Endurance, Season 3, Episode 3, Self Control
Endurance is your weekly spiritual workout, whether you think of yourself as a beginner, an intermediate, or advanced!
Explore with us as we look at ‘Self-control’, and how we exercise it in our lives.
Go Deeper with Andy B, as he talks about self-control.
He touches on 2 Peter 1, Proverbs 25, and Matthew 7.
He explains the idea of supplementation, keeping in mind the words of 2 Peter 1:3-8, which talk about supplementing lots of godly traits with other godly traits, including self-control.
He also talks about road rage as a perfect example of a lack of self-control. When we get angry with others and start raging at other drivers, our witness is awful, and we fail to show others the righteousness of Christ through our actions.
The video Andy B referred to is “Andy B 2 Minute Video, Fruit, Dentists, Words and Actions, S4, E10“.
Read and Remember:
Steven explains the meaning of Proverbs 25:28 – how if we lack self-control we are vulnerable.
Reflect and Respond:
Nathan challenges us to make sure we exercise self-control, otherwise we let down our guard, and therefore become vulnerable to the attacks of the enemy.
Welcome to endurance.
Endurance is about the balance between physical training and training for godliness.
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This week we’re looking at, er, self control, er, which Andy will unpack for us after the break.
Even as a Christian, you are not the finished article. At no point have you finished training for godliness. It’s a lifetime’s work!
So, self control.
One of the first things you may think about with self control as at Christian is you might go straight to Galatians 5. You might go to the fruit of the spirit. And self control is part of the entirety of the fruit of the spirit.
And that’s definitely one of the things that self control is. But we want to look at it from a slightly different perspective.
Erm, it’s good. Go off and read Galatians 5. Go and read Galatians and see what self control is amongst all those other things of self control, and joy, and love, and goodness, and faithfulness. All that kind of stuff. It’s all great!
But we’re coming at it from a slightly different perspective.
I’ve got my Bible open to 2 Peter but I’m going to change what I’m doing. I’m going to go, straight away, to Proverbs chapter 25. Proverbs 25 verse 28.
"A man without self control is like a city broken into and left without walls."
Now, city walls aren’t, really, something that we in the West think much of anymore. You might go to Chester, or London, or, erm, Exeter, and you might see some old broken city walls. And it’s a tourist attraction. It’s something you can go and look at. ‘oh, isn’t it interesting!’.
City walls in the West don’t really mean much to us in terms of something physical as a barrier. You might think of city walls like The Great Wall of China. Not really a city wall, but still a wall.
But we have more localised city walls.
If you go into parts of Africa, where they’ve got lions, and they’ve got jackals, and you’re sleeping out in the Bush overnight, what you do is you create yourself a city wall. You get thorns all around you, and then the wild animals can’t get in and kill you.
City Walls can be quite useful, and that’s quite a good analogy.
Here in the West we don’t have city walls we have a nuclear deterrent. We have the army,. We have radar, which, we have an invisible city wall, and nothing is allowed to get past that without the military knowing about it. That’s kind of like our modern, erm, city wall.
Whenever the Russians send a plane, and it goes into an international waters and it’s approaching the UK, what happens? Well the Quick Reaction Alert guys and girls, they get the Typhoon off, they intercept the Russians, and they don’t let them into the British airspace. They monitor them while they’re close to us in international airspace.
It’s a bit like you perimeter security. You’d have your city walls. You’d have you look outs, but you’d have people around there as well. And that’s really the kind of perspective we’re looking at this morning, because we’re trying to think about how do we as Christians maintain who we are in Christ.
And one of the things that’s really, really important for us as Christians is our witness.
Now I’ve had my reputation attacked many times as a Christian. You should expect that to happen to you, because if you’re walking for Jesus, you should expect that people will attack you and try and destroy your name publicly for nefarious reasons.
And every time I’ve ever seen that, it’s nothing to do with me. It’s usually people insecurity. I’m just a nice easy target.
And that’s fine. It’s not very pleasant at the time, but they’ve got answer to God for that and I don’t.
