Friday, June 13, 2014

Self-control

I learned something about myself just a couple of years ago.

I have food issues.

I have struggled for years with my weight.  And even though I made the choice to get healthy 5 years ago, I have continued to struggle off and on to make the right choices with food.  It wasn't until recently that God revealed to me the true problem...lack of self-control.

Self-control is something I have never had much of.  As I look back on my life I see many areas where I lacked self-control. It comes from extreme selfishness in my case.  If I wanted it, I got it. If it was wrong, I justified it. If it tasted good, I ate it. And these decisions ranged all the way from eating something I shouldn't, to wrongly handling an offense, to infidelity.

I have known since the age of 8 I have an allergy to caffeine. The main reaction I have is a headache. But as I got older and was more in control of what I ate and drank, I allowed myself caffeine if I wanted it. I justified it by taking Advil when I got a headache. This eventually gave me stomach trouble - too much Advil, especially when taken without food, can cause stomach bleeding. All because I didn't want to deny myself caffeine.

Recently God took me on a journey into His word to give me hope. I want to share with you what He taught me in hopes of giving you the same hope. These verses can be applied to lack of self-control in any area, but I am specifically relating them to eating habits. If you are struggling with food on any level - eating too much or are consumed with thoughts of food - I know these verses will encourage you. Ask God to reveal to you any food struggles and what the root is and then ask Him to let these verses come alive in your heart and mind as you go forward in making better food choices.

I need to give Proverbs 31 Online Bible Studies a quick shout out. I read Lysa Terkeurst's book, Made to Crave, last year to get my eating under control. While it was very helpful and encouraging, I don't think I was quite ready to receive from it. Then last month I found out that Proverbs31.org was doing an online Bible study for Made to Crave so I decided to join it. Reading the daily posts and keeping up with the online community of more than 40,000 people really encouraged me and set me on a course of in-depth Bible study about self-control. Thank you, Proverbs 31, for your amazing resources and time and effort put into these online studies!

I would encourage you to look these verses up on your own also and do some cross-referencing. That is how I got started on this journey actually. I cross-referenced a verse which led me to more and more cross-referencing. And that's where all these verses came from.

When I shared with my husband a few months ago that I was afraid my self-control would run out and I would end up gaining my weight back and undoing all the work I had previously done, he reminded me that self-control is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. Not only is lack of self-control an issue for me, but something Lysa's book revealed to me is that when I continue walking without self-control I become defeated. When I am defeated, my peace is stolen. That is not God's plan or desire for me. The enemy doesn't want me to have peace because then I am ineffective and miserable.

