One of the fruit of the spirit that the Father has placed within us is self-control. In this age of looseness and excess, we have the ability to curb every human appetite. Someone has said that true freedom only exists in restraint.
The highway of freedom has two ditches on either side. In one ditch is legalism, the excess of rigid and stringent laws and demands to curb behavior. In the other ditch is unbridled excessive living where any and everything is ok. A person who chooses to live without restraint will eventually become a slave to what he allows in excess. Ask the alcoholic, the drug addict, the gambler, or the sex addict how their life is going after a few years of unbridled living.
Every believer has to deal with excesses in the various areas of living. We must learn to exercise self-control in our entire being; spirit, soul, and body.
Our spirit lives must be guarded from excess. You’ve perhaps been around a person who is so heavenly minded that they are not easy to be around and are not practical enough to be effective. We must learn to be naturally spiritual, with our feet firmly on the ground while pursuing God in the balance of work, family, relationships, and church life.
We must be self-controlled in our mental life. Our spirit through the word should rule our conduct. Giving the word right of way is giving the human spirit right of way in life. The mind will seek to lead you into paths of pat living every day. If you go there, it will cost you your peace and joy in the Lord. Learn to control your thoughts and not allow them to control you. I do this by meditating on a scripture when I have idle mental time.
Emotions can dominate unless you restrain them. Emotions in a healthy person are a result of thoughts. When you’ve feeling down or blue, check up on what you’ve been thinking about. Thoughts fuel emotions. To change emotion, redirect your thoughts. When I was young my emotions ruled me. Life was a roller coaster. I learned to value the word over feelings and to force my mind away from negative things by consciously choosing to think on scripture instead of the negative event from past or present.
The will must also be harnessed. Stubbornness is expensive. It costs in relationships, work, family, and in your relationship with the Father. We must choose to daily take up our cross, yielding our will and our bodies to the Father.
It goes without saying that the appetites of the body must be restrained and controlled. Negative physical habits are a challenge to break, and your body is constantly tempted to excess by the world and the devil, and by previous indulgences in your life before you were born again.
Deal sternly with your body and refuse to be its slave! Control it or it will control you! Fasting is a great aid in controlling the flesh. Keep the mind free of vice and filled with the word is really the best way to control the flesh, since thoughts, both conscious and subconscious, rule life.
The Father has placed the seed of self-control in your spirit. Self-control is God strength, God ability. By faith, humble yourself before the Father today, and ask for self-control in your areas of excess in life. He stands ready and waiting for your permission!
I’ll leave you today with several translations of 1 Corinthians 9:27, where Paul mentioned his challenge with his own flesh:
But [like a boxer] I buffet my body [handle it roughly, discipline it by hardships] and subdue it, for fear that after proclaiming to others the Gospel and things pertaining to it, I myself should become unfit [not stand the test, be unapproved and rejected as a counterfeit] (Amplified). I am my body’s sternest master, for fear that when I have preached to others I should myself be disqualified (J.B. Phillips). But I discipline my body and make it serve me, so that, while I am preaching to others, I myself may not be disqualified (Berkeley). But I keep on beating and bruising my body and making it my slave, so that I, after I have summoned others to the race, may not myself become unfit to run (Williams). Like an athlete I punish my body, treating it roughly, training it to do what it should, not what it wants to. Otherwise I fear that after enlisting others for the race, I myself might be declared unfit and ordered to stand aside (Living). But I hit hard and straight at my own body and lead it off into slavery, lest possibly, after I have been a herald to others, I should myself be rejected (Weymouth). But I beat my body black and blue and make it my abject slave lest somehow, when I have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified [from further Christian service] (Wuest).