FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT, Series Post No. 24
SELF CONTROL – SELF MASTERY SO WE CAN SERVE GOD IN FREEDOM
Developing the fruit of the Spirit of self-control is not instantaneous once we become Christians.
G. K. Beale says it like this:
Christians are like pilgrims passing through this world. As such they are to commit themselves to the revelation of God in the new order so as progressively to reflect and imitate his image and increasingly live according to the values of the new world, not being conformed to the fallen system, its idolatrous images, and associated values.
G. K. Beale, The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1999), p. 175. [Emphasis mine]
As with all the fruit of the Spirit, we have the seed of the fruit within us because the Holy Spirit resides within the Christian, but that seed may not have grown very much yet. We have to commit ourselves to the Holy Spirit so He can develop the character and image of Christ in us.
Remember our thoughts last week comparing a life without self-control to a jungle while a life with self-control is rather like a well groomed, tended garden.
One characteristic of a growing and maturing Christian is the ability to bridle the wild impulses that lead to destruction — self-control. Note, we can have self-control in one area but not in another. The Spirit will encourage you to increase self-control so that it encompasses all the areas of your life, not just some of them!
How do we develop self-control of the Holy Spirit? There is no pill to take for it and there is no substitute for hard work. We train ourselves, just as an athlete would do, so that we learn to exercise self-control through God’s grace and His Spirit.
What does Scripture say?
So, what does the scripture say about temperance [abstinence or restraint]?
Table manners are important! Proverbs 23:1-3 speaks of restraint when eating with those over you:
When you sit down to eat with a ruler, observe carefully what is before you, and put a knife to your throat if you are given to appetite. Do not desire his delicacies, for they are deceptive food.
If you have found honey, eat only enough for you, lest you have your fill of it and vomit it.
But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank. … “Test your servants for ten days; let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then let our appearance and the appearance of the youths who eat the king’s food be observed by you, and deal with your servants according to what you see.” … At the end of ten days it was seen that they were better in appearance and fatter in flesh than all the youths who ate the king’s food. So the steward took away their food and the wine they were to drink, and gave them vegetables.
Daniel 1:8-16. Honor God in controlling our appetite for food and beverages.
Consider Desires and Passions:
I made a covenant with my eyes, not to look lustfully at a girl.
Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set our hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
1 Peter 1:13-16
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in the present age,…
Consider our Dress
Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.
I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.
1 Timothy 2:9
Consider our Speech and Thoughts
Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand;
Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips.
Psalm 141:3 (NIV)
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.
Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few.
Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.
Consider the standard for Christian Leaders
For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined.
Older Christians to be models for younger Christians
Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.
Consider Self-Control In all things
A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,
How does this apply to my daily life?
The temperate person lives within restraints and keeps his life under control. Self-control is not strict adherence to rules. Further, this is not done through sheer willpower, through grit teeth or rank stubbornness … it is done through the Spirit of our Lord and the strength that only He can give. It is for the purpose of glorifying God by living self-controlled, upright and godly lives before those we come in contact with, in direct contrast to the worldly life that is so chaotic and random, without control or order.
Thinking back to last week’s lesson, is our life a jungle or a garden? Are we tending it and, through self-control, weeding out the bad and developing the good for our Lord’s sake? Have we committed ourselves to the Holy Spirit so that He can transform us into the image of Christ?
Let us develop self-control to the honor of God through the power of the Holy Spirit!
Blessings to you and I pray that you have been blessed as we have studied about the fruit of the Holy Spirit and as we mature in our transformation into Christian believers who speak and act as Jesus did and who share in the passions that Jesus had for the lost sheep and for the worship of His Father, the Almighty God. Next week we will have the final conclusion for the study; please join me as we seek to learn and do the will of our Father.