By Dr. Randy Carlson

Have you ever looked back on your own life and could see where the sin you wrestle with today was planted in your life and how it’s grown, and it’s developed? It’s one pattern of behavior or thinking, or a response that grows until all of a sudden, as the Scripture says, it becomes progressive, perilous and often leads to death.

Let’s look at five things from Scripture, ten verses in sequence from the Apostle Paul, where he very clearly lays out to us how we are to face this problem of self. Let’s set the stage with Psalm 37:4 that says we are to delight ourselves in the Lord that he will be the one that ultimately gives us the desires of our heart.

The word delight in the Hebrew means to be totally dependent upon, totally satisfied with God. This verse is often misunderstood, because we want it to mean, if I love the Lord I’m going to get whatever I want. But it really means as we are totally dependent upon God, then we will receive the desires or our heart, because they are in alignment with his desires for us.

In Ephesians 4, Paul talks about the futility of man’s mind and his heart. Beginning in verse 23, and for these next ten verses, he gives us a formula for dealing with the problem of self – or the solution of self. So let’s look at these ten solutions.

1. Be renewed in the spirit of your minds.1 You will become what you think about over an extended period of time.

Most people think in pictures. If a word is shared, you think about it in terms of how you see it. When I use the word, marriage, a different picture appears in every mind within the sound of my voice. Some have positive images of marriage; others have had a difficult experience.

So Paul encourages, if you want to deal with the problem of self, it begins with renewal in the spirit of your mind, at that deep spiritual level of how we allow ourselves to think and interact with the world every day.

2. Be angry but do not sin.2

Emotions are fuel that God gives us for a purpose. The first thing Paul says is to get your head right. Now he says to get your heart right. It’s okay to be angry, but don’t allow anger to turn to sin, and I would say that’s true of probably any emotion we have.

3. Work, doing something useful with his own hands that he may have something to share with those in need.3

How do we meet the needs? How do we affirm the faith and offer hope, and equip people living intentionally in Christ? When our focus is on a person that is right in front of us, or a person on a radio that maybe we’ll never see but is listening, that changes everything.

4. Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but what is good and necessary, for edification, that it may impart grace to the ears.

Paul didn’t say don’t let any communication come out of your mouth. It is healthy for us, when we have an issue, to be able to go in honesty to a person and talk about the truth.

Most of us have experienced broken relationships with somebody that you once were close to, and it was because there was some corrupt communication that spoiled the relationship. Your mouth can either be a great asset, or it can be a great liability in our lives.

5. Be kind and compassionate to one another forgiving each other just as Christ God has forgiven you. Paul wraps it up here with how to deal the hurt and pain of being wronged.

So, the solution to is to delight yourself in the Lord, and these five verses give you practical steps to take.

[1] Ephesians 4:23

[2] Ephesians 4:26

[3] Ephesians 4:28

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