"Controlling The Self"

“CONTROLLING THE SELF” (2 Pet. 1:5-8)

INTRODUCTION

1. As people seek to grow in the knowledge of Jesus Christ

    (2 Pe 1:5-8)...

    a. They begin with the foundation of faith:

        1) A strong conviction and trust

        2) In both God and Jesus Christ

    b. To which they add the quality of virtue:

        1) A desire for excellence

        2) Striving to become all that Jesus desires of them

    c. All the while increasing in knowledge:

        1) Gaining awareness and understanding through study and

             experience

        2) Especially regarding the will of God and the way of salvation

2. As knowledge increases, they are to add self-control (temperance,

    KJV); which makes sense...

    a. What good is it to grow in knowledge of good and evil...

    b. ...if we do not have the ability to make proper use of such

        knowledge?

3. As we continue our lessons on “A Closer Walk with God” let us to  

    look closer at adding this characteristic of “self control” to our lives

    because it vital to our being able to walk more closely with God. But  

    what exactly is self-control, and how do we add it to our lives?

    Let's take a closer look at self-control...

DISCUSSION

I. THE DEFINITION OF SELF-CONTROL

A. THE GREEK WORD IS ENKRATEIA...

     1. From the word kratos, meaning "strength"

     2. As defined by various scholars:

         a. "one holding himself in" (Robertson)

         b. "the virtue of one who masters his desires and passion,

             especially his sensual appetites" (Thayer)

         c. "Where this virtue subsists (abides), temptation can have

              little influence" (MacKnight)

B. AS FOUND IN THE NT...

     1. Ac 24:25 - "the word follows 'righteousness', which represents

         God's claims, self-control being man's response thereto" (Vine)

     2. Ga 5:23 - it is an element of that fruit born by one who is

         walking by the Spirit

     3. Tit 1:8 - required of one who would serve as an elder

     4. 2Pe 1:6 - "it follows 'knowledge', suggesting that what is

         learned requires to be put into practice" (Vine)

[Self-control is therefore the discipline of one's self so as to live in

harmony with the knowledge of right and wrong that one has.  The

importance of self-control is seen as we consider...]

II. THE DEMAND FOR SELF-CONTROL

A. REQUIRED TO BE CHRIST'S DISCIPLE...

     1. Denial of self necessary to follow Jesus - Lk 9:23

     2. It is an important element of what God's grace teaches us - Ti

         2:11-12

      -- One cannot be a disciple of Jesus without exercising self-

         control!

B. REQUIRED TO PREVENT APOSTASY...

     1. Paul realized the need to keep his body under control - 1Co 9:27

     2. Peter's condemnation of false teachers included their becoming

         enslaved again to the corruption that is in the world - cf.

         2Pe 2:19-20

      -- Just as an athlete must exercise self-control to win the race,

         so we must have self-control if we desire to obtain an

         imperishable crown - cf. 1Co 9:24-25

[Yet most would agree that controlling the self is easier said than

done.  Let's take a look at both the problem and the solution

regarding...]

III. THE DEVELOPMENT OF SELF-CONTROL

A. THE PROBLEM OF SELF-CONTROL...

     1. The challenge of controlling the self is seen throughout the

         scriptures

         a. It is easier to capture a city than to control the spirit!

             - Pr 16:32

         b. The tongue is just one example of how hard self-control can

              be - Jm 1:26; 3:2-10

     2. This challenge is faced by all men

         a. By those outside of Christ (illustrated in Paul's own life)

             1) His dilemma as one who tried to follow the Law of Moses

                 - Ro 7:14

                 a) He does that which he knows is wrong - Ro 7:15-17

                 b) He fails to do that which he knows is right - Ro 7:

                      18-19

             2) He was imprisoned by his own body! - Ro 7:22-24

                  a) He couldn't control self

                  b) Self controlled him!

         b. Even for those in Christ

             1) The battle rages on

                  a) There is a conflict between the Spirit and our flesh

                      - Ga 5:16-17

                  b) There is a war that wages between the flesh and the

                      soul - 1Pe 2:11

             2) Yet there is hope!

                 a) Hope in Christ, as Paul intimates - Ro 7:24-25

                 b) We are no longer indebted to live after the flesh

                     - Ro 8:12

                 c) Those in Christ have crucified the flesh - Ga 5:24

      -- The problem is real, yet the solution comes as we "crucify"  

          the flesh

B. THE SOLUTION FOR SELF-CONTROL...

     1. It begins in baptism

         a. In baptism, our body of sin is put to death as we are buried

             into the death of Christ - Ro 6:3-6

        b. As we rise from baptism, we are now free to live for God

            - Ro 6:7,12-13

        c. Not that we are no longer tempted, but are free from the

            dominion (rule) of sin - cf. Ro 6:14

        d. Note the contrast between one outside of Christ, and one in

            Christ:

            1) Outside of Christ - cf. Ro 7:23-24

            2) In Christ - cf. Ro 8:12; 6:14

         -- In baptism we are set free from the dominion of sin; the

            battle may not be over, but now it can be won!

