Sunday Evening Bible Study
August 11, 1996
Paul is writing to a group of churches which have been infected with a doctrine of legalism.
But after having taught them why it's important not to be living under the Law, trying to please God on their own, they are now faced with another situation, the danger that happens when you take the Law away from people:
Galatians 5:13 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.
And so Paul has begun teaching on the issue of how to handle the the flesh, with the main key being:
Ga 5:16 [This] I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
We've looked at the "works of the flesh", and now we're looking at the "fruit of the Spirit, the natural results that God produces in our lives as we let the Holy Spirit take more control of our lives.
Now we are looking at the singular "fruit of the Spirit".
It's a single fruit that has nine different characteristics.
The more we grow in the Lord, the more we learn to "walk in the Spirit" (vs.16), the more these qualities will appear.
:22-23 the fruit of the Spirit is ...
NAS, NIV - self-control
We might think of "temperance" as the old movement against legalizing alcohol in the U.S., the "temperance movement".
egkrateia - self-control (the virtue of one who masters his desires and passions, esp. his sensual appetites), in a figure drawn from athletes, who in preparing themselves for the games abstained from unwholesome food, wine, and sexual indulgence
comes from: egkrates - strong, robust; having power over, possessed of (a thing); mastering, controlling, curbing, restraining; controlling one's self, temperate, continent
kratos - force, strength
en - in, by, with etc.
Barclay: It is the spirit which has mastered its desires and its love of pleasure. Secular Greek uses it of the virtue of an Emperor who never lets his private interest influence the government of his people. It is the virtue which makes a man so master of himself that he is fit to be the servant of others.
1Corinthians 7:1 Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman.
touch - in a sexual way
2 Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.
One of God's provisions against sexual immorality is to be married, and to find sexual satisfaction in your mate.
3 Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband.
1Co 7:3 The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. (NIVUS)
4 The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.
Neither husband nor wife can say, "It's my body, I can do with it as I please..."
Your body belongs to your spouse.
5 Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.
incontinency - the opposite of self-control or temperance. Instead of egkrates (power inside), it's akrasia (no power)
1Co 7:5 Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. (NIVUS)
The only time a husband and wife are to "say no" to each other is if they both agree to it, and it's for the purpose of spending more time in prayer.
But even then, Paul warns that this is dangerous because Satan can use the time away from each other to bring in temptation.
Remember, one of God's protections against immorality is marriage.
Know the limitations of your self-control.
Paul is saying that we shouldn't be foolish when it comes to what our limits are.
We shouldn't try to pretend that we can handle more than we are able to handle.
This is why the Bible says:
2Ti 2:22 Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. (AV)
Don't stick around and see how much you can take.
The man who said, "Lord, I pray that if you don't want me to go get donuts, that there won't be a parking spot at the donut shop." But sure enough, when he got there, there was a parking spot right in front of the door, after his twentieth time around the block ...
6 But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment.
Separating for a time of fasting and prayer isn't mandatory, but only a suggestion.
7 For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that.
8 I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I.
Paul was himself unmarried.
He encourages people to stay unmarried, at least if they have the ability to do so.
Jesus and His disciples were talking about marriage:
Matthew 19:9-12 And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery. 10 His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry. 11 But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given. 12 For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.
There is a "gift of singleness" where a person is able to live their life without having to be married.
They don't have a need for another person.
This isn't all that bad ... Paul says:
1Co 7:32-33 But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord: 33 But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please [his] wife. (AV)
When you aren't married, you can be free to serve the Lord without having to worry about whether or not you're meeting the needs of another person.
If you feel like you need to stay counseling with another person, you'll skip dinner and all your evening activities, and it's no problem. But if you're married, then you need to also be concerned about the needs of your wife, and should be.
9 But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.
Paul is saying that if a person does not find in themselves the ability to have self-control in the area of sex, that they should be thinking about getting married.
Those who have the "gift of celibacy" will know it. It won't be a problem.
If you don't have the gift of singleness, then pray for a wife!
1Co 9:12 ... Nevertheless we have not used this power ...
1Co 9:15 But I have used none of these things ...
1Co 9:17 For if I do this thing willingly ...
1Co 9:19 ... yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more.
1Co 9:20 And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law;
1Co 9:22 To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all [men], that I might by all means save some.
1Co 9:23 And this I do for the gospel's sake, that I might be partaker thereof with [you]. (AV)
In all these things, we see Paul's own choice to do what's right.
He makes up his mind what to do, and does it.
24 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.
We could think of ourselves in a race, and in our lives we should be looking to win.
Nike add (?) - The Silver medal isn't about winning anything, it's about losing the gold ...
Suppose some morning we go to a race. Runners are lined up, stripped to the bare essentials. All is ready for the race when suddenly we see another fellow coming to the starting line. But strange as it seems he is fully dressed. He has on a full suit, heavy overcoat, hip boots and a heavy woolen cap. In his hands he carries his lunch bucket and an umbrella. His pockets are filled with medicines. Everyone is surprised that such a person would try to win the race.
Finally we approach him and ask him about it. "Of course," he says, "I'm running the race. What's wrong with what I wear? Is anything wrong with a coat or cap or medicines? After all, the race is long, the terrain is treacherous, and I may become ill. I'm going prepared for whatever may lie ahead." We can't tell him that what he carries is a burden, maybe even a sin. But we know he'll never win the race. Why? Because he is loaded with weights.
