March 4, 2018 - Self-Control
We are fastly approaching the end of this sermon series, and I hope that as we've gone through this series..
...we've begun to change... ...to pray for change in our own lives... ...and to live out that change in our own lives...
There's always a danger when you come to church on Sunday mornings... The danger is - to come week after week, and to simply "Learn" new things...
But to never apply those things in our lives... To live this way is to DECEIVE ourselves...
How many of you have ever played a sport...or had a hobby that you at one time were DEDICATED to?
If so, you know what it's like to discipline yourself...
maybe you were on a diet for good amount of time..
maybe you worked out for a year straight...
Maybe you trained for a race... Learned to play an instrument...
Whatever it was - it took discipline... It took Intentionality
Being intentional about the choices you made, for a desired outcome...
*Knute Larson (Work out your own salvation for God is working in you)
Olympic athletes (given talents by God - but they WORKED them out…)
And so when we come to our topic today of - Self-Control...
we have to know that Self-Control doesn’t JUST HAPPEN!
This thing needs to be WORKED out in our lives...
We’ll get into how we pursue Self-Control...
But first let’s look at what the Bible says about Self-Control in terms of what areas of life this affects in us...
SLIDE: Self-Control - How Much Do We Need It?
The Bible is FULL of scriptures that show us our NEED of Self-Control....
And it really does affect the WHOLE person!
SLIDE: Self-Control: and the physical life
26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
If we really think about it, the Christian life is a life lived - CONSTANTLY saying “NO” to our flesh...
What are some areas of life where the flesh tries to trip us up?
This doesn’t just apply to us guys…but, if anyone needs to hear this....it’s the guys
28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
So here we see Jesus equate LUST with Adultery...
25 Do not desire her beauty in your heart, and do not let her capture you with her eyelashes;
Sounds like it can be an impossible mountain to climb, especially for the guys...
Guys, we need to know how to battle against these things..
How to have Self-Control in this area...
13 “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food”—and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.
What is this saying - It’s saying yes - the body has CRAVINGS...
What happens when you get REALLY hungry - and there’s no food to eat??
Some people call it - Gettin HANGRY!
Right - the nicest person in the world, if HUNGRY…without food to satisfy that desire...
will get - HANGRY!
Food finds it’s purpose when it’s consumed.
The stomach CRAVES the food.
It’s a physical parable that points to the Spiritual.
Our bodies are not merely physical entities that need merely physical satisfactions...
God says - our bodies are meant for the Lord…and the Lord for our bodies...
As much as our stomachs CRAVE food, so our souls should SO CRAVE Christ, that we obey Him with our bodies...
18 Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.
Sexual sins are sins where we abuse our own bodies, and use them in ways they were never meant to be used...
It’s clear from Scripture that we are to maintain SELF-CONTROL in these matters...
in the physical life
SLIDE: Self-Control and the thought life
We also see in Scripture the need for us to maintain Self-Control in the mind...
5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,
How many thoughts have you had since you woke up this morning?
And Paul says - take EVERY ONE captive…to obey Christ...
WOW - this kinda flies in the face of the American Christian culture doesn’t it...
“THINK Christianity ALL the TIME!!????”
Too often those attending services on Sunday are thinking mainly about themselves...
…and we see it in how quickly people are to jump ship and go looking for something that SATISFIES
It reminds us of Romans 12 doesn’t it?
1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Do you see how both the Physical Body and the Mind are connected?
If we are transformed by the renewal of our Mind, then it will lead to us presenting our Bodies as a living sacrifice...
And so to be SELF-CONTROLLED in the Mind, we must be TRANSFORMED ...
and there's only 1 other place, in the gospels, where this same word is used (transformed)....
And it's in Matthew 17:2
2 And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light.
The transformation we're after, is the same word used here, but translated as transfiguration in Matthew...describing Jesus.
And so we should know that this transformation we're after (Self-Control), is not some elementary thing... It's a glorious....miracle...
It is not the replacement of a list of bad behaviors, with an external list, of new, better behaviors...
This transformation is not about being a "better-list" keeper...
