“No conflict is so severe as his who labors to subdue himself; but in this we must be continually engaged, if we would be strengthened in the inner man, and make real progress toward [Christlikeness].” So said Thomas à Kempis in his famous book on the Christian life, The Imitation of Christ. And Kempis is right. Self-control is one of the hardest of fight, one of the most difficult battles all Christian face, because we fight against an enemy that is powerful and has a hold deeply upon us.
However, sin is a defeatable enemy and, for the Christian, self-control is a necessary battle in the fight against our own sin (Prov 25:28; Gal 5:22-23).… Continue reading
Before the holiday season (Thanksgiving and Christmas), I began a series of blogs concerning self-control. Once the holidays hit, I was doing what was necessary to keep my head afloat with ministry (discipleship and shepherding) and family (my father-in-law found out he had cancer in his jaw and we spent much of December with him in the hospital, post-surgery). All of this has now died down to a normal roar and I can now finish this self-control series. Thank you for your patience.
Let me summarize what we have seen: in the first post we looked at self-control’s definition. Without a proper definition, we cannot know if what we are doing or pursuing is God’s design.… Continue reading
If there is anything I’ve learned over the last decade of life and ministry, it is that everyone is dealing with something big. Everyone has fallen in some way. Everyone is struggling with sin (or willingly giving into it). Everyone needs grace. And yet, it is striking that most of us seem to have such a hard time admitting these things personally, with any real detail. We tend to treat our personal struggle with sin as a thing to conceal, rather than as a thing to confess.
Several years ago, a good friend of mine counseled me with a penetrating tidbit of wisdom that I will not soon forget. … Continue reading
Last time I wrote, we began to look at that oh so lost Fruit of the Spirit, self-control. Because it sits at the end of the list in Galatians 5. I think we (including myself) thing of this list as a hierarchy, where love the most important fruit of the Spirit, followed by joy, peace, etc., leaving self-control as the last and therefore least important. But this list Paul gives us in Gal 5 is not a list of fruits (plural), but one fruit that the Spirit works in each of us. There is no hierarchy here, but a list of what describes a person who is walking by the Spirit.… Continue reading
Of all the Bible verses we Christians have memorized, near the top is probably Galatians 5:22-23 — the Fruit of the Spirit. If you are like me, the reason you know these verse so well is because when you were at camp, you sang a silly song that went like this: “The fruit of the spirit’s not a coconut” (tap your head while making a hollow sound with your mouth to imitate the sound of coconut). “The fruit of the spirit’s not a coconut” (sound again). “If you wanna be a coconut, you might as well hear it, you can’t be a fruit of the spirit.… Continue reading