My own issue is what am I doing? How’s my self control working? So they’re attacking my character? They’re attacking my reputation? Do I get angry and retaliate? Or do I remember what Scripture teaches, in 2 Peter, where it tells about how if you’re being attacked for being a Christian, then God, basically what it’s saying is, God is with you. Don’t worry about it.
But it’s not good to be attacked for being someone who isn’t a Christian. Or it’s not good for being attacked for something that is not for God or for the name of Jesus.
And every time I’ve had my, er, myself attacked by other people verbally, and mentally, in spoken word, or whatever, it’s always because of the gospel. Because they’re attacking Jesus Christ, not me!
And that’s why it’s important that we know that we’re not fighting against people, but we’re fighting against spiritual principalities.
Let’s get back into this 2 Peter, 1 verses 3 through 8.
"His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence. By which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world, because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue. And virtue with knowledge. And knowledge with self control. And self self control with steadfastness. And steadfastness with godliness. And godliness with brotherly affection. And brotherly affection, for, with love. For if these qualities are yours, and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful and the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."
And I want to go a little bit more into this fruitful part.
Erm, there’s an Andy B video we’ll link you to where I talk about pretty much some of this, and it comes from Matthew, chapter 7, verse 16 where it says this “You will recognise them by their fruits”. That’s the first half of Matthew 7 verse 16. Because as Christians we will be recognised by the fruit.
If you look at a tree and you say, well, that’s an apple tree, and somebody tells you it’s an apple tree, and it looks like an apple tree, but you never see any fruit, never see any apples, well you’re kind of going off someone’s word. And no matter how much you trust them, unless you see the fruit of the apple on that apple tree, how are you ever going to know that it actually is, definitely, 100 per cent, an Apple Tree?
Sure, you could take clippings off. You could get DNA. You could send it to a biologist and they might look at it.
But the simplest way of knowing the fruit, surely, is just to take an apple and eat it and say, yes, that’s an apple.
In one of our gardens, in a house in the past we had apple trees and they were cooking apples. Not very pleasant to eat. Very good in puddings, I’m told. I don’t like cooked apples.
Erm, but a friend of ours got an apple and he took a bite and spat it out, ‘yep that’s really a cooking apple’.
‘By the fruit will they be known’.
So we knew it was an apple, but when he bit into it, it wasn’t an eating apple, it was a cooking apple, a little teeny, tiny one.
And that’s the thing about the fruit!
It’s no good in saying I am a Christian. I am good. I am godly. I follow Jesus. I am a disciple of His, if every time you get in the car, and you’ve got I love Jesus on the back, and you need to be saved on the back, and you get in your car and you go through red lights, and you slam into people cars, and you don’t care, and your handbrake turn, you’re knocking over people.
If your witness, and what people see of you, is not one that looks godly, it’s gonna count.
And perception is important!
I’ve always said this. Perception beats reality. Not ‘should’ beat reality. But perception beats reality. Because people see, and they think, and that’s important.
It’s the reason why you shouldn’t be spending a night with your girlfriend. Well, OK, you might be really honest and sleep down on the settee downstairs. But if everyone’ seen you going into the house, they’re not gonna assume you’re sleeping on the settee.
Your witness is not what you try and make it to be. It’s what people actually observe of you, of your actions. And it’s the actions that’s the fruit.
The Bible also teaches us that the mouth is like the tiller, the rudder, of a ship. A tiny little thing, that can steer a great ship. And what we speak can steer who we are, and what people think of us.
When we’re thinking about self control, it’s our actions that count.
I love Jesus, and then we walk out, and we swear, and shout, knock somebody over ‘cos they’re in our way, and we show impatience. Or we knock.
How we come across to others is so important!
And if you’re gonna suffer for the gospel, God’s going to be with you.
But don’t suffer because you’re a fool. That’s not good!
Let’s just come back to this Proverbs 25 verse 28.
"A man without self control is a city, he's like a city, broken and left without walls."
