Mission: Control

15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, – Ephesians 5:15-18

SOME THINGS COME naturally, things like breathing, blinking, sleeping, navel lint, and-if you’re a teenager-zits.

Other things require a little effort-like learning to stand or walk. Like hitting a baseball. Or singing a solo in front of your entire school. Or growing potatoes in your sock drawer (actually, that probably comes naturally to most of us).

Still other things are completely beyond our abilities no matter who we are or how hard we try-like leaping tall buildings in a single bound (only Superman can do that). Like understanding the opposite sex. Like exhibiting self-control.

“Wait a minute,” you say. “What was that? You mean I can’t exhibit self-control no matter how hard I try?”

“Well then,” you say, “what’s the point? Why am I reading all these Bible verses that say, ‘Be self-controlled’ and that talk about controlling my anger or my language or my this or my that? If being self-controlled is beyond my ability, I might as well give up, right?”

Right. Oh, you can control yourself from time to time. Every once in a while, you can wrestle your temper under control and bite your tongue and not give in to your passions by using a little willpower. But you can’t be self-controlled all the time. Nobody can.

“Wha-?” you say. “Well then, I mean, what. . . how . . . uh . . . ?” Take it easy. Don’t blow a brain cell. It’s true, you’ll never succeed in being self-controlled all the time. It’s just not possible. Just like you can’t succeed in being totally pure or loving or righteous all the time. So you might as well give up.

That’s the bad news. But the good news is, you don’t have to. It’s not your job to obey God’s commandments totally under your own power. It’s your job to surrender to the power of the Holy Spirit and, day by day, let him fill you and control you. Then you will obey God’s commands-including his command to be self-controlled. But it won’t be you doing all the work-it’ll be him.

“Oh,” you say. “So I can only be self-controlled if I’m Spirit-controlled.” To which I would say, “Hey! You’re pretty smart!”

REFLECT: When it comes to self-control, what’s your job and what’s the Holy Spirit’s job? How can you submit—every day, every moment—to God’s Spirit?

PRAY: Begin right now—this moment—to let the Holy Spirit control you by praying this simple prayer: “God, I know I cannot control myself or my passions. I need you to take control of my life through your Holy Spirit. I trust you for salvation and believe that your Spirit fills me. Please remind me to submit every day to his control and, moment by moment, to trust him to live a holy and self-controlled life in me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

– Josh McDowell
Today’s Youth Devotional


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