When Janet Jackson’s song, “Control,” released in 1984, it was a huge hit. Of course, I’m aging myself, but it became an anthem for me and so many other young people. I remember the lines, “Got my own mind. / I want to make my own decisions. / When it has to do with my life, my life / I want to be the one in control.” Even if you don’t know the song, you get the gist. Being in control is glamourized and applauded all most all of the time. However, it’s important to think about who or what’s controlling our thoughts because our thoughts determine how we behave.
There’s a spiritual battle taking place, whether we realize it or not. The battle is one for control over our minds. Will we do and say whatever we want and feel or will we consider and act on what God’s Word says? This war between our flesh and the spirit can be deadly. So many don’t even acknowledge that the war exists, which makes it even more dangerous. We have to have spiritual insight to accept and acknowledge that this war exists. When we are led by what we desire or what we think and feel, we are being controlled by the flesh. Basing decisions on our intellect, feelings, and wants lead us into a path of destruction.
On the other hand, to be spiritually-minded is life and peace. When we allow God’s Spirit to control our thoughts, we become vessels for Him. As a result of our thoughts being under subjection to the Word, we will discover that our actions will follow accordingly, making us fruitful and productive. The struggle exists between the flesh and the spirit, but we have victory over it through Christ.
Galatians 5:17 explains, “For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.” Often, the things that feel good in the moment aren’t things that are good for us in the long run. For example, I love sugary desserts. When I decide that I’m going to choose to be led by my flesh and indulge in whatever I want, I might feel great in the moment. However, there are negative consequences to my health that I can’t control as a result of me allowing my flesh to govern my thoughts. Remembering that my body is a temple where the Holy Spirit resides helps me to make healthier decisions.
If we don’t know, meditate and study the Word of God, we are operating at a disadvantage. When we don’t submit our will to His, we are hurting ourselves, even if it initially appears to feel good. That’s the deception. Sin can feel pleasurable in the moment but the consequences devastating. When we live in sin, we may feel that we’re in control, and we are in command of our outcome. Nothing could be further from the truth. Sinful thoughts lead to sinful behavior. Sinful behavior is an indication that the enemy has taken control, no matter how it masks itself.
We live in a society that uplifts independent thinking and actions, but we must beware. Our thinking must be in alignment with God’s Word, no exceptions. Galatians 5:19 lists acts of the sinful nature, including: “sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery, idolatry and witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy, drunkenness, orgies, and the like. . . . those that live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” We have to arm ourselves with the knowledge of the Word so that we can obey it.
Galations 5:22 continues, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” These are by-products of a life that is controlled by the Holy Spirit.
When we are controlled by His Spirit, we will help restore others and help bear one another’s burdens. As Galatians 6:7 says, “God is not mocked. A man will reap what he sows.” If we approach each other, mindful of our own temptations and need for forgiveness, grace, and mercy, we will act in God’s love and wisdom.
How do we respond when life gets crazy? Usually, we tighten our grip and try to control things even more, which leads to frustration and chaos. Trying to be in absolute control of our own lives is too heavy a burden for us to carry. Psalm 55:22a says, “Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you.” Or, we may just give up and let the chips fall where they may. This is a disaster also. Feeling sorry for ourselves doesn’t ever move us forward.
There is a verse that I meditate on often in Psalm 46:10, which says quite simply, “Be still and know that I am God.” This comforts me and gives me direction. Sometimes we need to declutter our minds and fill them with God’s Word. Instead of devising our own plans, we need to hear from Him by seeking Him daily. When we set aside this time, we are making Him a priority. We are showing that we value His direction and His Word.
An interesting things happens when we fully surrender to Him. Instead of feeling weak, out of control, burdened down, stressed, worried, and anxious, we are empowered. His Spirit lifts us up and lets us know that we can do all things through Christ! He confirms in us that we are more than conquerors!
Blessings and love,