by Kevin Burton
Self-control is the final Gift of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23. It is potentially the most confusing.
This is the ninth and final part of our series.
Self-control is an easy enough concept, but the self part could throw us off. The power is not in self. It comes from submitting our will to God’s will.
“Temperance (as used in the King James Version), better translated as self-control, presents as an inward spiritual virtue exhibited outwardly through restraining or controlling one’s total being (thoughts, speech, actions),” writes Randy DeVaul on christianity.com.
“It requires balancing our God-given free will between doing what we may want to do in our old sinful nature with doing what is right through choosing to allow the Holy Spirit to be in control (Romans 7:21-25.)
“As a characteristic of the fruit of the Spirit, self-control is allowing the Holy Spirit to guide you so that you do not sin.”
“A person who exercises self-control is one who works in moderation, not excess. Such a person does not exhibit extreme behavior or emotional swings (1 Tim. 3:3) but is able to maintain self-control,” DeVaul writes. “As the Holy Spirit grows His fruit in the believer’s life, there should never be excessive or extreme actions of any kind.”
“Accompanied by the believer’s free will to choose to allow the Spirit to lead and to want to be obedient to Christ (Romans 13:14), we learn that a believer can act Christ-like, regardless of circumstances,” DeVaul writes.
“The Apostle Paul relates exercising self-control to conditioning the body. Paul states that he exercises self-control through disciplining and training his body to live right before God so that he will not be disqualified from preaching the gospel (1 Cor. 9:27). He then instructs Titus to continue training under God to renounce ungodliness and live godly lives (Titus 2: 11-13).
“An athlete trains and exercises self-control over harmful wants and desires to win a corruptible prize,” DeVaul writes. “As the believer’s prize or reward is incorruptible, how much more should he or she want to also practice discipline and self-control to win God’s race (1 Cor. 9:25).
“Paul warns the Galatian believers about having run a good race but then stumbling (Gal. 5:7). The writer of Hebrews encourages believers to continue running by choosing to exercise self-control and throw off every weight that could hinder us (Heb. 12:1).
“When Paul exhorts believers to run the race and run the course that is set in front of them, it is through self-control that believers persevere and endure the pain of conditioning and the pain of continuing to run so that, like Paul, they can finish the course (Acts 20:24; 2 Tim. 4:7).
“James tells us that doing so will reap God’s rewards (James 1:12) for enduring and remaining faithful. That is reinforced by John in the letter to the church at Ephesus (Rev. 2:7), that those who endure will eat from the Tree of Life,” DeVaul writes.
“The warring between our sin nature (our flesh) and that of our new nature (our spirit) requires constant attention. But God provides victory for us, as He makes us more than conquerors (Romans 8:37).
“What can believers do to be victorious with the help of the Holy Spirit? God will provide the ways and the tools for us to be successful, but we must put them to use,” DeVaul writes.
“Paul says we are to renew our minds daily (Romans 12:2). How we do that is through maintaining our gaze or focus on Christ and growing the fruit of the Spirit by remaining filled and controlled by Him.”
“The fruit of the Spirit is planted as a seed in every person who comes to a saving faith in Jesus Christ. The purpose is to glorify God and make us more like Jesus so that, when He returns to gather his Bride, we are ready to be presented to God the Father in the image of His Son,” DeVaul writes.
“Allowing the fruit of the Spirit to grow brings us to a closer relationship with Jesus and closer to pure worship of God the Father as the Holy Spirit fulfills His role to perfect or complete us to bring and point all glory to God.”