined by. We were created to be identified as children of God, and our lives should be consistent with this.
As God's beloved children our lives should be marked by thankfulness instead of an attitude of "I deserve..." (entitlement). Thankfulness recognizes that we are not our own and that we are not in control. Thankfulness acknowledges that someone else did something for us. Something we couldn't do for ourselves. A thankful heart toward Jesus will dissolve selfishness and sinful desires and produce pure motives. Motives that are driven by a love to serve and honor God and to serve and honor others.
Paul mentions Jesus' sacrifice for the Ephesians' (and our) sins early in our scripture as a way to stir up thankfulness toward Jesus in their hearts. Like Paul, I encourage you to remember all that Jesus has done for you. How he left the comfort of heaven to take on our fallen and broken flesh and to struggle and suffer as one of us. How He gave his life so we could experience His cleansing power and forgiveness. How He sent His Holy Spirit to indwell us so we would never be alone and without help and encouragement. And now the Bible says that He is on His knees continually praying for His Saints. Jesus did all of this and so much more out of love for you and me.
The only appropriate response isn't a life of selfishness and rebellion, but of love prompted by a thankful heart.
Lord Jesus, forgive me for allowing my heart to feel entitled towards things that are sinful and destructive to me and others. Help me to remember your life of sacrifice and love and to be thankful. Holy Spirit, remind me of what I need to be thankful for instead of critical against. Remind me that Jesus is the source of my life and that a life lived for sinful pursuits is a life that deforms God's image in me. Holy Spirit I surrender to your leading and strength so Jesus can be revealed in me. Amen