The Guise of Control

“For you are a slave to whatever controls you.” (2 Peter 2:19b NLT)

Every person is controlled by something or someone. We don’t govern even our own life. What does govern can vary from person to person, but ultimately, one day God will bring everything under His control (Philippians 3:21). But don’t we have free will to choose our own destiny and direction? Yes and no.

Yes, God has given us a will that enables us to make choices, but ultimately the rulership of our lives will boil down to one of two sources – our sin nature or God; this world or the next; Satan or the Holy Spirit. Once we give ownership and rulership of our lives over to one of them, it’s for all intent and purpose, out of our hands. But how do we determine who it is? Therein lies the proverbial “rub,” but there are indicators, which when recognized, can give us clarity as to who’s really in charge.

For example, let’s say for sake of illustration that you’ve decided you “need” a new car. The car you have is only four years old and only has a little over 60K miles. It’s been well maintained, so it still looks and runs very well. So, what’s the hurry to get a new one? Three of your friends at work got a new car, so, suddenly, your car just isn’t cutting it anymore.

Okay, yes, it’s your decision, and no, it’s not necessarily wrong to buy a new car, but what’s really behind this desire? Or another way to think of it, who’s controlling or motivating this decision? Of course, there are many factors to consider, but if you’re a Jesus follower, shouldn’t Jesus have a say as to whether or not it’s time to buy another vehicle? And shouldn’t His say be preeminent?

This is just one of a thousand kinds of decisions we make in a given day, that when tallied together give us a view of who’s really in control. How we use our time and money are two of the factors that weigh the most in terms of who or what is ruling our lives. But another weighty matter is who do you want to rule you? Are you content with letting your selfish, world-centered nature rule your decisions? Or would you rather have the Holy Spirit govern what you do, say, and think?

Realistically, there are aspects of our sinful nature that once given full sway are literally impossible for us to regain control without assistance. For example, sin can manifest itself in many crippling ways. Sex, money, drugs, alcohol, anger, lust, lying, gossiping, pride, envy, jealousy, crime – the list is long, but treacherous. People who are caught in addictive behaviors will often say: “It’s not a big deal. I can stop anytime I want to. I just don’t want to!”

As I understand it, one of the primary ways to identify who’s in control is to ask yourself and five of your closest friends, if you have any left: “Do I have ________, or does it have me?” You can fill in any of the things above or one that isn’t mentioned with which you wrestle.

Paul wrote in Romans 7:22-25: “I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.”

We often want to stop there and believe our conscience is clear to keep living in subjection to our sinful nature – that over which apart from the Holy Spirit’s rule and reign in our life we have no power to control. But just two verses later Paul writes: “And because you belong to Him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.”

We will be imprisoned by our self-focused sinful nature unless and until we yield our life and allegiance to the only One who can free us from self and Satan – the Lord Jesus Christ. Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Blessings, Ed 😊

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