What is something that applies to all of us and we all could use more of?
In the book of Titus it says the following.
Titus 2 (NIV)
2 Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.
3 Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, …
4 Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled and pure
6 Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled.
I think that all of us fit into one of those categories, older men, older women, younger women and young men. According to this scripture each of these groups should be learning or teaching some form of self-control.
Unfortunately, in today's society many people cannot fathom the concept of self-discipline or self-restraint.
We as Christians, while living in the secular society around us are called to be separate and demonstrate the discipline of self-control.
What does the Bible have to say about self-control?
1. Self-Control is a Fruit of the Spirit
Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT)
22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
When we truly allow the Holy Spirit into our lives one of the byproducts is self-control.
The thing about fruit is that it naturally occurs in tree and plants that are connected to the trunk. Trees don't have to try to bear fruit, it comes naturally to them.
Growing up in Indiana we had a few apple trees growing in our front yard. I was young at the time, so my memory may not be 100% accurate, but I do not recall ever seeing the trees out front sweating and struggling to produce apples. Rather, they just stood there treeing along and apples just naturally grew.
The same is true of us as Christians, one of the natural by-products of being a Christian is the fruit of self-control.
Back to my apple trees, the only branches that did not grow apples were the ones that either fell or were cut off from the trunk of the tree.
In John 15 Jesus told us that He is the trunk and we are the branches. If you find that you are not producing the fruit of self-control, make sure that you are connected to the trunk, Jesus.
That brings me to the second thing I have seen in the Bible about self-control...
2. A True Christian Can Say No to Their Desires
I think that there is could be some confusion on this point, and as I see it there is both good news and bad news.
The bad news is that God does not take away the desires of our sinful nature.
A lot of people will pray things such as, "Lord!! Please take these cigarettes away from me!!"
Think about that prayer logically for a moment, why would God take your cigarettes away from you? Last time I checked, the Almighty was not a smoker.
In all reality, in many instances these evil desires will never go away as they do not come from God, but rather from our own human nature.
The Bible is clear on this, James 1 says,
13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.
However, there is good news!
While these desires may well never go away, God has given us the full ability to say no to them.
Titus 2:11-12 (NIV)
11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.
The ability to say, “No” is what separates us from unbelievers. The ever present evil human nature never goes away, and for unbelievers, they may very well have no capability to say no to these desires. But when we receive salvation from God, part of that gift includes His grace which teaches us to say no and live self-controlled.
So, let's get a hold of ourselves! A true Christian is self-controlled, it is one of the fruits or indicators that demonstrates a difference between us and mere unsaved men.