Self-Control; The Critical Fruit of Recovery ~ blog
I have been reading for a while about the argument over if addictions are caused by a disease or not. Twenty years ago, it was not even a discussion. Most people believed it was a disease and was one that you would have the rest of your life. They would say;
An addict is an addict for life!
So, this belief says if you become addicted you would have the addiction until you died, or the addiction caused you to take the steps which would so damage your physical health and ultimately kill you.
Now I am no expert on the matter, however, it seems to me that a growing number of people are coming to the conclusion that addictions necessarily are a disease. More and more people in the field of working with addicts are beginning to believe it is not a disease but a habitual behavior pattern or habit that with the right help one can stop.
I will leave the argument up to the experts, but I do not believe that for me, my sexual sin which was an addiction but was not an incurable disease. I say that for two reasons. One is I believe that I have been healed from my sexual addiction. I no longer desire to use sex, porn, or self-gratification as a way to deal with my stress and struggles. I feel a freedom from the lust that used to hunt me down and lure me away to find something sexually titillating.
This has not been by my efforts to stop sin through my own efforts at abstinence. It has been a work of the transformation of the Holy Spirit which He has accomplished by my learning how to be filled with and walking in the Spirit and remaining in community with other men who are doing this as well.
I can look at women and not feel a desire to consume them. I can appreciate them as beautiful creations of God and made in His image. I can honor and respect them and the Lord because they are created in His image. When I am out in public, I no longer feel that I am on the hunt for anything sexual to see. I am free to see all the other things around me that are worthy of my attention and appreciate them.
If my addiction was a disease, then I can say I have been healed. And even if addictions are diseases do we not have ample evidence in the Gospels that Jesus can heal any disease? A man born blind receives his sight. Lame people stand and walk and even dead people He can raise from the dead.
So, I do not buy the lie that a Christian must be addicted for the rest of their life and they will just have to suck it up and make the most of it. Are we not told by Jesus of an abundant life? Are we not taught that the Spirit of God transforms us into becoming more Christ-like men and women? Can we not be growing the fruit of the Spirit and experience self-control? Yes, Yes, and Yes.
The 9th and final fruit of the Spirit mentioned by Paul is the fruit of self-control. This word was used by Plato to describe one having self-mastery. Historically it refers to one’s ability to master their desires and the love of pleasure. It was also the word used to describe an athlete’s discipline of her or his body. And in 1 Corinthians 7:9 to means a Christian’s mastery or lack thereof over sex and sexual sin.
As those who have become addicted to sexual sin the idea of self-control can sound strange. Our “old Self” has led us to selfish desires, selfish motives, and selfish sins. However, that “old self” was crucified with Christ and as Paul writes in Galatians 2:20;
“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”
Yes, the old self was crucified, however, the flesh or sinful nature still dwells in our body. So, when we talk about self-control it is the growing strength and ability to control our fleshly desires by the power of the Spirit.
The problem is Christians in sexual sin are ashamed and isolated and left trying to fight this battle on their own. They are not being daily and continuously being filled with the Spirit. They are trying to control the desires of the flesh alone and in their own strength and have such a long history of giving in to lust that it has virtually become almost automatic. We are tempted, lured away, and enticed by something sexual. We step into the ring to fight against it and we are slammed to the matt once again by the Hulk Hogan of our flesh and defeated again.
However, as we practice daily being filled with the Spirit and walking in the Spirit, living our life in community with others who are available to support us in prayer and actions, the Spirit can change us in our inner being and begin to develop self-control. He strengthens us and He transforms us into believers who can say no to sexual sin and walk away maintaining the freedom that we have in Christ.
This does not happen easily, nor does it come quickly. It will take work on your part to daily do what the word of God tells us to do. Galatians 5:16 says it clearly;
“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.”
Have you surrendered your body to the Spirit today so that He can be bearing His fruit in your life today? If not…why not? And if not now…when? Self-control will appear as a fruit of the Spirit being given unconditional surrender from you to Him every day.