We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin… When he died he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God. So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus. Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires. –Romans 6:6-7, 10-12 (NLT)
Do you remember Pig-Pen? He is Charlie Brown’s friend. Charles Schulz, the creator of the Peanuts comic strip, described Pig-Pen this way, “Pig-Pen is a human soil bank who raises a cloud of dust on a perfectly clean street.” Wherever Pig-Pen went, he had this dirt cloud that loomed around him. It was a stink cloud. It was nasty. It was ugly.
Whenever I experience a lack of self-control, I think of Pig-Pen. When we demonstrate a lack of self-control, it’s embarrassing, isn’t it? It’s like a big stink cloud that follows us around wherever we go. Our lack of self-control can run the entire spectrum of life: our thoughts, emotions, words, relationships, habits, addictions, food, beverages. It’s nasty. It’s ugly. We feel the deep sense of failure. We circle the wagons and withdraw, hoping no one will notice our stink. Although we’d like to blame the stink cloud on anyone else, we cannot. There’s no one to blame but ourselves.
Our lack of self-control boils down to this: we have a sin problem. We get caught up in a downward cycle that starts with a temptation, then proceeds to giving into the temptation, then we feel guilty about having given in, we resolve to do better next time, then we face a temptation again, give in again, feel more guilty, and then after a few more times through the cycle, we begin thinking, “I can’t stop this, so why even bother to try?”
The good news is that there is a pathway out of the lack of self-control sin cycle. God delights when you and I have self-control. In fact, He wants us to have self-control so much that He promises to produce it in our lives when we yield the control of our lives to Him. He gave His Son to make it possible.
In today’s Scripture passage, we find the hope we are looking for: we are no longer slaves to sin! We have a choice. God has given us the authority to win the battle of self-control. The true power for living a life of self-control isn’t found in yourself, it’s found in one person, Jesus. To live a life increasingly characterized by self-control, we must realize we can’t do it on our own. We must choose to invite Jesus to control our lives and begin to live the truth of our identity in Him: we are not slaves, we are free. On the day we choose this path to self-control, we’ll start looking (and smelling) a lot less like Pig-Pen.
1. What areas of your life do you most display a lack of self-control?
2. What sources of pain in your life do you try to medicate through giving into temptation?
Galatians 5:19-25; James 1:12-15; 1 Corinthians 10:13