The Greeks had a word, enkrateia, which is: “A serious lack of self-control.”
Self-Control. What is it actually? It has various meanings, “mastery of something, the controlling of the will, the inner strength, power to resist, to be able to NOT indulge.” It involves the ability to say “no” to our desires and lusts. Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!” Galations 5:22-23 Why are most people now so out of shape? Is it overindulgence, lack of exercise or lack of hard work? “You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter.” James 5: 5 Could it be as simple as lack of self-control? Self-control is in us, think of what you could accomplish if you used it. Think of the lack of self-control we display with the internet, television and other activities. If the power goes out or internet quits working, near panic sets in for some. When people will NOT turn off these time-wasters to give their minds and eyes a much-needed rest then we are in serious trouble. We are fed bad news, violence, questionable sitcoms, innuendo, biased opinions and all other sorts of vile things. We welcome it into our homes through our devices.
Philippians 4:8 states, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Do the hours of news reporting, repeating the same “breaking news” over and over, do any good for you? No, it brings fears and worries. A lack of mental self-control lets us sit for hours binge-watching programs or glued to news so you won’t miss any tidbit of new information. Do you have the tv guide memorized more than you have scripture memorized? Self-control is in us, use it.
Self-control in our thoughts and emotions is by the power of God as believers yield to the Lord in obedience. With God’s help, we can live above sinful practices, as well as be counsel to other Christians, which allows the fruit of self-control to grow. It is important to the body of Christ to help others.
“So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature” (Galatians 5:16)
“For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose” (Philippians 2:3)
“Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently” (Galatians 6:1)
“Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers” (Galatians 6:10)
So work on your self-control, asking for God to help you use it because self-control is in us, practice using it. Pray for the strength needed to defeat all the distractions thrown at us. Remember it is the devil who seeks to destroy our relationships with God and others. He does that by distractions that leave us separated in our own solo worlds with little interaction from others.
The question of liberty has been with us for a long time and it seems we are no closer to an answer today than we have ever been. Is it good that people should be free to say and think what they will without fearing retribution from their peers or the government under which they choose to live? In fact, one might even ask if it is possible? Liberty and laws are for your benefit.
To believe this way requires the belief that somewhere in the cosmos there could exist a place where there are no predetermined rules and laws under which men must live. Of course, no such place exists as far as we know except in the minds of those who are still at war with the “System”, or “The Man”, or whatever name best describes those who would give us order.
Enter stage right, a four-year-old boy with long hair which is against school policy. He must cut his hair. Whether you agree with the policy or not we are obliged to submit to the rule. The problem here is not so much the length of hair as the ability of people to submit themselves to the rule of law. I would be much more likely to listen to the appeal of the parents on the hair issue if they had already chosen to comply and cut their son’s hair, (after all it is just hair and will grow back) then later start a campaign effort to change the policy.
Let’s take a look at another example. The Texas Department of Public Safety decides to set a speed limit. This decision is made in a room where a group of qualified men try their best to do just what their name says. They are looking at as many variables as possible to determine what will be a safe speed for vehicles to travel in a given area. They must consider things like visibility for everyone involved, road conditions, the number of unexpected pedestrians which will be exposed to the traffic, and many other safety issues too exhaustive to list here for fear of boring you to tears.
What they don’t consider are other factors like what time you should have left the house to get to work on time, whether you might have a flat tire when you got up, whether you have a grumpy boss who will throw a fit with you for not being on time again, why that red light seems to want to catch you every time you come through. Now logical thinking would bring me to the very liberal conclusion that I am not responsible for the fact that I was doing 60 in a 40 trying to make up for everyone else’s oversights. After all, I am a very safe driver and have not had any wrecks since I was in high school.
I saw recently a small segment on one of the local news channels about an intersection where the camera observed several people turning from a non-turning lane, in violation of the law. When the reporter asked one of the drivers what should be done about the problem, his response was staggering. He said,” It is easy to see that the people feel that this lane should be a turning lane so I think the city should come out here and change it.” Really? Do any of us really believe that matters of public safety should be determined by public opinion? For that matter can any rule of law be determined by public opinion?
Our Constitution calls for Supreme Court judges who will rule on matters of law based NOT on public opinion. Our founding fathers were smart enough to know that public opinion can be swayed by such issues as cost and personal responsibility. Let us not forget that public opinion gave the right to people, not so long ago, to abuse many of our fellow men and women, created in the image of God, for no other reason than that their skin color was different.
These scenarios, sound crazy to some and yet perfectly understandable to others. The reason is that many people long for a world where they are free to make decisions on their own without the scrutiny of others who are only trying to steal their rights. I am convinced that this dangerous thinking is the root of most, if not all, of our trouble today.
