- Preaching the Living WORD through the Written WORD - 2 Tim 4:2 -
REFINEMENTS OF CHRISTIAN VIRTUE: SELF-CONTROL
(2Pe 1:6 from vss. 3-10) 9-2-12
Grace Bible Church, Gillette, Wyoming
Pastor Daryl Hilbert
I. ADD MORAL EXCELLENCE
II. ADD KNOWLEDGE
III. ADD SELF-CONTROL
A. The Definition of Self-Control (egkra,teia)
1. The word is a compound of two Greek words, en - in & krateia - strength. It means to possess inward strength, control, and mastery over something, someone, or one’s self.
2. In Classical Greek its emphasis was upon the one who had not only freedom as a citizen but also from vices contrary to the good of society. It was also used of one who had military or political strength over another person or nation (2Mac 10:15).
3. Later, the word began to refer strictly to strength over vices such as food, speech, passions, and sexual conduct.
4. It is not extensively used in the NT, perhaps because for the believer, The Lord has total mastery over him. Yet it is mentioned as a necessary Christian virtue. It is produced by the Holy Spirit and the believer is expected to incorporate it in his battle over the flesh, the world, and the devil.
B. The Biblical Understanding of Self-Control (egkra,teia)
1. It is to be Exercised with Discipline (1Co 9:24-27; 2Pe 1:6)
a) In 1Co 9:25, Paul looks at the self-control needed by athletes in the Olympian Games and compares it to the self-control needed in the Christian life.
b) He compares it to the self-disciplined training necessary for runners competing in the games (1Co 9:24). Runners had to be self-controlled and self-disciplined in everything from dieting to sacrifice of others activities to endless practice. Paul says that he “disciplines” (upōpia,zō - lit. strike under the eye, i.e. black eye) his body to control it rather than have it control him (1Co 9:27). In the same way, the believer must have a steady diet of the Word. He must discipline himself to get into the Word and prayer. He must certainly excuse himself from good activities if they are vying for time in the Word or serving the Lord. There are also wrong kinds of activities that must be removed from one’s life in order to succeed spiritually.
c) The Olympian runner knows that it takes self-discipline to compete in a way that is successful. It is an all-out kind of exertion. In fact the word used by Paul for compete is agōni,zomai (strive earnestly, make every effort) from which we get our English word “agonize.” Believers need to live the Christian life in the same way, which often can be described as an “agonizing” battle against the flesh.
d) Paul talks about the reward that the athlete wins, which is a “wreath” (ste,phanos - lit. to encircle, i.e. a crown usually made of leaves). For the runner it is a temporal and “perishable” (phtharto,s) wreath. But for the believer it is an imperishable (aphtharto,s) wreath, referring to eternal life and the rewards a believer will receive for service. Paul also disciplines himself so that he will not be “disqualified” (ado,kimos - stand the test, i.e. disqualified from competeing) and damage his testimony in ministry (1Co 9:27).
2. It is a Fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:22-23).
a) Self-control for the believer is different from the world’s view of self-control. For the believer this inward strength comes from the Holy Spirit, which makes it real and powerful as opposed to some gimmick, trick, or mental cliché.
b) Socrates and Aristotle saw the lack of self-control as a problem with one’s logic or lack of knowledge. Both leave no room for sinful appetites, “No one goes willingly toward the bad” (Protagoras, 358d). Similarly, even today, Secular Psychology sees a lack of self-control as a mere weakness of the will rather than man’s sinful nature.
c) Self-control is produced by the Holy Spirit in the believer to submit to God and resist temptation. Self-control becomes part of the process of sanctification for the believer to “work out” what the indwelling Holy Spirit has “worked in.”
d) It is the idea that the Holy Spirit enables the believer to have mastery over self, over the flesh, and over anything that would detract from the Christ-like fruit of the Holy Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control). In addition, it is this same self-control that enables the believer to live out the fruit of the Spirit even when his emotions and flesh desire the contrary.
e) 1Co 15:10 helps us understand the cooperation with the Holy Spirit and exerting self-control with His power. Paul labored exceedingly with the grace of God that was with him. The Holy Spirit gives self-control to the believer, but he can and must labor exceedingly to put it into practice.
3. It is Necessary for Moral Purity (1Co 7:5-9).
a) Though not exclusive, but certainly emphatic, is the idea of self-control in regard to moral purity. This is no surprise when Paul speaks of sexual sin as a specific sin that is committed against the body, rather than outside of it (1Co 6:18).
b) Moral impurity (pornei,a), in all its forms, must be resisted at all costs and it takes self-control (inner and personal strength and control by the Holy Spirit) to do it.
c) Paul mentions self-control in 1Co 7:5, 9 for purity inside and outside the marriage bonds. To Paul, marriage was as much a gift from God as was celibacy, but for those without the gift of celibacy, the need for self-control in this area is a most necessary virtue.
4. It is to be Exercised in Church Leadership (Tit 1:7-9).
a) One of the qualifications for church leadership is the virtue of self-control.
b) An elder must have self-control in the areas of being above reproach, not self-willed, not quick tempered, not addicted to wine, not a brawler, not greedy, in regard to piety, and in the study and teaching of the Word of God.
c) He also must exercise self-control in the manner in which he ministers to others. He must not lose his temper with the body of Christ but must temper his emotions with self-control and love (Eph 4:15; 1Co 16:13-14).
5. It is a Missing Characteristic of the Last Days (2Ti 3:1-3).
a) A lack of self-control is a description of people in the last days. They will more self-serving rather than serving Christ. They will be lovers of self rather than loving God with their heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mar 12:30).
b) Since this describes unbelievers and the world’s perspective, believers must guard from getting caught up in the attitudes and behavior of the world. Believers must have self-control so they do not live out of control and self-serving like the world.
C. The Practical Application of Self-Control (egkra,teia)
1. Self-control is necessary for victory over sin (1Co 6:12; 2Pe 2:19).
a) If a believer desires victory over sin, and all true believers do, then he must daily exercise self-control to have victory over besetting and addicting sin.
b) In the area of besetting sin and addiction, it is this virtue that gives victory. A believer overcomes addiction through the self-control provided by the Holy Spirit.
2. Self-control is necessary for godly virtue (Pro 16:32; 25:28; Rom 12:21).
a) If a believer desires live virtuously and not stumble, he must rule his flesh in every area of his life through the Holy Spirit rather than his flesh ruling him.
3. Self-control is necessary for virtuous speech (Jam 1:26).
a) If a believer desires to be virtuous, then his speech must be under control. He must not only guard from bitter and unwise speech, but must his speech must promote evangelism and edification (Pro 13:3; 21:23 cp. Psa 39:1-3).
4. Self-control is available to every believer in every situation (Act 24:24)
a) We may not always be faithful or obedient or self-controlled, but it is an encouragement to know that the believer does have the enablement and can be self-controlled in every situation.