How "Instant" Has Ruined Self-Control

Good things come to those who wait...or so the saying goes.  I wonder if the person who invented that phrase could have foreseen the age of the internet and smart phones.

Image courtesy of adamr
The idea of waiting for anything in our culture has become anathema.  So much so that we have road rage incidents when we are caught in traffic.  We get impatient at the grocery store when we choose the wrong line and have to stay 5 minutes longer because of our misstep.  We are always in a hurry and when we fall behind, we have no grace for those who have cost us those precious moments that we will never get back.  (Just ask my kids as they have been the target of my wrath for the 2 minutes that I think I'm behind...only to still arrive on time.)

This hurried culture has made us a less patient people, and as a result, less self controlled.

This lack of self control manifests itself as a reactionary people whose peace is only found in the feeling of the moment.  If the experiences we have in life make us feel good, then, we surmise, it must be good, because we lack the self control to pause and ask the question:  Does God think this is good?

However, to invoke God is to actually know what He has revealed about Himself through His Word.  To do that requires the self control to actually read and understand the God whom we serve and that takes time...time we don't think we have (though we had time to binge watch an entire season of whatever on Netflix last week).

Don't they have an app for that to make it easier for me to get into the Word?  Or how about a movie?  Or just something more entertaining than that boring Word of offense God.

The funny thing is that we have all of those things.  The entire Gospel of Matthew, John and Acts in the form of a movie.  A number of great Bible apps that will even read the Bible to you, if you want, so you don't even have to get bored looking at the script on your smartphone.  More podcasts, more books (even on audio...and dramatized) by more great Biblical teachers than ever before.  Sermons, illustrations and teachings are all available for free on YouTube.

And even with all of this...we have the most Biblically illiterate generation growing up in the church in America today.

Peter tells believers to...  make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self control, and self control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.  For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.  Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fail.  2 Peter 1:5-10

This lack of self control is the cause of the lack of steadfastness (to the faith), godliness, brotherly affection (love for the members of the body of Christ) and love we are seeing within the church.  All of these are the casualties of the loss of self control.  Peter tells us that they build upon one another and should be found in every believers' life to be effective for the work that God has called us to.

Because of their lack of self control, Paul advised couples to get married instead of burning with passion for one another (1 Cor. 7:8-9).  However, today many in the church simply settle for the living together mentality rather than the self control to abstain from sexual relations or the commitment to marry.  Living together is quick.  It is easy and can make us feel just as good as any God must be okay with it, right?

It is interesting to note that the lack of recognition of God is the reason why God gave people over to their passions listed in Romans 1:18-32.  Each and every one of those sins that came in increasing measure can be accounted for by one factor...a lack of self control.  Many of those passions listed are sexual in nature.  Is it any wonder that we are having a hard time in our churches when sexual sin runs rampant in our culture and has bled through the four walls of the church?

Josh McDowell has recently stated that he believes that the biggest threat to Christianity is pornography that is so easily accessible through the internet and smartphones.  Kids and adults becoming addicted to the images and the feelings produced by the sexual content that is only a click or touch away.

This addiction has led to very unbiblical views of sex and marriage being promoted within many churches.  It seems to echo the conclusion Paul made at the end of Romans 1:  Though they know God's decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

Our culture has taken off the restraints and gloried in it, taking many professing believers with them.  Our only hope for healing and health within our Christian community comes with the rediscovery of the lost discipline of self control.  The Bible calls it "dying to self".  It means that we actually want God more than even the things that we desire that wish to drag us away from the God who loves us and gave His Son for us that we may follow Him (not profess to know Him and never do what He says).  Until that happens, we will continue to spiral down the path of self destruction...never recognizing that we had the power to prevent it, if we only used the self control over our desires that God empowered us with through the sacrifice of His Son.


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