“Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.” Colossians 3:5-10
Self-control…So hard. Godly self- control…Even harder. Self-control is not something that our culture likes. The message of our culture is basically to do what you want when you want to. So what does the Bible say about that?
Look at Colossians 3:5-10. It tells us to put to death things like covetousness, impurity, wrath, malice, obscene talk, and plenty of others. It tells us not to lie. These are not the messages of the world. Colossians reminds us that this is part of “our old self”, our sinful self.
In fact, the weed is “self-indulgence” which describes many of these things. We tend to think that if we aren’t doing things like murdering and stealing, then we must be doing pretty good, and that self-control applies just to the “really bad” things in life. But it applies to EVERYTHING- even the little things like gossiping.
It makes sense, then, that the artificial fruit is “semi self-control” or choosing the lesser good. Colossians goes on to tell us what we should do instead of the things we are supposed to throw away. Look how many of the other fruits are there! Kindness, humility and meekness (gentleness), patience, love. Peace is in there too; Christ giving it to us. Self-control helps us with all of this. All of the fruit goes together.
Self-control involves both the mind and the body. The body- our actions; we are responsible for what we choose to do. But our thoughts are important too. 2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us to take “every thought captive to obey Christ.” And it’s not talking about just once, but every thought and every action. That is a lot. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 compares the Christian life to a race, and points out that athletes have to exercise self-control. They are disciplined, working toward a goal. Our goal is Christ, obeying him, and becoming like him. Proverbs 25:28 tells us what it is like not to have self-control. It says we are like a city who has been broken into and left without walls. That is not a comforting thought, is it?
It is easy to read this and either get discouraged because of past sin, and/or to think that we are displaying self-control to “earn” our salvation and favor with God. Remember- fruit is a RESULT of our being God’s children and experiencing his grace, mercy, and forgiveness. God saves us in spite of our sin; his salvation is not something we earn. And he is our vine (John 15). He helps us to bear fruit- not just self-control, but all of the fruit. Run to your savior. “Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord!” (Psalm 31:24)
What areas of your life need more self-control?