Today we conclude our series on the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit from Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” (NKJV)
We have looked at love, joy, peace, patience (longsuffering), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and gentleness. Today our focus is on the very last fruit: self-control.
I don’t know about you, but I have been greatly encouraged, and challenged, by these fruits of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps the most powerful revelation for me is the fact that my character here on earth is the one that I will take to heaven when I die. And these nine fruits of the Holy Spirit better become part of who I am, especially if I’m going to serve my Lord for all of eternity. I definitely want to serve my God in heaven with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
The key to unlocking all nine fruits of the Spirit is to co-operate with the Holy Spirit.
So, what is self-control?
• Self-control is being able to keep oneself in check.
• It is not letting our circumstances cause us to lose control.
• Self-control exhibits moderation, temperance, and discipline (note the word disciple comes from the word discipline)
• It’s choosing, under significant pressure, to go after what is important rather than the urgent.
• Self-controlled people show restraint and are not compulsive.
• They are able to say ‘no’ to our fleshly thoughts and lusts.
• The very concept of self-control implies a battle between a divided self.
• It implies that our ‘self’ produces desires that we should not satisfy, but instead control.
For example, we must control anger. Listen to Proverbs 16:32,
“He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty,
And he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.” (NKJV)
Note the phrase, ‘he who is SLOW to anger’……slow to anger is a decision of the heart. A decision from a self-controlled person.
Self-control is controlling oneself when faced with temptations of lust, of power, of glory, temptations of fame, of greed, etc.
1John 2:16 sums it up this way,
“For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.” (NKJV)
All three are common to all people. Self-control is the only way to conquer the lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and pride of life. So how do we develop this spiritual fruit of self-control?
Let’s look at three examples of three men from the bible: David, Nehemiah and Jesus.
When David had a chance to avenge against his enemy, Saul, he exercised self-control. David’s men were all set to kill Saul and encouraged David to do so but 1 Samuel 24:7 says,
“So David restrained his men and did not let them kill Saul.” (NLT)
It is so tempting to pay back evil with evil, but self-control teaches us to instead, do the right thing in the eyes of God.
Nehemiah was sent to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem but was mocked by Sanballat and his friends,
“But when Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem the Arab heard of our plan, they scoffed contemptuously.” (Nehemiah 2:19, NLT)
Instead of retaliating Nehemiah kept his focus on the job he was assigned to do. Ignoring mockery and opposition takes a lot of self-control.
And then Jesus. Knowing that Jesus had been fasting for 40 days and therefore was hungry, Satan tempted Him to turn the stones into food – temptation of the flesh. From the highest point on the temple Satan asked Jesus to show off His power and jump so that the angels could catch Him – the pride of life / abuse of power. Then having shown Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and their beauty Satan says to Jesus, ‘It’s all yours if you bow down and worship me!’ This is the temptation of glory & fame possessing everything you ever wanted. All three temptations are so powerful that Jesus had to exercise self-control and rebutted every temptation of Satan with God’s Word – Jesus’ food!
So how do we have self-control?
I want us to meditate on the following scriptures:
1. Look after the temple of the Holy Spirit which is your body (1Corinthians 6:12-20).
2. Athletes go into rigorous training to attain their goal and so should we. God works in us, but we must work out our salvation with fear and trembling. We must be self-disciplined disciples of Jesus (1Corinthians 9:24-27)
3. We are in spiritual warfare so must always wear the armour of God (Ephesians 6:10-20):
a. Helmet of salvation to protect your mind – must daily memorise & mediate in God’s Word so you remember how Jesus saved you and equipped you for serving God.
b. Breast plate of righteousness – Jesus forgave all your sins (past, present, future sins) and gave you God’s righteousness! Righteousness is the right to stand before God and talk to Him about anything and everything – what a privilege!
c. Shield of faith – faith, not doubt, cancels out the mental accusations and words from Satan. Faith also enables you to bring what is in the spiritual into physical.
d. Belt of truth – The truth sets you free. The truth is a Person: Jesus. Make sure to rub shoulders with Jesus throughout your day. You won’t be misled when the Truth (Jesus) leads you.
e. Shoes of the Gospel of peace – they take you anywhere, any time to declare the power of God. You also carry God’s peace wherever you go!
f. Sword of the Spirit – this is the very Word of God that is living and active! Use it to destroy Satan’s lies.
To control yourself wear the full armour of God daily, 24/7.
4. Philippians 2:1-13 tells us about Jesus laying His life down for us all, even though He was God. He humbled and controlled Himself all the way to death upon the cross. Sacrifice. Likewise, self-control comes as we put others first. Let’s copy Jesus.
5. God has enabled us to live a godly life through His divine power in us by the Holy Spirit – 2 Peter 1:3-11. It is very important to depend on God’s power, the Holy Spirit. How?
6. We must put to death the ‘deeds’ of our bodies that go against God by the power of the Holy Spirit – Romans 8:13.
How do we have self-control?
We are not to obey what our stomachs say, what our eyes desire, and whatever our emotions feel like. No. We instead must deny the evil desires within us. (see James 1:13-15)
Most of our desires are covered by the nine fruit of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
We look for love, for joy, for peace, and so on in many different, wrong places. The nine fruit of the Holy Spirit belong to the Holy Spirit. We have self-control by praying, asking the Holy Spirit to give us His love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
In a nutshell, the more we let the Holy Spirit control us, the more we have self-control.