Welcome to our study on the last Fruit of the Spirit: SELF-CONTROL. Just because self-control is last doesn’t make it least important. On the contrary, it is the strongest one, holding the other eight fruits in place. Without the discipline of self-control, the other fruits of the Spirit would spiral wildly out of control. Let’s see how increasing self-control accelerates our spiritual growth and gives us victory in our lives. This week we’ll look at our struggle against the flesh.
“For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.”Romans 7:15 NKJV
The Legend about Two Dogs…
Have you ever heard the legend about two dogs living inside us? One is disobedient and selfish, the other gentle and loving. They constantly fight, like an eternal tug-of-war.
The Apostle Paul decried this human condition. As Christians, we try to quash our former rebellious nature (our iniquities) and walk in obedience to please God. When we accept Jesus as Savior, our sin nature dies but never goes away in this life. Hence, our two natures continuously struggle.
How do we win the struggle?
We win the struggle through self-control and sanctification–by studying the Word and communing with God through Jesus in prayer. The Holy Spirit gives us the power to control how we react to temptations that enter our lives. Without Him, we would have no hope. With Him, we always have the victory. As Paul gratefully proclaims, “It has been done by Jesus Christ our Lord. He has set me free” (Romans 7:25 TLB).
The flesh and self-control…
The flesh certainly has its specific appetites, doesn’t it? We all have our own particular battles to fight. Check off which ones apply to your life:
- The mouth-gate:
- what we eat and drink
- words we speak
- oral addictions
- The ear-gate:
- The message we receive through music or the spoken word
- The eye-gate:
- What we watch on television, the computer, or at the theater
- What we read
- The feet-gate:
- The places we allow ourselves to go
- The hand-gate:
- What we allow ourselves to do, hold, or touch
“Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”1 Corinthians 10:13 NKJV
Back to the legend…which dog wins the fight? The one we feed the most. As we grow in sanctification, the struggle lessens. God gives us the power to overcome and be victorious through the fruit of self-control. Although we never “arrive” at perfection in this life, our blessed hope is that we will attain it in heaven through our Savior’s perfection.
How are you overcoming your struggles against fleshly desires? How are you developing self-control in areas of weakness?
Dear Lord, thank you for understanding our temptations and giving us the power to overcome them. It’s through Your Holy Spirit that we grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. May we live in victory as we grow in the fruit of self-control. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.