When’s the last time you asked yourself, “Why do I do what I don’t want to do?” You need to save money, but you spend it instead. Why? You want to lose some weight, but you can’t get yourself to exercise. Why? You desire to overcome lust, pray more, begin to tithe, but you do just the opposite. Why?
Paul the Apostle admitted, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do” (Romans 7.15). Many of you reading this can identify with that great man.
No one can deny many of our problems are caused by the lack of self-control. Do you realize God wants to help you control your desires? You see, when you accept the Person of Jesus you discover salvation; when you follow the Principles of Jesus you discover success. What principles of Jesus can you follow which will enable you to develop your self-control?
To begin, Admit Your Problem. That is step #1. “I have a problem in this area. I’m responsible. It’s no one’s fault but mine.” The Bible says, “Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away” (James 1.14). What’s God saying in that verse? We do things because we want to, it’s something inside us, and we’re responsible to control ourselves.
Many times people deny or excuse their actions. “That’s just the way I am.” Or, “that’s the way I was raised. It’s my parents’ fault.” Or, “it’s not that bad. Other people do worse things.” You know what? That’s a cop out! Now read carefully – Every time You Excuse Your Problem, You Create One More Chain That Will Bind You. Please learn something: God does not respond to excuses; He responds to confession.
There is a man in the Bible named Absalom. He was King David’s son. He was smart, incredibly handsome, and raised in a rich environment. But there were two areas of his life he never learned to control—a desire for power and a desire for women. Although he was a prince in the palace, his lack of control destroyed him and Absalom died a terrible death.
You see, you can have great ability, lots of money, and real charm, but until you let God help you control your desires, you’re in trouble. What’s out of control in your life today? Is it food? Lust? Temper? Alcohol? Laziness? Your mouth? Admit it! That is step #1.
Second, Battle Your Temptation. The Bible says, “The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires” (Galatians 5.17). You see, there’s a war going on inside all of us, a real tug-of-war. Now listen, you’ll never be free from this nor will you ever outgrow it, so learn to fight.
Not long ago I had lunch with a man. He was capable, bright, and talented, but he fell deep into sin. I asked him what happened. He looked at me and said, “I gave up fighting against temptation. I didn’t lean on the Holy Spirit. I didn’t rally my friends to pray for me.”
Today I want to urge you to battle your temptation. Get rid of some magazines. Turn off some movies. Avoid certain people. Call some Godly friends to support you. Whatever you need to do, don’t stop fighting!
Next, Develop Your Priorities. The Bible says, “Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth” (Colossians 3.1-2). Three words sum up those two verses: Develop Your Priorities.
Have you ever asked yourself why some people get so much done? They have 7 days a week like everybody else. They have the same Bible and the same Savior as other believers. Why do some accomplish so much? Because they develop their priorities.
Now let’s be clear – it’s more than trying. A big key is trusting. You see, Christianity is not you living for Jesus; Christianity is Jesus living in you! Do you see the difference?
For example, say you’re out of shape physically and you want to get in shape. Do you watch people exercise? Do you go buy a box of Total and memorize the nutritional chart on the side of the box? No, you make exercise a priority and you get the cereal into you. So it is with developing your priorities. You make good choices a priority and you get the Lord Jesus inside you.
Last, Picture The Person You Can Become With God’s Help. The Lord Jesus did this with Peter. When Jesus met Peter, he was a floundering fisherman. “Right now you are Peter, but one day you’ll be a rock of a man for God,” Jesus told him. “I will empower you, Peter.” He says the same to you today.
The Bible says, “So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever” (2 Corinthians 4.18). There are people reading this who are controlled by their past.
- You tried to break a habit – you failed.
- You tried to lose weight – it didn’t happen.
- You tried to do what’s right – it didn’t turn out.
So now you look back and say, “I guess I’m a failure.” Wrong! Past failure does not equal future failure. Put the Lord Jesus into that equation and you’ll have a different answer. That answer is victory!
Learn this today: God won’t transform your life until you transfer your life to Him. Imagine you have a big pile of heavy bricks in your front yard. You need to move them to your back yard. You start working by hand, but the progress is so slow. Then a neighbor pulls up on a 4-wheeler with a hefty trailer attached. “Need some help?” he asks. My friend, that’s what the Holy Spirit does. Today, accept God’s help.
Can I pray for you? “Lord Jesus, help each one reading this today. Some need their sins forgiven. Thank you for hearing their call for salvation. Others need power for living. Pour your Holy Spirit into them. All of us need increased joy and greater self-control. Thank you for helping us and we accept your help. In Jesus strong name, Amen.”