A man without self-control is as defenseless as a city with broken-down walls” Proverbs 25:28 (TLB).
The imagery we get from Proverbs is that anyone who can’t control themselves exposes themselves to harm.
Much like a city with fortified walls can withstand attacks from enemy forces so can a person with self-control withstand in difficult, confusing, or uncertain times.
It sounds like a matter of life and death.
In ancient times definitely, a physical death was involved. But for us, it might be more of a professional, relational, emotional or spiritual death.
Professionally, the lack of decision making is hurting your credibility at work.
Relationally, Your inability to commit to the person you say you love is about to suffocate the life out of your relationship.
Emotionally you just want to be able to, for once, make a decision and stick with it without going back and for with doubt and fear.
Spiritually, the back and forth with sin and the back and forth with promises made to God and then the almost guaranteed fail afterward is killing the joy of your salvation.
You want freedom from these things and it’s all possible with self-control.
So let’s look at what this looks like in the everyday life of a Christian. And then how you can become the self-controlled person you want and need to be.
Building the walls of self-control
1 Corinthians 9:27 (ESV) But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
You will have to work at it. Self-control doesn’t come naturally to everyone. But it requires the discipline of even the most self-controlled people. You will have to make a decision to keep coming back and fight one more day and then make the same decision the next day.
Think of self-control like a muscle – it needs to be worked out.
It will resist. Growth always hurts. And becoming more self-controlled is growth.
You will have to break down the old muscles of procrastination and laziness and build up new muscles of action and endurance.
James 1:19 (ESV) Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;
Pick an area you want to improve.
Maybe you need to work on listening before you speak. This will require you to be intentional to not say anything until you’ve heard everything the other person has to say. And then working on being just as slow to make a decision.
Or maybe you need to work on your anger. They always say that when you get angry you need to count to ten but they forget to tell you that requires self-control. But you can make a choice to improve in this area and then go for it.
I’ve done this with my anger issue while driving. I’m not perfect, I still have knee-jerk reactions but I’ve gotten better. I have built up my muscles of self-control while driving.
So pick something to work on, improve, and then use that momentum to work on something else.
Romans 6:12 (ESV) Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions.
As Christians, we have to acknowledge that there is more going on with our unrestraint then meets the physical eye – there’s a spiritual battle going on. Satan and our sinful nature want to fight against all that is good – self-control is good and Godly.
So we have to approach as such. Laziness, apathy, and fear are sinful and hurtful. These behaviors will keep us from becoming the person we are meant to be and will keep you from making an impact on the world.
Battle sin. Become more self-controlled. Don’t let your passion run rampant.
Building walls of self-control with Jesus
Romans 13:14 (ESV) But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.
As Christ followers, we don’t need to forget that we are not alone in this battle. We have the help of God.
We can put on the Lord Jesus Christ.
It’s kind of like when you are going to work out you put on clothes that are appropriate for the occasion – typically some type of activewear and footwear. When you do this it can help put you in the right mindset. I’m going to work out and I’m ready to work out and there is no room for excuses.
Putting on Christ centers your universe. Your attention goes from you to God. Your heart and mind are fixed on Christ. Now there is no room for sin because you are filled and covered with Christ.
Don’t go at it alone, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.
Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
You need to know that self-control has a source – it’s God.
One of the fruits of God the Holy Spirit is self-control. If you are filled with the Holy Spirit then self-control will be a natural result of this relationship.
God is faithful and He always keeps His promises so if He says self-control is a fruit of the spirit trust that He will provide.