Turn to 2 Peter 1
When I entered the Army right after high school, becoming a disciplined soldier came easy to me. In many ways, I was a good soldier. I obeyed my orders, performed my duties to the best of my ability …. Discipline was not much of a struggle for me. My struggle with was self-control – which is our Believe topic for the week.
I would suggest that self-discipline and self-control, though similar, are different. For our sermon this morning, let’s think of self-discipline in terms of structure. A disciplined person is a person of structure or a regiment / routine. In many ways, the military is all about structure – and in that environment, I did well. But like I said, I struggled with self-control. Now, self-control, is less about structure and more about wisdom. Self-control is the ability to make informed decisions, best decisions, wise decisions. Self-control is the ability to ask is this best for me and for others.
My problem was that I made decisions based upon emotions and feelings, not necessarily truth or wisdom. I think we all know how emotions can lead us astray. Living by emotions can lead to all kinds of trouble and bad decisions – in all areas of life – relationships, finances, physical and mental health, and spiritually. I made my share of poor decisions based upon emotions – like buying an encyclopedia set – I couldn’t say no. Emotions influenced me to purchase a stereo I could not afford - at 18% interest – all because I was depressed and wanted to listen to sad love songs – loud. I allowed emotions to get the best of me cause damage in our marriage and other relationships.
To go from a lack of self-control to self-control was a difficult path – and still can be, but it’s possible through the help of the Lord Jesus Christ and the empowerment of His Holy Spirit. And I would much rather live a life of self-control than a life of regret! That brings us to our key idea for the week.
Key Idea: I have the power through Christ to control myself.
Looking back over my life – no one made me make poor decisions. I cannot blame anyone or anything. The messes I made, the pain I caused, the debt I incurred – no one to blame but me. And as far as I can recall, the lack of self-control came down to two things: a desire to be in control (what do I want) or fear (what will they think).
But a lot of that has changed for me – because I indeed have power through Christ to live a self-controlled life! That same power is available to all. So how do we gain this self-control? Before we answer that, let’s answer another question -
Why is self-control so important?
Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
This is the Apostle Peter – self-control (ability to make wise, informed, best decisions) was not on his radar. His prefrontal cortex was not developed yet. He was a “speak first, think later” person. On a boat, in the middle of the Sea of Galilee, in the middle of a storm, Peter had a brilliant idea - “Lord, if it’s you, tell me to walk on water.” On the night of Jesus’ arrest, Peter alone rushed into a great crowd of men who were armed with swords and clubs! When we saw the risen Christ, he jumped out of the boat and swam to shore. Yet, toward the end of his life, he wrote this:
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.
God has given us everything we need to live a godly life – revelation of Himself (knowledge), His Son Jesus Christ, His Spirit ….
Who did He give it to? All. No one has more revelation of God than anyone else.
He has given us these so that we may become (develop into) partakers (partners) in the divine or supernatural nature. Through Christ we have new life; the spirit-filled life; supernatural life – a life in communion with Him and like His
Why is self-control important?
For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.
Why is self-control important?
1) Because He’s worthy
He’s worthy of our self-control and He deserves it. A lack of self-control is about who? Me. Self-control is about loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and loving our neighbor.
The command here is that we have a responsibility to participate in our godliness – to partner with God in our Christ-likeness. Because of what God has done, we add … we learn … we grow … we do what we can to become more like Him.
I wrote in the margin – no flat-liners. The machine that shows your heartbeat ….
He’s worthy – 1 Peter 1:3-5
Why is self-control important?
2) Because our witness
For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.
God desires for us to be effective – fruitful
People are watching how we live – how we spend – what we do – what we watch – where we go – what we eat
Our practice of self-control can either help or hinder others …
Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.
Question – what effort(s) are you making (alone and with others) to supplement your faith? What are you doing to increase in virtue, knowledge, self-control …?
Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
How do we gain self-control?
All kinds of techniques, plans and help … good ones. The mind is capable – it takes work (overcome habits)
In my experience – nothing has helped my self-control better than three things:
1) The Word of God (tells me)
2) The Spirit of God (empowers me)
3) The church of God (encourages me)
If you are struggling with self-control – Word, Spirit, Church
Peter became a changed man on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-3) – not perfect, but his lack of self-control came under the power of the Holy Spirit.
Gal. 5:16 … / 1 Thes. 3
“Grant me, O Lord, To know what is worth knowing, To love what is worth loving, To praise what delights you most, To value what is precious in your sight, To hate what is offensive to you, To search out and do what pleases you, through Jesus Christ out Lord” – Thomas A Kempis