You Must Take Control of Your Emotions

Preached on June 16, 2024

You must take control of your emotions before the take control of you! There is a serious danger today’s generation faces in leaving their emotional doors wide open! Join Pastor McCrary as he takes a look at the importance of self-control.

Introduction

Are you quick to get angry, upset, and frustrated with others? Do you have a nasty habit of lashing out or simply not care about hurting others? In returning to the way of God, you must learn to take control of your emotions and not let them have control over you. So, in today’s message, I want to take a look at self-control. It is important for the child of God to have a handle on their emotions.

Add Self-Control to Faith

We are on a spiritual battlefield and on it, we have seen that today’s generation is losing the battle for its soul. To not lose its soul, we have seen that today’s generation needs to see the sign of Christ and follow Him. Secondly, after following in faith, we must add virtue to our faith.  Last week, we saw that one must also continue to add knowledge to their faith so that they aren’t overcome by the flattering words of the ignorant fool.

As we continue in this series of sermons, I want us to take another look at what Peter wrote in 2 Peter 1:6. Peter wrote that to our knowledge of the Lord, we must take the next step and add self-control to our faith. Let’s note that one should add self-control to their faith with all diligence.

We define self-control as restraint exercised over one’s own impulses, emotions, or desires.  One that acts on impulse is one that acts without thought – they act irrationally.  One that acts with unrestrained desire is one that moves out of selfish- ambition – like moving out of lust and greed.  One that does not restrain their emotions is one that is controlled by their emotions.

Our emotions are reactions towards something that can change our behavior for the good or the bad.  So, for example, we know our emotions can include anger, sadness, fear, anxiety, envy, covetousness, happiness, joy, and love.  

Now, some emotions are certainly good for us to move in, right?  For example, it is good to be filled with happiness and move in happiness.  On the other hand, anger can become a very toxic and harmful emotion to move out of.  So, do you think it would be in your best interest to control emotions like anger?

The Danger of Lacking Self-Control

On this battlefield, it is very dangerous for us to act irrationally on impulse.  If we let those harmful emotions control us, we will likely end up harming not just ourselves but others as well.  I believe it would be in your best interest to take control of your emotions.  

As we take a look at my key verse, Paul wrote to those of the church of Ephesus about not allowing anger to settle in their heart.  The church of Ephesus was a church that was divided among Jewish and Gentile believers.  The Jewish believers would look down on the Gentile believers which stirred up some raw emotions.  In fact, in Revelation 2:1-5, Jesus warned about the lack of love in this church.

26 “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, 27 nor give place to the devil.  31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.

KEY VERSE(S) – EPHESIANS 4:26-27, 31 NKJV

So, Paul said, “do not let the sun go down on your wrath (Eph. 4:26).”  Paul understood that allowing certain emotions to control us leaves the door open for Satan to enter in and take control.  What good could ever come from allowing Satan to have control of the steering wheel?  None.  

If you let Satan control the wheel he will wreck and corrupt your soul!  As James wrote, wrath cannot produce the righteousness of God (Jas. 1:19-20).  As Jesus said, “a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit (Luke 6:43).”  Once again, we cannot leave the door open for Satan to control us because he will defeat us.

So, we must be weary of letting fear, anxiety, envy, covetousness, lust, greed, and sadness control us.  Fear and anxiety can lead to one having a heart of doubt.  Therefore, fear and anxiety, while potentially being a motivator, when unrestrained, can paralyze the soul in doubt.  

Envy, covetousness, lust, and greed takes our eyes off what God has for us as one will be too busy focusing on what others have.  These emotions when unrestrained can cause us to think and move like Cain.  Remember, Cain killed his own brother because he was envious of him.  Cain acted so irrationally that he didn’t believe he should have been his brother’s keeper (Gen. 4:8-9)!

Unrestrained sadness can lead to a well of deep sorrow, depression, and despair.  For example, I think of Job, a man who was filled with much grief and sorrow.  Job’s grief and sorrow paralyzed him as he sat and did nothing most days except grumble and complain about God. 

How to Take Control of Your Emotions

So, when it comes to these toxic emotions, scripture often encourages us to put them away from us.  In the third of my key verses, Paul called on us put away such emotions with all malice.  Colossians 3:5, Paul wrote that we should “put to death” evil passions, desires, and covetousness.  In 1 Peter 2:1, Peter encouraged believers to lay aside with all malice the emotion of envy which can lead to the actions of deceit, hypocrisy, and evil speaking. 

Does this mean that we should be like emotionless zombies or cold-hearted machines?  Absolutely not!  Let us remember that God created us to be fruitful (flourish) and to multiply (prosper) (Gen. 1:28).  The Lord desires for us to experience happiness which is why He pours out His love onto us and blesses us.    Those emotions of anger, covetousness, and envy did not show up in man until after man’s fall in the garden.  

So, such emotions have now become a part of our nature which makes it hard for us to put them to death or to lay them aside.  This is why I love Paul’s statement to “be angry, and do not sin.”  This shows his understanding that we are going to have times where we are rightfully frustrated or upset.  At the same time, it also shows that we are going to have times where we will be sad, depressed, or even envious or covetous. 

However, Paul makes it clear that we shouldn’t let emotions like wrath be in us at the end of the day.  So, we must learn how to let those emotions go before they take control of us and cause us to do things we will regret.  So, what can you do to control your emotions?

The first step— fellowship

The first step to controlling your emotions is fellowship.  First, we must learn to be in fellowship with each other.  John said it best when he said, “if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7).”

Without fellowship, this place would be a lonely place.  Ecclesiastes 4:10 tells us that if one is alone and falls, he has no one to help him up.  However, with a friend, when one is down, the friend will lift up his friend.  Are we living in fellowship with each other?  

