Summary: Series of Sermons for the Advent season on the fruits of the spirit. Sermon 9 of 9
Christmas Day Service December 25, 2002
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Fellow worshipers of the Christ child:
The last fruit of the Spirit isn’t an easy one to display at this time of the year. Self-control and the holidays don’t seem to be very compatible. It’s been my experience and I have heard it said that the average person puts on ten pounds during the month of December. Self-control would prevent that from happening.
It has been my experience and I have heard others share with me that the average family spends far more for gifts than their holiday budget really allows. Self-control would prevent that from happening.
Before Christmas, snoopy children or spouses look for the places where their gifts are hidden. Self-control would prevent that from happening. Last night or this morning wrapping paper flew in the air as children and adults quickly went from one present to another. Self-control would prevent that from happening.
Self-control isn’t lacking only during the holiday season. People in our materialistic, self-indulgent society find it hard to exercise self-control at any time of the year. Nevertheless, God commands us to exercise self-control, regardless of the society around us or the season we are in. In fact, as Christians it is a natural fruit of our faith to be self-controlled. Let’s now think of the meaning of Christmas and how it helps us to be filled with this final fruit of the Spirit: SELF-CONTROL.
1. God showed self-control at Christmas.
As we remember Jesus’ birth, we get a clear picture of self-control from what went on before and after it. In a way, God displayed self-control by waiting for about 4,000 years—from the time of the first sin until the fullness of time when God sent his Son to save the world from sin.
God showed an incredible amount of self-control. Instead of destroying the world permanently because of its sin, out of love for you and me he instead promised that the messiah would come to save us from our sin. And when our Savior was born on that first Christmas morning he also displayed self-control.
Jesus came to earth for one purpose and one purpose only—to save us from sin, death, and the power of the devil. He came as a gift of God’s undeserved love. He came for us and expects to be shared by us.
Think for a moment about what Jesus did to save us. He left heaven to be born in a stable. He set aside his divine powers and humbled himself. He submitted to crucifixion and shed his blood to purchase our redemption. And there is not a word in the Bible that indicates that Jesus regretted doing this. He remained focused—under self-control—so that he could accomplish his mission. His only regret came when people refused to believe in him as their Savior.
Why do we believe that Christ came into the world? To give us success? To bring mere outward peace on earth? To make our years on this earth free of all pain and trouble? Those who think Jesus came to earth for such reasons will end up disillusioned. God sent his Son to take away the sin of the world by paying for it all with the sacrifice of his own life. This required self-control, more self-control than any mere man could display. But as God’s Son, Jesus not only could but did remain completely free from sin. He maintained perfect self-control.
2. Christians show self-control because of Christmas.
Of course, as sinners, our self-control isn’t like his. We aren’t perfect, but through faith in him our imperfection is forgiven.
Through that message of forgiveness, God gives us his Spirit; the Spirit’s fruit, which includes self-control; and the spiritual power to display those fruits in our lives. We are to be self-controlled and alert, the Bible says, because our enemy, the devil, prowls around seeking to devour us. If Jesus had not stayed perfectly under self-control, the devil would have defeated him and devoured us. But because Jesus was our perfect substitute in every way, including self-control, we are able to share in his victory over the devil. Our failures in self-control are forgiven through Christ.
But the knowledge of forgiveness isn’t meant to be an easy excuse now to sin. As God’s forgiven people empowered by his Spirit, we are to fight the good fight of faith at all times. We are told that “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 our Savior’s return (Titus 2:11-13).