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The Fruit of the Spirit #9:


Text: Gal. 5:22-23

Thesis: To note the definition of self-control and to suggest how to have it in our lives.


(1)   Too many people are out of control with many areas of their lives.

(2)   Let us look at the need of self-control in our lives.


I.                   What is self-control?

A.    ‘Self-control’ comes from the Greek enkrateia, which carries the idea of one’s being in control of his/her desires and passions.

1.      This particular word is used three times in scripture (Acts 24:25; Gal. 5:23; 2 Pet. 1:6).

a.       One commentator noted, “The fact that self-control appears last in Paul’s list may indicate its importance as a summation of the proceeding virtues” (Timothy George, Galatians (USA: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994), 404).

b.      Basically, self-control “means that I say no to all that God forbids and yes to all he ordains” (Stuart Briscoe, The Fruit of the Spirit (Colorado Springs, CO: Waterbrook Press, 1993), 142).

2.      However, a cognate of this word is used three other times in Scripture.

a.       In 1 Corinthians 7:9, the word is connected with sexual desires.

b.      In Titus 1:8, the trait is listed among the qualifications for an elder.

c.       In 1 Corinthians 9:25, the word is used in connection to a runner in a race.

(1)   Here, Paul tells us that the runner “for the sake of the goal toward which he strives … refrains from all things which might offend or hamper” (Walter Grundmann, “Enkrateia,” Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, ed. Gerhard Kittel (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964), 1:342).

(2)   This is closely akin to the idea expressed in Hebrews 12:1: “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”

B.     What are some things that we allow to hinder our Christian walk because we fail to be in control?

1.      Emotions would have to top the list.

a.       Too often we allow our emotions to control us.

b.      E.g., we are stressed, so we lash out at a co-worker or family member.  We are angered, so we throw something and/or hit someone.  We are disappointed, so we just “throw in the towel.”

2.      Desires would also be on top of the list.

a.       Addictions are growing daily.

b.      E.g., people are addicted to drugs and alcohol, and lives are destroyed.  People are addicted to sex and pornography, and families are devastated.  People are addicted to spending money, and debt continues to grow.  People are addicted to food, and obesity is on the rise.  People are addicted to popularity, and comprises are made for the goal of “fitting in.”

II.                How do we overcome these and other hindrances relating to self-control?

A.    First, we must decide what we really want out of life.

1.      A runner must have a goal toward which to aim.

2.      Is our goal fame or fortune? Or, is our goal heaven?  If so, we must “press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil 3:14).

B.     Second, we must be willing to make sacrifices along the way.

1.      As a runner practice discipline, we must also be willing to do what it takes for the kingdom of heaven.

2.      For some of us, we may need to learn to walk away during confrontations.  We may need to stay away from any place that serves/sells alcohol.  We may need to enforce stricter boundaries in our relationships with the opposite sex.  We may need to disconnect our internet services.  We may need to cut up our credit cards.  We may need to stay away from certain foods.

3.      Also, a runner will employ help from others.  We need to pray to God for strength and help.  We may also need someone to be there for us so that we can be accountable.  The true question is this: “Are we willing to do whatever it takes in order to get this matter resolved?”  Unfortunately, some people are not willing to commit to the work necessary.

C.     Third, we need to remember that we must keep trying, no matter how many previous times we have failed.

1.      There will be times that we will fall flat on our faces, but we must get back up again and again.

2.      What is the difference between Peter and Judas?  One gave up after a failure and the other tried again.  God says: “Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord” (1 Cor 15:58).


(1)   Without God, you are not in control of your life.

(2)   With God, you are able to live your life in such a way as to please Him.

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