Self-Control and Restraining Lusts
By Archdeacon Habib Guirgus
No matter how valuable and perfect virtue is, it is difficult for its seeker to victor, unless he can conquer the fleshly desires and restrain its lusts.
By nature, we are
born with an inclination to sin, and our desires and lusts fight us daily, and
our ego feeds these lusts and desires. "For the flesh lusts against the
Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one
another, so that you do not do the things that you wish" (Galatians 5:17).
We can only restrain the lusts and conquer the pain of the flesh by
The soul cannot reach the freedom and enjoy "the glorious liberty of the children of God" (Romans 8:21) till it subjugates its lusts and binds it.
You cannot enter into glory without struggling and striving, or be available to carry the cross, as Christ had "to suffer these things and to enter into His glory" (Luke 24:26), so how can you receive this-glory-without pain or struggling?
Look at the wounds of the Lord Jesus, and you will despise everything.
How can you follow Christ, the heavenly Groom, while you are living in luxury, fulfilling your fleshly desires, while He is "wounded for our transgressions ... bruised for our iniquities" (Isaiah 53:5) crowned with thorns for your sake?
He was crucified so you may crucify your lusts.
He died so we may kill sin and live for Him alone.
It is almost impossible to follow Jesus, while you are burdened with sin, and your fleshly lusts are fighting you to obstruct you from following Him, and cause you to halt your walk in the path of perfection.
You cannot reach your goal unless you despise your sense, and subdue the flamed lusts of the flesh. You will not taste the true sweetness unless you despise every fleshly desire and lust.
The strings of the harp do not fulfill the senses, unless it is pulled and hit, so is our senses, it will never be controlled unless it is pulled away and controlled by being hit by the whip of discipline.
Do you want to be free from the burden of sin? Therefore, fight your desires and kill your ego. Carry the cross of Jesus, and deny yourself, and reject your desires and lusts. If you were an adulterer, be purified. If you were greedy, be content. If you were a coward and weak, be strong and courageous.
Being humble can create in you a new creation, and live a new life in righteousness and holiness. "And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires" (Galatians 5:24), and that is perfection in its entity. It is the way of Jesus Christ, the cross, which we should carry on our shoulders; "always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus" (II Corinthians 4:10), for virtue and Christian spiritual life are upright in conquering the lusts and controlling the senses, and the life for God, "knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin...Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:6,7,11).
"For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God" (Colossians 3:3).
"You also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ" (Romans 7:4).
"I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me" (Galatians 2:20).
If you are dead from the world, then you are alive in Christ, with Christ and for Christ. And if this life is in Christ, then the relationship between you and Him is strong, steadfast and sturdy.
The dead person does not act like those who are alive in this world, so is the Christian who is dead for sin, should not perform the worldly deeds and should not have a relation with it. Also the Christian, who is dead from sin and has no relation with it, should not serve any of its acts. By death we become free from the power of the world and its servitude, and it has no power over us. We were slaves for sin, but when we die for it, it has no power or control over us, but become free from its burden.
Do not despise your fleshly desires only, but you also have to despise something else that is vileness, desire, anger and the lusts of the soul. You have to practice patience in your tribulations, and be in control of the eyes, ears, tongue, and the rest of the senses, actions, and evil emotions. Know this, that every time you overcome your desires and conquer your lusts, you become a victorious king; in control over yourself, "he who rules his spirit is better than he who takes a city" (Proverbs 16:32).
By this, you are among the courageous soldiers of Christ, and maybe among the best.
Joseph the pure, overcame the terrible temptation, and performed a wonderful job by running Egypt and the world, to a safe harbor.
David the Prophet, when he conquered his anger, and avenged his revenge from king Saul, showed a new strength stronger than when he killed Goliath the giant.
Strive to overcome your lusts and live by the spirit, "For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things for the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be ... For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if you by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live" (Romans 8:5-7,13).
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