Connect, Lead, Equip: 3 Spiritual Reasons Self-Control is So Important
Why do we need self-control? To some extent the importance of self-control is self-evident. However, there are deeper spiritual aspects to consider. Self-control is at the root of having discipline to grow in relationship with God and therefore be directed in how to be His light in the work or ministry world. Self-control is the foundation of loving God, loving others, and being able to engage in community.
3 Reasons Self-Control is So Important:
- Desires –
Galatians 5 clarifies the wonderful, positive, and desirable virtues of the fruit of the Spirit in contrast with the “desires of the flesh.” Let’s look at the following Scriptures.
“But I say walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh,” (Galatians 5:16, ESV).
“Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God,” (Galatians 5:19-21, ESV).
The flesh isn’t referring to our physical body. These things don’t come from our body, they come from our heart. The flesh is the old self in contrast to the Spirit who now lives within us as followers of Christ. It’s the self-reliant ego that doesn’t want to yield to any authority, especially God’s, but rather finds pleasure in the desire for control, power, and self-gratification.
We’re born with this selfish disposition, our culture reinforces it, and it remains with us even after we come to faith in Christ. This is what we struggle with and this is what needs to be restrained through self-control. Otherwise we miss what God has for us and invite ruin into our lives.
- Damage –
To fully understand self-control, it’s helpful to describe what can happen when we lack self-control. Proverbs 25:28 provides a dramatic description of the individual living out of control… “a man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls,” (ESV).
The man or woman who lacks self-restraint is like a city that has no effective defense. They’re not able to resist those things that can destroy their lives and the lives of others. Historically, when occupants of a city for whatever reason neglected their own safety by failing to build and maintain strong walls, they were looked upon as weak and foolish people. Likewise, when we forfeit self-control, we’re weak, unwise, and susceptible to all kinds of spiritual attack.
- Destination –
Destination is the positive outcome, benefit, or goal of self-control. It’s longing for the very best that God has for us and embracing a vision of our lives. Our destination draws us forward even if it means regulating and ruling our inner passions and impulses.
The world-class runner goes through rigors of denial and self-control because he has a positive goal in mind… winning the race and getting the prize. He or she is willing to endure a restricted diet and turn down fun activities, because he or she is in training and doesn’t want to let anything get in the way of a superior performance.
Self-Control Now Fulfills Goals Later:
What is your goal for your life? What is your vision of what you can be in Christ? Is it compelling and drawing you forward (giving you the resolve to exercise self-control)?
In Philippians 3:14, Paul said, “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus,” (ESV).
The key to self-control is saying, “yes,” to the good God has for us. In doing so we’re saying, “no,” to the self-oriented and self-indulgent desires that keep us from enjoying life.