02 January, 2023

Self-Control and the Holy Ghost

 The absence of self-control has quickly become one of the biggest pandemics of our time. More people than ever are simply living based on impulse, chasing the next dopamine fix, or trying to find that next thing that will make them ‘feel good’. However, we also are finding more and more people standing against this idea, saying that true thriving can only take place when you have some sort of self-control over your life. Not only do I agree with those people, but I would even go as far as to say that society’s health as a whole is based on the magnitude of self-control present in its people. Let me explain.

The Self-Control Problem

I shouldn’t have to try too hard to convince you of the fact that everything in life requires moderation or some sort of limitation. If you have too much of anything, even something healthy, it can be damaging to your well-being. If you don’t eat in moderation, you’ll become obese and unhealthy. If you don’t work out in moderation, you’ll find yourself overworking your body and encountering injury. If you don’t rest in moderation, you’ll become lazy and unmotivated.

Yet think about these things when you add self-control. If you’re self-controlled when you eat, you’ll find yourself healthily energized by your food. If you work out without overdoing it, you’ll become healthier and more efficient in every other area of your life. If you rest when you need it, you’ll bounce back even better and regain your drive and motivation.

All things require moderation, and all things require self-control. In fact, let’s take it a step further than just everyday habits and behaviors.

Self-Control and Sin

Think about it – every sin actually comes from a lack of self-control. If I know what I should do, but I don’t do it, isn’t that a result of lacking self-control? In fact, James talks about this when he writes his letter. He says:

So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.

James 4:17

 Isn’t this a lack of self-control? So really, self-control to me seems like one of the most important things that we can develop in our lives in order to live lives worthy of the Gospel and in order to even just thrive in our own daily lives.

A City Without Walls

 King Solomon put it this way:

A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.

Proverbs 25:28

To me, this is an interesting analogy. Think about an ancient city. Much like where I live in South Africa, the ancient peoples would build massive walls around their cities to protect them from those who tried to attack or invade the city and conquer it. Our walls in SA aren’t exactly massive, but they do the job.

These ancient walls were generally pretty effective – think of the battle of Jericho when the Israelites had to bring down the wall before attacking. In fact, in ancient times, attackers would even be forced to lay siege to a city in order to conquer it. Basically, that means that they set up camp around the city walls, not letting anyone come in or leave the city, and they would wait until the people inside starved to death or were too weak to fight due to lack of supplies.

Now imagine the scenario King Solomon is speaking about in Proverbs. You live in one of these cities, safe within its walls, when an enemy force somehow brings down the walls, breaks into your city, and leaves it defenseless. Solomon says that this is what a man is like who doesn’t have self-control. A man without self-control is defenseless against the enemy.

Why is this such a big deal? If you have no self-control, you’ll jump at every opportunity and temptation that comes your way, and trust me, in this world, 95% of them are going to lead to your own destruction. Therefore, as God’s people, we must be people of self-control and we must learn how to develop it in our lives.

The Third Person

Fortunately, the Bible has good news when it comes to developing self-control. If you are a Christian, you probably know that the Bible tells us that God exists in three ‘persons’: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Perhaps the most forgotten and misunderstood person in this Trinity is the Holy Spirit.

I’ll definitely explore this in future content but understanding who the Holy Spirit is and how He impacts your life daily is essential to your walk with the Lord. It will bring both great comfort and confidence in your daily walk, but more on that at a later time.

One of the ways he does this is by living within us (no one quite understands the logistics of that) if we are born-again believers. This means that if you are ‘saved’, you have the Holy Spirit living in you and helping you along the way. What does it mean to be saved? As Paul says:

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Romans 10:9

 Once you are saved, the Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit comes to help us live the life that we are called to live in Christ. In fact, the Bible even calls us temples of the Holy Spirit, meaning that His very presence dwells in us.

The Fruit

So, how can you know the Holy Spirit is in you before you ask Him for self-control? The Bible describes this as bearing fruit. In fact, the Bible uses tree imagery A LOT and it is absolutely my favorite theme in the entire Bible. To put it simply, if you are a symbolic tree and you are symbolically rooted in the Holy Spirit, you will begin to bear fruit that is proof of your roots.

Paul happens to give us a whole list of the fruit that comes from the Holy Spirit in Galatians 5:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Galatians 5:22-23

Did you notice the last fruit listed? It’s self-control. Self-control is a fruit that comes from being rooted in the Holy Spirit. What’s interesting is that he lists this last, although it quite literally determines how well you will bear the other fruits. To me, this is Paul’s way of saying that your degree of self-control is a determiner of how well you will bear the other fruits.

How can you show love if you are not self-controlled? How can you be patient without self-control? How can you be faithful without self-control? The answer to these is simple: you can’t. However, the other thing you can’t do is develop self-control without the help of the Holy Spirit.

The Fruit

So then, if you’ve been convinced of your need for self-control, it’s time to get to know God better and let the Spirit take control. By getting to know God better, you get to know His voice better. By getting to know His voice better, you’ll get to know His Spirit better and will be better equipped to allow Him to guide you in the area of self-control.

Self-control is possibly the most difficult thing we can ever hope to develop, but through God, all things are possible. Ask God to build up self-control in you and surely, He will be faithful as you continue to follow Him in obedience

If you have any questions, comments, or thoughts, always feel free to email me at unrollthescrolls@gmail.com. Thanks for reading!