Lysa says in her book, "Not only does the Spirit live in us, but He is active and infuses power to our lives that is beyond what we could possibly muster up on our own." If you are a Christ follower, you have the Spirit of the Living God inside you helping you walk in victory!
  1. Galatians 5:16 - "So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won't be doing what your sinful nature craves." Our sinful nature wants food that isn't healthy - food that is pleasing to the senses - but if that food robs us of our peace it becomes a stumbling block. We often use food to fill a void that only God can fill. And I don't think most of us even know we're doing it. In our society it's so "normal" to eat what we want, when we want it, that we don't even think about it. But when we choose to let the Holy Spirit guide us, we will not be giving in to our sinful natures and we will have victory.
  2. Romans 8:6 - "So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace." Did you catch that? Life and PEACE. If our poor food choices leave us feeling defeated and steals our peace, then we need to let the Spirit control our minds regarding our food choices so we will have peace.
  3. Romans 8:9 - "You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit..." You don't have to be controlled by your crazy cravings! Be controlled by the Holy Spirit instead. This will bring peace and victory.
  4. 2 Corinthians 5:17 - "This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!" Do you understand the power of this verse? If you are a Christ follower you are a new creation! All those old habits and patterns of behavior, like poor food choices, do not have to be who you are anymore. Again, you have the Spirit of the Living God in you empowering you to walk in new ways!
  5. Galatians 5:24 - "Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there." The passions and desires of your flesh have been crucified. Your bad eating habits and lack of self-control are no longer part of you because they were crucified with your sinful nature when you decided to follow Christ. You just have to believe it to walk in it.
  6. Galatians 5:13 - "For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don't use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature..." FREEDOM, sisters! We have been called to live in freedom! Freedom from sin, freedom from bondage, freedom from defeat, freedom from shame. God wouldn't call us somewhere we aren't able to go. If He called us there He will help us get there.
  7. Romans 6:6 - "For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin." I don't know if poor eating habits are "sin", (gluttony is) but this verse helps me because I have felt like a slave to my flesh in regards to my food choices and this gives me hope and encouragement.
  8. Romans 7:18-25 - "And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can't. I want to do what is good, but I don't. I don't want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don't want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. I have discovered this principle of life - that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God's law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God's law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin." This is why we need Jesus! We are hopeless and helpless without Him. We can't do it on our own.
  9. Romans 8:12-13 - "Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation - but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live." To live according to the flesh in this context is about a lifestyle of denying Christ's power in your life which points to unbelievers, not genuine followers of Christ who are struggling to have victory over a specific thing. However, I think you can still apply this to bad eating habits. Remember how we said our food struggles can rob us of our peace and leave us defeated? When we live according to our flesh in this way we are ineffective, or at least distracted from what God has called us to. When I am lacking self-control in this area and am not at a healthy weight and lack energy, it becomes a distraction and gets in the way of what God has called me to. For example, when I am feeling bad about myself or start comparing myself to others then I am not living an others-focused life because I'm too busy feeling insecure and less-than. Does that make sense? This doesn't quite lead to death but it certainly isn't the life God has for me.
  10. Romans 13:14 - "Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature." It's all about Jesus. It's not about how to get what we want, on any level. Even with food.
  11. Galatians 6:8 - "The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life." The destruction is of our freedom in this case. Freedom from the peace of God that gets taken from us through guilt and shame when we can't get our act together regarding food.
  12. Colossians 2:11 - "When you came to Christ, you were 'circumcised,' but not by a physical procedure. Christ performed a spiritual circumcision - the cutting away of your sinful nature."
  13. Galatians 5:17-18 - "For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law." My Bible commentary says this: "Those who are Spirit-led are not under the law. This verse might be understood in two ways: Led by the Spirit is a description of all Christians. Therefore, no Christians are under the law; they are not depending on self-effort. It is the Spirit who is resisting the motions of evil within them, not they themselves. Also, to be led by the Spirit means to be lifted above the flesh and to be occupied with the Lord. When one is so occupied, he is not thinking of the law or the flesh. The Spirit of God does not lead people to look to the law as a mean of justification. Rather, he points them to the risen Christ as the only ground of acceptance before God."
  14. Galatians 6:9 - "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Don't give up! The road of denying our flesh is a hard one, but has so many blessings!
  15. 1 Corinthians 15:58 - "Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain." Lack of self-control and gluttony cause guilt in our conscience and cause us to be distracted by appearance and/or weight. Self-control is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, so when we give ourselves fully to the work of the Lord we are not out of control or gluttonous and will be rewarded by Jesus in heaven for standing firm and not allowing this issue to take away from His work and plan for us.
I know this was long and kind of deep but I really hope it encourages you. I have walked quite a road regarding food and self-control through my life and I hope this helps you avoid the difficult path of learning the hard way.




3 comments:

  1. Love, Love, Love! I've been struggling with self-control. I keep thinking I'm struggling with so many other things, but I realized about a week ago that what it all boils down to is self-control. This is so timely for me. I love all the verses you posted. My favorite is Galatians 6:9. That verse is so encouraging to me. Great word, Gretch.

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  2. If God showed you just a week ago that self-control is an issue for you, that sounds like confirmation to me this is what you needed to hear! God, in His goodness and love, sometimes confirms things He tells us through other people. I love that. I'm glad this is timely for you...the amazing proof that this was confirmation for you is that I wrote this originally on Feb. 5 but didn't post it until now. God is good!

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  3. That's amazing, Gretchen. I'm so glad that God used you of all people to encourage me with this. I can't wait to sit across the table and talk about it! Love you!

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