“To knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness.”
to knowledge self-control
The fourth building block of Christian character is “self-control.” We add self-control to our faith.
Another distinction that the Christian should add to his character is “self-control.” The term does not regularly occur in the New Testament. The New Testament uses “self-control” only two other times (Ac 24:25; Ga 5:23). The New Testament uses “self-control” very infrequently because God does not sponsor autonomous self-mastery. Salvation or spirituality by mastery of the self is not the Christian way of life.
Co 2:20-23, “Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations— 21 ‘Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,’ 22which all concern things which perish with the using—according to the commandments and doctrines of men? 23These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.”
The New Testament does not view self-control as legalistic abstinence. Christianity does not de-sex or empty all desires from the person. The Christian does maintain self-control and mastery over those desires.
We add self-control to knowledge. “Self-control” comes from two words: out of and strength. “Self-control” is power. “Self-control” is mastery over our passions so that we control our desires and actions. God bestows this power upon us.
Self-control is the opposite of anarchy in our passions. Idiomatically, “self-control” means to hold oneself in, to command oneself. Self-control, then, is the mastery of self. We stay in command of our desires and wants. It is the ability to say “no” to self. This is the freedom of self-restraint.
Self-control frees our self-restraint.
The Christian life carries certain qualities. Just any kind of life is not Christian living. There are certain standards unique to Christianity. It is more than being nice to your neighbors or staying out of trouble with the law.
Self-control in God’s economy comes from the filling of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, Christian self-control is not an autonomous self-control.
Ga 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.”
Why do people fail in any sphere of life? People fail in athletics, academics, and business because of a lack of self-discipline. Lazy people fail in athletics and school. Lazy people will fail spiritually in Christian living. This is why people fail, especially in the Christian life. They have little internal power that comes from the Holy Spirit.
We live in an undisciplined generation. Young people rebel against all authority. Much of their music revolves around that rebellion. They come from undisciplined homes and schools. They resent authority almost from diapers. They went off to university, and the theme of thought is rebellion against authority, whether it is the authority of rule or the authority of concepts. Some never accept authority, even police authority. The media also attacks the authority of the police and government. About the only places of discipline today are sports and the military. There is little authority left in the home, the school, or even the church.
The Christian who wants to get in shape spiritually must get into the Word. That is where he gets his spiritual muscles. By applying principles to experience, he begins to lose his spiritual flab.
Do you dominate yourself, or do you indulge yourself?
1 Co 9:24-27, “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. 25And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. 26Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. 27But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.”
The believer must go into training for living the Christian life. If you are on the track team, you wave the right to eat certain foods. Others may eat chocolate ice cream two or three times a day, but you do not because you are in training. There is nothing wrong with chocolate ice cream in itself, but it is poison if you run the hundred-yard dash. If you want to win, foregoing chocolate ice cream is a price you pay. This is self-control for a purpose. Others may eat all the chocolate ice cream they desire because they are not on the track team. We want to win in the Christian life. We do not want to come in last.