Since we’re discussing the virtue of self-control let’s also take a look at self-control (temperance) as a fruit of the Spirit.
The question we should look at is this: If self-control is a fruit of the Spirit, wouldn’t it automatically come natural to those who belong to God?
The Bible tells us that those who belong to God have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. (Galatians 5:24) Those who walk in the Spirit walk according to the wisdom they’ve been given. In other words they make choices day after day to put away sin. With that said, let’s praise God for His unfailing grace. Putting down my flesh is a daily process, and I’m no where near completion.
Putting away sin is more than a decision, it calls for a measure of self-control. Without conviction however, that self-control won’t be worth much. The Spirit gives us strength for the journey.
Let me give you an example. During my twenties I started struggling with my weight. I went from a 98 pound bride to a 150 pound 30-something-year-old within ten years. I’m short so the extra bit of weight was uncomfortable and I was into plus-sized clothing. I tried everything to take off the weight, but nothing would stick.
Self-control didn’t work. I mean it did for a while, but it never had the long-lasting affect I was looking for.
One day it hit me. The problem? I wasn’t convicted. I’d go for about three days controlling my appetite, but the moment the arguments set in (and they always did) I had nothing to fall back on. Aside from the fact that I wanted to lose a few pounds there wasn’t any valid reason I could think of for sticking to the plan.
That is until I started to study God’s Word. I mean really dig in. After finishing the Bible, I read it again, and again, and again, and again… then I went to the Greek and read that again and again and again. I must have gone through the entire Bible about six-eight times that year. I was hungry for the Word, but more importantly I was convicted.
Scripture after scripture talked about the virtue of self control. It talked about controlling our appetites, about greed, and how our bodies are temples of the Holy Ghost. It talked about crucifying the flesh and anything else that controls you.
There isn’t anything wrong with eating a Twinkie at 2:00 am, but the question to ask yourself is, do you control your appetite or does it control you?
Here’s a little wisdom from Paul. He’s talking about the freedom we have in Christ:
“Everything is permissible for me”–but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible for me”–but I will not be mastered by anything. – 1 Corinthians 6:12, NIV
The same could be said about anything in your life. Ask yourself if you’re in control, or you’re being controlled.
We serve a God Who wants our adoration. He wants our hearts in their entirety. If we are mastered by the things of this world, we’re sharing our heart with another.
That deep conviction was life changing for me. I lost 40 pounds and kept if off for over a decade. Day after day, I made wise choices and I kept making wise choices even when the going was tough.
Why I’m overweight now is a combination of two things. One is that I have this crazy medication for my tremors that slows down my body. I’m exhausted most of the time and all I want to do is sleep. Without it I shake–a lot. One year I was exercising every day, the next I was struggling to stay awake.
The other reason–and this is of most importance to me–is that this conviction hasn’t been as real to me as it once was. I’ve let things slip. I know that if I get back to exercising every day that I’ll have more energy, and I know that eating better and drinking less caffeine will make a difference too. Like Paul says in Romans 7:15, “For what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.”
This is an area of my life that I need to give up to God. I need to trust His wisdom that says, everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial. I need to exercise this area of my life until my Spirit is ruling the flesh. Maybe I can’t do everything I used to do, but I definitely can make some changes.
This isn’t easy to talk about. It’s embarrassing in fact. But the truth is that appetite is a struggle so many of us are wrestling with.
We know what is good, what is right, and what is true, but day after day we follow the lust of the flesh that leads to more junk in the trunk.
The bottom line is that you’re not struggling with food. You’re struggling with self-control. Your flesh is at war with your Spirit.
Which one will win?
The one that you feed.
As for you skinny girls, you’re not off the hook. The same principle applies to each and every one of us, as we struggle with self-control in different areas. If we’re not ruled by the Spirit we’re being ruled by the flesh.
And so we see that the fruit of self-control is the result of a person who is walking in virtue by making daily decisions to put down the flesh. She’s equipped with wisdom, and she’s down on her knees in prayer.
A virtuous woman isn’t ruled by her passions, she passionately pursues an incomparable God. She is strong because she knows that she can do what she wants, but she chooses to do that which is good.
As I’m writing this, I feel the hand of God gently tug on my heart. He’s speaking to me as He’s speaking to you. These words aren’t solely for the purpose of writing, but rather that the reader as well as the author will take them to heart, draw closer to Him, exercise virtue, and start changing today.
The schedule for this series
Week 1: Introduction
Week 2 – Purity Pt. 1
Week 2 – Purity Pt. 2
Week 3 – Self Control Pt. 1
Week 3 – Self Control Pt. 2
Week 4 – Discussing the Virtue of Love
You are loved by an almighty God,
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