The Fruit of the Spirit: Self-Control
This Week's Scripture & Reflection: Galatians 5:22-23
Living in a world filled with unforeseen challenges and circumstances often increases our desire as finite beings to possess an attribute that only an infinite God can possess: sovereignty. That type of control exceeds not only our human capability, but also our human comprehension. And although we are not in complete control of everything as God is, we are capable of controlling something equally as important: ourselves!
In Galatians 5, the apostle Paul exhorts us as believers to walk in, and/or by, the Holy Spirit of God, and that by doing so, we will not fulfill the lustful desires of our flesh (cf. Galatians 5:16). He gives us two non-exhaustive lists: one list features some of the most prominent practices of the flesh, or sinful nature, while the other list features the fruit of the Holy Spirit, that is the byproducts of the presence of the Holy Spirit living and abiding within the believer. Among these fruit listed is the fruit of self-control, also known as temperance. The Blue Letter Bible defines it as "the virtue of one who masters his or her desires and passions, especially their sensual appetites."
The fruit of self-control is produced as the result of the presence of the Holy Spirit living within the believer and the believer yielding to the Holy Spirit. This is not to say that unbelievers are incapable of exercising self-control to a certain extent; however, the unbeliever lacks the supernatural power needed to resist temptation and to control their actions, thus forcing them to rely upon their own debilitated self-will. As believers, we possess supernatural power through the Holy Spirit, who empowers and disciplines us to control our thoughts, actions, and speech. The believer who forfeits the power of the Holy Spirit and instead relies upon their flesh to exercise self-control is identical to the unbeliever who relies upon his own self-will with no access to the power of the Holy Spirit.
The world would have us to believe that our feelings are sovereign, that we should do whatever we feel is right. However, our feelings are not only fickle, but also fallen; therefore, we cannot allow ourselves to be governed by that which is inconsistent and unreliable. The Holy Spirit, however, leads and guides us into all truth (cf. John 16:13). He teaches us to exercise self-control in accordance with the holiness and righteousness of God! We cannot afford to be passive in this respect! Even the apostle Paul says "...I discipline my body and keep it under control" (cf. I Corinthians 9:27). Submit the members of your body as instruments of righteousness to God (cf. Romans 6:12-13), and witness how your actions, thoughts, and speech become transformed and renewed in the process!