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ESGAL17 Fruit of the Spirit Part 11 Self-Control

Fruit of the Spirit  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  31:38
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Galatians 5:22–23 NKJV
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
Today we are talking about self-control. We come to last part of the fruit that above all others is most difficult. It seems to me that if we get control of our lives in one area it becomes obvious that another area comes to the fore; perhaps one we didn’t even realise we did not control. It also seems to me that we will die trying because every sin we commit is evidence of lack of control. But we have the promise of Scripture that we are being changed from glory to glory and then, at last, we shall see Him as he is and become like Him. I think that our going through the fruit of the Spirit has made us think about where we are in scale of things and recognise that we fall so far short of God’s standards.
So, let’s get to defining self-control: It is moderate or sensible behaviour. Someone said that it is the trait of resolutely controlling one’s desires that contribute to behaviour and actions. It is the ability to control one’s emotions or behaviour, especially in difficult situations such as intense provocation or temptation.
Self control is to be governed by God not self.
Alexander the Great was ruler of Macedonia at age 16, victorious general at 18, king at 20—and then died aged 32. We think for history from that far ago is not that clear that he collapsed from drinking at one of his parties in Babylon from a rather large cup he was downing for the 2nd time in honour of the Greek god Hercules. 12 days later he was dead. He had conquered the then-known world, but not conquered himself.
The root of the word for self-control means: to have power, have might, to be devoted, to become strong, to become better, to endure, to persevere, and to be noble.
It is for this reason that we find Peter writing:
2 Peter 1:5–9 NKJV
5 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. 8 For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.
It truly is an indictment upon us if we do not purposely do these things we are short-sighted. What does this mean? I think that this shortsightedness is something that we can all be. We live in the here and now. We live in the instant society. It is revealed in our expectations too when we vote in new governments, gain a new Pastor, get a new job and so on…we expect results right away. The honeymoon period is over so quickly today revealing just how malcontent we are. It is the same with self-control or rather the lack of. It is the desire to have things now regardless of the consequence.
Hear what Miley Cyrus had to say: "Be who you are, do what you do, be who you want to be, live your life and don't worry about what people have to say about it." (Newsbeat BBC 23rd September 2013)
This is just how people are living today. There is some sense to what she said, so I’m not blowing it out of the water, but the way she is saying it is to give her the excuse to live in a way which is abhorrent to God and others. What she is saying is ‘let us throw off moral restraint and live licentiously and don’t care what others think’. In fact, if anything, she is suggesting living a life without answering to anyone. She thinks that this is freedom.
But freedom in Christ does not give believers liberty to cast off all moral restraint.

Nor does it call for a withdrawal from life and its temptations. It calls for a self-disciplined life following Christ’s example of being in the world but not of the world

