Jesus left us an example
This Sunday’s sermon continued our theme on the qualities Peter says every Christian should have. Rather than going through one a week, we are going through one over several weeks. Right now we are looking at self control, a topic that I have to admit is one I need and sometimes more than others.
The basis for even talking about self control is found within ourselves. We all have feelings, desires, wants, and needs which we wish to fulfill. The thing is, not every option to fulfilling those desires and needs is either appropriate, wise, or godly. The 3-year-old who throws a temper tantrum in the store over a candy bar is trying to fulfill a want but not in a good way. To control oneself though is to recognize that there is a reason for doing so and it comes down to the heart of Christian living.
While we have added virtue to our lives (the determination to do right) and knowledge (the understanding of what IS right), Peter now wants us to add to our knowledge, self control (based on what we know we now will control ourselves for a benefit). (2 peter 1:5-7) In many ways, this quality of self control is what we get to when we ask the question “What Would Jesus Do?” Because what ever the answer, it is implied that that is the best thing to do and, if our first inclination was different, we will change (control ourselves) to now DO what Jesus would.
Self control is absolutely part of the Christian Life. Those who want to live godly lives will exercise self control.
Luke 9:23 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.
The ideas behind denial of self, taking up your cross and following Him all involve self control. Whereas many people are content to have a “little Jesus” in their life and let Jesus follow you where you go, it is different when you follow Jesus where He goes.
Cain was told that if he did well he would be accepted but he choose to do wrong instead and Able was killed. James says that the one who boasts of being righteous but does not bridle his tongue is deceiving himself. It does not involve just the hearing of what to do but it involves the doing of it.
There is, of course, a self control that is ineffective. That is, when we exercise self control for either the wrong reasons or purpose.Paul asked the Colossians why they submitted to regulations of the Jewish system. These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh. The Pharisees also exercised self control, they tithed of the smallest of herbs, they cast their money into the temple treasury, they spent time on street corners praying, they fasted often (two or three times a week) and all of that control they used was for naught (Matt 6:1-9) because they did it to be seen of men. (If you question the idea of praying as an act of self control, ask yourself if you are able to spend 30 minutes in prayer without wanting to get up and do ‘other things’)
Ineffective and unprofitable self control is rooted in the opposite of what we see asked of us in Philippians 2:3
Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.
In looking at proper motives for self control, it is not so much in finding out the “what” to control but in finding out the “why” to control. We may exercise self control for the sake of a weak brother (I cor 8) or we may do so simply because it is better for another brother (Philp. 2:1-ff) but Paul’s words tell us a good reason to exercise self control.
2Ti 2:4 No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.
We exercise Self control in order to please God. This is what Jesus did. He exercised tremendous self control in order to please God and for our benefit. Consider what self control our Savior used in order to wash the feet of Judas (John 13) or to not show anger as Judas came to betray him with a kiss (Luke 22:48). Consider the self control when he could have called 12 legions of angels to protect him (Mt 26:53) or to not answer the trumped up charges (Mt 27:14)
Truly Peter was correct when he said:
For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: “WHO COMMITTED NO SIN, NOR WAS DECEIT FOUND IN HIS MOUTH”; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; (1Pe 2:19-23)
The sermon can be heard here