As I’ve been going through the Checkpoints book, various aspects of syrivinf to a godly life have come into clearer focus. The first three weeks of devotionals have been challenging. They focused on preparing the mind and spirit for living for Christ. Week four takes it to another level by using the first three weeks as the foundation for Self-control.
If we know who we are (identity) in Christ, then we’ll be more apt to apply His standards and truths (integrity) to our lives. Being around like-minded men (community) will strengthen us and allow us to better exercise self-control. This self-control is rooted in the knowledge of Christ, and what He requires of us.
Where we must allow Christ to make a difference in our lives is our heart and our mind. It is in these two places where addictions reside. Addictions can wreck lives almost as fast as pride. When we become addicted to something, it achieves the status of a god (idol). God explicitly said in the commandments to have no other gods before Him. If we’re addicted to (idolizing) anything, our focus is off of God and we aren’t living as He desires for us to. We must not let anything become more important to us than doing the will of God.
As addictions take many forms, some are more detrimental than others. The ones that cause harm to the body, mind, and soul fall into this category. Pornography is arguably chief among them. Porn feeds sexual lust. It places images in our head that placate carnal fantasies. Not only does porn affect our mind, but it affects our body as well. Watching it can desenitize us to physical contact from our spouse, which affects intimacy within marriage. Being addicted to porn can break fellowship, but professional help, and Christ can restore it.
A by product of an addiction to porb could be an increased desire for self-pleasure. Also known as beatin’ off, wackin’ off, choking the chicken, etc., masturbation is a self induced orgasm. It’s not necessarily a problem in our formative years. However, if it continues as we get older, then its necessary to wonder why. Orgasms are a wonderful thing, but in the context of marriage. When masturbation is a continuous habit, at it’s core it is feeding physical pleasure. The focus has become “chasing the high” of the orgasm. The only way to get control over it is to pray for strength, study the Word, and subjugate our will to God’s will, wholly.
I try to keep myself out of this, but I feel like transparency is called for here. In my life, I struggled with an addiction to porn, and masturbating when I was younger. One of the reasons some drug addicts keep using is because they’re attempting to reach the intial euphoric feelings of when they first started using. I know it was because of “chasing the first high” that I kept doing it. It’s not everybody’s reason, but it was mine. Eventually, “doing me” wasn’t enough and I started having sex.
Pre-marital sex is a big deal for most people. Initially, for me it wasn’t. As I got older, I began to understand why it’s so serious. Sex itself is supposed to be within the confines of marriage. It’s not just a merging of bodies, but also minds and souls that is supposed to be for two people, as God designed it. When pre-marital sex is engaged in, it usurps the originally intended purpose, as well as merges souls of the participants. Perceptions can become slanted as well. Even more serious though is the fact sexual sin is, as the Bible says, is the only one we do to our own bodies. Our bodies are called temples by God, yet if we are doing things to damage our temples, do we really value them?
How do we get into situations where we need to exercise self-control? After the desires arise in our hearts, and thoughts get formed in our minds, we set in motion the actions by our words. Words can make or break people. Destructive words are ones that tear down. We set in motion destructive habits by what we speak, then follow up on by acting on what we say. Even if we think something, it’s not always necessary to voice it. The words we use are just as important as what’s said. Self-control is knowing how to say something, and when it’s best, frankly, to shut up.
The only way we can effectively exercise self-control is by submitting ourselves to Christ. A component in it is staying in the Word, and allowing it to convict us. That’s why effectively studying and scripture memorization is so vital to our spiritual walk. As we hide the Word in our hearts, we will have the necessary strength to not be overcome by the things that seek to take us out.