I Peter 1:13-16 (NLT)
So think clearly and exercise self-control. Look forward to the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world. So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.”
Parenting principles seem to be cyclic in nature. One generation choosing harsh discipline while another decides to allow children to raise themselves. Each one is governed by philosophies and insights of previous generations. While one group of diligent and dutiful parents will leave everything in their home just as it is in order to teach children safety and self-control, other guardians choose to remove any all temptations from their children’s path rather than use the word “no” or “wait”. Each parent who is given a child by the Lord is responsible for doing their very best to raise a confident adult. The trouble is who can clearly define what exactly that is. I have a friend with two small children, a boy and girl. Whenever one of her children receives a blessing, she immediately does her best to do the same for her other child. This was easier before they grew to elementary age acquiring many friends and opportunities. She is now becoming exasperated trying to keep everything in their lives equal. Well, the truth is life is not equal and many times unfair. However, she has two children who cannot accept such a thing and have complete meltdowns if they encounter inequality. Nobody is perfect even when it comes to parenting. We all make mistakes. As the mother of five children with three adults and two dependents, I can see the things that I have done with my older kids that I have changed with my younger ones. It is all about balance, growth and flexibility. Peter hit the nail on the head in his letter we know as I Peter. Think clearly and exercise self-control. We look forward to gracious salvation when Jesus returns, SO we must live as God’s Obedient Children now.
No matter how you choose to parent your natural children, it is important to teach them self-control to mold and shape responsible adults who are able to make it through life. Even those who are not believers truly benefit from such instruction. Maturity requires self-control. Self-control is one’s ability to control their emotions, desires and actions. Before the Holy Spirit came into our life by accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, we didn’t stand a chance against the controlling emotions, desires and actions of the flesh. But now as a believer, this is the definition of true self-control enabling us to live as God’s Obedient Children but it will be a fight. When we were children, we acted like children naturally and spiritually. But God is calling for His Children to grow up and mature beginning with allowing the Holy Spirit to make us holy in everything that we do. God chose you to be holy, set apart, consecrated, special for His Use, and the object of His Greatest Blessing. It begins with freedom and is achieved by self-control cutting the ropes that hold us to sinful desires and taking hold of the Cross.
Galatians 3:23-26 (NLT)
Before the way of faith in Christ was available to us, we were placed under guard by the law. We were kept in protective custody, so to speak, until the way of faith was revealed. Let me put it another way. The law was our guardian until Christ came; it protected us until we could be made right with God through faith. And now that the way of faith has come, we no longer need the law as our guardian. For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
When my children were all small, I did not move things out of the way. Everything remained the same with the exception of safety plugs in electric sockets. When they would attempt to touch something that could hurt them or was not for them to have, I would guide them away. Yes, I even told my kids “no”. But I did not just tell them “no” and leave it at that. I would stand firm in my “no” and then try to lead them to a better choice. In the beginning when they were babies, this seemed like a daunting and never-ending task. As they were constantly on the move, so was I. But as they entered the dreaded adolescent years, I would now need to allow them the freedom to make choices and hope that all I had taught them along the way caused them to develop self-discipline. I remember the first time each one drove away in an automobile for the first time alone. My heart thundered in my chest and my mind raced as I whispered, “Holy Spirit go with them!” God’s Law was given as protective custody for all of His Children carefully delineating His Expectations and the result of disobedience. People had a real problem with that because they were always battling with their flesh. Jesus Christ came and died on the Cross to set you and I free from the sin caused by lack of self-control. He would not stop there. Now that faith has come, we have the power to overcome sin in our life and control our flesh. Faith grows into confident hope that helps us make better choices based on salvation and eternal results. Could it be that God allows us to endure trials and temptations to teach us self-control that leads to successfully holiness? I think He does. As I go through certain circumstances by faith, I find on the other side that one more rope has been cut to my old life and I have developed more confident hope in Jesus Christ. God is an excellent Father who wants us to have His Very Best even if it means allowing some light and momentary troubles. When my children were small, it would have been easier to move everything up and out of the way to avoid confrontation and create peace. But if they grew up without self-control, how would they survive with the endless choices between good and evil? God has clearly set forth His Expectation for your life. His Word tells us exactly what He desires for us. His Son, Jesus has empowered us through His Death and Resurrection to experience the freedom necessary to have this life. His Spirit lives inside of you enforcing the faith you have been given so it will grow into confident hope. Are you working with God in this process?
An evil man is held captive by his own sins; they are ropes that catch and hold him. He will die for lack of self-control; he will be lost because of his great foolishness.
