A man without self-control

is like a city broken into

and left without walls.

Proverbs 25:28

I’ve noticed that many of us are struggling to be disciplined lately, myself included. Maybe we never really were, but it’s become obvious now that our routines have been disrupted.

Working from home is new for many, bringing new temptations towards sloth and/or overwork. It might be that your sleep schedule has become erratic now that you don’t have to get up and go out. Perhaps your diet and exercise and personal hygiene regimens are not great. Circumstances and social media have been taking many of us on a wild ride of emotions lately. I won’t ask how your Bible reading and prayer routines are going (wait, I guess I just did).

The issue of discipline is really a matter of self-control. Are you in control of yourself, or are you being jerked around by your passions? Are you guided by a renewed mind steeped in God’s revelation, or is peer pressure telling you what to think? Have you learned to tame your tongue, or are you saying (or typing) whatever is the first thing to pop into your head? Do you set the agenda for your day in submission to God, or are you dictated to by the immediate, the urgent, or the whims of the moment? Can you wait, or do you unreflectively grab what you desire right away? Can you do things that you don’t necessarily want to do, or are you an addict – unable to stop or say No to a substance or activity or thought?

Are you self-controlled? To paraphrase the proverb, a person without self-control is like a Jewel with bashed in windows. There are no proper boundaries. You are susceptible to anyone coming in at any time and taking from you. You’re not functioning properly. You’re a mess.

A person without any self-control has no defense against the world, the flesh, and the devil coming right in and telling you what to do. You’re at their mercy… and they are not merciful.

But God is!!! Praise him that he’s not grading you on your level of discipline to make the cut for his kingdom. You don’t (you can’t) earn your salvation through your self-control. You know you can be addicted to working out, eating right, religious duties, etc. too, right? Biblical self-control is not self-salvation. It’s a result of salvation.

Self-control is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (see Gal. 5:23). Struggling believer: you are struggling because the Spirit of God dwells in you and has given you a desire to please him and be pleased with him. You are united to Christ. You are a new creation. You are no longer in bondage to sin. You have the freedom and the power to fight for new habits. “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Gal. 5:24).

Now “walk by the Spirit” (Gal. 5:16), “keep in step with the Spirit” (Gal. 5:25), “sow… to the Spirit” (Gal. 6:8), “be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18). This is our new purpose, together. “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” (Tit. 2:11-14).

Your fellow struggler,

Pastor Nathan