Monday, October 17, 2016

The Fruit of the Spirit is...Self-Control

Of every fruit that has been addressed in this series, self-control seems to be one that is not address very much. We like to talk about love, joy, peace, etc. But self-control seems to put aside.

When I think of self-control, I tend to think about going to a buffet. Chinese and Pizza buffets are my weaknesses. I am sure I am not alone in this. You have many choices but you don't to over do it because, if you do, you commit gluttony which the book of Proverbs condemns in many verse (of which I have confessed and repented several times).

Another thing to think about self-control is in regard to our sexual urges. Like it or not, we still live in the flesh, and our flesh is at war with the Spirit as Galatians 5:17 says. Paul wrote to the Thessalonian church:

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).

Notice, I have written about two common sins that are mentioned with self-control: gluttony and sexual immorality. Self-control does not pertain just to those two. It pertains to all the Christian life. Lets talk about anger. Do you lose your cool when the kids don't behave the way you want to? Did you mouth off the person who cut you off on the freeway? The Bible says, "Be anger yet do not sin" (Ephesians 4:26). Self-control is not just to keep us in sexually and keeping off the pounds, but it also keeps us in check with our conduct.

How does one exercise self-control? In the verses before Paul mentions the fruit of the Spirit, he wrote, "But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh" (Galatians 5:16). We must hold on to the Spirit as we walk with Jesus who is the True Vine (John 15).

Why is self-control important? The Bible says, "A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls" (Proverbs 25:28). The wall of a city was its first line of defense. When a wall is taken down, the city becomes vulnerable as was the case of Jericho in the book of Joshua. Jerry Bridges wrote, "Self-control is the believer's wall of defense against the sinful desires that wage war against his soul...Self-control is necessary because we are at war with our own sinful desires."

Without self-control, we would be defenseless against the war that is within us. Our flesh wants us to go against the Spirit. The Spirit wants, by God's grace, "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" (Titus 2:12-13).

As we wrap up our series on the fruit of the Spirit, we must remember there cannot be accomplished without being connected Christ. He is the True Vine and the Spirit works in us to produce Christ-like character in every true believer. We know from Scripture what the works of the flesh are which is contrary to the fruit of the Spirit. Christians, stay connected to the Vine and walk in the Spirit so that we may overcome the battle that is within us day after day until we depart this earth or when Jesus returns.

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