The writer of Hebrews told the Christians to lay aside every weight. Self-control requires us not only to avoid sin but also demands the discipline to give up good things that will keep us from being and doing our best for God.
Heb 12:1 ¶ Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset [us], and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, (AV)
25 And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.
In the Olympics, the original athletes didn't go for gold, but for crowns made of laurel leaves.
They exercised self-control in all things.
It's amazing to see what an athlete will do give themselves the best chance to win.
Think of Kerri Strug, who went on to make that last vault, even though she heard something pop in her ankle, yet did it anyway for the sake of her team, to win the gold.
What if she said to herself, "I just don't feel like it right now ..."
Self-control in "all things"???
I have a problem when it comes to eating right and exercising regularly.
Do you sometimes feel dog tired at the end of your work day? Maybe you're burning up more calories than you think you are. These are the ways you exercise and the number of calories per hour consumed:
Beating Around the Bush 75
Jogging the Memory 125
Jumping to Conclusions 100
Climbing the Wall 150
Swallowing Pride 150
Passing the Buck 25
Beating Your Own Drum 100
Throwing Your Weight Around 300
Turning the Other Cheek 75
Dragging Your Heels 100
Pushing Your Luck 250
How about self-control when it comes to your temper, or patience with the kids?
In a department store a young husband was minding the baby while his wife was making a purchase. The infant was wailing, but the father seemed quite unperturbed as he quietly said, "Easy now, Albert," he murmured, "keep your temper." A woman passing by remarked, "I must congratulate you! You seem to know just how to speak to a baby." "Baby nothing!" came the reply. "MY name is Albert!"
How about self-control as when we ought to just keep our mouth shut!
In Scotland, during the early days of aviation, a stunt pilot was selling rides in his single engine airplane. One day he got into an argument with an old farmer who insisted upon taking his wife along on the ride -- at no extra charge. "Look," said the pilot finally, "I'll take you both up for the price of one if you promise not to utter a sound throughout the entire trip. If you make a sound, the price is doubled." The deal was made and they all clambered aboard. The pilot then proceeded to put the aircraft through maneuvers designed to make the bravest tremble. But not a sound came from the back, where his passengers sat. Exhausted, he set the plane down. As the farmer climbed out, the pilot said, "I made moves up there that frightened even me, and yet you never said a word. You're a fearless man." "I thank ye," replied the Scotsman. "But I must admit that there was one time when ya almost had me." "And when was that?" asked the pilot. The farmer replied, "That was about the time my wife fell out!"
26 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:
27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.
1Co 9:26-27 Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. 27 No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. (NIVUS)
Just do it.
I think sometimes we're looking for some kind of formula so that we relieve ourselves of all responsibility in our spiritual walk.
The Holy Spirit is there to fill us.
He's there to give us power and ability.
You have the car, the tank is filled with gas, so start the car and get going.
How to "Just Do It"
From -- John MacArthur, Jr. - "These are some things that have helped me through the years: "
1. Start small. Start with your room. Clean it, then keep it clean. When something is out of place, train yourself to put it where it belongs. Then extend that discipline of neatness to the rest of your home.
2. Be on time. That may not seem very spiritual, but it's important. If you're supposed to be somewhere at a specific time, be there on time! Develop the ability to discipline your desires, activities, and demands so that you can arrive on time.
3. Do the hardest job first. Doing that will prevent the hardest jobs from being left undone.
4. Organize your life. Plan the use of your time; don't just react to circumstances. Use a calendar and make a daily list of things you need to accomplish. If you don't control your time, everything else will!
5. Accept correction. Correction helps make you more disciplined because it shows you what you need to avoid. Don't avoid criticism; accept it gladly.
6. Practice self-denial. Learn to say no to your feelings. Occasionally deny yourself things that are all right just for the purpose of mastering doing it. Cultivating discipline in the physical realm will help us become disciplined in our spiritual lives.
7. Welcome responsibility. When you have an opportunity to do something that needs to be done, volunteer for it if you have a talent in that area. Welcoming responsibility forces you to organize yourself.
Having troubles with regular times with God? Just do it.
A well-known Christian personality of our century, Eric Liddell, the Olympic Champion runner who was the hero of the movie Chariots of Fire, had a remarkably different experience in prison in North China during World War II. His biographer quotes a woman who was in the camp at the time and with her husband knew Liddell well: What was his secret? Once I asked him, but I really knew already, for my husband was in his dormitory and shared the secret with him. Every morning about 6 am, with curtains tightly drawn to keep in the shining of our peanut oil lamp, lest the prowling sentries would think someone was trying to escape, he used to climb out of his top bunk, past the sleeping forms of his dormitory mates. Then, at the
small Chinese table, the two men would sit close together with the light just enough to illumine their Bibles and notebooks. Silently they read, prayed, thought about what should be done. Eric was a man of prayer not only at set times -- though he did not like to miss a prayer meeting or communion service when such could be arranged. He talked to God all the time, naturally, as one can who enters the "School of Prayer" to learn this way of inner discipline. He seemed to have no weighty mental problems: his life was grounded in God, in faith and in trust.