Here comes the statement which causes me to fall out with some but can’t be helped. A world without rules is chaos. All societies are ruled by either order or disorder, there is no middle ground. Liberty in a society such as ours must be limited to protect.
Jesus died that we might be free from the curse of the law but not that it should go away. The Word says that the law must be written on our hearts. Heb. 8:10 and Heb. 10:16
Please know that I am not saying that laws and rules are always right. Far from it. I do however believe that these things can only be changed by confronting them in the proper manner, considering the matter thoroughly and soberly without the pressures or the urgency of the moment. Only then can we say we have done our best.
As I sat in a meeting of the Azle Keepers of the Promise, I heard a very thought-provoking point. The speaker mentioned an email he had received entitled “We Didn’t Start This Fire.” The main point of reference was the current political dilemma which we “Conservatives,” find ourselves in. As I listened the Holy Spirit began to speak something very clear to my spirit.
This reference to fire brought to mind the forest fires which seem to always be a problem in the far west. I heard that some in the Forest Service state that the practice of controlled burning once prevented these huge and costly fires. Now the undergrowth from many years of neglect fuels the fire causing it to burn hotter and longer than it did before. As the temperature and time increase, then more of the undergrowth is taken in by the fire and therefore more damage is done.
Those of you who have a Spirit of Discernment can already hear where this is going. Many have raised an outcry against the ungodly practices of this current society and of those in authority who seem to support the ungodly in every way. There is a terrible spiritual fire burning in our land today and it is out of control. The ungodly are at the helm and they are steering us ever closer to disaster with every turn. How did this happen to such a great nation founded upon such wonderful truths by men and women of such integrity?
I believe the answer is all too apparent when we view the facts. I have been to City Council meetings here in Azle, School Board meetings, Chamber of Commerce meetings and one thing is very clear. Few are in attendance and few less are willing to take their place in the fight. It has been said that in this great game of life all that is necessary for evil to win is for good men to do nothing. I believe that just as the underbrush in our great forest has grown without confrontation until it has reached dangerous levels, the climate in this great nation has done the same. As we have sought the easy way out, without confrontation, an ugly beast of unbelief has risen up among us which is now consuming everything in its path. Some are fighting for all they are worth because they have had the foresight to see this coming, but many are still confused by the heat and smoke of the oncoming disaster. They falsely believe that they will be safe in their homes where they have weathered many storms before, much like the victims of Katrina they assume wrongly that since they have survived before that they will be OK as the greatest and strongest storm we have ever seen approaches our shores. Well great, Pastor Jon, so now that you have laid such uplifting news on us, what would you have us do? I still believe that we can win this struggle but we must use the strategy which has worked in the past to put this fire out.
1. We must act as any good firefighter would and that means forgetting minor discomforts. We must attack at all cost the fire in front of us with all of our strength, and with all our Most Holy Faith. We should make ourselves available for public office or any other place where we can be an influence for Truth. 1 Timothy 6:12
2. We must set backfires in the path of this destruction. This means raising up a generation who have not tasted the unbelief so rampant in the Earth. They must know that what we believe goes even beyond the evidence of what can be seen or heard. Only when these “kindle piles” of man’s reason are thoroughly purged so that the fire cannot touch them, will they be able to resist and quench the onslaught to come. True faith cannot be taught it must be caught. I am sure Jesus transmitted this faith to his disciples one to one and that is the only way it can be transferred. The laying on of hands is more than just a physical experience and it cannot be taken for granted. The best firefighters are those who have witnessed others who marched against the flames undaunted by the danger. There is a lesson in that truth. Proverbs 22:6
3. We must go for the throat. The source of the fire is the only place it can be stopped and that means the point of ignition. I once took a safety class where the instructor gave several people a fire extinguisher and gave them a chance to put out a fire. It was amazing how many people knew how to pull the pin and point the device but used all of the contents and left the fire burning. The secret is to aim at the source of the flame. We must be direct in our approach. When we waste too much of our energy on fights we cannot win then we are only using our resources unwisely. The problem is unbelief, fear, ignorance of God’s truth, and ignorance of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Ignorance can only be confronted with Truth. We must learn to declare the Truth in Love, and then have faith that it will do what it does. Isaiah 55:11
Washing with the Water of the Word is the best description of what we must do to achieve victory. You cannot wash others if you are not clean yourself. We must be clean. Firefighters wear clothing which prevents the fire from kindling upon them and we also must remember that this garment we wear has a purpose. only then will we be faithful to not leave home without it. Ephesians 5:26 Lastly, we must remember that even the best firefighters need rest and recuperation. Let us be quick to take up the fight for our brothers when the burden becomes too much. We must not laugh when they fall but we must be quick to render aid. There should be no shame in wearing yourself out in battle.
Victory is ours in Jesus’ name. I agree with James. I will show you my faith by my works.