“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace … and self-control … Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:22-25)
In the apostle Paul’s discussion here, we can see that self-control is very important for helping us turn away from “the desires of the flesh.”
But we may wonder, How can we actually practice self-control? How can we turn away from all the sins and “actions of the flesh” that are listed here? Are we strong enough to control our sinful desires on our own? No. We need the power of God the Holy Spirit to guide us.
The self-control that Paul is talking about is not accomplished by the power of our old, sinful self. It can only be accomplished in the power of the new self that we receive through the finished work of Jesus Christ — that is, the new life that comes to us by the gift of the Holy Spirit.
With the new life of the Spirit in us, we have a new self that is led by the Spirit. And because we are led by the Spirit, we can “keep in step with the Spirit.” Like a tree or a vine with the life of the Spirit in us, we can bear “the fruit of the Spirit” such as “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
This is the Spirit’s work in us, and we need to surrender our old, selfish, sinful nature each day so that we can live by the control of the Holy Spirit.
Guide us, Lord, to crucify the old, sinful nature “with its passions and desires” so that we will enjoy life in the Spirit. Amen.