We would have learned self-control as children in a perfect world but we live in one marred by the consequences of sin. The truth is that temptation is all around us and the devil is the smartest enemy that we will ever face. He studies us long before he puts up any bait in front of us. He knows what makes us tick. He studies the effect of each hook dangled in front of us and ensures that the right one is put up every time.
So how do we over come this? Do we just tell ourselves to have self control and then it just happens. If that were the case then I'd have written one hundred novels, saved one million dollars and I would be ten pounds lighter. Self control doesn't come just because we want it, yet on the flip side, if we don't want it, it will never come. Let me explain. A desire to control yourself is a prerequisite for it happening, but there is so much more involved. It doesn't happen just because we wish for it to be so.
Some things come by constant practice and self control is one of them. It requires a continuous decision making process, not just a one time thing. It requires us at each moment in the day when we are faced with temptation, to decide to go the other way. You will never reach a point in your life where you can stop making a decision to control yourself. The minute you let your guard down, you are making a decision to no longer control yourself. That's what makes being consistent so hard. It would be so much easier if we could just decide today, "I am no longer going to have sex out of marriage." Yes, that's the first step to change, but making the decision on Tuesday does not help you on Friday night when you are actually faced with the situation. On Friday night, you are still going to have to make a decision to not commit the act.
There are other factors that aid the self-control process. That includes changing your environment. A lot of the things that we do knowing that we shouldn't, happen as a result of inserting ourselves into the wrong environment. Let's go back to our fornication scenario. When you become a Christian, it's one of the things about your life that must change, but if you continue to date people who don't share your faith or life perspective, then your environment will be continuously be bombarded by opportunities to have sex.
So self-control is as much of an internal thing as a situational thing. Don't put yourself in situations where you know you can lose control.
Remember that at the end of the day, you are in charge of your decisions and those decisions are not one time things. Self-control has a start date, but no end date. You will be control your own actions for the rest of your life. If you look at it that way, you will find the task daunting, so look at it one decision at a time. Truly, that's all it really is. A decision for each situation.
Have a blessed and control filled day.
Joana James - Author of From Redemption to Maturity, Trusting God with your Future, Nightmare at Emerald High & Alana and Alyssa's Secret & Finding Romeo