Friday, January 26, 2018

Reign It In

This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye  would.  
(Galatians 5:16-17)

One reason God has given us grace is for us to express self-control. It is hard to imagine a Christian, preparing for the Kingdom of God, who does not strive for continual and resolute self-government, that is, one who allows his passions, tastes and desires unbridled freedom to express themselves. That is what the world does! When we witness such a demonstration, it gives strong evidence that the person is unconverted. Blind passion is not meant to be our guide.  Apostle Paul tells us that there are some things that should not even be named among us

But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Ephesians 5:3

If men live guided by their animal passions; not ever employing the fruit of the spirit, they woule land in the ditch because 

"God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap" 
(Galatians 6:7)

"For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish."   (Galatians 5:17)

The beloved disciple, John, gives us a wonderful truth of God; He has placed a powerful gift inside of us that exceeds the power of anything we may come against!

Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.  (1 John 4:4)

Sometimes we seem to consist of a whole clamorous mob of desires, like week-old kittens, blind of eye with mouths wide open, mewing to be satisfied. It is as if two voices are in us, arguing, "You shall, you shall not. You ought, you ought not." Does not God want us to set a will above these appetites that cannot be bribed, a reason that cannot be deceived and a conscience that will be true to God and His standards? We must either control ourselves using the courage, power and love of God's Spirit, or we will fall to pieces.

Adam and Eve established the pattern for mankind in the Garden of Eden. All of us have followed it, and then, conscience-smitten, we rankle under feelings of weakness. They were tempted by the subtle persuasions of Satan and the appeals of their own appetites for forbidden fruit that promised something forbidden to them.  Even was overcome by temptation. To this they succumbed, and they sinned, bringing upon themselves the death penalty and much more evil besides. What is the use of appealing to men who cannot govern themselves, whose very disease is that they cannot, whose conscience cries out often both before and after they have done wrong, "Who shall deliver me from this body of death?" It is useless to tell a king whose subjects have overthrown him to rule his kingdom. His kingdom is in full revolt, and he has no soldiers behind him. He is a monarch with no power.

Someone once said, "If conscience had power, as it has authority, it would govern the world." Authority without power is nothing but vanity. Conscience has the authority to guide or accuse, but what good is it if the will is so enfeebled that the passions and desires get the bit between their teeth, trample the conscience and gallop headlong to the inevitable collision with the ditch?

Apostle Paul lets us know this truth of God:

Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands. For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.  (2 Timothy 1:6-7)

The solution to this lies in our relationship with Christ: 

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. (Philippians 2:12-13)

This is the only thing that will give us complete self-control, and it will not fail.  Jesus makes this wonderful promise of strength to those who trust Him: 

If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!  (Luke 11:13)

Trust Jesus Christ, and ask Him to govern. Ask Him for an overflow of God's Holy Spirit, and He will help you to control yourself. Remember, this is a major reason that He gives us His Spirit. He will not fail in what He has promised because the request fits perfectly into God's purpose of creating sons in His image: 

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.  (2 Timothy 1:7)

If we will only go to Him and trust Him with ourselves, living in true communion with Him while we patiently exercise the gifts that He gives, our lives will be in step with what Apostle Paul experienced through his "thorn in the flesh":  

Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." (II Corinthians 12:8-9)

Apostle Paul recounts a few of the deeds of the heroes of faith in ages past: 

And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon, and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.  (Hebrews 11:32-34)

God's love for us will fan His Spirit in us into responding in courage, strength, love and self-control. He who brought quietness and tranquility to the raging maniac—whom even chains could not hold— Mark 5:1-15, will give us power over the one city which we must govern, ourselves.

We must not allow self-control to be deprecated in our minds or to be of minor importance because we are persuaded that "Christ did it all for us." Nor can we allow such a deprecation to lead us to abuse God's mercy.

Self-control is an attribute of our Creator that Jesus exemplified in His life and that Apostle Paul strongly exhorts us to exercise in ours. If we are to be made in our Father's image, we will yield to God in this matter to glorify Him with our moderation in all things and rigid resistance to sin.

Having knowledge of God without the practical experience of self-responsibility is not enough for entrance into the Kingdom.  But with the help of God's divine power, self-mastery is produced.
And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; (2 Peter 1:6)
The last fruit of the spirit listed in Galatians 5, Self-control, closes the list of the fruit of the Spirit, just as drunkenness and reveling close the list of the works of the flesh (verse 21). The flesh and the spirit are contrary to one another (verse 17).  Self-control is not gained by just suppressing, but by controlling the lusts of the flesh. Those who are "led by the Spirit" (verse 18), who "live in the Spirit" and "also walk in the Spirit" (verses 24-25) attain self-control and are on their way to fruitful growth in God's character and spiritual success.

And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.   If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.  (Galatians 5:24-25)

(Biblical Studies)


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