A Controlled Self

8.1.23 Devo Image

“Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.”—Proverbs 25:28 (NIV)

We’ve all done it. There’s something we shouldn’t do or say. We’ve rehearsed over and over to ourselves in the mirror, “Don’t do it . . . don’t do it!” We steel our nerves and tell ourselves we won’t make the same mistake we’ve made in the past. Today is going to be different.

And then the day gets going. Our inner resolve recedes into the background. The clouds gather, the wind blows, and then before we know it, the perfect storm is upon us. We’re caught in the moment and despite all our preparations we do or say that one thing we told ourselves we wouldn’t! As a result, something gets damaged in us or our relationships with others. And sometimes, the damage is so deep it can take years to repair what’s been broken.   

Again, we’ve all done it. But do we all have to keep on doing it? The Holy Spirit’s answer to this question is a clear and resounding, “No!” And we know this because God’s Word specifically says in Galatians 5:23 that it’s His Spirit’s purposed desire to produce the fruit of self-control in us.

The original Greek word used for self-control is “egkrateia,” which is defined as “the power over one’s desires, passions and physical appetites.” It’s the very thing that’s lacking when it comes to the “we’ve all done it” scenario. Without it, the Book of Proverbs warns us that our lives will quickly resemble a city whose walls are broken through and has lost its strength. None of us wants that. But if we’re to experience this self-control, we need to understand something about its operation in our lives.

God has created us with three separate and distinct parts: we all have a body, a soul, and a spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:23). Our body is easily understood because it’s the part of us that’s most observable. We also have a soul, and this is the immaterial part of us that encompasses our will, emotions, and thoughts. It’s where our personality comes from. And then we have a spirit, which is invisible like the soul but is different because it relates us to God and His working in our lives. This is where our spiritual character, like self-control, is produced in us.

Now, our natural instinct is to prioritize our bodies and all of its desires as we choose to satisfy and appease its demands. Next in line is usually our soul, particularly when it comes to our emotions and thoughts because both can be powerful drivers in our decision-making. And then there’s our spirit, which is often given the least consideration. 

When our lives are prioritized this way (body, soul, then spirit), we’re really controlled by our bodies and we do what we vow not to do. But if the order is reversed, if we prioritize our lives in terms of spirit, soul, and then body, we allow God’s Spirit and His work to control us. 

As we choose to yield to Him instead of our bodies and souls, we find an ability beyond ourselves and a strength we could never summon within us. The power of God, Himself, is present to control the desires of our body and soul that damage us and others. It’s not our power, it’s His power . . . but it’s our choice to allow ourselves to be controlled by Him.

Pause: Why aren’t we powerless to keep on doing the things we know we shouldn’t do?

Practice: What are your prioritizing in terms of your body, soul, and spirit? Identify changes you can make to walk in greater self-control. 

Pray: Father, thank You for giving me the ability to overcome the things I could never overcome on my own. Continue Your good work in me, and teach me how to put the things of the spirit first. May I choose to allow You to work in and through my life so my life grows more and more into what you desire it to be. Amen. 

About the Author

Pastor Dan Hickling

Pastor Dan Hickling serves our online community, also known as the Calvary Chapel Online Campus. He and his wife Becky have been married for 22 years and have two children, Lauren and Danny. Both Dan and Becky have been part of the CCFL church family for 22 years and have served in full time ministry for 20 of those years.