If you want to protect your witness, then you need to have a wall around you.
Not defensive, that people can’t get to you and you’re not emotionally vulnerable.
Not that kind of wall!
It’s the kind of wall that has perimeter defences and radar. That has look outs upon it. That people are looking after you. That people are looking out for you. That you are accountable to other people. This is, part of how, we maintain those city walls, in terms of a spiritual, emotional sense.
And the supplement. I mean, this is important!
Erm, if, erm, you think about it a, a, when, when a woman’s got pregnant, one of the things they will quite frequently do is take Vitamin supplements.
When the baby’s been born, if it’s been a bit traumatic, they will supplement the blood with iron, which helps the blood to clot. It’s a supplement into the body.
Erm, other supplements.
Perhaps you take garlic to try and stave off a cold. Or you might take a paracetamol, as a supplement, to help you get rid of your headache.
There are all sorts of supplements. You supplement your body with food. If you didn’t, you would die.
Now, if you’ve ever watched The Muppets. But one of the characters I love is animal. Er, because he’s just great. And he’s all with the drums, and he’s all crazy and stuff.
And in one of the movies with animal he’s practising self control.
And it’s this really boring, he’s not himself.
And I think part of the message, that gets very confused about the Christian journey, is it’s a really boring, really dull journey. And actually, when we’re exercising self control, we restrain ourselves and anything fun and good, and fun is somehow seen as evil. And that’s not the Christian faith!
When you do know Jesus Christ, you know the Holy Spirit can be quite, perceptively He we can think of Him as quite mischievous. He seems to operate in a way that we don’t really comprehend.
And people will talk about, ‘well I was going through my life, and all of a sudden, this thing happened, and I’ve met Jesus’.
Well, that’s the Holy Spirit at work behind the scenes, almost mischievous. He’s not mischievous, ‘cos He’s God. He’s good.
But it can appear like that because He’s the Holy Spirit.
And he doesn’t operate as we have to operate.
But we need to consider our self control. And in that Muppet Movie, Animal is not himself, because he is exhibiting self control that is false. He is forcing him to self to be something he is not.
And you cannot force yourself to be somebody you’re not.
You can’t feel your way to something, and you can’t force yourself. You need to be you. But if you want to be you in Christ, then you need to put yourself in those city walls where you’re protected, where you are constantly being looked over, you are looking over others. We edify. We worship. We’re together. We’re accountable to one another, and that all helps our self control.
Why is self control important?
I have had some real stories of this. People who have not exercised self control. Road rage. Brilliant example. Somebody who gets out of their car, ‘oh how dare you stop in front of me? You made me swerve. I’m gonna get you!’.
And then the guy gets out of the other car. And he’s 10 foot taller than hi. And he’s really big. And all his mates get out the car, and all of a sudden that ridiculous, self control, bravado, has gone out the window. And you realise the guy’s got a dog collar on and really really he shouldn’t have been getting angry should he, because perception matters!
It’s not to say that vicars shouldn’t get angry, ‘cos they’re gonna get angry. Bit if we are gonna get angry, let’s get angry righteously.
When Jesus went into the temple and turned over the tables, here’s some’t for you to think about.
He didn’t just randomly pop in, and turn the temples over. He made a whip.
Now he didn’t get onto Amazon and, get, buy me a whip and it’ll be there in an hour.
Jesus actually took the time to make the whip Himself. Which He then went into the temple, and then He whipped people, and got the tables thrown over and purified the, the temple, in a very physical way at that point.
Jesus deliberately went out of his way to create something to do that.
He exercised self control, however, because Jesus is perfect! When we look at his example, what we see is righteous anger. And He was self controlled.
He could of, could have, destroyed everyone. They could all be dead. He could have shown in the presence of God the father, and they would all be killed by the purity of God.
But He exercised a lot of self control.
And it’s a really good example, and we forget, sometimes, that Jesus was man, and God, because what we think of Jesus for the most part is Him as a man. But as a man He exercised self control every day. Which means you and me can exercise self control every day too!
