Summary: The Fruit of The Spirit (Part 11) Self-control develops as we are CONNECTED TO CHRIST, DEVELOPS SEQUENTIALLY, and as we WORK AT IT. (See sermons in Word format at


The Fruit of The Spirit (Part 11)

Galatians 5:22-23

Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV)

[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.


We’re going to start with a presidential quiz. Let’s see if you know which President I’m talking about.

During his term as President of the U.S. this president grew 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 his wife’s wise observation, the President lost 23 pounds. Lyndon Johnson

Who said the following? "With all the power that a President has, the most important thing to bear in mind is this: You must not give power to a man unless, above everything else, he has character. Character is the most important qualification the President of the United States can have." Richard Nixon, in 1964, ten years before he resigned the Presidency to avoid being impeached amidst the shame of the Watergate cover-up

Who said this? "Undeniably, character does count for our nation, and this week we celebrate the importance of character in our individual lives. Core ethical values of trustworthiness, fairness, responsibility, caring, respect, and citizenship form the foundation of our democracy, our economy, and our society." Bill Clinton in a speech during National Character week, October 1997; two months before Monica Lewinsky scandal broke out.

The fruit of the Spirit is self-control. I suppose we shouldn’t be too hard on these presidents for their lack of self-control at one time or another. Self-control is the one fruit of the Spirit we all struggle with because we either resist saying, “No” to ourselves or saying “Yes” to what we know should be done.

 What is self-control?

Self-control , or as translated in the KJV temperance comes from the Greek word  (en-kratēa) which literally means strong, possessing mastery or master of self. Self-control is best illustrated by the athlete diligently practicing his/her sport and working their body into shape to be their very best; the athlete wants to have strength of body and emotion to enable them to perform at their very best, to have a strength and ability that sets them apart from everyone else. Paul uses this illustration of self-control in 1 Corinthians 9 which we will look at in detail in a few moments.

I’ve said many times, “It is the fruit of the SPIRIT, not the fruit of the saints.” These are the characteristics developed by God’s Spirit living in us; they are not acquired through self-help. Self-control or temperance is not an inner strength or mastery of self; self-control is the strength of the Spirit working in and through our lives.

Practically speaking self-control is the ability to say, “No” to ourselves, and “Yes” to what should be done. Think about it – when do we lack control? It is when we don’t want to say “No” to pleasure, or when we fail to say “Yes” by procrastinating and putting off doing the right thing. In other words we lack control when pleasure and comfort is our primary motivation. However, with self-control we have the strength of the Spirit to say, “No” to our selfish desires and “Yes” to doing what is right. Self-control is love restraining.

Failure to control ourselves, a lack of temperance or restraint leads to all kinds of problems and difficulties! Can I get a witness? Who hasn’t lived to regret indulging our desires or doing the wrong thing at the wrong time?

 Abraham and Sara certainly had a problem with self-control. God promised they would have a son, but the sand of time was falling too fast in their eyes, so they took matters into their own hands. Sarah’s desire to have a child caused her to devise a plan, “If God won’t let Abraham have a son through me, then let’s have a child through my servant Hagar.” When Sarah presented the idea to Abraham he didn’t have the self-control to say, “No we should do the right thing and wait on God for the child the Lord has promised.” Instead Abraham said, “Hubba-hubba! Sarah I think that’s a great idea.” As a result a sibling rivalry developed between Ishmael and God’s child of promise Isaac that has spilled over into a continuing struggle among their descendants in Israel and the Middle-East today.

Not many of us will find ourselves facing that magnitude of difficulty and hardship as a result of our lack of self-control, but we do manage to create lots of problems for ourselves and others. If only we could learn self-control, to have an inner strength, a master of self, a strength of the Sprit to say “No” to ourselves and “Yes” to what should be done, then we wouldn’t have as many self-inflicted problems in our lives. So, how does self-control develop within our lives?

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