Hopelessness began to set in. The enemy too strong, the doubt too thick, and everywhere I looked in my life was ruin. I felt as though I was a city once invaded and left in an ash heap never to be built again. Was destruction my end? Like cities of old, was my destiny to be cursed and cutoff? God seemed so distant, but the most alarming thing was the condition of my heart. The sins I once warred against were now not only present in my life but my heart was beginning to desire them.
Yet somehow in the midst rubble, the Word of God met me. Like water to a parched tongue, my spirit revived and revealed the one trait I lacked above all else at this point in my life, self-control. My eyes were opened and I saw my condition before God as I read the proverb.
A man without self-control
is like a city broken into and left without walls.
A Lack of Self-Control Leads to Enslavement to the Enemy
Have you ever experienced the thought that sin can at any time come and go in your life and you feel powerless against it? Many believers are trapped in this brutal cycle. They feel as though they agree that Yeshua has defeated the power of sin and death, yet in their life, they are the ones who feel powerless over sin! Once a specific sin gets a stronghold in your life, it proliferates and turns into a situation where multiple sins can now come and go as they please. These circumstances led many believers to share with me their despair as they wonder if freedom from sin in their life is possible. They start to wonder if they are disqualified from the promises of the gospel because they experience the enemy taking them captive to do his will. (2 Timothy 2:26)
The military metaphor helps us understand the spiritual reality of those who are bankrupt of self-control. The pattern is simple. Lacking self-control causes you to give way to your desire for sin. Once sin breaks in through the walls and develops a stronghold or foothold, subduing it increases in difficulty. This compares to a troop breaking through the wall of a city. Repelling an enemy who is inside the fortification is nigh impossible. At the very least, it is costly. This is why the Scriptures teach us that Yahweh is “strength to those who turn back the battle at the gate.” (Isaiah 28:6)
James teaches us that when desire has conceived it gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown, brings forth death. (James 1:15) The death you experience comes in many forms. Although sin entered through one area of your life, now it begins to spread. Your lack of self-control becomes exploited by the enemy and you wake up one day to find yourself overcome by a host of transgressions. This is where hopelessness and despair start to greet you. You start to see your new master, sin, ruling and reigning over you. (Gen. 4:7) This process reminds us of an army, which once inside the city, now begins to tear all the walls down. The city lays exposed to a legion of additional troops who now freely march into the city at will. The city, which is your life, is now overthrown and ruled by a foreign master. Peter summarizes this condition in 2 Peter 2:19 — “For whatever overcomes a person, to that, he is enslaved.”
The Process of Rebuilding: Admitting Defeat, Recognizing Shame, and Repenting from Sin
Unfortunately, lacking self-control isn’t viewed as a significant issue in the modern-day church. And it certainly isn’t viewed as something shameful! Yet we can see certain parallels in the Scriptures where when walls were broken down, the city was put to shame. After the destruction and captivity of Jerusalem, Nehemiah meets some refugees who came from the holy city, he asks them the condition of the exiles and Jerusalem, their response grants us insight.
Without argument, when someone sins for lack of self-control, the shame that follows is overwhelming. Partially because the individual feels defeated by the frequent visitor of sin and in part because as we discuss, they don’t see a way to rebuild their walls. Later in the story, Nehemiah is commissioned to rebuild Jerusalem and guess where he starts? You guessed it, the walls!
The good news is that rebuilding is possible. The sobering news is that it is hard work. But it is worth it. Starting to rebuild the walls of your life helps to erase the years of derision and shame you endured. Remember though, like Nehemiah, there will be too much rubble for you to rebuild the wall by yourself. (Nehemiah 4:10) Only through prayer, fasting, knowledge, warfare and YHWH will the city of your life be rebuilt into a holy habitation for righteousness!
Discerning Satan’s Advancement and Building The Walls
Another story from the Scriptures we can use for our instruction is found in the second book of the chronicles of the kings. King Hezekiah was faced with the advancing army of Assyria, with Sennacherib as its king. This army had sacked and sent into captivity all of Judea and now had Jerusalem in its sights. Hezekiah was resolute in his strategy and by wisdom and the strength of YHWH repelled the advancing forces.
2 Chronicles 32:1-8
Did you notice what Hezekiah did? He fortified the walls of the city, built towers, then build an additional wall for more protection! What can we learn from this? Imagine had Hezekiah tried to repel the invasion without fortifying the walls. He surely would have been defeated! Do you feel like you are defending your soul without walls? Can the enemy invade whenever he pleases and if he can’t get in one way, he simply marches in through another? The problem is you have not built up any walls, and as the proverb teaches – these walls are built through self-control.
Add Self-Control and Rebuild the Walls!
Tucked away quietly a few verses after this encounter is a beautiful Scripture that brings me much encouragement. After trusting in YHWH for deliverance and fortifying his city, the Bible records this in 2 Chronicles 32:22, “So the LORD saved Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem from the hand of Sennacherib king of Assyria and from the hand of all his enemies, and he provided for them on every side.” He provided for them on every side. Take heart, my dear brothers and sisters! Regardless of which side the enemy has been victorious over you, regardless of the number of enemies you face, remember these two prophetic words of Hezekiah and Elisa, “the army that fights for us is larger than the one that fights against us” and “[YHWH will] provide for you on every side.”
So get up dearly beloved! See your true condition before God, repent for the ash heap of destruction where you find yourself, put a sword in one and a shovel in the other, and rebuild your walls! Prepare a way for YHWH, walk in the Spirit and the fruit will be self-control. I leave you with this final encouragement from the apostolic writings, you will do well to hear these words for they will keep you from being unfruitful and they will provide for you a rich entrance into the kingdom of our Messiah Yeshua — HalleluYah!