3-Week Series: Double Blessing


Summary: Learning the Secrets of Being Self-Controlled – 2 Tim. 3:3

Learning the Secrets of Being Self-Controlled – 2 Tim. 3:3

Illustration: During his term as President of the U.S., Lyndon Johnson was somewhat overweight. One day his wife challenged him with this blunt assertion: "You can’t run the country if you can’t run yourself." Respecting Mrs. Johnson’s wise observation, the President lost 23 pounds.

We are warned in 2 Tim. 3:3 that in the last days there will be increasing godlessness. Paul writes, “People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, …without self-control along with eleven other ungodly characteristics. We have recently seen a scandal in the Catholic Church among priests who have failed to exhibit self-control and all of the consequential pain, misery and self-destructive behavior. The lack of self-control on the part of some Catholic priests now threatens the credibility of the entire Roman Catholic Church.

We read that the surgeon general now warns that more than 30% of Americans are obese so that overweight diseases are now at epidemic proportions. We daily see in the media how immorality has become rampant through television to the point where it is joked about as something frivolous and a mere expression of individual freedom. Consider the proliferation of pornography on the Internet. Do you know that of all the words searched for on the Internet the one that is most sought after, 32 million times a day is sex. Even some Christians have succumbed to the temptations to lose self-control of their passions and the constructive use of their spare time.

The Greek word egkrateia (eng-krat’-i-ah), means “self-control” or “continence.” Self-control consists of the right use of the will under the controlling power and performance of the Holy Spirit who indwells the believer. The Greek word egkrateia is derived from another Greek word, kratos. Kratos means “strength.” Kratos is translated power in Eph. 1:19.

“...According to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead . . .” (Eph. 1:19,20).

But an available resource (resurrection power) does not guarantee an applied resource. An available but unused resource can spell the difference between success and failure in the Christian life. This is especially true regarding an area (or areas) in life where things are out of control.

It is not easy to talk about long suffering in a day when we grow annoyed if we have to wait more than 2 minutes at the grocery checkout line. Yet, without self-control we cannot have successful relationships, carry out our basic responsibilities or maintain a personal life that fruitful. Paul purposely places these nine virtues in one setting to paint a picture of a fully furnished inner life of the complete Christian. In the process he makes clear a very important principle.

It is a principle that applies to all fruit. The principle is this: the fruit of the Holy Spirit is, “the work which His presence within accomplishes” (Amplified Bible). Or, as the Living Bible puts it, “But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives He will produce this kind of fruit in us . . ." and lists “self-control” or “self-restraint, continence” (Amplified Bible) as a product or result of the Holy Spirit’s indwelling influence.

God’s will is clear on this subject. According to Jesus it is His will that we bear fruit--”much fruit” (John 15). His will is for us to manifest these traits that comprise the complete Christian life (Gal. 5:22-24). The potential is present within each believer. The possibility exists for every one who names Jesus as Savior and Lord. The ability is available because the raw material for making it happen lies within and flows out of one’s relationship with Him Who calls Himself “the Vine” (John 15).

For example, how many people do you suppose there are who think that because it is the “fruit of the Holy Spirit (i.e., HIS fruit)” which HE produces in the life of the Christian it means that, “HE is responsible for it . . . not ME.” Therefore if the Christian doesn’t have fruit it is because HE didn’t put it there. In other words, if I’m not acting in a loving or kind way or, if I’m not practicing self-control-- it’s because GOD hasn’t put love and kindness in me. God’s hasn’t given me the grip or grit that it takes to restrain my habits so it’s His fault--not mine. “Oh,” we say, “it would be very good to have those things, I suppose . . . but I’m not responsible because that’s just the way I naturally am and if God intended for me to be any other way He would have made me that way!” “Why,” some might sincerely say, “I’ve even asked for it a couple of times and nothing changed . . . So, don’t blame me. It’s not my fault!” That’s a neat way for one to dodge personal responsibility by shifting blame. But, as the saying goes, “that ‘ole dog ain’t gonna hunt here!” (Charles Holt – Orange, Texas)

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