Fruit of the Spirit — Self-Control
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The fruit of the Spirit is recorded by Paul in his letter to the church in Galatia. Galatians 5:22-23 says, “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!” (NLT).
The fruit of the Spirit is demonstrated in the life of those who believe and follow Jesus Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit. This is a transformative work that the Holy Spirit does in the life of the believer; it’s not something you can do on your own.
As you grow in your relationship with Jesus, the Holy Spirit’s work helps you shed your old habits and desires, allowing you to come into alignment with God’s will. This doesn’t happen overnight, but rather is a long refinement process called sanctification.
Self-control or self-discipline may be used interchangeably, depending on your Bible translation.
Life before Jesus consists of living for yourself, guiding your own thoughts and actions based on your wants. For the believer, life begins to shift from a me-focus to a Jesus-focus. Before Jesus, you were a slave to sin. In Romans 6:6, Paul declares that once you trust in Christ, you are no longer a slave to sin because Jesus has overcome that sin on the cross.
In your new life in Christ, you’re actively surrendering your old desires so that you can experience the abundant life that Jesus has for you! The fleshly desires of your heart don’t automatically disappear when you start following Jesus, but rather the Holy Spirit begins to work with your life to help change your perspective, desires, and selfish ways so that you can demonstrate self-control and self-discipline and choose to not sin.
When you push self-control to the wayside, you’re actively choosing to let sin have a place in your life instead of choosing to turn away from it. Your sin may provide temporary happiness, but it ultimately drives a wedge between you and the Lord. Ask the Holy Spirit to strengthen you when you face trials and moments where you can choose to sin or choose self-control.
Practicing self-control is like training for a race. Each day you increase your pace and run a little farther than the day before which builds up your endurance so you can ultimately run the race with ease. Your ability to run at that pace soon becomes second nature because you’ve repeatedly practiced.
Choosing to turn away from sin will eventually become easier the more you practice self-control. You’ll find that when you can say no to your daily sin struggles, you will develop the perseverance needed to rely on the Holy Spirit when unexpected challenges arise, helping you to turn away from sin. What a privilege you have to demonstrate to the world around you what it looks like to actively make a decision that is so counter-culture so that you can bring glory, praise, and honor to God Almighty!
By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires. In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone. The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But those who fail to develop in this way are shortsighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins. 2 Peter 1:3-9
Scripture is quoted from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
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