Uncontrolled Part 2: The Who is the How

The Man in the Mirror

Michael Jackson said, “If you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make that change. Hoo!” Michael always said, “Hoo!” but Michael never said how! Don’t tell me, “Hoo!” tell me how Michael! Because Michael, you were the Prince of Pop, but you were a pauper in the properties of spirit. Maybe Michael always said “Hoo!” cause Michael never knew how. Yes, the change needs to start with ourselves, but we’re not able to change ourselves by our own effort. So how then?

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In Galatians the Apostle Paul says that if we live by the Spirit we won’t gratify the desires of the sinful nature. Some of what the sinful nature includes are the very things we struggle to have self-control over like sexual immorality, anger, resentment, fighting, jealousy, selfish ambition, chemical dependency, and so on. But if we keep in step with the Spirit, it will naturally produce self-control over these issues.

There are only Two Controlling Factors

What he’s saying is that human beings are always under control. We’re either under the control of our sinful, bent, inborn human desires gone haywire, or conversely, under the control of the Spirit of God. These two controlling factors are polar opposites that have a magnetic draw on our moment-by-moment thoughts, feelings and actions. There is no neutral ground in this war of desires. We will never make a decision that’s not influenced by the flesh or the Spirit.

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Sometimes we’ll think, “I know I’m not really checked in with God and I’m not keeping in step with him, but my decisions aren’t that bad.” Have you ever had one of those days, where you weren’t really in touch with God and just did your own day? Maybe things didn’t even go so badly. So, is being tight with God throughout the day really that important? Isn’t it just the difference between a good and a better day? This is saying that there isn’t a no-fly zone. We are either keeping in step with the Spirit or we’re fulfilling the desires of the sinful nature.

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The Myth of Self-Control

The biggest problem with the word self-control is that it leads us to think that we should control ourselves, but the Bible’s position on it is that we don’t have control of ourselves. The Bible clearly teaches that people don’t even know themselves perfectly, so how could they control themselves perfectly? I can’t, in my own power, choose to do good.


So maybe Michael had it right. He was always saying, “Hoo!” but we needed to know how to make a change. But the profound, life changing, revolutionary secret is, that the who is the how. We’re told to live by the Spirit, keep in step with the Spirit. Self-control isn’t about controlling ourselves, it’s first and foremost about making the decision about whose control we’re under (“Live by the Spirit”), and secondly, it’s about following through on that decision every day and every little decision (“Keep in step with the Spirit”).

Oswald Chambers said, “The first thing to do in examining the power that dominates me is to take hold of the unwelcome fact that I am responsible for being thus dominated because I have yielded. If I am a slave to myself, I am to blame for it because at a point, away back, I yielded myself to myself. Likewise, if I obey God, I do so because I have yielded myself to him.”

The Spirit of Control

Therefore, fall on the Spirit of God to do what you can never do. Exercise self-control by making the choice to be controlled by him.

Live by him, keep in step with him and you’ll experience this marionette joy, guided by unseen hands to enact a new drama that’s as old as time. Resisting the urge to resist, lest our strings get crossed. All we knew when we chose the stringed life was that we chose this over the burn pile, but now we see that it’s so much more. When the tugs and pulls are seen in sequence, it composes a story: the dragons slain, the maidens rescued, the King nobly served. Be self-controlled: choose to yield to the Spirit’s control in the whole and in the particular and the world will see that, though you’re made of the same stuff that they are, the all-surpassing power in us is of God.

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