The Oxford dictionary defined self-control as the ability to control oneself, in particular one’s emotions and desires, especially in difficult situations. For a Christian, self-control is not the ability to control oneself, but to let the self be under the control of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is not a controlling spirit, but a gentle Spirit.
The demons and the devil on the other hand are controlling spirits. People go to Alcoholic Anonymous or some rehabilitation to overcome addictions such as alcohol and drugs. These people overcome their addictions and have made a strong commitment not to try these substances. Some even have strong will power, but you will notice they are back into these abusing substances again. It is not the addiction that got them back into it, nor is it the lack of commitment or will power. It is the controlling spirits that rule over these people.
Self-control is the fruit of the Holy Spirit and to produce this fruit a person first of all, has to be filled with the Holy Spirit. A person can produce the fruits of the Holy Spirit only if he abides with the Holy Spirit of God. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). To be a victorious Christian one has to be filled with the Holy Spirit and bear fruits of the Holy Spirit.
Self-control affects all the areas of our lives. A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls (Proverbs 25:28). Without self-control a person is vulnerable and defeated. Self-control is to be exercised in all areas and all walks of life. By nature a man is carnal and has an instinct to sin. Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires (Romans 8:5).
We need self-control in what we speak. Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit (Psalms 34:13). If a person’s tongue is out of control, a person’s life is out of control. Look at the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by a very small rudder wherever the inclination of the pilot desires. So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell (James 3: 4-6).
Our tongue can get us into trouble and can destroy our testimony. When a person gossips about others, that person destroys someone’s reputation and this is displeasing to God. A person who uses harsh words hurts others, but a person with gentle words brings peace. We need to watch what we speak and examine, if it’s building people up or if we are sowing into discord and evil.
Another way in which the mouth gets people into trouble is by overeating or drinking. Be not among drunkards or among gluttonous eaters of meat, for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and slumber will clothe them with rags (Proverbs 23:20-21). It is sad to see so many people suffer from obesity and sickness due to their eating and drinking habits. A Christian needs to exercise temperance in what he eats or drinks. Oversleeping can make a person unproductive and even sick. Statistics shows that on average people need eight hours of sleep per day. If a person oversleeps, his mortality rate increases.
The will of God for our life is that we remain sanctified and walk in righteousness which includes sexual purity. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God (1 Thessalonians 4:3-5). God wants us to observe purity and morality by fleeing from things that would get us into any bondage. Flee from people that are immoral, flee from immoral conversation, keep away from perverse movies, pictures and internet sites. Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body. (1 Corinthians 6: 18-20)
Observe self-control in everything you do, every thought you think, every word you speak. But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, (Galatians 5:16-26)
We are God’s holy people and we have to have self-control in our lives to excel in our everyday life, to obey God and flee from sin, to fulfil God’s will and to glorify Him. If you have given into anger, bitterness, immorality, gluttony, drunkenness, addictions, procrastination, gossip, overspending etc., start achieving temperance in your life by praying and asking God to show you the areas that need self-control. Repent of your sins and ask God to forgive you. Some of you may even need deliverance. Find a good Christian deliverance ministry and seek their help. After being delivered from every evil spirits, welcome the Holy Spirit in your life and seek to obey God and walk in righteousness. As you remain filled with the Holy Spirit and walk in obedience to God, you will begin to be self-controlled and succeed in every area of your life.
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