In yesterday's devotional we looked at the need to choose life. Today we look at the way in which we choose it. Paul wrote that God’s forgiveness for us on the Calvary is the very the reason that we should choose life. “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship” (Romans 12:1, NIV). Discipline begins with what God has given us—our own bodies. Each day we move and make choices, each moment is a living sacrifice.
Sometimes we want to be obedient, but still we can’t seem to surrender that one area which plagues us. Yet, if we consider submission as an act of worship, then the option of not submitting becomes blasphemous. When we are obedient, daily decisions are born from our love for God. His desire becomes more important than our desire, because He became a living sacrifice for us. “You were taught with regard to your former way of life,” Paul also wrote, “to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22-24). When you are obedient to God's Word, you submit to Him and put on your new self. You are renewed, changed, and transformed (Romans 12:2).
“You were created to be holy like the Lord!” Paul continued. “So put on your new self” (Ephesians 4:24). For our attitudes and our thoughts to be new—for them to ultimately affect our actions—we must put on our new spiritual self daily. True holiness is born because our minds are renewed, and our hearts long to submit to the Lord. Our daily decisions are born of this inner renewal. We can either say yes or no to what we know is right. We choose blessing or curse by our decision. Ultimately we choose spiritual death or spiritual life in Jesus Christ. When we say yes, the Holy Spirit empowers our decision. The daily habit of submitting to God, not only in prayer and study but in thought and action, changes us. We become the new creature God birthed in us at salvation.
“Take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5b, NIV). Surrender your mind to the Holy Spirit and a miracle occurs. The battle to control the actions of your body, having already been won in the spirit of your mind, becomes easier. You become dependent on God's power instead of relying on your own ability. In “The Prayer of Jabez”, Bruce Wilkinson writes, “God’s power, under us, in us, surging through us, is exactly what turns dependence into unforgettable experiences of completeness.” What makes complete dependence upon the Lord an unforgettable experience? Our willingness to submit our spirit to His Spirit and our actual submission of mind and body to His Spirit, releases the power of the Holy Spirit to “complete us”. You never forget when God makes you whole!
Self-control is really not “my” self-control. It is Holy Spirit control. God is faithful to empower my hardest battle and yours, but we must allow Him to make us whole by giving Him every aspect of our lives. When we submit ourselves to be completed by Him, our greatest battle shall no longer be ours. “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through,” Paul exhorted. “May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and He will do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24, NIV). As God changes us, we are made new in the attitude of our mind. The ability to control ourselves is empowered by Him. Self-control truly becomes His control.