This transformation/the SELF-CONTROL we’re after is not about switching from the To-DO list of my flesh....to the To-DO list of my moral effort.
No, His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light...
When Jesus rejected the works of the Law, He didn't replace them with the works of the Spirit....no instead what we find are "FRUITS of the Spirit...
Biblical Self-Control is not man-powered!
It’s Holy Spirit powered!....and we’ll get more into that in a bit.
But as we see, we’re called to not only be Self-Controlled in our physical bodies, but also in our mind...
Not only that, but the Bible makes it clear we’re also to be Self-Controlled when it comes to our tongues...
SLIDE: Self-Control: in speech
5 So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. 7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.
Many warnings here, especially in James, that we are to be careful in how we use our tongues...
The words that we say can - destroy
December of 2004 – 1 million users
December 2012 – 1 billion users
· 400 million tweets per day
· Equivalent to writing a 20 million-page book every day.
· Why are these online environments so popular?
· Because they give us a voice, and not just a voice,
· but a platform so grand, that when we do speak, the WORLD can hear us,
· and that’s enticing.
The problem is....
21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.
When we play with the tongue, we’re playing with fire...
Hence the reason we see that SELF-CONTROL is so important regarding how we use our tongues...
NOW - we’ve seen that Self-Control deals with...
the Physical body
the Spiritual Mind
and also - specifically, our tongues
BUT HOW do we pursue, as Christians, SELF-CONTROL in these areas!
To see what might help with this, let’s go to Ephesians 6
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,
If we want to STAND FIRM in our faith, we need to know who were fighting against in this world!
v12 said - We do not wrestle against flesh and blood...
…but against the rulers, against authorities, and cosmic powers over this present darkness…against the SPIRITUAL forces of evil...
This is our enemy!
And because THIS is our enemy...
We have weapons at our disposle
What are they?
Belt of truth
Breastplate of righteousness
Shoes of readiness
Shield of faith
Helmet of salvation
Sword of the spirit
Let’s look at these in detail:
SLIDE: Self-Control using the belt of truth
BELT OF TRUTH
When we think about the Belt of Truth here....we need to think outside the box of CONTENT...
This isn’t necessarily referring to the CONTENT of TRUTH...
We can infer this because another piece of this armor mentioned a couple verses later is the WORD of God...
and so the Belt of Truth is more referring to Commitment!
Has anyone ever seen someone run a marathon wearing a winter jacket?
....or snow boots?
NO - why?
Because those things would HINDER that person from RUNNING the race...
Are winter jackets SINFUL?
Are snow boots SINFUL?
NO - BUT...
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
So don’t JUST lay aside every SIN that hinders us...
Lay aside every WEIGHT (non-sinful thing) that hinders us from RUNNING the Christian life...
Many people wander through the Christian life…NOT running....
because they’ve never put on the belt of truth...
They live life - LACKING self-control in the things of God because they lack the belt of truth
They’re not committed to WIN the spiritual battles of life...
They’re a consistent loser...
Was the apostle Paul a consistent loser…?
NO- He lived his life in a way that is described by lists like this:
Endurance, affliction, hardship, distress, beatings, imprisonment, tumults, labors, sleeplessness, hunger.
No one could ever accuse Paul of a lack of commitment!
Have you committed yourself to always losing the spiritual battles of life?
We’re all committed to something…what are you committed to?
The next piece of armor to help us gain self-control is...
SLIDE: Self-Control using the breastplate of righteousness
Whenever the Bible tells us to PUT ON RIGHTEOUSNESS, we MUST know that it’s NEVER referring to Self-Righteousness…!
Remember reading about the Pharisee who thanked God for his works...
This Pharisee was pursuing righteousness!
BUT... He was pursuing his OWN righteousness!
Yes he was thanking GOD....but for what purpose?
So that he could stand there...and look down at all those around him...
This Pharisee was USING God to exalt himself... And the Bible says - he walked away UNjustified!
So how DO WE pursue God’s righteousness as Christians?
16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
We pursue God’s righteousness as Christians by displaying Jesus to the world, through sacrificial love for others, so that God would be glorified!
