Welcome to Day 18 of our 3M Fast. Today, our Devotional will focus on the Fruit of “SELF CONTROL” as recorded in Galatians 5:22-23.
“But the Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
In the Book of Proverbs, known as “The Book of Wisdom,” it gives us an illustration in Proverbs 25:28 (NIV) to better understand the importance of “self-control.” It says,
“Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control.”
Proverbs 25:28 (NIV)
Wow! Just so you know, cities in ancient days were surrounded by walls designed to protect the city from attack. To make this more modern and understandable, having no self-control is like having a house and all the windows and doors have been knocked out! That’s how important “self-control” is! Self-control is actually listed last as Paul gives unto us the list of ingredients of the Fruit of the Spirit. But that certainly doesn’t make it least important. If you do a search, you’ll find that the term is not often used in the Bible and yet “self-control” is so important in helping you and I to make good choices that are pleasing to God.
If the truth be told our sinful flesh has a really hard time resisting the constant pull of our sinful desires. I’m often asked, “Pastor, how can I control myself?” Why do I do things I don’t want to do, especially when I know I shouldn’t? Why is it so easy to give into the flesh? I must confess that this ingredient right here is one of the hardest for me! I have my issues that I struggle with everyday that requires me to have to die daily to my proclivities. Please understand, all proclivities are not bad, some proclivities are good but without self-control, a good proclivity can become harmful and lead to an addiction. Food is good but without self-control, it can be unhealthy. Sex is good, but without self-control and under the right conditions, it can be harmful. All of us wrestle with something that we love but it requires self-control. Paul talks about his own struggles in Romans 7:15-20 (ESV).
“For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the Law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.”
Romans 7:15-20 (ESV)
The question that’s baffling is, “Why would someone continue to engage in something that’s wrong or harmful?” Why don’t they just stop? There are two possibilities: 1) A person develops a complete loss of control over their behavior or 2) A person develops a decreased ability to control cravings for pleasure. Whether it is a complete loss of control or a decreased ability to control, we know that regaining self-control over our behavior or craving requires divine intervention of the Holy Spirit. Self-control is a gift from the Holy Spirit. This is not something we can do on our own or conjure up ourselves. It’s like the Holy Spirit giving you and I the tool that we can use in our lives. That’s what the Fruit of the Spirit is, as seen in our foundational scripture in Galatians. They are ingredients that are made available by the Holy Spirit to make one incredible you. It’s not something we can make happen on our own. It is the Holy Spirit living in our souls that gives us (Believers of Christ) the power and ability to even begin to practice self-control so that we will not be overpowered by the “craving of our sinful man!”
Let me ask you, do you have difficulties restraining yourself from what you know isn’t good for you? Have you intentionally invited the Holy Spirit to come alongside you to give you strength for self-control?