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In my experience Christians are wary or absolutely against thanking God for sin. However all Christians would, I imagine, agree on thanking God for the Bible. In the Bible many stories from the garden of Eden onwards have sin as a major element in the narrative. We cannot have the Bible without sin mentioned. If we thank God for the Bible do we not thank Him for everything in it which includes sin? Is thanking God for everything, the whole of the Bible, the shaming and the most uplifting parts, the meaning of "everything"?
Thanking God for our circumstances includes thanking God for all the sin around us which tests our faith, and allows us to see His victory in His overcoming the world.
"everything" in context seems free of an antecedent that would limit it to everything which God gives and makes us feel good.
Should we not be thankful for God mercifully revealing to us our need for the cross?
Romans 11:36 "all things... from Him", are we not criticising God and implying He got it wrong making the world the way it is if we do not thank Him for everything? [Which incidentally is quite a different thought, I think, than that which is expressed in 1 Thess 5:18 to do with thanking God in all circumstances].

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To compare, 1 Thessalonians 5:18 also says to give thanks in "everything", and Psalm 103:2 says not to forget all the LORD's benefits.

If we are thanking God for the whole Bible, we are not thanking God for sin. We can however, be thankful that sin is mentioned in the Bible.

The Bible says,

For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. Romans 15:4 (KJV)

If we never read about Saul persecuting the church, we would never have seen how much Jesus changed him. If we never knew the failings of king David, we might conclude that king David never needed God.

One of the benefits of sinful thoughts and attitudes being in the Bible, is it shows how much people need God. It rightfully makes God look good, giving him the glory, and it shows how much people need to be saved from their sin by Jesus Christ.

  • I am not sure what you mean with your last question, "Is thanking God for everything, the whole of the Bible, the shaming and the most uplifting parts, the meaning of 'everything' "? – Michael May 23 '19 at 22:38
  • I also note that the word "circumstances" is absent in the Greek of 1 Thess 5:18 exactly as it is in Eph 5:20. It is supplied by the translators. See NASB for a more literal rendering: "in everything give thanks; … " – user25930 May 24 '19 at 9:16
  • @Mac's Musings - Thank you for sharing your information about the Greek. I'll re-word my answer. – Michael May 24 '19 at 12:16
  • @Michael As soon as we put a limitation on "everything" does not some aspect of God's plan for His creation meet with our disapproval? is what I meant by my last question. – C. Stroud May 24 '19 at 16:00
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    @C. Stroud - Thankyou for your clarification. God put limits and rules on his creation for how everything is to work and interact and function (the law of gravity is one example). I think it is possible to thank God for 'everything' in the Bible, as long as it is done from the correct Biblical worldview, using the correct context and correct application of the text. If any of those three things get missed, then we start veering off the path. I don't understand it all, but I do know that the closer I am to what God says and means, then I am more likely to be thankful for everything. – Michael May 24 '19 at 22:34
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The operative word in the Greek in Eph 5:20 is πάντων (pantōn) which almost never means absolutely everything, but only everything in some specified or implied category (see BDAG). The trick in understanding such passages is to find the category. In this case it is not difficulty as it is just what Paul has been discussing the previous few verses (eg from v14):

So it is said: “Wake up, O sleeper, rise up from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” 15Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to reckless indiscretion. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. 19Speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your hearts to the Lord, 20always giving thanks to God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Thus, Paul is discussing the conduct of the Christian life, our circumstances whether good or bad, etc. Thus Paul is here suggesting we cultivate an attitude of praise and thanksgiving to God no matter what happens to us. Indeed, this is consistent with Jesus' teaching and Paul's teaching in other places that as Christians, we will endure suffering and persecution. John 15:20, 21, 16:33, 2 Tim 1:4, Heb 13:12, 13, 1 Peter 2:21.

Thus, even in difficult circumstances, in all circumstances, in "everything" (that happens to us) we are to give thanks to God the Father. This is what Jonah found in Jonah 2:9, so did David in many of his Psalms; see also Phil 4:6, Eph 5:4, Col 2:7, 4:2, 1 Tim 2:1, 1 Thess 3:9, 2 Cor 9:12, etc.

The Pulpit Commentary notes:

Verse 20. - Giving thanks always for all things; this being not only a most Christian duty, but an excellent way to keep the heart in good tone, to keep up happy feelings - the duty not being occasional, but "always," and not for things prima facto agreeable only, but "for all things" (see Job 2:10; Romans 8:28).

I can find no reference to being thankful for "sin" in this passage or any other. Indeed, it is the responsibility of Christians to recognise the great sinfulness of sin and be revolted by it.

  • I think we can thank God for literally everything because however knotted causal chains may appear there is at their start only One Beginning, One Alpha. Rev 21v6 – C. Stroud May 25 '19 at 10:20

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