     2. It continues as we are led by the Spirit

         a. Without the Spirit's help, we will die spiritually - Ro 8:

             12-13

         b. Walking in the Spirit, we will not succumb to the lust of

             the flesh - Ga 5:16-18

         c. How does the Spirit lead us?

             1) When we set our mind on the things of the Spirit- cf. Ro 8:5

             2) The "things of the Spirit" include that truth He was sent

                 to reveal - Jn 16:13

         -- The degree to which we set our minds on what the Spirit

             has revealed (i.e., the Word of God), to that degree we are

             led by the Spirit!

     3. It continues as we are empowered by the Spirit

         a. We can do whatever God wills with His help - Php 4:13; 2:

             12-13

         b. The Spirit is His agent by which He empowers us - cf. Ep 3:

             16,21

         c. How does the Spirit empower us?

             1) Certainly the Word helps, as it is the sword of the

                 Spirit - cf. Ep 6:17

             2) Prayer also, as Paul prayed for the Ephesians - cf. Ep 3:16

         -- What is important is not how the Spirit empowers, but that

             He does, and that we seek His strength through the Word

             and prayer!

[By crucifying the flesh through our union with Christ in baptism, and

then Spirit-led and Spirit-empowered, self-control will be a natural

fruit born by the Christian, Ga 5:22-23).  Finally, some thoughts in

regards to...]

IV. THE DISPLAY OF SELF-CONTROL

A. THE PROPER EXERCISE OF SELF-CONTROL...

     1. We are to bring the body under subjection - cf. 1Co 9:27

     2. We are to deny ourselves ungodliness and worldly lusts - cf. Ti

          2:11-12; 2Ti 2:22

     3. We are not to be in bondage to anything, even that which lawful

         - cf. 1Co 6:12

     4. We should be willing to deny self in service to others

         a. Denying one's pride - cf. Php 2:3-4

         b. Denying one's liberty to help the weak - cf. 1Co 8:9-13;

             Ro 14:14-21

      -- Controlling the self means not only the body, but also the

          ego!

B. THE IMPROPER EXERCISE OF SELF-CONTROL...

     1. Paul warned against the wrong kind of self-control - Col 2:20-23

         a. Restrictions based upon human traditions

         b. Limitations that neglect the body

         -- Such might appear wise, but really don't limit the

            indulgence of the flesh

     2. Paul foretold that this would be a sign of a general apostasy

         - 1Ti 4:1-5

         a. Not allowing marriage

         b. Not eating certain meats

         -- Such might appear spiritual, but is contrary to the truth

CONCLUSION

1. In order for us to have “A Closer Walk with God” we must develop

    “self-control” in our lives. Controlling the self is a natural

    component to growing in the knowledge of Jesus (2 Pet. 1:5-8)...

    a. As faith without works is dead, so faith without self-control is

        meaningless

    b. Striving for excellence (virtue) is not possible without the

        discipline of self-control

    c. Increasing in knowledge is nothing but an academic exercise,

        unless we are able to apply that knowledge by exercising self-

        control

2. As we seek to develop self-control in our lives...

    a. Remember the promise of our baptism (a new life free from sin's

        dominion!)

    b. Walk after the Spirit (by setting your mind on the things of the

        Spirit)

    c. Be empowered by the Spirit through the Word of God and prayer

3. Be careful to properly channel what self-control is developed...

    a. Not to follow human traditions, nor to seek the praise of men

    b. But to humbly pursue godliness, and serve our fellow man

3. In this way we develop that Christ-like character, coming to truly

    Know Him who through self-control offered Himself in service to

    His Father and for sinners.

Are You A Disciple of Jesus?

