- By Rev. Devadosan Sugirtharaj
- Posted 08/23/2020
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Fruit of the Spirit
Reclaiming Your Self-Control
1 Corinthians 9:22-27
Rev Dr Devadosan Sugirtharaj
- Self-control is the ninth character of the fruit of the Spirit. Self-control is given to us by God. Self-control is a natural outcome of living with God and of the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.
- Self-control is the natural outcome of spending time with God. It is one of the characteristics of God’s Spirit to us: 2 Timothy 1:7: 7 God’s Spirit[a] doesn’t make cowards out of us. The Spirit gives us power, love, and self-control.(CEV)
- It is necessary for us to seek God to find out what we need self-control for in our words, actions, thoughts, sins and relationships.
- Hebrew word: Tzeniut: Modesty: To mastery over one’s desires and passions. Proverbs.16:32:Better a patient person than a warrior one with self-control than one who takes a city. (NIV)
- Greek words: Enkrateia: Its root meaning is: power over oneself or self-mastery.
- From biblical theology, this virtue means to hold our appetites in check, controlling our rational will or regulating our conduct without being duly swayed by sensuous desires.
When Paul wrote this chapter in the first letter of Corinthians, the verses of 1 Cor.9:22-27 comes out of his long reflection of self-control in order to proclaim the good news. In this passage, he chooses to discipline himself for the safe of others. His focus on self-control is mainly centred on the gospel but at the same time, he instructs the believers to reflect on their commitment to the faith journey and also to display an example of integrity in ministry. He used the familiar Isthmian Games, which occurred every two years in the Corinthian region. Paul used athletic imagery to bring God’s word to us.
- We need Self-Control for the gospel of Christ sake. 1 Corinthians.9:22-23
- 22 to the weak I became [h]as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. 23 Now this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I may be partaker of it with you.
- Paul knows that the Jewish people has the weakness of being proud of love and at the same time their failure to follow it and also the Gentile people has the weakness of lawless people and do not want to obey God. So in order to reach out to these peoples, Paul understands their weakness and exercises self control so that he might win them. He does not please them in order to win them but he disciplines himself so that through his words, decisions, attitudes and actions, her makes them to trust in God.
- God has called us to reach out to all nations and all peoples experience their lives with weakness. In order to reach out to the people, we need to build connection with them so that we might be able to share the blessings of the gospel. We should not please the people by accepting their sinful lives. Rather we cannot reject them as they need God’s gospel.
- (1 Cor. 10:33), 31 Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 32 Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God, 33 just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.
- 2 Peter.1:5-9: 5 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control [d]perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. 8 For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither [e]barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.
- Biblical example: Restoring a fallen brother by choosing the wrong choice: Abraham and Lot: Genesis.14:1-16.
- Sermon Illustration: One time a Persian king visited a very poor man who lived in a cellar. He ate the coarse food the poor man ate. He spoke cheerful, kind words to him. Then he left. Later he visited the poor man again and disclosed his identity by saying, "I am your king!" The king thought the man would surely ask for some gift or favor, but he didn't. Instead he said, "You left your palace and your glory to visit me in this dark, dreary place. You ate the course food I ate. You brought gladness to my heart! To others you have given your rich gifts. To me you have given yourself!”
- We need Self-Control for the eternity sake. 1 Corinthians.9:24-26
- 24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may [i]obtain it. 25 And everyone who competes for the prize [j]is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. 26 Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air.
- God had called Paul to proclaim the gospel and he did so tirelessly. He did not run aimlessly. He did so to win the spiritual prize that he was pursuing. He used an athletic metaphor to illustrate his point. Just as runners in a race practices certain disciplines, all believers must practice self-control to make it possible for them to win the spiritual prize
- Our Christian life is not a sprint. It is a marathon. Sometimes when we face difficult times, we become discouraged and tired. God helps us to continue our faith race with self-disciple as the Lord gives us strength to the weary and increase the power of the weak.
- 2 Timothy 4:7-8:7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.
- Romans 6:12-13:12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. 13 And do not present your members as [a]instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.
- Biblical Example: Gen.39: Jospeh was self-control himself for the dreams God had given to him: Gen.39:9:How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?”
- Sermon illustration: The army of Alexander the Great was advancing on Persia. At one critical point, it appeared that his troops might be defeated. The soldiers had taken so much plunder from their previous campaigns that they had become weighted down and were losing their effectiveness in combat.Alexander commanded that all the spoils be thrown into a heap and burned. The men complained bitterly but soon saw the wisdom of the order. Someone wrote, "It was as if wings had been given to them—they walked lightly again." Victory was assured.
- We need Self-Control for the testimony/witness sake. 1 Corinthians.9:27
- 27 But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified
- Paul knew that he practiced self-control in his life to continue to be good witness of Christ in the world. He was not talking about salvation but service. We are not saved by running the race and winning; we run because we are save.
- As the believers, we continue to practice self-control in order to serve God in the call we have received. If we don’t show the integrity and example, we will be disqualified in doing God’s ministry. We will lose the reward for faithful and sacrificial service from God.
- Philippians.3:12-16:12 Not that I have already attained,[a] or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have [b]apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.15 Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. 16 Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already [c]attained, let us walk by the same [d]rule, let us be of the same mind.
- Hebrews.12:1-3:Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the [a]author and [b]finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.3 For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.
- Biblical example: 2 Kings.5: Gehazi was disqualified when he lost his self-control in his ministry.
- Sermon Illustration: During the fourteenth century Raynald III, was a duke in what is now Belgium. As the result of a violent quarrel, Raynald’s younger brother Edward successfully revolted against him. When Edward captured Raynald he built a room around him featuring windows and a door and promised him that the day he left the room his title and property would be returned to him.The problem with this arrangement was that Raynald was grossly overweight and could not fit through the openings in the room. Raynald needed to lose weight before he could leave the room. Edward knew that his older brother could not control his appetite and sent him delicious food every day. As you may imagine, Raynald grew fatter during this time.Anytime someone accused Duke Edward of treating Raynald cruelly he said: “My brother is not a prisoner. He may leave when he so wills.”
Self-Control is one of the ninth aspect of the Fruit of the Holy Spirit. Self-disciple is essential to live and serve God in this world. Only Holy Spirit can give it to us. From 1 Corinthians 9:22-27. Paul teaches that we need this fruit on our lives and ministries.
1. We need Self-Control for the gospel of Christ sake. 1 Corinthians.9:22-23
2.We need Self-Control for the eternity sake. 1 Corinthians.9:24-26
3. We need Self-Control for the testimony/witness sake. 1 Corinthians.9:27
Questions for Discussion
- How is your life and ministry shaped by the Self-Control? Where has God helped you experience self-control? Where do you need his help to experience self-control today?
- In order to reach out to all people, the apostle exercised self-control. How are things that you are willing to give up to gain the opportunity to proclaim the gospel?
- Are there changes you know you could make in your life that would help you be "all things" to someone in particular or to a group of people in general?
- Like running a race, we need to exercise self-control for eternal reward. If you are disqualified you will lose the reward. In what areas, do you need self-control? In your life? In your ministry?
- Setting an example before others and being a witness of Christ to others are essentials of our call. In what ways do you set an example and a witness in your lives? Where are the areas you need to develop self-control?