SELF-CONTROL

Bible Reading: 2 Peter 1:5-11

But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness… ” [2 Peter 1:5-6]

The Greek word translated as self control in Galatians 5:23 is ‘egkrateia’ and is found only four times in the New Testament [Galatians 5:23; Acts 24:25; and twice in 2 Peter 1:6]. The word comes ‘egkrates’ and means “mastering, controlling, curbing, restraining; controlling one’s self, temperate”. It is the spirit that has mastered its desires and its love of pleasure. The word “temperance” is defined in the Cambridge Dictionary as “the control of your own behaviour”.

The same Greek word is used of the athlete’s discipline of his body – “And every man that strives for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible” [1Corinthians 9:25]. I have been amazed at some of the discipline that I have heard in many athletes. They include watching what you eat, getting sufficient hours of sleep, and hours and hours of training. Paula Radcliffe, the woman’s marathon world record holder ran 130 to 140 miles per week, training on an eight-day cycle. That works out at approximately 17 miles each day or nearly three quarters of a marathon every day, and that is just to win, in Paul’s words, a “corruptible crown!”

William Barclay says of this Greek word, “Secular Greek uses it of the virtue of an Emperor who never lets his private interest influence the government of his people.  It is the virtue which makes a man so master of himself that he is fit to be the servant of others.” No one can be a great ruler of others until he has first mastered himself. As we yield to the Holy Spirit and let Him rule in our lives, He will give to us that self-mastery which will keep us alike from being swept away and from running away.

When we are under pressure, tired and having to deal with difficult situations it is to let our emotions take over and say or do things that we afterwards regret. Many years ago, I heard a wonderful testimony about Rosalind Goforth, a missionary to China. Her problem was anger, and she confessed this to the Lord. One day He set her free from this bondage. Her testimony was that she lost her temper because Jesus took it away!

Questions:

What is our part and what is the Holy Spirit’s part in the controlling of our behaviour?

What are the areas of self-control that you personally most struggle with? Will you now bring that to the Lord in prayer and ask the Holy Spirit to help you in that area of your life?

What do you think is the important key to continually be filled with the Holy Spirit and growing in the fruit of the Spirit, and especially self-control?