ARE YOU A DISCIPLE OF JESUS?” (Matt. 28:19-20)

INTRODUCTION

1. Matt. 28:19-20. This statement was made by Jesus to His apostles

    shortly before He ascended to heaven

2. Commonly called "The Great Commission," notice the main

    thought of Jesus' command...

    a. "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations..."

    b. To "make disciples," therefore, is the GOAL of evangelizing the

        world for Christ

3. Are you a disciple of Jesus?

    a. More than likely you believe in Jesus...

    b. You might even be one to attend church services regularly

         -- But is that what it means to be His disciple?

4. This is the first of a series of lessons entitled “A Closer Walk With

    God” on Sunday which I will be having on the 1st and 3rd Sunday

    evenings of each month. The purpose in this study is to make clear

    what is involved in being a true disciple of Jesus Christ. To begin,

    let's define the word "disciple"...

DISCUSSION

I. THE DEFINITION OF A DISCIPLE

A. THE WORD "DISCIPLE"...

     1. The word "disciple" literally means A LEARNER

     2. According to Vine's Expository Dictionary Of New Testament

         Words, it denotes "one who follows another's teaching"

     3. But a disciple was not only a learner, he was also AN

         ADHERENT

     4. For this reason disciples were spoken of as IMITATORS of their

         teachers.

B. THE GOAL IN BEING A DISCIPLE...

     1. Stated by Jesus himself:  to be like the teacher - Lk 6:40

     2. To be Christ's disciple, then, is to strive to be like Him!

     3. According to the apostle Paul, this coincides with God's goal

         in the redemption of mankind, that they be conformed to the

         image of His Son - Ro 8:29

-Do you have a strong desire to follow Jesus and become like Him?

 Unless you do, it cannot be said that you are truly His disciple! There

 are also some "identifying marks" of discipleship given by Jesus

 which can help us to further identify a true disciple of Jesus...

II. THE MARKS OF A DISCIPLE

A. A DISCIPLE IS "ONE WHO ABIDES IN JESUS' WORDS" -

     Jn 8:31

     1. This would imply being a diligent student of the teachings of

         Christ

     2. It also requires one to be a "doer" of the Word - Mt 7:21-27;

         Jm 1:21-25

     3. In view of this, a true disciple would not...

         a. Fail to study the Bible diligently

         b. Willingly refrain from opportunities to study with others

            (e.g., Bible classes, church services, gospel meetings).

B. A DISCIPLE IS ALSO "ONE WHO LOVES THE

     BRETHREN" - Jn 13:34-35

     1. With a love patterned after the love of Jesus ("as I have

         loved you")

     2. With a love that is visible to the world ("by this all will

         know")

     3. Therefore, a true disciple would...

         a. Make every effort to get to know his brethren

         b. Take advantage of occasions to encourage and grow closer to

             them (e.g., attending services on Sunday and Wednesday

             nights)

     4. Remember, a disciple is one who wants to become like his

         teacher

         a. Was Jesus willing to sacrifice time and effort for His

             brethren?

         b. Of course, and so will we... IF we are truly HIS disciples!

C. A DISCIPLE IS "ONE WHO BEARS MUCH FRUIT"

     - Jn   15:8

     1. Notice the word "much" (also found in verse 5)

         a. Jesus is not talking about an occasional good deed

         b. But a lifestyle which prompts people to glorify God!   

           - Mt 5:16

      2. This is so important, that failure to bear much fruit will

           result in being severed from Christ - Jn 15:1-2

      3. How can one be a disciple if he or she is cut off from Christ?

-The point should be clear: to be a disciple of Jesus Christ means

 more that just a casual church member.  It requires COMMITMENT,

 especially in regards to: (1) The teachings of Christ (2) The love of    

 brethren, and (3) Bearing fruit to the glory of God

The kind of commitment involved is seen further when we consider the "high cost" of discipleship demanded by Jesus in Lk 14:25-33...

III. THE COST OF BEING A DISCIPLE

A. JESUS MUST COME FIRST - Lk 14:26

     1. Before anyone else, including members of our own family

         - Mt 10:34-37

     2. Even before one's own self - Lk 9:23-25

B. WE MUST BE WILLING TO SUFFER FOR CHRIST

     - Lk 14:27

     1. Trying to live godly lives in an ungodly world, we may find

         that following Christ sometimes involves ridicule and

         persecution - 2Ti 3:12

     2. Even if we are blessed to escape such things, we must still be

         willing to expend time and effort in promoting the cause of

         Christ in positive ways

C. PUTTING IT SIMPLY, WE MUST FORSAKE ALL TO

     FOLLOW CHRIST - Lk 14:33

     1. In other words, Jesus must be KING and LORD of our lives

     2. Nothing can take precedent over Him and His Will for us

-This kind of "high cost" of discipleship demanded by Jesus caused

 many people to turn away from following Him.  But Jesus wasn't

 trying to attract large crowds, He wanted disciples!

