KEY SCRIPTURE Proverbs 25:28 & Galatians 5:19-25
He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.
Even the least of us has some sort of rule over parts of their own spirit. But we all have trouble getting this right. The scripture is so perfectly written. You think you've just overcome one thing, then another issue blindsides you, and you realise the work is far from done. It feels as if areas of our life are broken down and we have no walls of protection. The question is not, "Why am I being attacked so often?" as the enemy's job is to keep attacking. But "Why does the enemy keep winning over me?"
Temperance (self-control for this message) is the very last fruit of the Spirit and appears different. The first eight fruit seem emotional, but this one has a more mechanical tone. As we work through this critical adornment, we will see its effect on the other eight and life itself.
Before we look at self-control, we must look at control and rule in general and the point of both. We don't like being controlled, yet control is necessary for our existence.
Our solar system remains constant due to the controls administered by the Word of God. Nothing gets out of order. Before God added controls, the earth was without form and void and was dark. It was an unstable and completely contrasting environment we could not have survived in.
Everything about the earth and our environment has control measures or rules. God administers controls for the big stuff, but when it comes to those realms we can control, including ourselves, He told us it will be a battle. God said there is a war between the Spirit and the flesh, each seeking to influence our decisions and ultimately our entire life. The Holy Spirit tries to lead us in the direction of the Kingdom of God, while our fleshly parts often prefer the other direction. And over those parts we must give the Holy Spirit rule.
Looking back to the lives of the biblical kings, we find both Godly and evil changes in Israel. Often from different kings but sometimes from the same king. Each king brought in the rules which influenced their heart the most. Either national joy in Godliness or corruption and despotism. Those standards came solely from the ruler's heart.
Without self-control, a person's understanding, even a king's, only extends as far as failure, not success. A vast chasm exists between the two. One never knows the cost of success if one falls short every time.
Galatians 5: 19-21 shows some of the issues challenging our self-control, such as adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and anything like that. (Including any modern variations or similarities.)
Self control stops us from living a life of sin and excess. Once we become baptised in the Holy Spirit we get a portion of Spiritual self-control which we're meant to also grow to maturity along with the other eight fruit. But some of us don't grow it at all. Rather than apply ourselves to self control, We let age do the job where we just grow out of stuff. The trouble with this methodology is it's not what God asks us to do and it stunts the growth of the other eight fruit.
We need to regulate the dispensing of the other fruit of the Spirit. Temperance or self-control seems to have an administrative influence over the workings of the other eight Spiritual fruit in their required doses or limits.
For instance, if we've had a great spiritual morning, but need to attend a funeral. Instead of thinking ahead and controlling our thoughts and tongue, we put our arms around the family members in their time of deepest mourning, and say cheerfully and inappropriately, "Don't worry, you'll see them again in Heaven." Despite wanting to express the joy we currently feel, it may be the last thing they want to hear. We lacked discipline and understanding—the careful balancing of the specific fruit.
The nine fruit needs regulating, even self-control. i.e. over-love or under-love, too much or too little joy, etc. How do we balance the correct amount of love when toughness is required? Or how do we ensure we're not overly calm and peaceful when rapid action is needed? Or dispensing the argumentative side of Meekness in place of the softer side? Jesus wasn't bearing a mushy smile when He beat the money-changers out of the temple or when He spoke to the scribes and pharisees. And will self-control get in the way of us being led by the Spirit? Will we be too prim and proper to hear Him? Not if it's working properly.
Wisdom and understanding are at the bedrock of self-control stability. Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. True fear brings consistent obedience, which only comes through self-control measures put in place through our deep love for the Lord.
Many non-christians have self-control in various areas of their lives. Some with greater control than Christians. Often self-control is bred by rearing or self-determination. Through their self-control, many have won Olympic victories, wars and other accolades. Yet, they don't possess the fruit of the Spirit, as we do. Ours is a different dimension. The Holy Spirit gives us the starting deposit for handing all our life over the God. They cannot do this. Our temperance is for spiritual battles.
At the end, they cannot say, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing." 2 Timothy 4:7-8
Temperance is the factor that allows us to keep God's commandments for more than a few hours. it keeps us from substance abuse, anger, depression and other temptations seeking to drag us back down into the black hole of hell.
Much of our self-repair work is done using self-control. We are not hopeless causes shouting "why doesn't death just take me and get it over with?" We are called to be a wonder in the sight of the world, a royal priesthood of the living God, a people of peculiar belief and beauty. For this reason, Satan doesn't want our self-control operating at peak performance. He knows we get too many things done for the Lord when on full revs, when the beckoning of the flesh has little effect.
Satan's bluff is that we're broken down without defence and irreparable. With rule over our spirit, we're not far from rebuilding our magnificent life to God's glory.
Dear Lord, I have offered myself to you, but still struggle in this area. So often I commence well but lose sight of my goals and self-control falls in a heap.Please give me strength and overcoming power to keep self-control upright and working.
Photo by Gustavo Sanchez