Why We Can’t Will Ourselves to Simplicity and Self-Control

It’s faddish in our culture for people to talk about minimalism, simplicity, sustainability and mindfulness. 

When I talk about simplicity, I’m referring to something supernatural. 

Simplicity is the direct result of the Holy Spirit leading us to be self-controlled in all things. 

The Bible teaches that self-control is not something we can “make happen” through hard work and harsh personal discipline. 

Like a plant, self-control is something that begins growing inside of us at conversion (Gal. 5:23). Since God himself is self-controlled, it only makes sense that he starts to cultivate self-control in our lives the day we give our lives to Christ. 

Moving forward, when our lives begin to get out of control, we instinctively sense something’s off. We long to reorder our lives.  

This is because self-control is a supernatural manifestation of the Holy Spirit (a.k.a. the “fruit” of the Holy Spirit). 

As a disciple, there’s a supernatural push inside of us that leads us to be mindful, deliberate and intentional about our actions and to push back against any choices that are not prudent and restrained. 

In the same way, we don’t have to tell our bodies to breathe (We do it automatically.); our spirit instinctively craves self-control.  

The most common unrestrained behavior that the Bible warns against is a lack of sexual self-control (1 Cor. 7:5). 

But self-control encompasses much more.  

The Holy Spirit causes us to desire intentional, mindful and restrained choices in all areas of our lives. 

Disciples are to demonstrate self-control before they are chosen to become pastors in the church (1 Tim. 3:2, Titus 1:8). 

Then these pastors are to teach self-control to every person in the church: to older men (Titus 2:2), older women and younger women (Titus 2:3–5), and younger men (Titus 2:6).   

Simplicity then is the baseline lifestyle that a disciple of Jesus lives out as the Holy Spirit leads him or her to choose moderation in all things. 

Simplicity is the most stripped-down and Spirit-controlled version of yourself. 

Is there an area of your life where you think the Holy Spirit is leading you to exhibit more self-control?

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This article originally appeared on BrianJones.com and is reposted here by permission.

Brian Jones
Brian Jones

Brian Jones is a church planter, author and the founding and senior pastor of Christ’s Church of the Valley in Philadelphia.