By the Fruit of Self-Control You Conquer Yourself and Bless Others

By Michael Christian

Have you ever had that moment where you were out-of-control? Where you were swept up by your emotions and lost your grip on the fruit of self-control?

Sure, we all have. So how do we get the reins back? 

Ancient Greeks praised those who practiced severe self-discipline through an act of their will. Perhaps some can pull that off and pat themselves on the back. But for most of us, if self-control is dependent on my willpower, I'm doomed to fail.

Trusting in my willpower works about as well as nailing jello to a tree. But the fruit of the Spirit is not about will power, but about Spirit-controlled living. 

Galatians 5:22–23

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

The fruit of self-control concludes our series on the most radical character transformation on the planet. Bearing the fruit of the Spirit conforms us to the image of the Savior. If we spent more time praying for the fruit of the Spirit, we wouldn't need to pray so much about the gifts of the Spirit.

So what is the fruit of self-control?

Self-control comes from the Greek word enkrateia. It is derived from en (meaning “in”) and kratos (force, strength, power, might) and means to have power over oneself.

Practicing the fruit of self-control means living a balanced life that brings glory to God. See 2 Peter 1:5-8

Proverbs 16:32 (HCSB) tells us, "Patience is better than power, and controlling one’s temper, than capturing a city."

Here are 6 things to know so you can master yourself.

1. Your spirit is the head of your body.

The spiritual fruit of self-control is rooted in the very definition of man, whom God created spirit, soul, and body. Your spirit is the real you and the true head of your body. Your flesh is not the head of your body; your emotions are not the head; your mind is not the head; your will is not the head; but your spirit is the head of your body.

Your spirit will give account to God for the deeds done in your body. And here’s the good news: when your spirit is full of the Holy Spirit, your mind renewed in God's Word, your body offered as a living sacrifice, and your prayers lifted to heaven, you live a Spirit-controlled life. When the Holy Spirit is alive and active in you, he helps you control your behavior and bring forth all the fruit of the Spirit, including self-control. 

With the Spirit's help, what used to drive you nuts doesn't anymore. Instead of losing your temper, you just roll your eyes or shake your head. With the Spirit's help, you remain calm in situations that once caused you to panic with fear.

Filling your spirit with the Holy Spirit is the key! The more yielded and surrendered you are to the Lord, the more disciplined a life you're able to live. In Christ's strength, you have the power to control appetites, emotions, words, thoughts, and choices!

2. Knowing your purpose increases your desire for discipline.

Proverbs 29:18 (ESV) Where there is no prophetic vision, the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law.

Look at this statement in the positive sense: Where there is prophetic vision, the people are self-controlled. Self-discipline accelerates when we understand our divine purpose.

It requires a disciplined life to fulfill the work God gave us to do. Though he spends years preparing us, an unrestrained, undisciplined lifestyle will hinder us from accomplishing his plan.

Jesus said, “And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.” (John 17:19) Love for others motivated Jesus to the point of self-control.

When you have a call from God on your life, you are impelled to study, pray, read the Bible, go to church, and do things you may not always feel like doing. For Christ’s sake, you may say “No” to ordinary good things that distract you from your purpose.

But in the day of judgment Christ will ask, “Did you do what I called you to do?” Either we did or we didn’t. When we serve God, we don’t have time to do what everyone else is doing, nor can we do everything we feel like doing.

As a Christian, we can live to please ourselves, or we can live to please God. Our lifestyle choices reveal our heart and awareness of our mission.

3. The fruit of self-control helps in many areas:

  • The appetites of the flesh
  • Emotions, such as anger, envy, fear
  • The tongue (Proverbs 10:19)
  • Thoughts
  • Choices
  • Spending
  • Bible study time
  • Prayer time
  • Going to church time

4. It makes a difference what we say about ourselves.

The Bible says that if we can control our tongue, we can control the whole body. (James 3:2) So it’s important to confess what we can do in Christ, rather than our inability to control ourselves.

It’s tempting to say, “I am not a patient person.” Or, “I can’t control my weight.” When we speak like that, we are making an excuse for not trying. Rather than saying such things, speak something like this:

In Christ I am self-controlled. The Holy Spirit in my spirit gives me dominion over my mind, will, emotions, flesh, and words. I am a disciplined person. I don’t do what the devil desires but only what God tells me to do. My will is strengthened in Christ, and I will to do the will of God. So I am not doing what my emotions tell me anymore, but only what God and his Word tell me to do.

5. Paul did not want to be disqualified.

1 Corinthians 9:24–27 (NLT) Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined [enkrateuomai] in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.

6. Bearing the fruit of self-control makes you effective in God's kingdom.

Our success in serving Christ is directly related to the fruit of the Spirit. We want God to lead us into good things, but we must be willing to develop love, patience, kindness, self-control, and the other fruit of the Spirit.

Our unwillingness or inability to control ourselves thwarts God’s plan. So, to move forward with the life of the Spirit, we must develop a character pleasing to God (and man) that He can bless with his favor.

QUESTION: The strength of your spirit is linked to your ability to control your emotions and behavior. What is your plan to make your spirit stronger? What can you do to stir up the Holy Spirit in you? Please take a moment and share what you plan to do in the Comments section below.

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