Do You Need to Put Up Some Walls?
Read Proverbs 25:28 (ESV)
A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.
In what areas of your life do you struggle with self-control? How does that lack of self-control impact other areas of your life?
In the ancient world, many cities built fortifications around their cities to protect them from invasion. The only way into the city was through a gate which was often guarded. By controlling who could enter the city, violence against the city’s inhabitants was greatly reduced. Because the people weren’t constantly focused on self-defense, as they often were outside the city walls, their lives were freed up to focus on other worthy pursuits.
Today’s verse is a proverb that compares a person lacking self-control to a left city without walls. Without walls, anyone can easily sneak into a city and wreak havoc, or an army could quickly invade and sack the city. Likewise, if we don’t have self-control, we allow many things to easily enter our lives that can potentially destroy us. Self-control is like a wall around our lives. If something wants to enter, it has to pass through a guarded gate and only things which are beneficial or harmless should be allowed in.
But we don’t come by self-control naturally. Ever since the Garden of Eden, mankind has been letting our guards down and allowing sin to flow into our lives unchecked. But if we don’t do something to address the sin problem, it will destroy us. Puritan theologian John Owen famously said, “Be killing sin or sin will be killing you.”
But why do we keep allowing that which wants to kill us into our lives? Does it have to be this way? No! When we go back to the Bible, we see that self-control is a gift from God that we can receive when we become new creations in Christ. In 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Paul listed a long series of sins that people who do not exercise self-control commit. Then he wrote, “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:10).
If you have turned to Christ, you are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). You were just like the rest of the world, but now, you have been cleansed from your sin and your relationship with God is restored. Plus, when you accepted Christ, you received the Holy Spirit, our Helper.
The apostle Peter explained, “...repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and you will receive the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).
We know from the apostle Paul that “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7). In Galatians 5:22-23, Paul also mentioned self-control among the fruits of the Spirit. In other words, self-control is something that the Spirit begins to cultivate in us when we become believers in Christ. As we grow and mature in our faith, our self-control should also be growing and maturing.
Friends, there are some things we can do to facilitate this growth in the area of self-control. Remember the protection that walls provided ancient cities? Well, it is wise to put up some walls too. Maybe you need to reevaluate certain relationships with people who regularly engage in the behaviors you are trying to quit. Maybe you need to limit your access to certain media, cancel subscriptions, or stop keeping certain food in the house. Self-control will be hard to come by if you are fraternizing with the enemy, playing with fire, and leaving yourself vulnerable to temptation. Those are things that need to stay outside of our walls!
But there are some things we need to bring inside the walls with us. Let other believers into your life. Surround yourself with them. They can encourage you and help hold you accountable. Let God’s Word in, too. Meditate on it and fill your mind with His Truth. And don’t forget to invite the Holy Spirit to work in your life and help you. We don’t have to muster up self-control on our own!
Lord, I confess that I sometimes struggle with controlling myself. Help me develop discipline and cultivate self-control by the power of Your Spirit. Give me wisdom to discern how to keep temptations and destructive behavior out of my life. Amen.
~ Pastor Nat Crawford
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