The Sin of Control

Recently, I was struck with the thought that so many of us struggle with the sin of control. We want to be in control of everything around us. Many times we want to control those around us. We don’t like feeling out of control, so we compensate by taking charge of things around us and in the process we don’t accept that God is ultimately in control of everything (Psalm 115:3, Colossians 1:16). 

Where did this sin of control even start? We see it in the Garden of Eden. The serpent tempted Eve that if she ate of the tree of life, she would “be like God” (Genesis 3:5). To be like God means that you have control of everything (Psalm 115:3). This was tempting to Eve, and it is tempting to us. Who doesn’t want control of everything in their lives? If we didn’t want control of everything, we would not attempt to do things like speaking things into existence. We would not speak positive thoughts into the universe, believing that good will come back. We would not believe that if we love ourselves, then we can truly love others. All of those desires are based on wanting control, which is the want to be like God, Eve’s sin (Genesis 3:5). 

What is the Sin of Control? 

The desire to be in control like God is is an exalting of self. It is a desire to dethrone God and dictate reality. We may not actively think those things whenever we want control of a situation or someone, but it is the foundation from which it stands. So many of the sins that we commit have the desire for control in them. Consider the “seven deadly sins” found in Proverbs 6:16-19 and see how the desire for control is core to these.

  1. Haughty Eyes (Proverbs 6:17)– I want to control what people think of me.

  2. Lying Tongue (Proverbs 6:17)– I want to control what people believe.

  3. Shedding Innocent Blood (Proverbs 6:17)– I want to control who lives and who doesn’t.

  4. A heart that Devices Wicked Plans (Proverbs 6:18)– I will maintain control no matter the cost.

  5. Feet that Make Hastes to Run to Evil (Proverbs 6:18)– I am in control of what I do, and I decide if there are consequences or not.

  6. False Witness (Proverbs 6:19)– I want to control what happens to others.

  7. Sowing Discord Among Brothers (Proverbs 6:19)– I want to control my position among others.

Why Does Someone Want Control? 

You may know some people who desire control in their lives. They can be smart, disciplined, and strong in many ways, but behind these things can be a strong desire for control. What drives people to desire control? There are many answers, but here can be a few reasons. Someone could be born in an alcoholic or drug addicts home. Nothing was stable in their lives because their parent or parents were often drunk or high. These situations push them to want control. Another example of someone who could be pushed to want control would be someone that was shamed in their life. 

They grew up in an overly critical home, or they experienced shame in school such that they desire never to feel criticized or shamed again. To never feel criticized or shamed, they need control. Lastly, someone that desires control could be someone that was physically or sexually abused. They were dominated by and so hurt by someone that they swore never to let it happen again. To never be dominated or hurt again requires control. 

Life circumstances can mould and shape our sinful desires to manifest in many ways. Your desire for control can come from the pain that you’ve experienced in your life. The sad thing is that many of us let this pain direct us to the point that we like Eve want to “be like God” (Genesis 3:5). The pain of growing up in a home that had alcoholism, verbal, physical, or sexual abuse can drive someone to desire control. Our sinfulness is the main reason to want to take control of everything and everyone around us. Do you desire control? 

How Does Control Manifest Itself? 

The sin of control can manifest itself in many different ways. Driven by the pain of the past and the desire for control, someone will begin to control others around them. Consider a few of the examples of controllers below:

  1. Lets Deal with Your Sin Controller– The controller will nicely find out the sins of others and use them against them as leverage to control them.

  2. Remember my Position Controller– The controller will remind you of their position as husband, wife, boss, director, or patron as they abuse their authority to control others.

  3. Body Controller- The controller may not feel like they can control others or situations, so they control their bodies. They have an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia. Another potential manifestation of the body controller could be over-exercising.

  4. Obsessive-Compulsive Controller– The controller wants everything done a certain way. They could want things spotless and in a particular position. Not because they like things clean and net, but because they want to control situations and people around them.

  5. Mindset Controller– The controller is very aggressive in thinking the right thoughts, saying, and doing the right things to control their future. They feel out of control in their life circumstances, so they believe that the right mindset or belief system holds the keys to controlling situations and those around them.

How to overcome the sin of control? 

The key to overcoming the sin of control is to remember who God is. Remember his qualities and characteristics. A solid theology of God will help you see how incredible he is and knowing this will encourage you not to want to be in control, but let God be in control. Remember that God is excellent (Isaiah 25:1), never changing (Psalm 33:11), sovereign (Daniel 4:35), faithful (Isaiah 49:7), and glorious (Deuteronomy 28:58), great (Nehemiah 9:35), holy (Psalm 22:3), just (Isaiah 45:21), patient (Isaiah 30:18), loving (2 Corinthians 13:11), merciful (Exodus 35:6-7), powerful (Psalm 62:11), protects believers (Psalm 37:28, Psalm 91:3-4, Psalm 140:7), righteous (Psalm 7:9), truthful (Isaiah 65:16), and wise (1 Samuel 2:3, Job 9:4). Remembering these qualities will help you desire God to be in control and not you. 

Also, remembering these qualities can help you give your pain which drives your desire for control over to God. Knowing that he is excellent in every one of the mentioned qualities will help you trust God with the painful things that you’ve been through and let him take control of your life. Even if you don’t give him control, he is still in control of everything, even your life. Sadly, your sin of control prevents you from experiencing his good qualities and characteristics in your life. Confess your sin of control and cry out for God to save you from this sin. 

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