SPIRITUAL NOURISHMENT FOR TODAY (December 1, 2013)
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another” Galatians 5:22-26.
“SINCE WE LIVE BY THE SPIRIT, LET US KEEP IN STEP WITH THE SPIRIT” Galatians 5:25 (NIV).
In the previous edition of Spiritual Nourishment for Today, we discussed what SELF-CONTROL is and why it is needed by every Christian. We made the point that without self-control we open ourselves to all kinds of sins such as theft, evil anger, sexual immorality, and the many more. In this edition, we want to focus on some of the effects of lack of self-control and suggest some of the ways by which the Christian could develop proper self-control. I wish to tell all readers that this edition will borrow from Rick Warren’s work on how to develop biblical self control. But before we look at Rick Warren’s suggestions, let us look at some of the effects of lack of self-control on believers and the attitude of some believers toward sin and what Scripture says about that.
We are living in a generation where many Christians cannot be distinguished from non-Christians. We are in an era where things which are not supposed to be mentioned among believers are often heard of within the Christian circle. Issues such as sexual immorality, rape, child abuse, embezzlement of church funds, murder, suicide, abuse in marriages are now common within the Christian circle. Many people often attribute fornication or adultery among Christians to the devil, and they are not wrong at all. Satan is the source of all evil. However, we cannot blame Satan for our lack of self-control after all the warnings the Lord has given us. In the New Testament, God through the Apostle Peter warned us in 1 Peter 5:8 as follows:
“BE SELF-CONTROLLED AND ALERT. YOUR ENEMY THE DEVIL PROWLS AROUND LIKE A ROARING LION LOOKING FOR SOMEONE TO DEVOUR.”
This shows clearly that we have a role to play in whether we fall into any sin or not. We have been warned to be self-controlled because the devil is at work. This shows that even though the devil is the source of all sins, we are responsible for our sins. If we are not alert, and self-controlled, the devil can get us into sin. Therefore we cannot blame the devil when we fall into sin. It is also important to remind ourselves of Jesus’ warning to us when he said:
“WATCH AND PRAY THAT YE ENTER NOT INTO TEMPTATION. THE SPIRIT INDEED IS WILLING, BUT THE FLESH IS WEAK” Matthew 26:41 AKJV.
Once again, it is clear from what Jesus said that even though there will be temptation, we can avoid falling into it if WE WATCH AND PRAY. THIS MEANS THAT IF WE FAIL TO WATCH AND PRAY, WE SHALL FALL INTO TEMPTATION. IN THAT CASE, WE CANNOT BLAME SATAN. Yes it is also true that the spirit in us is willing but we are weak in the flesh. In our weaknesses, there is no way we can exercise self-control unless we watch and pray. It is still obvious that the responsibility lies on us because we are the ones expected to watch and pray! In 1 James 4:7, we are also given a very important word which when taken seriously will help prevent the devil from putting us into temptation.
“SUBMIT YOURSELVES, THEN, TO GOD. RESIST THE DEVIL, AND HE WILL FLEE FROM YOU.”
The argument being made here is that we should not blame the devil for the sins we commit due to our lack of self-control. We should know that we are fully responsible for all the sins we commit due to lack of self-control, in the same way the devil is accountable for all his wicked deeds. So if we commit adultery, fornication, rape, murder, use filthy and outrageous language, or harm another person due to anger, we should not blame our lack of self-control on the devil. We should know we are responsible for our lack of self-control. We are responsible because we have been told what to do in order to avoid it.
Let us now look at some of the suggestions Rick Warren has given on how to develop biblical self-control. This article was written on January 26, 2010. People with self-control master their moods. They do not let their moods master them. Most of what gets done in the world is accomplished by people who do the right thing even when they don’t feel like it: “A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls” Proverbs 25:28 NLT.
People with self-control watch their words. They put their minds in gear before opening their mouths:
“Be careful what you say and protect your life. A careless talker destroys himself” Proverbs 13:3 TEV.
People with self-control restrain their reactions. How much can you take before you lose your cool?
“If you are sensible, you will control your temper. When someone wrongs you, it is a great virtue to ignore it” Proverbs 19:11 TEV.
People with self-control stick to their schedule. If you don’t determine how you will spend your time, then others will decide for you: “Be very careful, then, how you live — not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil” Ephesians 5:15-16 NIV.
People with self-control manage their money. They learn to live on less than what they make and they invest the difference. The value of a budget is that it tells your money where you want it to go rather than wondering where it went! “In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has” Proverbs 21:20 NIV.
People with self-control maintain their health. That way they can accomplish more and enjoy their achievements: “Learn to appreciate and give dignity to your body ….” 1 Thessalonians 4:4 MSG.
In what areas do you need to develop for self-control? The disciplines you establish today will determine your success tomorrow. But it takes more than just willpower for lasting self-control. It takes a power greater than yourself: “For the Spirit that God has given us does not make us timid; instead, his Spirit fills us with power, love, and self-control” 2 Timothy 1:7 TEV.
It is important to note that we cannot exercise self-control without the power of the Holy Spirit. Let us therefore draw nearer to God and submit fully to him and he will continue to grant us the power to overcome all temptations without sinning. The fact that Jesus was in every way tempted just as we are but without sin is an indication that if we follow his steps, we can also exercise his virtue of self-control which enabled him overcome all temptations without sinning.
THE WORD OF THE LORD!
Pastor Nana Kobina Baisie
Teacher/Pastor at Nadrim Mission International School, Busan, Korea.