Who ate too much over the Thanksgiving holiday? I know I sure did. Discipline and self-control went out the window as I indulged in all the delicacies! Why do we let go of the reins so easily and give in to fleshly desires?
We have visited the basics of our trust in God and studied the key elements of our relationship with Him over the last eight weeks. These have included the topics of Hope, Joy, Peace, Faith, Prayer, Mercy, Humility, and Gratitude. As we close this series, let’s take a closer look at Self-Control.
Many wrestle with self-control, whether it be in our diets, time management, spending habits, emotional tendencies, addictions, or some other personal impulse. My struggle may not be yours. God has made us all beautifully and intricately unique! Even so, in His great wisdom and mercy, He has provided the same remedy for all of our out-of-control inclinations: Jesus.
Titus 2:11-14 (ESV) says:
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession who are zealous for good works.
Jesus has brought salvation for all! He has shown how to resist ungodliness and fleshly desires. When Satan tempted Him, Jesus directed His thoughts to scripture, and He spoke those words to answer the voice of temptation. Paul, in 1 Corinthians 10:13, encouraged his readers that no temptation can overtake them because God always provides a way of escape. The way is made for each one of us to live self-controlled lives. So why do we struggle?
Simply stated, we fail in areas we refuse to surrender to God—whether momentarily or habitually. Our self-seeking fulfillment of passions and desires overtakes our desire to please God. Refusing to die to our own will and to live for God’s will stems from rebellion and is rooted in selfishness. Selfishness, when given way to, produces carelessness, laziness, and godless living.
The good news is, as seen in the scripture quoted above, God has provided us training to deny disorderly tendencies and to implement self-control. What does that look like? Let’s visit two scriptures. In Romans 12:1-2 (ESV), Paul wrote:
Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
In 2 Peter 1:5-7 (ESV), Peter stated:
For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.
To be trained in self-control, we must first present ourselves to God, with faith in Jesus, seeing ourselves as holy, blameless, and accepted by God. Next, we are to renew our minds. The purpose of this is two-fold: so we can be transformed into His image and so we can know the will of God. Finally, we are to grow in the progression of our faith. It’s a process, and sometimes we need a booster.
Paul walks us through the supplements to our faith. Think of the vitamin supplements you use. Do you take a daily multi-vitamin, calcium, vitamins B or D, iron, something else? Taking these supplements isn’t frowned upon, but encouraged for you to experience optimal physical health. It’s no different in our spiritual health.
If our faith isn’t yet strong enough to keep us disciplined, then we are to add virtue or goodness to the equation. If we still feel weak, then we are to add knowledge to the mix. Most of us “know” what is right and wrong. Yet, if we still struggle, then we implement self-control. Need something more? Steadfastness is key—refusing to give in! For an extra push, we can turn to godliness. The adage: “What would Jesus do?” Next, we can put into action affection for others. And, finally, love—because love conquers all.
Jesus has made the way for us to overcome every temptation. He provides a way of escape and He has prescribed supplements to help us in our weaknesses. Let’s commit to renew our minds with the truths of His word, to be transformed into more of His likeness, and to use methods to bolster our faith. May we never tire of going “Back to the Basics” of our faith in Him.
Holding Fast to Hope,