Passing a woman pushing a cart with her sweet toddler in the front, I told her, “What a sweetie?” She shot back, “For now…” and laughed. Encountering the same woman and child at the checkout, I found her retort to be true as the same young man was now writhing, kicking and screaming when told that he could not have the gum carefully positioned along the line. Holiness and righteousness are not based on our actions when everything is going our way. It is defined by our ability to control our emotions, desires and actions when tempted or tried. This is the fire of refinement that separates the men from the boys and women from the girls. There is no middle-of-the-road gray area that connects good and evil. You are either living in the light or darkness. Each choice you make must fall on one side or the other. The only good people in this world are those who are following in the Footsteps of Jesus Christ striving to be holy and allowing His Spirit to guide our body, mind and soul. An evil man is held captive by his sins. There are many so-called “Christians” who believe in the Name of Jesus Christ but never give Him a second thought. They “believe” that God is good and Jesus is great but not that there is a requirement to follow Him. These are the people who become lost in great foolishness. You have been called to the Cross to nail your sinful desires and fleshly requirements. It requires submission of the flesh. It is the battle of a lifetime.
Proverbs 25:28 (NLT) A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls.
For the last couple of years, the Lord has been dealing with me about waiting. I am the world’s worst “waiter”. Servanthood is not the problem, but self-control is. I do not like long lines, long lights or long processes. I am one of those I-want-it-now people with little patience. It makes me my own worst enemy at times. When God is working all the details of my life according to His Perfect Plan, my inability to wait stresses me out and makes me amenable to substitution and compromise. So the Lord has put me in a wait-and-see position. It has almost become humorous it happens so much. Self-control allows us to wait for God’s Best and keep our flesh under control. It is very important in having the blessings that we seek and Favor of God in our life. Otherwise we keep back tracking to find our flesh and regain control of our life ending the process of God and tearing down the foundation of faith that the Lord has been constructing in our life to lead us to confident hope that allows us to claim our salvation when we meet Him face-to-face. Faith is for today but it is redeemable only in confident hope that allows us to wait on the Lord. Confident hope is our ticket to Heaven. See you cannot call what you believe God for in this life hope. It is for now. It will be seen. You have been promised all provision and prosperity including a long life by righteousness. Confident hope comes in to play when it really counts. When we are judged according to our life on this planet, it is the moment I will need every drop of the blood of Jesus and His Cloak of Righteousness to lead me home. This is the place where our flesh dies as does every work attributed to the flesh. It is time to crucify our flesh now before it is too late and build a foundation of faith that will raise up the walls broken by disappointment and shame. Confident hope will be our buffer as we pass through judgment into His Glory.
Galatians 5:22-25 (NLT)
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.
The same self-seeking spirit that we are born with will continue to rule our life without proper guidance. I know adults with absolutely no self-control. It is sad as they wander through life. These individuals cannot understand why earthly success is elusive and struggle with spiritual success. The Holy Spirit is our counselor and cultivator in life when we accept our position as Children of God through Jesus Christ. Even then it will be a lifelong struggle to maintain our course towards holiness, righteousness, faithfulness and obedience. “So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.” (Galatians 5:17-18) The Holy Spirit is vital in your quest for self-control. You cannot ever defeat the force of flesh fighting for control inside of you without the Blood of Jesus covering your sins and His Spirit producing the first fruits of faith. He produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and gentleness, but note the anchor of all of these things is self-control. The first eight things listed are impossible without self-control. Total self-control is only possible when we choose to allow God’s Spirit to control our life every single part without question. To hold anything back will ultimately defeat the cause by giving the flesh an unfair advantage by choosing evil over good. Fight the good fight of faith which cuts our ties to sin and fully accepts the salvation of body, mind and soul!
2 Timothy 3:1-5 (NLT)
You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!
There is no question in my mind that we are indeed living in the last days before the return of Jesus Christ. It doesn’t matter to me if you believe it or not. See what you believe or do with your life is strictly between you and God even you choose to not believe that He exists. On that day when we meet the Lord face-to-face, I will not have to answer for your life. I will have to give account for my own. Therefore it is up to me to decide if I will control my life or live by His Spirit. No one else will ever factor into this choice. It is a call to the Cross that only you can answer. You know who you see in the mirror but more importantly you know who rules your heart. If there is sin and sinful intentions at the bottom of your heart, you will never survive judgment and will die in your sin. The Grace found in the Blood of Jesus Christ is reserved for those who wish to relinquish control of their heart, mind, body and soul to the Lord and be holy as He is holy. Do not mistake holy and religious for a lot of people do. To live according to one’s own power and strength is to reject the Power (His Spirit) that will allow us to be godly and holy in the Sight of the Lord. It is up to you whether you will answer the Lord’s Call to the Cross and live a holy life. You cannot do it in your own strength. You cannot live forever any other way but totally submitting to the righteousness found in Christ Jesus. You have to make Him Lord of your life to survive. He has given you everything you need to be that person. Will you give up everything to be the one? Will you answer His Call to the Cross? Release the shackles that are binding you to guilt, sin and shame. Silence your flesh today by listening to God’s Spirit. It is up to you. Will you take up your Cross? Will you let Jesus cut the rope that is holding you back from His Very Best?
Matthew 16:24-25 (NLT)
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.”