Self-Control: The Culminating Grace Gift
Galatians 5:13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh[a]; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[b] 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever[c] you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
The “works” of the flesh and the “fruit” of the spirit are two different ways of stating that these things naturally come from the flesh or spirit. Paul uses the word Fruit as a positive thing and Works as something negative, but both are things that “grow” out of either our flesh or spirit. But the fruit of the spirit are also characteristics of God and His love for us.
However, developing both of these good virtues and bad characteristics each requires a process. You don’t become bad or good overnight – it develops out of a series of decisions we make, which become habit, and then become our very character.
Love is a self-denying, other-benefitting love that is thoroughly foreign to selfish human nature. We feel God’s love for us through the Spirit, and become more and more selfless and charitable in our actions toward others.
Agape (love) denotes a really undefeatable benevolence and unconquerable goodwill, that always seeks the highest of the other, no matter what s/he does. It is the self-giving love that gives freely without asking anything in return, and does not consider the worth of its object. Agape is more a love by choice than philos, which is love by chance; and it refers to the will rather than the emotion. Agape describes the unconditional love God has for the world. Paul describes love in 1 Corinthians 13:
Love is patient, love is kind.(love) is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.
Think of the last time you felt completely loved and/or you felt overwhelming love for someone else. What were some of the emotional byproducts you felt?
Every “fruit” from hereon out is an expression of being loved by God and having His love flow through us toward God or others.
Joy is the response we have to being loved unconditionally by God, and feeling his love flowing through us toward others.
Because it comes from God, it is more serene and stable than worldly happiness, which is merely emotional and lasts only for a time. This does not mean that a person may not experience sadness on occasion through the death of a loved one, financial trouble, the actions of others, or depression; but underlying the sadness is the sure knowledge that one is still loved by God.
Peace – Once we feel loved, and as a result feel joy, we experience peace with others because we are at peace with God. Lack of peace normally comes from not feeling secure or important. God’s love provides both for us.
Peace is the result of resting in a relationship with God. Peace is more than an absence of conflict. It is the tranquil state of a soul fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot, of what so ever sort that is. It is a kind of equilibrium that comes from trusting that everything is in the hands of a good and loving God who wants the best for you.
Eirene – The word eirene strongly suggests the rule of order in place of chaos. When a person is dominated by peace, he has a calm, inner stability that results in the ability to conduct himself peacefully, orderly, stably, even in the midst of circumstances that would normally be very nerve-wracking, traumatic, or upsetting, and be poised for blessing.
Joy and peace are personal gifts from God to us for our own benefit. It is fruit that positively affects our attitude and outlook as a result of being certain that we are completely and unconditionally loved. They don’t require interaction with others in order to experience and display them. If we are losing our joy and peace, it means we are no longer certain of or satisfied with God’s love.
However, the rest of the fruit (components or expressions of love) require interaction with others (God or people) for their presence or absence to be felt. They are things we must actively DO, put effort into.
The next 3 fruit involve our relationships with others.
Patience is long suffering with people, not making them pay for the harm they have done to us. Basically, it will only be revealed or needed when dealing with people who have treated you negatively. Patience is not about doing something to or for someone else – it is about withholding negative consequences they actually deserve. WHAT DOES PATIENCE HAVE TO DO WITH LOVE?
LOVE = undefeatable benevolence and unconquerable goodwill, that always seeks the highest of the other, no matter what s/he does. It is the self-giving love that gives freely without asking anything in return, and does not consider the worth of its object.
What are things that are usually going on in your life that cause you to be the most impatient with people, meaning you want to return evil for evil?
I believe patience with others, and ourselves, is the foundation for all of the other fruits.
This word is often used in the Greek Scriptures in reference to God and his attitude to man. Exodus 34:6 describes the Lord as “slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity.”
Maktrothumia – from makros, “long“, and thumos, “temper“. Includes the ability to endure persecution and ill-treatment. It describes a person who has the power to exercise revenge but instead exercises restraint.
As opposed to: The latter, hupomone, (hoop-om-on-ay) is translated “endurance”: Constancy, perseverance, continuance, bearing up, steadfastness, holding out, patient endurance. The word combines hupo, “under”, and mone, “to remain”. It describes the capacity to continue to bear up under difficult circumstances, not with a passive complacency, but with a hopeful fortitude that actively resists weariness and defeat, (Strong’s #5281) with hupomone (Greek ὑπομονή) being further understood as that which would be “as opposed to cowardice or despondency“
Kindness builds upon patience – it is one thing to simply restrain yourself from striking back at someone who has hurt you. Kindness goes one better – you treat the offender well. Kindness would describe the friendly and helpful attitude of a ruler in authority over his subjects, as opposed to being nice to someone they considered to be their equal or that they liked. So kindness isn’t really kindness unless they don’t deserve it, and the recipient could be considered of lesser standing than yourself.
The Strong’s definition says: the ability to act for the welfare of those taxing your patience.
Has there ever been a time in your life when you could be kind to someone without being patient with them?
Goodness moves beyond patience (refraining from payback) and kindness (treating people with loving respect) and actively meets someone’s need, meaning something the recipients cannot do for themselves. It is the characteristic of one who actively and reliably performs beneficial service toward others. The person who has this fruit desires and gets pleasure from letting God’s love flow through them and manifests toward any person to whom God directs them, regardless of their status or what they have done, good or evil. It is an active, even aggressive goodness, zealous activity in doing good for others who cannot repay the charitable act. Agathosune is only found in biblical writings, so this type of goodness only exists as an outflow of the Holy Spirit.
Remember that this type of goodness does not comes easily to your flesh, as when you really like someone, or it just makes you feel good about yourself to do these things. Goodness, like patience and kindness, are the supernatural ability to actively and practically love those who in the natural you probably couldn’t stand.
27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.
32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
The last 3 fruit have to do with our relationship with God.
Faith is better defined “faithfulness”, and it means continually being committed to listen for and trust God’s Word to us, resulting in whatever action He requires from us. Faithfulness develops from habitual goodness, continually allowing God’s power and love to flow through us on behalf of other people, especially those that can do nothing in return.
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God”.
Gentleness is having your passions under control, meaning not being ruled by your emotions and desires. The word is best translated ‘meekness,’ not as an indication of weakness, but of power and strength under control. The person who possesses this quality pardons injuries, corrects faults, and rules his own spirit well. Your commitment to live for God calls you to put to death the deeds of the flesh, which allows you to walk in fellowship with the Holy Spirit, surrendering to His leading instead of your own flesh.
Self-control is the fruit of someone completely surrendered to God, actively expressing all of the other fruit of the spirit. The greek word means to be strong, having mastery, able to control one’s thoughts and actions. Once you fully commit yourself to respond to God and surrender to the Spirit and not your emotions or desires, He can transform your thoughts and attitudes into His own.
Titus 2:2 You, however, must teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine. 2 Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.
3 Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. 4 Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.
6 Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. 7 In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness 8 and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.
9 Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything, to try to please them, not to talk back to them, 10 and not to steal from them, but to show that they can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive.
11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
Rom 8:13 – For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.
Col 3:5 – Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.
Col 2:20 Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules: 21 “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? 22 These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. 23 Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.
Proverbs 16:32 – Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city.
Proverbs 25:28 – Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.
Acts 24:25 – As Paul talked about righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, “That’s enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you.”
2 Peter 1:5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.