Control of self vs. The Spirit of Self Control
Self-control is one of the fruits of Holy Spirit! Sometimes that can be a shock or confusing matter to some of us.
When we think of self-control, we often think about it as being one of the lists of fruit that we do not understand or even dread.
And yet, it is the one we often all crave and desire after. It is the one fruit that we all know that we need in our lives to experience true freedom.
I have grown to love self-control/temperance to the point of actually discovering delight in this special gift given by the Lord.
The Gentle Truth
Before we go into the truth about self-control, we have to remove wrong thinking and change our minds to embrace freedom fully.
There is often a stark difference in understanding this fruit because we often get confused with "the control of self" and self-control, which are two different matters.
The question is what and who is the self to which we are referring? Who is the who?
So often, the self is the soulish part of us trying to exert power and dominion in as many areas of life as possible. And for many Christians, Christ is often tagged on for good measure.
But control of self is often riddled in legalism, self-centeredness, self-promotion, self-determination, self-serving, and self-sufficiency – outside of Christ. What is there to delight in when our attempts are set in pure grit and hard work? There is no joy in this.
Initially, we will find some counterfeit delight in seeing (albeit fleeting) changes but the best plans are the long-term well thought out plans.
The Bible teaches us that self-control is a FRUIT OF THE Spirit. It can not be a work of the FLESH or, as the Bible teaches, dead works. The Spirit produces life, but the flesh in control leads to nothing except death:
John 6:63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. (emphasis added)
Romans 8:6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.
When we approach self-control, we have to know that it is an inward work of your spirit mingled with Holy Spirit. Self-control is not the work of the soul or natural strength outside of the governance of the Holy Spirit.
My journey began with controlling my eating habits, which was an absolute waste of 20+ years spent in endless dieting, money, time, and self-discipline measures. "If only I could just have some SELF CONTROL" was my constant cry!
I was stomping my feet in endless frustration, doubt, and condemnation. There is no condemnation for those who walk according to the Spirit, so this should have been a big wake-up call that something wasn't right. Romans 8:1-2
I tried the Christian programs and diets but alas, to no avail.
"What was wrong with me?" Of course, nothing was WRONG with 'me,' but there was a missing piece of the puzzle in my life that, at the time, I just hadn't found.
Often we are so gripped with saying, "what's wrong with me"? But the Bible teaches that it is no longer you that lives but Christ!
By majorly overhauling my identity in Christ, I discovered that I am not the total of my thoughts or actions.
Galatians 2:20 "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
I discovered that the missing part of the puzzle was learning to practice leaning into the Spirit of God when life happens and taking my eyes off TRYING to "control self" in food, diets, tv watching, etc.
The Holy Spirit was the one I started to practice leaning into, learning to rest, pause, and provide a space to hear more clearly.
You see, whatever your vice is – whatever you turn to for coping is just a symptom of a deeper area of your life that has not experienced the remarkable wisdom, delighting, and goodness of the Lord.
I now live a life where cravings, diets, and emotional eating no longer have a hold over my life, thoughts, or actions. Hallelujah! All glory to God!
I learned that self-control was the ability to pause on any circumstance or situation with the NUMBER 1 GOAL and glorious opportunity to experience more of God.
His perspective, His view, His gentle guidance and heart about the situation. Not my last goal, which was to pause and stop so I wouldn't eat the extra cookie.
The Bible clearly states that we must seek the kingdom first, not the primary focus on having the extra cookie or the diet plan we desperately want to keep.
The truth is all of these things we want will naturally be added to our lives with His yoke that is easy and His light burdens.
I discovered that the only way I would prosper in health was when my soul began to flourish. 3 John 1:2
How did it become a delight?
I heard a quote that it was like pressing pause on your favorite live tv show. So you can get up and grab your cup of tea or coffee, have a bathroom break, etc.
This precious gift had been given so that I could press pause on life's circumstances happening "live" right in front of me and turn to Him to have my actual needs met.
Thus enabling me to experience the other fruit of the Spirit and wisdom of the Lord guiding me step by step in any given scenario.
Do you remember the days of TV before you could pause or, in fact, before we had decent remotes? It was a lot more effort and a lot more of self. But we now have and always could press pause on life.
And the goal: To never press un-pause on that situation again. And just in case you do, that's okay; we get to practice pressing pause again.
When I can press pause in an otherwise challenging situation where I may have reacted hastily, I make room for the fruit of gentleness, the fruit of love, and the twin to the Spirit of self-control, "patience."
The best place to live a life of discipline has to be from a place of delight. We often do things consistently because we love to do them.
For example, I love spending time with my husband - no one has to force me. Similarly, I love to worship, and no one has to pin me down to worship my God!
