This is what Paul emphasizes in the book of Galatians. As Christians, we have been set free from the bondage of sin, which enslaved us and dominated our lives. We are no longer under sin’s power, penalty, or curse. What that means is that we have been given liberty in Christ to “walk by the Spirit” (Gal. 5:16). We still wrestle with the flesh, but we are not under the control of the flesh (Gal. 5:17–18). The Spirit within us enables us to long for and pursue spiritual things, whereas before we desired only the things of the flesh, the things that characterize fallen human nature in rebellion against God: “adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like” (Gal. 5:19–21). “But,” Paul goes on to say, “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal. 5:22–23).
Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit. It is the gracious work of Christ in our hearts to produce in us what we could never bring forth in ourselves. It is the Holy Spirit’s ministry of impressing on us and in us the very character of Christ, whose entire life was marked by a desire to do the will of His heavenly Father (John 5:30). Self-control is the fruit of living in union with Christ. If you are in Christ, you have been blessed with “every spiritual blessing” in Him (Eph. 1:3). Confess your own lack of self-control to God through Christ. Rest on Christ alone for all that He purchased for you by His death on the cross. And pray that Christ would make His kingdom visible in this world as He reigns in you by grace and through faith.