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All of us would agree that the Big Three Enemies of the Christian life are the World, the Flesh, and the Devil.
All three attack us through the time-honored method of whispering in our ear, /“You deserve a break from self-control today.”/
Indeed, all advertising is carefully designed to create in us a sense of moral permission to gratify ourselves in fleshly self-indulgence.
And let’s be honest: Fleshly self-indulgence describes the culture of our day.
A lifestyle where one denies him or her self nothing in the way of worldly pleasures is a lifestyle of self-destruction.
/“Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control.”/
(Proverbs 25:28, NIV84).
The World, the Flesh and the Devil all encourage indulgence.
At the same time, for the Christian, the Spirit of God whispers in our ear the virtue of self-control.
The result is a spiritual tug-of-war that goes on in the believer’s life.
It’s a battle that the Apostle Paul sympathizes with.
The Apostle Paul speaks of this in the first part or our text: /"For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please."/
(Galatians 5:17, NASB95)
In his own personal life, the Apostle admits to this struggle: Romans 7:14-25.
The Apostle Paul understands that the tug of the flesh is a powerful pull.
But God does not leave us without help.
He has given us His Spirit and that Spirit has endowed us with certain spiritual abilities that the Bible calls the Fruit of the Spirit.
One of them is self-control.
Now then ... how do we actually go about implementing this particular fruit of the Spirit?
Every believer needs a seven-step plan for self-control
I. ADMIT YOUR PROBLEM
#. admit you have a problem
#. this is the very first step in developing self-control
#. take responsibility for your lack of self-control
* James 1:14 /"but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed."/
#. notice, according to the Apostle James, where the source of temptation comes from
#. he does not say:
#. "The devil made me do it!"
#. "My lack of self-control comes from my dysfunctional parents or my dysfunctional family background."
#. "Because of my past experience or abuse, or a painful experience in my past, I can't control my behavior today."
God is telling us that the source of our lack of self-control is because we have an evil desire
#. therefore, we need to take responsibility for our lack of self-control
#. we do bad things because we like to do bad things
there is something within us, that we are born with, urging us to do bad things
#. the Bible calls it the sinful nature
#. we need to learn to take responsibility for our behavior, or our lack of self- control.
#. instead of admitting there is a problem, we seek to shift the blame to somebody or something else
instead of admitting our problems, we want to deny we have a difficulty
#. we say things like . . .
#. "What problem?
There is no problem."
#. "It is not that big of a deal."
#. "I just can't get control over this thing."
#. "If I want to, I can stop."
#. “I don’t have a problem."
#. "Well, this is just the way I am."
#. "It was the way I was raised."
#. “I have always been this way."
#. "Everyone else is doing it so what is the big deal?"
#. “I am only human."
#. we rationalize our problem rather than taking responsibility for our problem
#. much of the popular secular psychology of today, tells you to go back into your past and find some reason for why you are behaving the way you are
God says, very clearly, the problem is right here—inside you and me
#. it is in our own sinful desire
#. if we are going to begin to gain self-control, we must admit that there is a problem within us
#. it is not somebody else's problem or somebody else's fault
#. it is my sin-problem and I need to take responsibility for it
where are you lacking self-control in your life?
#. do you have a problem with;
... time management?
... your words?
... the way you spend your money?
... and so the list goes on
#. the first thing you need to do if you have a lack of self-control in a particular area of life is to admit the area where you lack it
say to yourself this evenin, "/ lack self-control in:_______________________ [you fill in this blank area]
PUT YOUR PAST BEHIND YOU
#. this is a very important step
#. you need to put your past behind you if you are going develop self-control
* Philippians 3:13-14 /"Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.
But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."/
#. it is very important that you understand that there is a big lie, that many believer live with in terms of really wanting to change their lives
#. the lie goes something like this ... once a failure, always a failure
I tried to change that in my life before and I couldn't, there is no way I can do it now
I tried 15 times and I could not succeed, therefore I am a failure
#. no matter how hard you try, you just can't change
#. these are all lies
#. failure in the past does not mean that you will never be able to change in the future
#. but, if you focus on the past, if you dwell on your past failures, then you will fail in the future as well
It is sort of like trying to drive your car forwards while you're looking in the rearview mirror the whole time as you are driving.
If you are constantly looking behind, eventually you will hit something.
You need to take your eyes off the past, and focus on the future.
You need to especially focus on what God says about your life and future.
Have you ever watched a baby who is just learning to walk?
It is a very dangerous time.
It is amazing that kids make it through that period.
They fall, they hit their head, they tumble, they roll every which way.
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