This week in our series, “The Virtuous Life of a Christ-Centered Wife” we’re talking about the virtue of self-control. I absolutely love this one. Not because I’m particularly good at self-control (I wish) but because the Bible has so much to say on the subject.
Throughout scripture we see the battle of self-control described as an ongoing war between the spirit and flesh. Here is one of many scriptures that describe that war:
For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. – Galatians 5:17
Paul goes into great detail on the subject in Romans chapter 7:
For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. – Romans 7:19
The flesh is that voice in your head that tells you, “If it feels good do it.” It tells us that we need things when we don’t, and if we followed it we’d sleep too late, eat too much, and eventually come to poverty. That’s where the heart wants to lead us.
While the Spirit is the voice that tells you, “If it is good do it.” The closer you walk with God, and the more time that you spend in His presence the more that you become aware of His will in your life.
His covenant is written upon our hearts and our minds, but there’s a battle within each one of us. Satan wants to pull us away from our faith.
And how does he do that?
Most of the time it’s with arguments that make a whole lot of sense in the moment, but in the long run they always lead to destruction.
Take Adam and Eve for example. They were given one commandment–only one. They could eat from every tree in the garden, but one was forbidden to them.
Satan is cunning. He came in the form of a serpent to tempt them to disobey God.
Eve said, “God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.” (Gen. 3:3)
And the serpent said unto the woman, “Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” (Gen. 3:4-5)
Part of that was true they didn’t die a physical death. They went on to live for many years, but the real truth of the matter is that that they experienced a spiritual death the moment they chose to disobey. God doesn’t lie, but scripture can be distorted and it can be twisted to fit our agenda.
The minute that something doesn’t make sense to us, we want to figure out why. It’s okay to be a deep thinker and to study the will of God. By all means, we should. But if we come to a cross road where we have to chose the wisdom of God over our ability to rationalize it, we must be willing to follow the Spirit.
If we’re only obeying God when it makes sense to us then we’re living to serve ourselves, not the Spirit. God’s laws don’t always make sense to us, because sometimes they require us to step out of our comfort zone or to feel the sting of refinement.
We live in our modern self-centered society that encourages people to be happy at any cost. We’re fed this idea what modern women are strong and in control because they do what they want, they say what they want, and they live any way that they want to.
I came across an interesting article in the New York Times by John Tierney, called “A Generations Vanity Heard Through the Lyrics.” He writes, after a computer analysis of three decades of hit songs, Dr. DeWall and other psychologists report finding what they were looking for: a statistically significant trend toward narcissism and hostility in popular music. As they hypothesized, the words “I” and “me” appear more frequently along with anger-related words, while there’s been a corresponding decline in “we” and “us” and the expression of positive emotions.
* Miley Cyrus recently came out with a song that peaked at #2 on the US Billboard’s top 100:
Doing whatever we want
This is our house
This is our rules
And we can’t stop
And we won’t stop
Can’t you see it’s we who own the night
Can’t you see it we who bout’ that life
And we can’t stop
And we won’t stop
She’s right and she’s wrong. Perhaps you won’t stop, but the truth is that you can stop. That’s what self-control is all about.
Assuming that someone is strong because they do whatever they want to or whatever they feel like doing in the moment, is foolish. It takes strength to bring your flesh under subjection to your spirit.
Have you ever found yourself opening up a second bag of chips or a candy bar, because, you just can’t stop?
What about losing your cool and telling somebody off because you couldn’t help it?
Maybe you’re having a secret affair, and you can’t break it off because you’ll be physically sick if you do?
Whether we’re getting up early to dig into the word, controlling our appetite because it’s the right thing to do, or breaking off a relationship that’s detrimental to our marriage, we’re gonna feel the sting that comes with refinement.
The Bible compares the refinement of our faith to fire. It hurts. It stings. It’s difficult to endure… But once you come out on the other side, you see that “joy unspeakable” is yours for the taking. Temporal happiness could never compare to the inner peace that comes from serving the Lord!
Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: – 1 Peter 1:6-8
Finally I’d like to close with this old Cherokee legend. It’s good food for thought on the topic of self-control.
A grandfather was teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”
After thinking about it for a minute, the boy asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”
The old man simply replied, “The one you feed.” (FirstPeople.us)
And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. – Galatians 5:24
* Please note: I mentioned some lyrics in this post to illustrate how pop culture is breeding a “me” generation. I’d like us to keep the comments focused on the topic at hand, and avoid the temptation to slander young pop stars. Thanks chicklets!
We’ll continue this series on Thursday when we discuss the virtue of self-control part 2.
You are loved by an almighty God,
Today and every Tuesday, I want to invite bloggers to link-up any blog posts that will encourage women to joyfully live out their roles as wives and keepers of their homes I’m looking for posts on marriage, parenting, housekeeping, recipes, etc.
Visit Time-Warp Wife on facebook: Click here
If you would like to have Time-Warp Wife delivered to your inbox daily, simply click here: Subscribe to Time-Warp Wife
Check out my book, The Good Wife’s Guide: Embracing Your Role as a Help Meet