Summary: Self-control is a Fruit of the Spirit. It is self in control by the Spirit of God. We need to acknowledge our need of God's grace. We need to watch and pray.
In the book, The Three Edwards, Thomas Costain described the life of Raynald III, a 14-century duke in what is now Belgium. Grossly overweight, Raynald was commonly called by his Latin nickname, Crassus, which means "fat."
After a violent quarrel, Raynald's younger brother Edward led a successful revolt against him. Edward captured Raynald but did not kill him. Instead, he built a room around Raynald in the Nieuwkerk castle and promised him he could regain his title and property as soon as he was able to leave the room.
This would not have been difficult for most people since the room had several windows and a door of near-normal size, and none was locked or barred. The problem was Raynald's size. To regain his freedom, he needed to lose weight. But Edward knew his older brother, and each day he sent a variety of delicious foods. Instead of dieting his way out of prison, Raynald grew fatter.
When Duke Edward was accused of cruelty, he had a ready answer: "My brother is not a prisoner. He may leave when he so wills." Raynald stayed in that room for ten years and wasn't released until after Edward died in battle. By then his health was so ruined he died within a year… a prisoner of his own appetite.
The lack of self-control is the failure to exercise restraint over our own impulses, emotions, or desires.
• There are many who are prisoners of their own impulses - whether it is lust, drinking, anger, ambition, greed, spending, or any kind of addictions (it can come in any forms) – but anything that’s uncontrolled and feeds on our desires will one day destroy us.
• Raynald was not locked in, physically speaking. He was locked in by his unrestrained cravings. He could have fasted his way out of his own prison and found true freedom.
• Prov 25:28 “Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control.” He lost his defence against the forces that comes against him. He has no means to resist them.
A person with no self-restraint is vulnerable.
• It is like a smoker getting the cigarette packs with gruesome pictures of the horrific consequences of smoking, and yet not being deterred by them.
• The mind may tell them something, but they are unable to obey the signal. He is smoking himself to a slow death. You see, knowledge alone cannot change a man’s life. He needs something more – self-control.
Self-control is greatly needed today.
• When it is your turn to do the dishes and you end up lying on the couch watching TV, that’s a lack of self-control.
• When the pornographic ad pops up on your computer and you choose not to close it, that’s a lack of self-control.
• When it is getting late and you know that you need to be at your best at school the next day, and you’re still on your computer game, that’s a lack of self-control.
• When you love to walk the malls every day and buys things you do not need, that’s a lack of self-control.
James 4:17 “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins.”
• There things we know we need to do but we are not doing them. We let our impulses, emotions, or desires rule us.
• It is more than self-help we need. It is more than self-effort. It is more than self-discipline (although this is good).
• We need external help. We need God’s help. We need the help of the Holy Spirit to not gratify the desires of our sinful nature. Self-control is a Fruit of the Spirit.
Titus 2:11-14 “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope - the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, 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.”
• The context is important. Titus was ministering in a difficult environment in Crete.
• Crete was known for its clubbing and promiscuity, where sex, drugs and drinking abounds. Paul mentioned it in 1:12 "Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons."
Surrounded by such temptations, Paul needed to write this brief letter to Titus and caution the church to stay vigilant and pure. Listen to what he says.
1:7-8 Since an overseer is entrusted with God's work, he must be blameless - not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. 8 Rather he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined.