Written by Jamie Bone
“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
– 2 Peter 1:5-8
When we accept Jesus as our Savior and are filled with the Holy Spirit we are, as 2 Corinthians 5:22 says, a new creation. The old truly has gone away and it has been replaced with our new life in Christ. While the face looking back at us in the mirror has not changed, the source of our love and actions is no longer the same. It is not our will and determination that drives the change in our behavior and choices though. Instead, it is the presence of the Holy Spirit that now lives within us.
Galatians 5:22-23 says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Often, we read this verse and understand it as meaning that the actions of a person after they receive the Holy Spirit are these things listed. While that is true, it is deeper than that. These things change in us and blossom not because we gain super will power, but because of the presence of God within us. They are the evidence of his presence, not the determination of our will.
Self-control in the biblical sense is experienced when we are completely dependent on the enabling power of the Holy Spirit. Our time spent in the word of God and our continual prayer for the desire and power to be self-controlled are crucial to a life surrendered to the authority of Jesus. We have all tried enough diet, exercise, and cost-cutting spending plans to know that at some point our human determination to stick to it is woefully inadequate, and our endeavor often ends in frustration and failure. Thankfully, when the source of our strength is the Lord, and the self-control to say no to the things we should say no to comes through him, we are able to withstand temptations that seek to destroy us.
Proverbs 25:28 says, “A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.” In other words, it is at the mercy of all who would seek to bring harm to its inhabitants. When we allow the whims of our flesh to become the desires of our hearts and the work of our hands, we are like that city that has lost its protection from the evil one. But, when we live self-controlled, bringing our desires, cravings, impulses, emotions, and passions to the feet of Jesus in prayer, we are held secure in the fortress of our God.
- What temptations are you experiencing that you need to surrender to the Lord?
- If you were to give in to those things, what would the possible outcomes be?
- How would those outcomes affect you and your family?
- In what ways could friends and family pray for, and support you, in areas that you may be vulnerable to an attack of the enemy?
- Are you letting God guide your life, or are you still fighting him for control?
- Discuss what life as individuals and a family could be like if you committed to pray daily for God to give you all self-control?
- What is holding you back from making this commitment?