Self control is really important!
Perception is really, really important!
And if we exercise godly, self control, we’re able to be the very best versions of ourselves that we can be.
Erm, there was a an advert for Marriage Matters, which is some’t Jo and I are doing to celebrate, the, er, our 25th wedding anniversary. And one of the things that we’re really excited about is the fact that a godly, Christian marriage, a husband and wife, joined together before God, it’s an exciting journey. It’s never dull!
I look at 25 years nearly of marriage to my wife Jo and not one moment do I think, gosh it’s got really got dull and boring.
Every day is new and exciting! ‘Cos we’re trying to get closer to Jesus Christ.
And as we pursue Him, it’s amazing, and it’s really exciting. And the Christian faith is extremely exciting because we don’t know what tomorrow holds. God tells us not to plan for tomorrow.
I didn’t know, now I’m 44, I didn’t know when I was 20, erm what was gonna happen in the last 25 years. But do you know what? It’s been great!
I don’t regret anything that we’ve had to go through. Because it’s drawn as closer together as a couple. It’s drawn as closer with our children. And it’s drawn us closer to God.
Self control. What’s that got to do with self control? Well, in marriage you exercise self control all the time. In school you should be exercising self control all of the time. When you’re in your car you should be exercising self control. Self control is something we all need to exhibit all of the time.
And here’s a thing, I love this. You’ll see this in Romans chapter 5. Go read the first few verses of that as well. But there’s a sort of a formula. I say that very loosely.
But it kind of tells us how we get towards love.
“for this very reason make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue. Virtue with knowledge. And knowledge with self control.”
We understand scripture and self control comes along.
“And self control with steadfastness. And steadfastness with godlines. And godliness with brotherly affection. And brotherly affection with love.”
Self control’s really important. It’s a part of the fruit of the spirit. Go read Galatians 5. It will help you. It’s important!
Self control, at one level, is part of the fruit of the spirit. And that is the spontaneous outpouring of your ongoing relationship with Jesus Christ.
If you watch somebody who doesn’t know Jesus, come to faith one Sunday morning. And you see the person that walks in the church, and they come to faith, and they finally surrender themselves to Jesus Christ, make Him their Lord and Saviour. When that person walks out that church, they should be different.
However, we are all a work in progress. A week later they should be transformed even further. A month, transformed more. And a year they should be completely transformed. Almost as if you wouldn’t recognise who they were.
That is the Christian faith. And that comes with self control.
So let’s exercise self control.
Let’s practise self control.
Let’s be aware, and conscious, that how we appear to other people is really really important, because we can draw them towards Christ, or we can draw them away.
CS Lewis said this about shining.
‘That we should shine. Not so that people see us or drawn to us, but we should shine, in order that through us, people are lead towards Jesus’.
We’re supposed to reflect Jesus Christ and self control is a really critical key of that.
If we don’t exercise self control, we will exhibit anger. We will, not righteous anger, we’ll exhibit anger. And all sorts of evil things that we do that are not of God.
So let’s show people Christ.
Let’s shine Christ out of our lives into the people around us. And self control isn’t a way of suppressing us. But it’s actually a way of opening ourselves, to let God’s love shine out through us more, to shine His love, in order that people can be drawn to Him.
So let’s exercise self control.
Let’s get closer to Jesus.
The key scripture is, erm, ‘a person without self control is like a city with, er, broken down walls’.
Basically, that’s like saying but without self control we’re vulnerable. Erm, and I think that’s the key thing to remember. Without self control we’re vulnerable.
Self control. While it’s not simply that we restrain ourselves from engaging in any form of pleasure, it’s more that we make sure we keep our guard up against the enemy, and to do that we need to keep in step with the Spirit.
Because of course self control is a fruit of the spirit, which we won’t produce if we’re not in step with the Spirit, if we’re not right with God.
So we need to make sure we keep in step with the Spirit, so we maintain self control, so that our defence systems are kept up 24/7.
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