Ethan and I had a talk last night.

He had briefly forgotten who he was (a son of Love) and at that moment he said some things to mom he didn’t truly believe. I met him in his room.

Now, I am about to tell a story that displays brilliant parenting and what’s more, I realized it as it was happening. Why? Because while I was talking with Ethan I was ministering to myself. I’m a verbal processor. That means I have had many embarrassing moments in my life where, at best I was talking to myself and it was brilliant, at worst I was talking to myself and it was heretical.

By the time I was done talking, Ethan had sat through a 30-minute message on the nature of our Father—it was brilliant!

“Ethan, I don’t want to control you, nor can I.”  I smiled at him.

He was trying to follow me. I could see it in his eyes.

I went further, “God doesn’t want to control you either, nor can He. Control is the opposite of who He is. It’s as opposite as light is to darkness. He is never about control. He is always about freedom. Did you know that?”

Ethan nodded. It wasn’t the first time he’s heard me say it. But never in this circumstance, as a correction, or discipline.

“Son, only you have control of your heart.”

This comment led us into the wonder of the Holy Spirit. We discussed how the same Holy Spirit that lived in Jesus—that empowered Him to live in the authority of the miraculous, that was with Him through His death, that raised Him from the dead, and seated Him at the right hand of the Father—that same brilliant Holy Spirit lives in Ethan. And one of the evidences, one of the fruits of His in-filling presence, is self-control.

And here is where it got away from me and I began preaching… Poor kid.

“You see Ethan, I believe self-control is the only kind of control God endorses. It’s the gift of choice and the evidence of His Spirit within us. It’s why there were two trees in the garden. In the garden, the freedom to choose was birthed in the fact that God gave control of Adam to Adam and control of Eve to Eve. Self-control was the evidence that they were walking in freedom. It’s a fruit of the Holy Spirit.

In the garden, the lie that separated humanity from God was a lie of control, and who had it.

The fact is, Adam and Eve were walking out the perfection of their freedom through the gift of self-control—each controlling themselves.

Then Satan shows up and distorts the nature of God with a lie. The lie? That God is in control.

And they bought it: they believed that God was withholding some measure of freedom from them.

Do you understand that the seed of Satan’s lie was that God is about control? The idea that He withholds freedom suggests an imperfection in our Father’s love—as if He is not always good.

I believe this original distortion of our Father’s nature is still the foundational lie that separates us from His love and the fullness of our freedom in Christ.

The fact is, Adam and Eve sold their self-control, and with it their freedom, to Satan. Until Jesus arrived, humanity lived in that paradigm. Then Jesus walked the earth, He lived, He died, and He rose. He took all authority, and He gave it back to us, and with it the stunning, powerful freedom of self-control.

Through the cross and in intimacy with the Holy Spirit, we now have the power and freedom to control ourselves again!

The lie that God is about control removes us from the freedom of self-control. Self-control is His perfect gift to us. It’s what sets us free to be fully loved—to fully love. God has given us the full freedom of self-control; the ability to control oneself, to chose love.”

Ethan, my captive audience sat quietly listening waiting for me to be done. He could just barely appreciate my excitement, but mostly, he wanted to go play video games.

I brought it home.

“You know, I could control you, Ethan. I could force, manipulate or straight-up shame you into obedience. You’re only ten. I can make you behave. But someday my boy, you will be a man and beyond my ability to control. But son, I don’t want to control you. I want you to control yourself. I want you to value freedom as the Holy Spirit does. Do you understand?”

“Yes, Dad,” Ethan responded. And I think he did understand. Or at least, he will one day.

“Son, I love you, can you go clean up your mess with mom?” I asked.

Ethan left to find his mom.

I pondered on how control is always about behavior. And how, if I wanted to be a good father, I would need to be less interested in behavior and more interested in my son’s identity. That is to say, I want my boy to know love, and in love’s freedom, to control himself. If Ethan knows my love and our Father’s love, he is set free to be a son of the King. And in that identity, he can control himself. You see, behavior follows identity.

I can’t truly control Ethan’s heart, nor do I want to. And I would like to suggest that neither can God, nor does He want to. He is never about control. His love is the perfection of His goodness and it’s always about freedom and that freedom looks like sons and daughters living in control of themselves, in the authority of His love.

