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                       "THE FLESH AND THE SPIRIT"

                 The Fruit Of The Spirit - Self-control

INTRODUCTION

1. Finally we come to the last virtue listed by Paul that is found in a
   person one who is walking in the Spirit, thereby producing the fruit
   of the Spirit:  "self-control" ("temperance", KJV)

2. In some ways, one might consider this virtue the most important...
   a. For without self-control, the "works of the flesh" cannot be
      overcome
   b. For without self-control, the other elements of the "fruit of the
      Spirit" will not be evident

3. But what exactly is "self-control"?  And how can one develop this
   virtue?

[These are questions I will attempt to answer in this final study in
this series on "The Flesh And The Spirit"...]

I. DEFINING SELF-CONTROL

   A. THE GREEK WORD IS  "EGKRATEIA" {eng-krat'-i-ah}
      1. It comes from the word "kratos" (strength), and means "one 
         holding himself in" (ROBERTSON)
      2. THAYER defines it as:  "the virtue of one who masters his
         desires and passions, especially his sensual appetites"
      3. MACKNIGHT adds the thought:  "Where this virtue subsists,
         temptation can have little influence."
      -- Immediately, then, we can see why this virtue is so necessary
         in overcoming the "works of the flesh" (such as fornication 
         and outbursts of wrath, Ga 5:19,20)

   B. IT IS FOUND ONLY THREE TIMES IN THE NEW TESTAMENT...
      1. Once in Ac 24:25
         a. Where it is included along with "righteousness" and
            "judgment"
         b. "the word follows 'righteousness', which represents God's
            claims; therefore, self-control is to be man's response to
            such claims" (VINE)
      2. Once in Ga 5:23, where we see it is evidence of one walking
         in the Spirit, and being led by the Spirit
      3. And in 2Pe 1:6
         a. Here we learn that it is to be added to "knowledge"
         b. "it follows 'knowledge', suggesting that what is learned
            requires to be put into practice" (VINE)

[Self-control, then, is being in control of one's self; in the context
of the Scriptures, the control of self so as to be in harmony with the
will of God.

But it is a whole lot easier to define than it is to develop...]

II. DEVELOPING SELF-CONTROL

   A. THE SCRIPTURES DESCRIBE THE DIFFICULTY OF SELF-CONTROL...
      1. The wisdom of Solomon declared it is easier to capture a city
         than to be in control of our spirit - Pr 16:32; cf. 25:28
      2. Just controlling the tongue, is a difficult challenge...
         a. Failure to bridle the tongue renders our religion useless 
            - Jm 1:26
         b. It is easier to tame wild animals! - Jm 3:7-10

   B. HOWEVER, IN CHRIST THERE IS STRENGTH TO CONTROL SELF...
      1. Consider the dilemma described by Paul in Ro 7:14-24
         a. A dilemma experienced by one trying to do the will of God
            outside of Christ, having only the Law
         b. A dilemma that leads to...
            1) The inability to perform as one wishes, despite the will
               to do - Ro 7:18
            2) The state of captivity to the law of sin - Ro 7:23
            3) The condition of despair - Ro 7:24
         c. However, in Ro 7:25 we see a glimpse of hope, a hint of
            the answer to this dilemma (i.e., Jesus Christ!)
      2. The answer is stated very clearly in our text - cf. Ga 5:24
         a. "...those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with
            its passions and desires"
            1) This does not deny the fact there is still a battle 
               going on - cf. Ga 5:17
            2) But those in Christ have undergone a fundamental change
            3) In a way difficult to comprehend, they have "crucified
               the flesh" - Ga 5:24
         b. This took place when they were united with Christ in His
            death, in baptism...
            1) In baptism, our body of sin is put to death, crucified
               with Christ - Ro 6:3-6
            2) When we are raised from that watery grave, we rise to 
               walk in newness of life, free to live for God! - Ro 6:7,
               12-13
         c. This does not mean we are no longer tempted to sin, but in
            some significant way we are free from the "dominion" 
            (absolute rule) of sin! - cf. Ro 6:14
      3. For those in Christ, there is added strength as they "walk
         according to the Spirit"!
         a. Yes, we enjoy freedom from the "condemnation" of sin - cf.
            Ro 8:1
         b. But there is more, freedom also from the "power" of sin,
            freedom from "the law (principle) of sin and death" - Ro
            8:2
            1) The "law (principle) of the Spirit of life in Christ"
               provides this freedom!
            2) The context suggests that this refers to the aid of the
               Spirit to help us overcome the "deeds of the body" - cf.
               Ro 8:11-14; Ep 3:16,20
         c. Isn't this what Paul was talking about in Ga 5:16-18,25?
            1) If you walk in the Spirit, putting to death the deeds of
               the body by the help of the Spirit, will you not defeat
               the lust of the flesh?
            2) Since you have been made alive in the Spirit (cf. Jn 
               3:5; Tit 3:5), should you not also walk in the Spirit
               (that is, utilize the help that is there)?

   C. WHAT THEN IS OUR RESPONSIBILITY?
      1. First, trust in God's Word, that by His grace...
         a. Our old man of sin was indeed crucified with Christ in our
            baptism - Ro 6:6
         b. We did indeed crucify the flesh with its passions and 
            desires - Ga 5:24
         c. That God can indeed strengthen us by His Spirit in the 
            inner man - Ep 3:16
         d. That with God's help we can do all things according to His
            will - Php 4:13
      2. And then, with such faith, continue the process begun in our
         baptism...
         a. Put to death the deeds of the body - Ro 8:13
         b. Put to death our members here on the earth - Col 3:5,8-9
         c. Put ON the new man...
            1) A process which also began in baptism, when we put on
               Christ - Ga 3:27
            2) A process which continues as we grow daily - cf. Col 3:
               10-14
         d. Work as though it all depended upon you - Php 2:12
         e. But remember that you are not alone, that God is at work in
            you too!- Php 2:13

CONCLUSION

1. As one cooperates with God in the doing of His Will, self-control
   will be a natural by-product (i.e., evidence that one is walking in
   the Spirit)

2. We cannot overestimate the importance of developing "self-control"
   in our lives...
   a. Without it, we cannot defeat the temptations that come our way
   b. Without it, we cannot overcome the works of the flesh 
   c. Without it, we cannot grow as we should in Christ
   d. Without it, we cannot bear the fruit of the Spirit!

3. Yet in Christ we have every reason, every motivation, to develop the
   virtue of "self-control"
   a. We have been set free from the dominion of sin
   b. We have the aid of God through His indwelling Spirit
   c. We even have the assurance of forgiveness when we fall (1Jn 
      1:9), knowing that as long as we are willing to repent and try
      again, there is help from God!
   -- The key question is, "Do we trust the Lord to help us, enough so
      to walk by faith and do His Will?"

This brings to an end our study on "The Flesh And The Spirit".  I hope
that in some small way I have encouraged you to "walk in the Spirit",
and NOT to "fulfill the lust of the flesh".   The over-riding reason
for doing so is found in Paul's own words:

  "If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit" (Ga 5:25)

In truth, by the "washing of regeneration and renewing of the Spirit"
(Tit 3:5) God saved us and caused us to be "born again of the water and
the Spirit" (Jn 3:5).  Since in our baptism God has made us alive by
the Spirit of God, shouldn't we seek to walk in such a way so as to
produce the fruit of the Spirit in our lives?
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