What does it mean to rule your own spirit?

Although God never intended for us to be reclusive hermits who build walls to shut everything and everyone out, walls can have a positive purpose if they are built up with godly wisdom. When it comes to the wall of self-control for the sake of protecting our spirits and ruling them well for God’s glory, Proverbs 25:28 tells us just how vital this is for our spiritual well-being–

He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.

God has given every one of us (saved or unsaved) some measure of self-control to reign over our thoughts, passions, and wills. This is even apparent when God warned the first murderer, Cain, to watch himself before he killed his brother when he told Cain, “If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him,” Genesis 4:7. But Cain chose not to rule over his spirit and brought about his own ruin.

With Christians the power of self-control is greater since we have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us to give us the fruit of temperance (self-control) which is added to the self-control we should already have naturally. Our spirit, our heart is like a city that can only thrive when we reign over it and rein it in with order. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.

Neglecting the diligence of self-control leaves us open to invaders like false teachers and their pagan doctrines who want to come in and rob us of what God has blessed us with, including our souls. It also allows wild animals like ravenous wolves to take up residence with us who only see us as something to be taken advantage of psychologically, socially, physically, sexually, or materially. Before we know it, our lack of diligence makes us like a city of ruins, even if we look like we have it all together.

And when you have several cities in the same region in ruins, it leads to a whole society of ruin. That’s how we ended up with the way things are today. But thanks be to God that as Christians, we are not the city of ruin, but the city ruled by righteousness.

Since that is our heritage, we at times may find ourselves in the unique position of being isolated and completely different from other cities because of how we choose to live. This is something the prophet Jeremiah experienced when he said, “I sat not in the assembly of the mockers, nor rejoiced; I sat alone because of thy hand: for thou hast filled me with indignation,” Jeremiah 15:17. Ironically, this was his experience in the temple and throughout Judah. Sometimes this is what it takes for us to preserve and prosper our city.

When we rule our own spirit with the law of Christ, lines must be drawn and walls must be built so that some things cannot and will not be tolerated, yet in a loving way without prideful snobbery. It’s a testimony of our devotion to God and his holiness and a testimony to our enemies that judgment is coming on them sooner or later. That’s why the apostles warned us several times about who we associate with who claim Christianity, such as when John says, “He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds,” 2 John 9-11. So I’m determined to lock up my city like Fort Knox or like a Brink’s armored truck. Anyone who doesn’t have the right doctrinal password is not getting in my spirit.

Harry A. Gaylord

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