Likewise, if we can find delight in the Spirit of self-control, it becomes a joy and not a chore.
Our goal is that we want to practice our inbuilt internal rest instead of turning to external or counterfeit resting plans.
The priority: Renew your mind about self-control.
When you hear the word self-control, what thoughts or emotions does it bring up? Dread, fear, confusion?
Rediscover the gift of the Spirit of self-control through the Holy and delightful perspective of the Word of God.
Practice in everyday life to enter into rest. Rest enables us to put trials, difficulties, and fiery darts of the enemy on time out.
The enemy loves for us to act quickly, react instead of respond.
Therefore, as we practice in moderate or basic life situations, we build up the memory in our souls and bodies to know what to do in the more complex matters of life.
Start today & enjoy being a step ahead!
Clear the noise!
We are practicing to clear the noise so that we can consider an alternative fruit and perspective.
I watched this clip shared with me from the movie "For the love of the game" starring Kevin Costner. He is up against the voices of naysayers and doubt, and he clears the noise around him to focus.
Watch the short clip here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7gXXtjHDDis
The men shouting in the stands reminds me of the voice of our accuser, the enemy directly, which often sounds like you. But it's not!
We are practicing engaging in internal rest to ask the Holy Spirit what He sees, hears's or feels about this situation. What are you speaking, Lord?
Example 1: You're dealing with a difficult person in your life.
Instead of reacting from the flesh; what fruit do you want them to experience, Lord?
What are you saying in this situation Lord? What do you see going on in this person's life?
Another example: Say you are having a difficult time and turn to food as your comfort?
What is the real need of my soul right now? What is missing, and who do you want to be for me, Lord, at this moment?
I JUST WANT OUT! - NOW
Some of you say I need God to just take me out of this situation - NOW, I need an escape route - NOW, or I just need a revelation - NOW. But, what your soul truly needs is Jesus Himself to meet you on a heart level and to walk through this with Him.
A quick way to practice today!
I would practice this in simple moments first, like not knowing what to eat for lunch or feeling exhausted, etc., or if you can't remember something, a name, or the next thing on your to-do list that is a priority.
1 - Still your soul & Slow down
Take a deep breath in. And as you exhale, say the name of Jesus. Do this seven times.
Then when you get to the end of your deep breathing, be still for a few seconds (you may get insight straight away).
2 - Embrace the gentleness of His voice
By asking questions such as these:
What do you want to speak to me at this moment?
What are you saying about this situation?
What do you hear, Lord, in this situation?
Who do you want to be for me in this?
What fruit do you want me to exercise here?
3 - Delight in Thanksgiving
Delight in experiencing the truths you start to receive.
Delight in the truths and insights He has for you.
Delight in the perfect peace of the Lord for you.
Embrace and delight in His patience towards you and others
Embrace Him in thanksgiving for His gentleness
Enjoy the great exchange!
We have great promise in Isaiah 61
1 “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,
Because the Lord has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
3 To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”
4 And they shall rebuild the old ruins,
They shall raise up the former desolations,
And they shall repair the ruined cities,
The desolations of many generations.
As we work through the Spirit of Self Control, the Holy Spirit shines a light on our souls and heals us. Know that the Lord will rebuild all that has been lost.
The Spirit of Self control and the love of God opens the floodgates as we practice working with the fruit. We thank Him for the fruit being released into every area of our soul – To overwhelm our WILL, EMOTIONS, CHOICES, IMAGINATION, CONSCIENCE, MIND,
AS WE GO through fear/panic over foods/weight – we embrace and practice perfect love and peace.
AS WE GO through anger/offense with others or even with yourself - We practice embracing His love and patience for us and others
AS WE GO through the lies of harshness, the feelings to restrict or obsess – We practice embracing His gentleness
AS WE GO through feelings of being out of control – we embrace Holy Spirit giving us the space to breathe and draw from all the other fruits.
AS WE GO through feelings of judgment and condemnation – we embrace goodness and His grace.
We live out our inheritance and renounce the enemies' lies that these issues are bigger/stronger than His fruit, His grace, and the dominion He has given us.
Self Control powerfully allows us to lean on His perspective, WHICH EMPOWERS us to live a life of true and lasting freedom. It is a gift that keeps on giving
Please print a copy of these notes and take some time to meditate on them.
If you would like more tips and advice, comment below. Or share how this new perspective could change your life.
"This is an adapted excerpt from Sophia's upcoming book Spirit-full eating."
Sophia Tucker is wife to a wonderful man of God and mother to 3 sons. She is the overseer of Tapestry Of Beauty Ministries, minister, author, and Mind Renewal Coach. www.sophiatucker.com