Tuesday, October 22, 2013

(Self) Control Freak

“We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[c] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.” Romans 7:14-20

YouTube Testimony
Have you seen the videos of people driving like nuts on YouTube?  I watched a video on there this week which was a compilation of various motorcycle crashes.  The sins committed by most of these motorcyclists are largely the result of the drivers intentionally doing dumb things: passing on the right shoulder, speeding through intersections, following at too close a distance, passing into turning traffic, driving at unsafe and illegal speeds, and stunt riding.  Why would riders willingly do such things which to the rest of us are on our “Do NOT Do That!” list?

Do you observe in your life a propensity to do things that you should not do?  Does it occur that those things may be things that you KNOW you should not do...yet, sometimes you just go ahead and do them?  It isn’t that you can’t control yourself.  Rather, that you make a conscious decision to NOT control yourself.  Perhaps, in the moment of temptation, the momentary pleasure of sin seems to outweigh the overarching reality of the consequence of sin.  Later, you deal with the consequence and/or guilt of that momentary lapse in judgment and lament the lack of self-control.

Believe it or not, this reality is common to all of those who pursue Christ.  We deeply desire to live holy and acceptable lives…To exhibit the righteousness of God in all we do.  Therefore, to combat future such instances of similar sin, we may make promises to ourselves: “I am DONE with this sin!  No more.  Next time, I’m going to resist!”  So we double down and determine that next time we will be stronger!  We may even have some success for a season and not fall to the same patterns or temptations.  Then comes that day when temptation prevails once more.  And there we are again.  No self-control.  Arrrrgggh!!

Is there no victory for the believer?  Is there no hope for us when we struggle to live differently than the world?  How convenient would it be if we could just drive down to Wal-Mart or to the local Christian bookstore and ‘buy’ some self-control!!  But we can’t. 

In Romans 7, we witness the struggle that the Apostle Paul is having within himself: For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.”  Why is this the case?  Because the nature of sin is a part of being human.  It would be wonderful if the erasure of the sinful nature was a part of our confession and water baptism, but it isn’t.  Or if it went away simply by attending church.  It doesn’t. 

So what is the solution?  Where does self-control come from?  So what do we do?

Learning To Be ‘Fruity’
Galatians 5:22-23 reads: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”  
Hey, something I want you to notice here: There is ONE fruit of the Spirit.  One.  “…the fruit of the Spirit is…” When the Spirit of God abides in us, (and I think we would do well to hear echoes of John 15:7 whereby we are abiding in God and his words abide in us) the power of God is working in us and His fruit is grown in us.  The fruit of the Spirit is nine fold in what it produces in our lives: love, joy, peace, forbearance (restraint, tolerance), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and wait…look here: *Self-control*!

We really need to drink this truth in.  Self-control is not born out of our will.  It is not something that is produced by self-determination or even self-discipline.  It is grown in us by us yielding our lives over to the Spirit of God, working in us.  God gives us self-control!

Let me say that again: God gives us self-control.  It is his gift to us and it grows in us as a product of our fellowship with him, the infilling of his Holy Spirit working in us, and the Word of God transforming our thinking, our priorities, our actions and reactions. So, the harsh truth I must accept for my own life is that if I examine my living and find self-control waning, it is not because I’m not trying hard enough.  It is because I am allowing my relationship with my heavenly Father to wither.  As I reconnect to him, the withering reverses, and the fruit begins to grow again.

To draw a little further from John 15:4-5: "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. 5 "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”

“Almighty God, I am prone to let your fruit spoil.  Without your fellowship and presence in my life, I drift in the ocean of my own ways…and very quickly your fruit begins to disappear from my living.  I am sorry.  Work within me again…work the soil of my life that I may be fruitful.  Thank you for your self-control.  Thank you for your fruit of the spirit, in all its manifestations, In your Son’s name I pray, Amen.”

Submitted By Kerry Patton

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