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Discernment Life Ministries
Dr. Leon L. Sanders  |  Pensacola, Florida
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Pensacola, FL 32504
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Spiritual Maturity is Not Control of Self: Road to Failure!
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 17, 2022
Posted by: Discernment Life Ministries | more..
40+ views
There is probably no single biblical concept so misrepresented resulting in failure leading to ruined lives than Self-Control! What is Self-Control? The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines this as, “restraint exercised over one’s own impulses, emotions, or desires”. The New Testament uses the word ἐγκράτεια, egkrateia which classically means, one who has the power over oneself to moderate one’s desires. Over several thousand years the meaning has changed little. However, how does the Bible usage define Self-Control? We will look at several passages that discuss Self-Control without using the word in addition to the significant passage that uses this word as a fruit of the Spirit (Ga 5:22-23). We will begin from the position inherent with these two definitions for they lay the basis for your failure to Control Self.

Throughout history the person who controlled their evil passions while encouraging the growth of their moral strengths was considered to have Self-Control and certain, but not always, able to achieve success. The Greek tragedies were morality plays denoting the failure of the central character to exhibit Self-Control; thus, being controlled by passions. the Bible is frequently presented as a long series of moral tales encouraging readers to suppress their lustfulevil passions while choosing to follow Jesus’ moral excellence and thus achieve Heaven. This is an incorrect view of both the Bible and Gospel Salvation. Even modern psychology encourages each person to Control Self through a series of rules or methodologies which will result in moralgood or strength {See Above Graphic}. This is simply the same tired road to failure man has followed since Man and Woman sinned. The Old Testament illustrated the Jews failure to understand God and their coming Messiah through this lens which today we call works! At the end of 1,400 years of trying to practice Self-Control the Jews and Gentiles killed Messiah who revealed their error so they could embrace a pathway to Self-Control that was not really about you Controlling Self.

Christ did not replace The Mosaic Law {Ten Words-Commandments} with another set of behavior rules (Ex 20:1-17). Neither did He negate The Mosaic Law which is often taught today (Mt 5:17-18). The Ten Words communicate God’s immutable, unchanging, nature by contrasting it to our sinful actions; hence, it is given as a series of negatives. During Christ’s Sermon on the Mount, He illustrates how each law was to lead the believer to understand their inability to keep the Law. They simply did not have God’s nature; they had their fleshly sinful nature (Ps 51:5).

Christ showed that, Do not kill, pointed to the underlying motivator of anger. This was clearly evident in Cain’s desire to murder Abel; his out of control anger (Ge 4:3-10)! This involved the inner man or emotional aspect of sin (Mt 5:21-26). The physical or fleshly aspect of sin He covered in His discussion of adultery motivated from physical lust (Mt 5:27-32). Both of these coming together in Paul’s discussion of how our Sin Nature leads us down the path of physical degradation exhibiting our violence at ourselves, others and God (Ro 1:18-32).

When a person is biblically Saved, they possess a Fleshly nature and a New Nature (Ro 7:14-24; 2Co 5:17). As new babes in Christ we do not know how to grow in our New Nature as it is diametrically opposed to our sin nature. We naturally gravitate back to our comfortable fleshly ways of thinking justified by our well-crafted worldviews that justify ourselves as the hero of our own story! James discusses that the immature believer does not leave this position because they do not grow in understanding of the Bible and its teachings (He 5:11-14; Ja 1:5-8). They are two-souled, unstable in every way. These people chase every new promise or new methodology to bring stability and encourage Self-Control. Alas, each changing wind of doctrineresults in failure, ensnaring the immature in endless schisms of failure (Ep 4:11-14). They then go on to another method of failure for all follow the same underlying prescription: You are expected to Control You!

The point of failure is You! If you could Control you then Christ would not have died for You. But You cannot Control You. In fact, your sin nature, Old Man was crucified with Christ; it was unredeemable (Ro 6:5-11). Likewise, the Fleshly nature is also unredeemable; however, we remain in our body in order to be beacons of hope and light to the Lost showing that in Christ there is Hope (Ro 8:22-25). Therefore, it is not Bible memorization, giving off money or even piety that demonstrates Christian spiritual maturity. Paul writes that You cannot Control the Flesh and when you try to do so, especially through asceticism, you empower the Flesh to your determent (Col 2:20-23). The more rules you follow, the more severe you become with self-control, the stronger the Flesh becomes. This is the sure prescription to failure! Like Paul, we cry out, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Ro 7:24).

The answer is before us the entire time in the Bible. Christ does not intend that You Control the Flesh. He has given us an Advocate that will Control the Flesh with our consent: Holy Spirit (Jn 14:15-17; 16:7-14). The Flesh never gives up, never surrenders and never quits (Ga 5:16-18). It is the Holy Spirit who has the power to Control our flesh with our cooperation. Why do we frequently fail? We grieve or quench the Spirit by wrenching Control back from the Spirit (Ep 4:30; 1Th 5:19). We do this when we are again enticed by sin through our Flesh (Ja 1:13-18). Christ would have us rest in Him via the Spirit; but, we want to demonstrate our strength which is actually our weakness (Mt 11:28-30). Then we are crushed by the Flesh via our sin. This first occurred with Man and Woman when they followed their desires apart from Christ in the Garden (Ge 3:1-13). Each blamed another for their sin; but, as James makes clear each of us is responsible for our own sin: Saved and Lost!

Every decision, every choice reveals whom we worship; whose values we desire at that moment. If we follow the Spirit then we are guided by Christ growing in discernment and maturity. If we lead then we are actually being led by Satan-World-Flesh and again find ourselves enslaved to the sin that tempted us (2Pe 2:19-20). Our thoughts, words and actions at each moment show us, and everyone around us, whom we are following. The wise believer learns from each painful experience choosing to follow the Spirit, rejecting the evil. The foolish believer is like a pig returning to the mud, degradation, of sin and will willingly repeat this process until called home (Death) or learn to follow, wisdom.

Self-Control is not me controlling me. It is me resting in Christ-Spirit as they Control the Flesh. The vices of the Flesh then pass through me, do not affect me. When I seek to lead the Spirit then these vices again overwhelm me with the same intensity as previously regardless of how long they had lain dormant. Just as Newton makes a terrible driver when the care hits an icy patch, so also do I fail when I seek to again to Control what I cannot Control; when I try to take the place of Christ. You make your character with every small decision; it is the accumulation of the small decisions that make the big decision already realized. Choose wisely by resting in Christ in His armor (Ep 6:10-18).

I will close with this parable. The garden hose is one’s life and the flow of water represents life events which are always beyond our control. We have the choice of trying to stop the flow of water with our thumb. No matter the rate of water flow, slow to fast, we will fail to Stop the flow of water; it will burst forth! However, if we employ a nozzle, representing the Spirit, the flow of water is easily controlled or stopped as required. One always leads to failure for one is never strong enough; hence, this is why Works always fail! The other is success because the strength is outside of ourselves; we are wisely and humbly following the Spirit who leads us according to God’s will through life’s events. Thus, we walk in peace even though the World hates us as it hated Him because we look to a future in the New Heaven and Earth just as Abraham looked to a heavenly Jerusalem to come (He 11:13-16; Re 21:1-7). From this perspective the Law is not our enemy judging us for our sin which is crucified with Christ; it is our friend guiding us into image of Christ which we shall realize when we finally shed this fleshly body (1Co 15:35-49).

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