Why You Shouldn’t Want to Be In Control

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September 29, 2021

There is something within us that desperately desires to be in control. We believe taking control frees us from the boundaries life places on us. I know I feel the desire to control my life at times. Perhaps you feel this way too.

Our need for feeling in control is not surprising. Our culture constantly tells us we need to control our dreams, desires, and lives. The American dream tells us that those things will come if we work hard enough for what we want. In other words, if we do what is in our control, we can control where we end up in life. Many people see this as a challenge and believe they will turn their dreams into reality. This mindset is probably why television shows like America’s Got Talent are so popular in our culture. We see people go from being ordinary to their dreams becoming a reality, and we’re inspired to do the same.

But what if I told you this wasn’t really control?

What if this desire for control was the very thing that was enslaving you?

Photo by Christian Lue on Unsplash

You may feel like you can’t be enslaved by control if it allows you freedom from some boundary. You’re gaining money, attention, fame, beauty, or whatever else you’re seeking. You’re taking control, not enslaving yourself. However, we see this is not the case in Romans 6:15–16, which says:

What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?

Just before these verses, Paul had said that Christians are no longer under the law but under grace. The law he’s referring to is the Mosaic law, which is found in the first five books of the Bible. These books showed God’s people how to live holy and set apart lives from the world. Paul knew this might lead to people questioning if they needed these rules and regulations now because they were under grace. He knew people might seek to take control of their lives by saying they’re free from the commands of God’s law. It’s easy to think this way because it’s human nature to believe we are free when rules or boundaries are lifted. But we’re really not.

Paul goes on to say that we’re all slaves to one of two things. We’re slaves to sin, which leads to death, or we’re slaves to obedience which leads to righteousness. The problem with the law wasn’t God’s commands, but the people who chose continually to live in sin, failing to keep God’s law. They tried to constantly free themselves from the law by taking control of their lives. But taking control doesn’t actually lead to being in control. It is one of the ways that can lead us to be enslaved by sin. We see this throughout Scripture, Adam, Abraham, Saul, and more all attempted to take control, and that attempt led them astray.

Think about it this way. Our culture says the harder you work, the more you can control your schedule, finances, etc. But what has this really led to? It’s led to workaholism where suddenly, our work takes the top priority in our lives. Work has enslaved us. But it’s not just work. Any time we allow our desires, wants, and dreams to “take control” of our lives, we’re enslaved to the very things they lead to.

What about being enslaved to obedience which leads to righteousness? Well, Paul goes on to explain what this looks like in the same passage.

Romans 6:22–23 says:

But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

When we’re enslaved to righteousness, this naturally produces sanctification. This is the process of becoming more like Christ in every aspect of our lives. Essentially, this means waging war against the idea that we control our lives and instead submit ourselves to God. It’s recognizing that our own wishes, wants, and desires lead down a dangerous path of destruction that only results in death. It’s putting off the old and worldly way of thinking to pursue Christ wholeheartedly. That might seem like you’re losing something, but you’re not.

What we’re “free” to do on our own only leads to death because of our sin. What you’re losing are the things that result in death and gaining ultimate hope in the only place that leads to true life. Living under grace rather than the law isn’t that we say no to what God commands, but instead, by His grace, we’re empowered to keep His commands.

So, what fruit do you reap? The fruit that leads to death or the fruit that leads to righteousness?

When we choose “control” over our own lives, the wages of sin is death. But when God’s grace transforms our lives, it leads to the free gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Jesus lived a perfect life. He didn’t deserve to die. Yet, He gave His life that we might find life in His name. He died that we might receive His righteousness through faith. The beautiful thing is Jesus didn’t stay dead but rose victoriously from the grave. That’s why this free gift of life is eternal. This free gift is made available only by the power of God — the same power that rose Jesus from the grave.

As we see, the question is not whether we will be enslaved or not. All of us are a slave to something — whether that be sin that leads to death or obedience that leads to righteousness. The real question is, who will you allow to be in control? Will you try and take control for yourself? If you do, this will only lead to pain and death found in your own sin.

Or will you recognize that God is in control by turning to Christ in faith? If you do, you will receive the best gift this world has ever seen — the free gift of eternal life through Christ. The truth is that everyone is a slave to something, but only those who are in Christ are truly free.