I’ll keep this brief. There is a huge problem in many Christian circles. We are severely lacking in self-control, one of the fruit of the Spirit from Galatians chapter 5. We see a lot of love, joy, patience, kindness, and more, but not so much self-control. As a result, we don’t see as much personal holiness as we should either.
I won’t go into whether that is a sign of absent salvation or not, but that is something you might like to think about for yourself. You should see more self-control in your life as the years pass if you have the Spirit of salvation growing fruit in your life.
What we should see is a greater ability not to give in to temptations. It might not be easier, but we should be giving in to the lusts of the flesh less and less. You know what your particular weaknesses are: pornography, speaking untruths, gluttony, giving in to fits of anger, putting yourself above others in your opinion of who is better, being wise in your own eyes, etc.
We should see more encouragement between saints to be holy as He is holy. We should be unashamed of our weaknesses and trusting one another to remind us and strengthen our resolve to overcome.
When was the last time you were encouraged to aim for holiness and blamelessness from the pulpit of your church? When was the last time you opened up to someone trustworthy about the struggles you were facing that week and sought their prayers for your deliverance? When was the last time you heard about someone being asked to leave your church for denying their sin and failing to repent? When was the last time you heard someone taking sin seriously enough to risk embarrassment by confessing their weakness?
I want to list some ideas to think about for fixing this awful state of Christianity, but before getting to that there must be an acceptance of the problem. Take a moment to search your heart… Do you lack in discipline and holiness? Is there a culture of self-discipline and encouragement of holiness in your church? Your family? Your relationship with your spouse?
I urge you, nay plead with you: Please be prayerful and honest before your God in this, and remember that there is mercy and grace to be had for our failings.
Consider these as possible parts to the solution:
1. Get clear on the importance of self-control and personal discipline in personal and communal holiness.
2. Encourage one another in holiness (identify where we are lacking, praise the good done, lead in positive ways by example)
3. Raise the profile and practice of spiritual disciplines (Bible reading, scripture memory, prayer, fasting, etc.)
4. Engage your brain in worship more. The emotions need to be informed more by the truth of Christ in this age of sensuality and emotionalism. We need to worship in specific truths about who God is and what he has done to save us from our sin and not just “the truth” in general as a vague notion. The enemy of holiness is our fallen human instinct which is sensuality and over-emotionalism.
5. Discipline is difficult. We need to make it easier on ourselves by having greater structure in our lives so that we live by the structure without having to exert ourselves mentally every time a situation pops up which tests us. We must be willing to bend our lives around self-discipline and not make our self-discipline something flexible that shifts to suit our lives. Our lives are not our own anyway: we should serve Christ our Lord, not run around expecting him to serve us at every whim of fleshly desire.
6. Pray, pray, pray!
7. Talk about this with your church leaders.
I hope and pray that this leads to further holiness and self-control in your life. If you are not a Christian I hope that you will see your own lack of holiness and your need for the power of God to save you from the consequences of your sin. Hell is real. I hope that some would even receive greater assurance of their salvation through reading this.
May God bless your pursuit of holiness!