Self-control is necessary because we are called to run for a prize that lasts forever. We need to control our bodies now so that we are not disqualified later. Our actions now impact upon eternity.
Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit and evidence of His presence in our lives. An interesting thing to note is that all the fruits of the Spirit are listed elsewhere in the bible as characteristics of God, with the exception of self-control. God is full of joy and peace. He is patient, kind and good. He is faithful and gentle. Only the word for self-control is not used anywhere in the bible with reference to God. This is because God does not need to exercise self-control – he is in total control! We should also note that all the other fruits of the Spirit are things we experience together – we love together, we know joy together, we are kind to each other, we are gentle with each other… In contrast, self-control is something we do by ourselves – it is self-control and it is something that God expects us to exercise.
Self-control is given to us as a gift to help us overcome our natural weaknesses and serve God as we should. Self-control is needed if we are not to fall into sin and bring shame upon the name of Jesus. In 2 Peter 1:9 the Apostle writes that if we do not have self-control we will be unproductive and ineffective; we are short-sighted and blind and have forgotten that we have been cleansed from our past sins.
So the conclusion we have to draw from the bible’s teaching on self-control is that it is a very significant thing. It is central to the gospel message. It is a necessary requirement of Christian leadership. Without it we can miss out on eternal rewards. This should make us sit up and take notice. Self-control is not about legalism; not about punishing ourselves. Instead it is about freedom, freedom to live a self-controlled life in order to enjoy greater pleasures forevermore.
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