Yesterday, I preached on the topic of self-control as part of my series on the fruit of the Spirit. One of the words that the Bible uses to convey self-control means “self-mastery,” and it is most prominently used in Genesis 4, which tells the story of Cain and Abel.
You probably know that in that story Cain kills Abel, but before he acted on his anger, rage, and jealousy toward Abel, God warned Cain that “sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”
And the key to keeping sin at the door instead of letting it inside is self-control, which is the ability to resist negative impulses. But Cain chose to give in to his negative impulses, and his absence of self-mastery led to sin-mastery.
This story helps us see that the purpose of self-control is to keep us from becoming enslaved to sin. Self-control actually sets us free from the clutches of sin so that we are free to experience the blessings of God. Rather than being solely about restriction, self-control releases us to pursue the things of God. And as we pursue God, we more clearly see that self-control leads to reward, while the lack of self-control leads to ruin.
The irony of self-control – as presented in the Bible – is that it’s not about control; it’s about surrender. And the ability to mastering our emotions, desires, and impulses is completely dependent on our willingness to be mastered by God.
If you want greater self-control and increased self-mastery, start by praying and asking the Holy Spirit to take control in your life as you yield to the Spirit’s work in your life.
Also, if you would like to do a deep dive into the subject of self-control, I highly recommend a book on the topic by Drew Dyck…