The value of true fellowship is lacking in today’s generation.  Again, rather than talking to someone, today’s generation loves to talk at someone!  It is good to be surrounded by people of virtue that can keep it real with you and not lie to you when you are wrong.  It is good to be in fellowship with people of virtue that can share an uplifting word when you’re in despair, frustrated, and upset.  

When it comes to fellowship, we must also continue to lean on our fellowship with the Lord as well.  To the church of Ephesus, Paul wrote that if you have learned (know) Christ, then you will be renewed in the Spirit of your mind (Eph. 4:20-23).  Let us remember that in our fellowship with God, we receive the Holy Spirit who renews our soul around the clock.

We must remember that the Holy Spirit’s purpose is to lead and guide us into all truth as He is the Spirit of truth (John 16:13).   Because of the Holy Spirit, we know the spirit of truth and error and there is comfort – peace of mind – in knowing such truth!  Peace of mind, means that your soul is at ease or at rest from harmful emotions like fear, anxiety, stress, and anger.

Jesus said to His disciples that we ought not worry about our life— what we will eat, drink, or wear (Matt. 6:25).  Jesus said that we should not worry because as God cares for the other things of the world, we are more precious to God than them (Matt. 6:26).  

Sadly, because today’s generation chooses not to be close to God, it will never know nor understand how much they are loved by Him.  This leaves today’s generation open to being overcome by fear, doubt, worry, depression, and anger.  Again, today’s generation is a generation that emotionally leaves itself wide open to defeat.

The second step— prayer

From fellowship, the second step to take control of your emotions is talking to God— prayer.  Now, this is where today’s generation will turn away from this message.  Why?  Because today’s generation is a generation that doesn’t believe in prayer, let alone prays to God.  Those that may attempt to pray, often doubt their prayer works because they think God doesn’t hear them.  

Prayer requires faith – confidence in God.  Let’s understand that those who pray while doubting shouldn’t expect to receive anything from God (Jas. 1:6-8).  Of course those that never pray shouldn’t ever expect to receive anything from God.  Prayer is often advised because that’s how often we forget to pray!  You see, when you don’t talk to God, it’s like you’re turning down His help which we should not ever do!  

I love what my brother said the other day about a change he was making in his prayer life and I want to share it with you.  My brother said to me that he was going to start being more intentional in his prayers.  You see, a lot of times we aren’t direct with God in our supplication when scripture teaches us that we should be direct.  

To the Philippians, Paul wrote, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayers and supplication, let your requests be made known to God (Phil. 4:6).”  In Hebrews 4:16, the writer encouraged believers to go boldly before the throne of grace.  James said that when you ask in faith – in confidence – God will liberally supply your needs without reproach (Jas. 1:5).  

Our Savior said that whatever we ask in His name, we must know that God will do (John 14:13-14).  I ask you today:  Do you believe God can help you take control of your emotions?  If you do, then go to Him in prayer and let Him know exactly what you’re feeling.  

Now, some may wonder, why do we need to pray if God already knows what we are going through?  While God certainly already knows our needs, I tell you that prayer – talking to God – is therapeutic!  Prayer can alleviate those harmful feelings that we feel pressing down on our heart and replace them with God’s love and peace!

The third step—patience

Ultimately, being able to take control of your emotions boils down to whether or not you truly trust the Lord.  As the proverb says, we must trust in the Lord with all our heart and not lean on our own understanding (Prov. 3:5).  If you don’t trust God today with your emotions, you must learn to trust Him. Do you have the patience to trust the Lord?  

The third step to controlling your emotions requires your patience.  Sadly, today’s generation is an impatient generation — it’s always in a rush.  We are a generation that moves from one thing to the next frantically (on impulse) with little to no thought.  Why is today’s generation in such a hurry and what is it in a hurry to?

All I’ve ever seen is that impatience leads many to be swift to the feeling of doom when their reward isn’t there or instant.  Impatience leads many to be swift in envy and covetousness because others have ‘already’ received their blessing.  When things don’t go their way, the impatient soul is quick to get angry and upset at others, themselves, and if they are of faith, God as well.

Impatience is a detriment and a driver to why so many today struggle to control their emotions and lash out or end up in a pit.  On this spiritual battlefield, you must learn to settle down and trust in God’s moving.  We must come to know that all things work together for good to those that love the Lord (Rom. 8:28).  As the prophet Isaiah said, those who wait (trust) on the Lord will have their strength renewed and not grow weary (Is. 40:31).  

Mind Over Emotions

I do believe that you can control your emotions and not let them always get the better of you.  To display such control we have to train our mind to now always be in a rush (a panic).  We have to train ourselves to slow our initial response and reactions so that we can focus more clearly. 

So, as Paul did, I will do today in urging this generation to not grieve the Spirit by being so impatient and feeding it toxic emotions (Eph. 4:30).  When we learn such control of ourselves, our emotions, we become a much more difficult foe for Satan to handle on the battlefield.  Rather than being easily overcome on the battlefield, we move with great confidence – no fear, no worries, no anxiety, and not stress!

To the Corinthians, Paul wrote that we have weapons to use on this battlefield.  Our weapons, he said, are not carnal but are mighty in God (2 Cor. 10:4-6).  Paul said that our weapons are spiritual and are able to pull down strongholds.  They can even bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.

 You see, there is power in self-control because we aren’t easily rattled in our faith.  Through patience, prayer, and our fellowship with God, at the end of the day we can put away those corrupt emotions.  Through patience, prayer, and our fellowship with God, we can be more swift to actually slow down and come to a stop and find clarity.  Clarity is the key— mind over emotions.

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