412 self-control Just say no? I have a friend. His name is Jimmy. Everybody likes him. He is very diligent, generous and has a good sense of humor. But Jimmy also has a problem. Recently he was traveling on a highway when a vehicle swept in front of him. Jimmy kicked the accelerator and chased the overbearing driver. When the culprit stopped at a red light, Jimmy had to fully brake. He got out of the car and stormed to the vehicle in front of him, slammed the side window, stuck his bleeding arm through the broken window, and punched the shocked driver with his fist. But the revenge was short-lived. Suddenly Jimmy grabbed his chest and fell to the ground. Within an hour he had to undergo a five-fold bypass surgery on the heart. Jimmy lacks self-control. Most of us are concerned as well. It does not have to be hot temper, but it is often just as destructive - fear, bitterness, gluttony, jealousy, arrogance, craving, drug abuse, self-pity, and greed.

Proverbs 25,28 compares self-control to the walls of a city and the verse warns us of the danger of being overwhelmed by desires and desires: «A man who cannot hold back his anger is like an open city without walls ». In antiquity, cities were walled to protect citizens from hostile invasion, dangerous animals, and other unwanted intruders. When these mighty fortifications were overcome, people were left vulnerable - like us, when we are not in control of our emotions and desires. If we allow our selfish impulses to control ourselves, we open the door to lies, insults, hatred, illness, shame, and can cause serious damage to other people's lives (Proverbs 21,23). What is the answer to being able to fight our destructive desires?

Self-discipline? Willpower? Make an effort? Just say "no"?

The New Testament gives us an important clue as to how we can win the struggle for self-control. Self-control is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5,22: 23). It is not our hard work, our self-discipline, or our determination, because the Holy Spirit creates self-control in us. He is the source. The word 'self-control' means 'having a grip' or 'taking something'. The Holy Spirit gives us the inner ability to get a grip on us and to live in such a way that we are not dominated by our selfish emotions and desires (2 Timothy 1,7). We can't even say "no" on our own. Titus wrote that God's grace shows us to reject worldly desires and to live prudently and justly in this world (Titus 2,11: 12). But the Holy Spirit not only helps us to resist a bad habit. The Holy Spirit works in us to change and replaces selfish impulses with the inspiring, powerful life of Jesus Christ. We exercise self-control when we decide - step by step (the Holy Spirit does not take away our free will) to accept it as the source of our life and not to live according to our preferences. If we do this, our behavior will become Christlike. An electric light bulb indicates that there is electricity - we indicate that Jesus Christ determines our life.

How can we live a self-controlled life? Jesus shows us that there was always a plan for how man should be. He was not guided by his needs because he completely relied on the father. The hardest spiritual struggle when Satan tried Jesus in the desert gives us an insight into how self-control works. After fasting for 40 days, Jesus was tired, alone and hungry. Satan felt what Jesus was in greatest need of and took this opportunity to try what he needed most - food. But Jesus replied: "It is written: Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God" (Matthew 4,4). In Jesus' words we find a key to training our minds thanks to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

The internal supply

In Psalm 119,11 he elaborates on Psalmist: "I keep your word in my heart so that I do not sin against you." God's Word must be anchored in our hearts. It is not enough to save it in a notebook or in a computer program. It has to be in us. The word "keep" was used when treasures or supplies were hidden or kept separately to be prepared for future emergencies. We save God's written word by doing something that may sound strange in modern ears - biblical meditation. Meditation is contemplation, reflection, hearing, internalization and the repeated thought of Bible passages, much like a dog gnaws on a bone. Meditation enables us to keep God's Word where it has the greatest impact on our lives - in our hearts (Proverbs 4,23). By ignoring the Bible, old patterns of wrong thinking and destructive uncontrolled habits regain authority over him. When we fill and nourish our thinking with Scripture and let it take root in our hearts, God's Word becomes part of us and that is naturally shown in our expressions and actions.

In Ephesians 6,17, Paul compares God's word with a sword: "Take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God". Paul probably thought of the soldiers' short sword that they always wore on their men - ready to use at any time. The Holy Spirit helps us to remember scriptures vividly (John 14,26) by reaching into the stock of verses that we keep in our hearts through meditation and helping us in emergencies by flashing a word in our thoughts or reminding us of a verse or promise in a supernatural way .

God has created us with a variety of temperaments, emotions and desires. These must all be brought under control or they will eventually dominate us. Self-restraint is compared to a conductor of a symphony orchestra. Under the baton of a conductor, a large number of talented musicians can play the right notes at the right time with the right volume on their instruments so that everything sounds just right. Likewise, our desires and our desires are justified. Self-control is the staff of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, under whose capable direction everything stays in the right place and is invoked at the right time. To be self-controlled is to be guided by the Holy Spirit.

Prayer: Dear father, I very much wish to live a self-controlled life, but I cannot do it without you. Thank you for already giving me everything I need to live a life that is pleasing to you (2 Peter 1,3). Please fill me with inner strength through your mind (Ephesians 3,16), so that I can use the ability you have given responsibly! Protect my mouth and strengthen myself so that I do not succumb to the desires of the body (Romans 13,14). Allow me to act prudently and to be who I really am - your child (1 John 3,1). I am in your hand Live in and through me now. Amen in Jesus name.

by Gordon Green


Self-discipline and self-control

These two terms should not be confused with each other. Self-restraint arises from the presence of the Holy Spirit in us, whereas self-discipline is usually imposed by external factors - a diet or exercise. Normally, we subject ourselves to a rule or rule whose temporary compliance we deem necessary.