- Is the COST worth it?  I believe so, for consider some of the  

  REWARDS of discipleship...

IV. THE REWARDS OF BEING A DISCIPLE

A. THERE IS THE PROMISE OF "FUTURE BLESSINGS"...

     1. We shall be saved from the wrath of God which is yet to come

         upon the world for its sins - Ro 5:9

     2. We can look forward with joyful anticipation of eternity with

         God, free from sorrow, pain and death - Re 21:1-8

B. THERE ARE ALSO "PRESENT BLESSINGS"...

     1. Jesus offers a PEACE the world cannot give to calm the

         troubled heart - Jn 14:27

     2. His words inspire JOY to lift our spirits out of any

         depression - Jn 15:11

     3. He also offers to those who follow Him the ABIDING LOVE OF

         GOD, which can cast out fear - Jn 15:9; 1Jn 4:18

     4. And he makes it possible for us to be members of THE FAMILY

         OF GOD, which is able if need be to replace our physical family

         - Mk 10:28-30

- There are many other blessings we could mention that are enjoyed by

  disciples of Jesus; but these suffice to demonstrate that though

  discipleship is costly, the rewards far exceed the cost!

- Now that we understand the nature of discipleship, its cost and

  rewards, I hope that we want to be true disciples of Jesus Christ. 

  But how does one begin? For the answer we return to our beginning   

  text - Mt 28:19-20...

V. THE BEGINNING OF A DISCIPLE

A. ACCORDING TO JESUS, IT INVOLVES BAPTISM

     - Mt 28:19

     1. Why baptism?

         a. Remember the goal of discipleship:  to be like Jesus

         b. He was holy and sinless, yet we are to be like Him

         c. Fortunately, baptism is described as an act of faith which

             puts us in contact with the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ

             so we can be forgiven - Ac 2:38; 22:16; Ro 6:3-4

        d. It is also the means by which one "puts on Christ"

            - Ga 3:27

            -- SO BAPTISM IS THE LOGICAL STARTING PLACE

             FOR TRUE DISCIPLESHIP!

     2. But what is baptism?

         a. It is an act of submission which must be preceded by faith

             in Jesus and repentance for our sins - Ac 2:36-38; 8:36-37

             1) This precludes infant baptism

             2) For infants are incapable of believing and repenting

         b. It is also an act of submission which involves a burial in

             water, in which one then rises to walk in newness of life

             through the power of God - Ac 8:38; Ro 6:3-4; Col 2:12

             1) This precludes sprinkling or pouring as a mode of

                  baptism

             2) For neither of these involve a "burial" nor an immersion

                 (which is the meaning of the Greek word "baptidzo")

         c. When done according to the Word of God, baptism then

             becomes an act of faith on our part which results in a

             wonderful working of God in our lives!

             1) Our sins are washed away by the blood of Jesus

                  - Ac 22:16; Ep 5:25-27

             2) We are "regenerated" and "renewed" by the Spirit of God

                  so we can now live for God! - Tit 3:5-6

             3) It is truly a "rebirth" involving both water and the

                 Spirit - Jn 3:5

B. BUT BAPTISM IS ONLY THE BEGINNING, TEACHING

     AND OBEDIENCE MUST FOLLOW - Mt 28:20

     1. This brings us back to the very definition of discipleship

     2. For Jesus clearly states:

         a. We are to be TAUGHT (that is, to be LEARNERS)

         b. We are to OBSERVE (that is, to be ADHERENTS or

             DOERS)

     3. In this way we embark on a life devoted to learning and doing

         all that Jesus has commanded us to do

CONCLUSION

1. Only those scripturally baptized and demonstrating the "marks" of

    discipleship, despite the "costs," can truly be called disciples of

    Jesus!

2. Only they can realistically look forward to the "rewards" of

   discipleship, and take consolation in the promise of Jesus:

     "and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age"

                                                     - Mt 28:20

3. If you are a disciple of Jesus Christ, then the prospects of "A  

    Closer Walk With God" and more fruitful service as a disciple

    should be of great interest to you.  I hope the lessons to follow will

    help fulfill that interest.