This issue about control has been burning in my heart these last few months. I have pages and pages written, many of them I’m sure will make their way into future articles. Who knows, maybe I’ll even write a book.

You see, I think this lie that God is all about control is a big one, and I am going after it hard. Anywhere in my life where I find it, I am surrendering to His perfect love.

I am convinced that my freedom is found in the fruit of the Spirit—self control. And I’m convinced yours is as well. I would like to suggest that God is not in control—you are. I think this is what Jesus purchased for us, and it’s this gift that will empower us to live on earth as it is in heaven.

Jason Clark
is a writer, speaker and lead communicator at A Family Story Ministries. His mission is to encourage sons and daughters to grow sure in the love of an always-good heavenly Father. He and his wife, Karen, live in North Carolina with their three children.


  1. aimeeperry

    haha, this is SO good J. I’m just giggling over here for the can you opened up with this. Hit it hard. Like all lies this one too is not more powerful than the truth, it just happens to have a lot of support. May the fruit of the Spirit grow and grow in this nourished soil and produce sons and daughters who truly LOOK like their Father! WOW! There is something about boldness via identity that makes my spirit applaud!

    • jasonclarkis

      Thanks Aim!!
      Yeah, I am learning to boldly love, not just in words. Its how He see’s me.Where it goes from here gets fun!

      Love ya and super honored to be your brother.

      I am working on the family website… little by little. That said, still not sure on what to call it. any thoughts let me know.

      Oh, and I read through the kids book. I think its brilliant and Karen and I are gonna dream/edit sometime this week.

      Love ya

  2. Bailey

    Hi, Mr. Clark. I go to Crossroads Church and I have a question that I thought you could answer, please. Can we lose our salvation? Thank you -Bailey, age 14 🙂

    • jasonclarkis

      Hey Bailey, Did you have a chance to come to the launch of our youth this Wednesday? I’m excited to see God moving in Crossroads! Every Wednesday at 6:30, hope you can come!
      First, regarding your question, I would love to talk with you in person! So come find me on a Sunday or Wednesday.

      That said, I will give ya an answer here. No I don’t think you can lose your salvation. Salvation is a gift freely given of God.

      OK, here are my thoughts. Many Christians put way to much focus on that question – as if the whole point of Christianity is to get saved. Salvation is the beginning of a new story not the end. Christianity isn’t just about checking some box so we can go to heaven, its about a relationship with God so we can live heaven on earth – like Jesus. Salvation is the introduction to a friendship with Jesus, with LOVE.

      Salvation isn’t just a decision for a destination, its a lifestyle. Does that make sense? God is interested in a relationship with you where you know His love and it changes everything about you.

      Again, would love to talk with you about it. And by the way, God just told me He is super proud of you!

      • Bailey

        Hi! Thank you very much, Mr. Clark, for answering my question. And no sir, I didn’t get to go, but I hope to go next week or go to a VBS at my friend’s church.
        O.K., I would like to that too, so I’ll stop by on a Sunday or Wednesday, but probably not this week, because I have to work at my teacher’s church.

        Yes sir, that does make a lot of sense. In fact, I needed to hear that, so thank you. 🙂

        Thank you very much for taking the time to talk to me (I really appreciate it!) Also, thank you–I cried when I read that God was proud of me. That is so cool encountering God like that! 🙂 Thanks again!

  3. Rick

    If in the power of the Holy Spirit we submit to the likeness and character of God, what He both desires and commands, who is in control?

    • Jason Clark

      Hey Rick,

      Great question!

      I think you could ask that same question of Jesus. He was led by Holy Spirit. He was in the Father, only did what he saw his Father do, and only said what he heard his Father say. Some might argue that the Father controlled the Son, but that’s not how I see it.

      Jesus seemed to reveal something more stunning than control, He revealed intimacy, friendship, and mutual desire. He revealed a son living confidently in is Father’s pleasure only desiring the heart of His Father.

      I would like to suggest that when it came to His relationship with Father and Holy Spirit, Jesus revealed oneness, not control.

      Some might suggest oneness and control are the same things, but those people aren’t married and don’t have kids 🙂

      • Clark Grey Howell



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