S212P9 – Bad fruit: the love of the flesh

Gal. 5:19-23

Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  Against such there is no law.

Although there might be some people who do not have a taste for potato chips, I think many more of us would agree that they can be irresistible.  There is a reason why one should not sit with the full bag and try to eat only a few.  We might blame it on that saltiness that keeps us coming back for more.  We might think it is the savory flavor of the oil that is too delicious to pass up.  Whatever it is that brings one’s hand back into that bag, there is one thing of which we can be certain.  That potato chip gives us something that our flesh enjoys and wants to enjoy more.  The mindless eater is driven by that pleasure without a thought otherwise.  An increase in self-control could change the whole picture.

Some might see self-control as being akin to patience.  They think a person without self-control is someone who is impulsive, which often gives us a picture of someone who acts quickly without a thought.  However, one can be deliberate yet lack self-control.  The one who fights temptation for days before giving in cannot be said to be impulsive, yet that person lacked the control to prevail.  Self-control by definition is control of the self, which is control over that which comes naturally to us.  Where the reflex might be passion, self-control leads to a more proper response.  This is really about denying the fleshly desires which drive the self.  This is about training ourselves to live in the Spirit instead of the flesh.

Those without self-control will show that they are driven by their flesh.  Instead of controlling their flesh, their flesh controls them.  This bad fruit comes about when we fail to exercise the discipline necessary to rule over our bodies.  We might as well rename self-control as flesh-control.  The perfect one who is able to bridle the tongue is the one who has conquered control of the self.  It would have kept David away from Bathsheba and Judas’s hand out of the moneybag.  It is what kept Jesus faithful when He was tempted with everything that has tempted us.  Father, help us to strengthen our spirits and hold our flesh in submission to the righteous desires You give us.