We have to listen carefully to Peter with his warning about the freedom that is promised by others:
2 Peter 2:18–19 NKJV
18 For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error. 19 While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage.
This liberty is not freedom at all but slavery to the base things of this world of which we are we should have already moved on from.
Romans 6:16 NKJV
16 Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?
What is the Gospel? Gospel translates as ‘good news’. Good news is obvious sometimes such as getting a pay-rise (of course, this is good news for the Church too for the amount that we can do with the extra offering is enormous!). Sometimes though people do not know that we bring good news because they do not realise the predicament they are in. That one day they and we have to give an account to God and that there is hell to pay for rejecting the good news. Hear Paul:
Acts 24:25 NKJV
25 Now as he reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and answered, “Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you.”
Paul’s gospel contained self-control. I wonder at what point Felix was afraid? About righteousness? About the judgement to come? Or about self-control? It surely was a combination of all three. Did we know that self-control was part of the good news? When have we said to others that self-control is part of the Gospel? When did we last include that? Self-control relates to repentance. It is our lack of self-control that is going to put us before the Judgement Seat. Let’s make sure in sharing the Good News we don’t forget righteousness, self-control and judgement.
Let us look at some examples from Scripture of a lack of self-control. One of the most obvious examples is Samson:
Judges 13:5 NKJV
5 For behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. And no razor shall come upon his head, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb; and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.”
Judges 14:1–3 NKJV
1 Now Samson went down to Timnah, and saw a woman in Timnah of the daughters of the Philistines. 2 So he went up and told his father and mother, saying, “I have seen a woman in Timnah of the daughters of the Philistines; now therefore, get her for me as a wife.” 3 Then his father and mother said to him, “Is there no woman among the daughters of your brethren, or among all my people, that you must go and get a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?” And Samson said to his father, “Get her for me, for she pleases me well.”
Already we see that a man who has been set apart from birth for the purposes of God is disobeying God because of a woman he likes. And we can read further how he had out of control anger. Then he liked a prostitute and then he like Delilah. As well as not keeping sexually pure he could not keep his mouth shut either in revealing the secret of the riddle and the secret about his hair. And in the end it caused his own death because he allowed a razor to be used on him because he thought his own strength would save him. This should be a lesson to us all. If you think you are strong you can most certainly fall.
There are many other examples of those who were out of control in the Bible such as Amnon with his sister, Moses and the rock, Saul with David and so on.
But just as there are example of a lack of self-control there are examples of self-control:
Job 31:1 NKJV
“I have made a covenant with my eyes; Why then should I look upon a young woman?
This seems all the more pertinent after this morning and the sin of adultery starting with the eyes.
Who of the men here can claim we do what Job did?
But I think the greatest example of self control in the Old Testament is Joseph who could have got angry with his brothers and sought revenge; who rejected Potiphar’s wife’s advances and instead did what we are told in the New Testament to do…which is to flee…and though accused of wrong doing whilst innocent still did not blow the plot. He was very much a man under control. He made for a great Prime Minister.
Jesus, when in the Garden of Gethsemane did not call for legions of angels to destroy his enemies or when on the cross when berated to come down from the cross he did not though it was within His power to do so but instead prayed for their forgiveness.
Let us take a closer look at self-control and so let us start with Paul:
1 Corinthians 9:24–27 NKJV
Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.
If you want to do a marathon or half-marathon then you should have trained beforehand to make sure you can complete the race. It takes discipline or it could end in failure or pain afterwards.
We are to be temperate in all things – so not given over to sex, to alcohol, to food, to shopping, to addictions of any kind. It covers the whole of life. It is to live a disciplined life with self-deprivation and the capacity to resist sin. It is sane, serious and sensible. There are days when the athlete’s body is tired and sore, but he continues training. There are days when he doesn’t feel like training, but he does so anyway. There are days when he begins to doubt his ability to outperform the other competitors, but he keeps on training. Can we put ourselves in this camp? Or do we instead focus on our gratification for the moment.
2 Timothy 2:4–5 NKJV
No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.
This is very interesting. We are not to tangle ourselves in the affairs of this life. Er, too late! Right? We don’t have time to invest in anything except the Kingdom of God. Time is short.
1 Corinthians 7:29–31 NKJV
29 But this I say, brethren, the time is short, so that from now on even those who have wives should be as though they had none, 30 those who weep as though they did not weep, those who rejoice as though they did not rejoice, those who buy as though they did not possess, 31 and those who use this world as not misusing it. For the form of this world is passing away.
We are to discipline ourselves in every way not so that we see the benefits such as health etc though good in itself but so that we can be fit to serve the Kingdom of God.
The Christian philosophy is a philosophy of self-denial, self-control, and self-restraint. The satanic philosophy is a philosophy of “live as you please,” “have what you want,” “don’t let anyone tell you what to do,” and “it’s your life, you have a right to live it.” —Bob Jones
So, let us get down to business: There are three things Scripture talks to:
1)Physical Self-control
1 Thessalonians 4:3–5 NKJV
3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, 5 not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God;
So, we are to be pure sexually, we are not to get drunk, we are to eat right. You all see that I have mastered this one. But it is no joke. It is probable that my long-term health will deteriorate if I don’t do something about it let alone the fact it is not a good example to you and others. Food does seem like this is the one that gets most Christians…it seems to be our substitute for alcohol and smoking.
2) Mental Discipline
1 Peter 1:13 NKJV
13 Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
1 Peter 5:8 NKJV
8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.

Lord Joseph Duveen, American head of the art firm that bore his name, planned in 1915 to send one of his experts to England to examine some ancient pottery. He booked passage on the Lusitania. Then the German Embassy issued a warning that the liner might be torpedoed. Duveen wanted to call off the trip. “I can’t take the risk of your being killed,” he said to his young employee.

“Don’t worry,” said the man, “I’m a strong swimmer, and when I read what was happening in the Atlantic, I began hardening myself by spending time every day in a tub of ice water. At first I could sit only a few minutes, but this morning, I stayed in that tub nearly two hours.”

Naturally, Duveen laughed. It sounded preposterous. But his expert sailed, and the Lusitania was torpedoed. The young man was rescued after nearly five hours in the chilly ocean, still in excellent condition.

Just as this young man did, so Christians should condition themselves by practicing devotional discipline, behavioral discipline, and discipline in doing good. (Cited in Christianity Today, February 1979, p. 25.)

3) Controlled Speech
Now I come to the one that gets us all.
Psalm 141:3 NKJV
3 Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips.
James 1:19 NKJV
19 So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath;
Friends, I want to finish by saying that our whole lives should be disciplined and under control. This has to be a Spirit-led life. One governed by God and not by ourselves. The whole fruit works together to make us complete and useful to God. We can only live this life by living under the shadow of God’s wings, living in His Word, in communion with each other and through the help and prayers of others.
2 Timothy 1:7 NIV
7 For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

Benediction

Go to love and serve the Lord in the name of Jesus. Amen.
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