How do we control self in the Christian life?
I was thinking about this as it is often the thing, we find most difficult. The old self often rears its ugly head and spoils our Christian life. Thanks be to God we are covered by the blood of the lamb for those times, and we can cast all our cares on Him, because He cares for us.
But we shouldn’t rest in that truth to the detriment of our growth in grace.
I thought the example of driving a car to be a good one to illustrate this.
When I first get into my car and it is stationary, all is at peace. No need to exercise the grey cells much. The gear is in neutral, engine off and all quiet.
Life can be like that sometimes. Nothing much is happening, people go about around us, but we are stationary, at peace...not a lot of self control needed!
But then we start the engine and begin to move and we need to take control of the journey. Which way do I need to go? which gear do I need to be in? what is the car in front doing? where is the gap in the traffic for me to turn right? How long till a service station? Some of these questions and more can be navigated on autopilot as we have learnt how to deal with them through the experience of driving. Other times we have new situations to deal with, especially if we are on a new journey and are not sure of the route and the way ahead isn’t clear. This can lead to a loss of control as we experience uncertainty, confusion, fear, even a sense of loneliness, especially when driving alone. There is a book I often speak of called ‘The Bumps are What we Climb on’ by Warren Wiersbe.
On our Christian journey we often come across bumps on the road. Sometimes they are to be expected because our sin has caused them through our selfishness, anger, envy, pride, lust etc...other times they seem to come from nowhere, like cancer, job losses, disappointments in life, or from hurts caused to us by fellow believers, family or friends.
When driving a car we need to use our senses; our sight, hearing and thinking. Is the way clear? do I need to stop? What is that noise? am I going the right way?
This is true also of our Christian life, when we experience these uncertainties we should apply the same questions. Unlike other road users of life though, we have Jesus to steer us, to control us. When the problems in your life cause you to stop, do you listen for his still small voice, our conscience? Do you ask Him which way is the right way? And do you submit to His superior knowledge for every direction of your life wherever He takes you?
Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit to be our on-board navigation system through life. He is not like a car though that needs (amongst other things) fuel, a battery, and a person to drive it, no, the Holy Spirit is complete, for He is God. He is always with us, but we must consciously engage Him in our lives. Jesus said to his disciples in John 14v26: “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”
When we need spiritual guidance, ask the Holy Spirit and he will remind us of all that Jesus has said to us, everything, from beginning to end. He is your helper, your comforter, your advocate.
Jesus continued speaking in verse 27 of that same chapter: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
When you are afraid, thank Jesus for His peace that he has given you. Keep drawing on your God given resources. When you sin and go the wrong way, be quick to turn to God and repent. God is just, and will forgive all who trust in Jesus for the forgiveness of their sin.
Maybe you need to seek God’s forgiveness for the first time, maybe you have never experienced God’s guidance and peace that are freely available in Jesus through His word, the Bible.
The peace of God is an amazing attribute to possess. It is the same peace that He has in heaven, a holy undefiled peace...this is why scripture elsewhere calls it the peace that passes all understanding, and yet it is ours, it has been given to us, in Christ Jesus.
Turn to Jesus, follow Him, and He will guide you and give you His peace on your homeward journey as you learn to give the control of self over to God, and live in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Hallelujah, what a Saviour!