OUR motive in doing good works determines whether we’re pursuing God’s righteousness or our own righteousness!
We’re also to put on the Shoes of Readiness!
SLIDE: Self-Control using the Shoes of Readiness
I think a misconception we can latch onto is to think that - SELF-CONTROL promotes inactiveness
To be a SELF-CONTROLLED Christian - is to be someone who is READY to TAKE the GOSPEL to the WORLD at a MOMENT’s NOTICE!
Anyone in here ever had a job where you were ON-CALL?
When you sign up for a job like that - you’re saying - OK, I’LL BE READY at anytime!
Many Christians wake up each morning, failing to put on their SHOES FOR READINESS!
And we can tell because they go through their day NOT LOOKING for opportunities for Christ...
NOT looking for chances to speak about Christ...
They haven’t PUT on their SHOES of READINESS!
SLIDE: We’re also called to put on the - Shield of Faith
16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;
In all circumstances...
Why does it say that?
What is FAITH? - It is to TRUST something
When we put on the SHIELD of FAITH - we’re guarding against our HOPE turning to DESPAIR when the trials of life come!!
If I don’t TRUST Christ to be my STRENGTH when the world around me crumbles...
then I’ll let those CIRCUMSTANCES win that spiritual battle!
My HOPE will decrease and my DESPAIR will increase!!
WITH the Shield of Faith, EVEN WHEN my world crumbles…my faith will rest in Christ...
and HE will be my strength…my sustainer!
SLIDE: We’re also called to put on - the HELMET of Salvation!
Now we must know that Paul here is not referring to “Being a Christian”.
He’s not saying - you need to BE a Christian to get into this battle...
While that’s true, it’s also true that you wouldn’t even have any of the other pieces of armor if you WEREN’T a Christian.
He’s not saying - Make sure you’re SAVED before you fight!
No - he’s SPEAKING to Christians to put on the helmet of Salvation...
What is he saying?
There are 3 aspects of Salvation that we see in Scripture..
1 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
You get saved = Justification
You grow in holiness = Sanctification
You no longer deal with the presence of sin = Glorification
All 3 are summed up to equal SALVATION!
When Paul tells Christians to put on the helmet of Salvation, he’s speaking about FUTURE Salvation!
Your Glorification! - When we will deal with sin no more!
8 But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.
As Christians, if we’re going to FIGHT the good fight of Faith…we must look to our Future Salvation!
If we don’t…if we’re not confident in that Glorification...
we’ll shrink from the battle!
SLIDE: Self- Control: We are also to put on the Sword of the Spirit
What is the sword of the Spirit - it’s the Bible! God’s word!
Now if you own a Bible, you own the Sword of the Spirit...
It’s not a Sword of the Spirit BECAUSE you OWN one...
It’s the Sword of the Spirit and it’s to be USED!
A knight that NEVER picked up his sword for battle, would have been what? - No Soldier at all!
Being able to wield the sword is to be able to use the truth of Scripture to contend for the Faith!
15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,
Do you notice that of all the pieces of armor, the Sword (God’s Word) is the only one typically used on offense!
Belt of truth (hold weapon)
Breastplate of righteousness (defense)
Shoes of readiness
Shield of faith (defense)
Helmet of salvation (defense)
Sword of the spirit
When we pursue these pieces of ARMOR...
When we’re constantly taking care of these things...
shining our breastplate, our shield, our helmet...
Meditating on these things...
…our SELF-CONTROL will rise...
What are some practical things we can also do to help us with Self-Control?
When temptations come:
Be Slow to Respond (James - quick to hear, slow to speak) (intentional)
Throw on Christian Music and SING with it!!! (it’s amazing how God’s truth will suffocate the strongest temptations)
Call a friend (discipleship)
We’ve seen today that we’re called to a life of SELF-CONTROL:
in Physical Life
in the Spiritual Life
in our Speech
Belt of truth (commitment)
Breastplate of righteousness
Shoes of readiness
Shield of faith (trust)
Helmet of salvation (future glory)
Sword of the spirit