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Building up believers and the New Testament church

Spiritual Maturity

Self-Control

The teaching or knowledge that God brings into my life will be what is required to see my whole self brought under God's control. Jesus must be Lord in reality, not just in theory. Salvation is not primarily salvation from judgment, but salvation from myself. In reality, I am my biggest enemy. Most men destroy themselves by living for themselves. God wants us to live for Him. When I choose God and live for Him, He lifts me up and makes my whole earthly life a blaze of love and light, an expression of the very nature and character of His life. This cannot be done unless my whole self is brought under the control of God, which is not a small working! It includes my mind, my desires, my emotions, and the whole outward expression of my body.

Before you came to Christ, your whole person was exercised in sin. Now it must be exercised in righteousness. Colossians 3:1-15 gives us some direction in these things. The expressions of the old man (who I was in Adam) are to be put off, and the expression of the new man (who I am in Christ) are to be put on. This takes an active, determined response to the Holy Spirit. It is a whole-hearted response to the indwelling Christ, and it cuts across the old habits which are rooted in my person. In other words, God wants to change me.

This requires diligence--not self-effort, but diligence in my response to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Self-effort is trying to improve myself in the way that I think I should. This may produce some change in some areas, but it will be a struggle; there will not be a fragrance of God, and it very likely will not last because it does not deal with the root of things. Response to the Holy Spirit allows God to be the initiator. He always deals with the root of the matter, drawing upon His grace and His power to accomplish change, which leaves us in a place of rest and brings permanent results in our whole person that will bring glory to God.

Until my whole person can be directed by God in all things, I cannot realize God's purpose for my life. It cannot be overemphasized that this is a response to God in a relationship of faith, in which I am hearing God and drawing moment by moment on His grace. Self-effort is bondage, whereas God is changing us from glory to glory.

Next: Perseverance