Tuesday, May 9, 2023

When We Lack Self-Control

I'd like to say one more thing about "The Spirit-Filled Life." On Monday morning we will kick off our Greek 2 class. We'll meet daily for 3 weeks. It will feel like a marathon to both teacher and those being taught. 

One thing I've noticed after teaching these intensives for so many years is this. The race isn't won by the swift or the talented or the smart. It's won by the self-controlled student. The self-disciplined student. The one who manages his or her time well. The one who can buckle down and get the job done. However, our sinful nature being what it is, we soon realize that we don't have that kind of self-discipline in ourselves. If a person is going to be self-controlled, it is the Holy Spirit who must do this.

So if you are a student of Greek, or of any subject for that matter, here's a reminder for you. Our lack of self-discipline is a part of the nature within us that's wrong with God. It never goes away, even if you're a Christian. It isn't eradicated just because Christ has come to live within us. We were born sinners. That's why we need a new birth. When that happens -- when Christ comes to live within our lives -- he brings with him an internal power that can curb our evil nature. But it's not automatic. We must yield to the Spirit and trust him to control our evil bents. Self-control, self-discipline, self-mastery -- it's all the product (fruit) of the Holy Spirit. Just read Gal. 5:22: "The fruit of the Spirit is ... self-control." I don't have that kind of self-control within myself. Neither do you. That can be done only through the power of the Holy Spirit. And we must yield to that Spirit every day. There's a choice to be made. Our evil nature needs to be curbed. We need something within us to restrain our natural tendencies. To keep us from sloth. To protect us from laziness. To help us not waste away our time in trivial pursuits when we need to be studying for an exam. 

How to do this? Make room in your life for the power of the Spirit. Not just in your studies. But in all of life. 

The Christian life is a miracle from beginning to end, and every phase of it ought to bear the mark of the Spirit's presence and power.