Summary: The firm, loving grip of the Holy Spirit brings freedom from self.
A FRUIT-FULL MARRIAGE: SELF-CONTROL *
Sermon Objective: The firm, loving grip of the Holy Spirit brings freedom from self.
13 You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. 14 The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
16 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.
19 The acts of the sinful nature 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, patience, 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 sinful nature 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.
In A.D. 315 Pachomius, an Egyptian soldier, came to faith in Christ through the witness of some Christians in Thebes. After his release from the military he was baptized. Now, Pachomius was serious about his new faith and determined to grow, so he attached himself as a disciple of Palamon, an ascetic who taught him the self-denial and solitary life of a religious hermit.
But Pachomius began to question the methods and lifestyle of his mentors.
• How can you learn to love if no one else is around?
• How can you learn humility living alone?
• How can you learn kindness or gentleness or goodness in isolation?
• How can you learn patience unless someone puts yours to the test?
In short, Pachomius concluded, developing spiritual fruit requires being around people -- ordinary, ornery people. "To save souls," he said, "you must bring them together."
So Pachomius began to gather people together in communities where holiness was developed not in isolation, but in rubbing shoulders with flawed, demanding, and sometimes disagreeable people. As a result, followers of Pachomius learned to take hurt rather than give it. They discovered that disagreements and opposition provide the opportunity to redeem life situations and experience God's grace. Thus began the monastic movement in the 4th Century. (Marshall Shelley, "Developing spiritual fruit requires being around ordinary, ornery people," Leadership journal, Spring 1993. From a sermon by C. Philip Green, Eternity Clothes, 6/26/2010)
Living in and within a community is, in my opinion, the expectation of the Gospel. Developing relationships and loving our neighbor is the call of the Gospel.
• That’s how Jesus lived.
• That’s how Paul built churches.
And the writings of the New testament are clear that the foundation of all these relationships is love.
Someone has said that eight of the virtues listed in Galatians 5 can be put in terms of love. You know by now that I agree with that.
• Joy is love exulting
• Peace is love in repose
• Patience is love on trial
• Gentleness is love in society
• Goodness is love in action
• Faith is love on the battlefield
• Gentleness is love at work
• Self Control is love in training
So it is love at the top, love at the bottom, and all the way through this list of graces. THERE IS ONE FRUIT – MANY EXPRESSIONS.
Today, we look at Self-Control.
I must tell you, I think there is much more going on with Self-Control that we give it credit for.
The century in which Paul wrote saw self-control with a mixed “favorable rating.”
• In Greece (not Rome) it was a virtue to have mastery of self.
• In Rome there was little value put on self-control and much more put on hedonism and indulgence.
I fear we (U.S.A.) are much more like Rome than Greece. Examples include: Wall Street’s pursuit of greed and money at any cost, drug use, credit card abuse, frat house parties, and materialism, not to mention “sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies.”