A couple weeks ago I talked briefly about God’s grace and how it is a sort of teacher, which helps to equip us for good works (Titus 3:3-8). Part of what is needed for good works to flourish is the decision to “live soberly” or as the NIV say, “to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age” (Titus 2:12). Honestly, I am hesitant to speak on this subject of self-control, almost embarrassed, because I do not exhibit it in all areas of my life very consistently. The words of the apostle Paul echo in my mind, “Yes, I know that nothing good lives in me — I mean nothing good lives in the part of me that is earthly and sinful. I want to do the things that are good, but I do not do them” (Romans 7:18, NCV). So, it is here that I start; that is, at the point of where I know we all find commonality. Where is that you ask? At the place where dying to self is needed and where self-discipline is or can be developed.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness
faithfulness, goodness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.
As the saying goes, “Some people have it. Some people don’t.” When it comes to our Christian walk, that idea is just a lie which Satan wants us to perpetuate in our minds. Why? Because it keeps us from reaching our full potential in Christ! For those who are in Christ, we have been given to fruit of the Spirit which includes self-control. Exactly what is self-control? Well, the Latin for this word, continentia, means the virtue of one who masters his desires and passions. And although we have all received it as a portion from the Spirit, it needs to be developed. Titus was to teach the older men and older women on the island of Crete to be temperate, this is, self-controlled. All Christians are urged to add to their faith…self-control (2nd Peter 1:6). For some, we may look around and see others that exhibit self-control so easily, while in your mind you say something like this, “That’s easier said than done.” That very well could be true. But we are not talking about whether something is easy or not; but rather, if something is possible. As one person said, “Self-control is a discipline that God grows in us when we continually choose to die to our flesh and live in Him.” Self-control is a Christian virtue that is a gift from God that is intended to be developed as we walk with Christ.
No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful…
1st Corinthians 10:13
Self-control is not a one man show, at least not in our walk with Christ. God’s faithfulness to provide an “escape,” that will ensure that you are not “tempted beyond what you are able” is also part of how we fight against our sinful tendencies. It might be that self-control enables us to see with greater clarity that way of escape while teaching us just how vulnerable we may be in a given situation. Remember, God provides the escape and we make the choice on whether to access it or not. Listen to 1st Corinthians 9:25 in the NCV, “All those who compete in the games use self-control so they can win crown. That crown is an earthly thing that lasts only a short time, but our crown will never be destroyed.” If we are going to finish this race, we need to ask God to help us develop godly self-control.
As I close this article, I will admit that it has been stimulated by a recent class (The Daniel Plan) that I am not a part of at this time. It has caused me to think about a variety of things, one of which is my health. While considering things, I realized how this all plays into our spiritual lives as well. Resisting those things which can influence our spiritual development is not easy. Saying no to TV, video games, and the list can go on so we can spend sufficient time in prayer, study (reading) and fellowship takes self-control. Create within us Lord a desire to develop what You have given us to the glory of Your name and the growth of Your church.