What is Self-Control?

I left off yesterday with Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 9:23-27, where he tells us to exercise self-control in all things so that we can win the race. Instead of lacking self-control by being with bad company, maybe we should let them see and hear that we are truly Christians.

Paul compares exercising self-control to an athlete. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 1 Corinthians 9:25

When the athlete battles there is going to be a struggle of the mind and body. I remember my high school football days. Every August going through grueling double sessions for two weeks, with all the drills, sprints and 100’s of green-bays at least that is what we called them. They were kind of like burpees!

A couple of years ago I gave myself the goal of running a 5k. I would run (ok slow jog) on my road after marking a mile and half then run back. As I was making the turn most times I would say to myself why are you doing this? Just stop! But I would see that little tiny white mailbox in the front of my house and that would be the imaginary finish line.

You see no runner in a race ever loses sight of the finish line, and the Apostle Paul was no exception. He writes…

Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:13-14. [Emphasis Mine]

I think when we fail at self control we lose sight of the finish line

What is self-control?

Merriam-Webster Definition of self-control : restraint exercised over one’s own impulses, emotions, or desires.

Self-Control is a verb = ἐγκρατεύομαι enkrateúomai (eng-krat-yoo’-om-ahee) BDAG Lexicon defines self-control as to keep one’s emotions, impulses, or desires under control, control oneself, abstain.

Self-control is the ability to say no to self, and yes to God!

A Christians self-control can not happen without it coming from God! It comes from the filling of the Spirit. Ephesians 5:18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit,

The reason why I (we) fail, especially in my (our) walk with Christ is that we have very little power that comes from the Holy Spirit. Yes we are indwelled with the Holy Spirit, but are we being kept filled by the Holy Spirit?

The Greek word for “be filled,” is plerousthe, it means to be being kept filled. What is the evidence that we are being kept filled?

Our response to be filled with the Spirit. Paul continues…

speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; 20 always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; 21 and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.

Ephesians 5:19–21


We can not witness for Christ if we are not being kept filled with the Spirit. Again we will always as believers be indwelled with the Holy Spirit, but we need to be overfilled with the Spirit, It needs to be bubbling up in us, pouring in and out of us. That’s what Paul is getting at. Then our conduct will be in line with God’s will.

I believe like Paul, when I (we) fail it’s because I (we) are undisciplined in our approach. Let me remind you what Paul says in Galatians 5, he lists the works (plural) of the flesh, and the Fruit (singular) of the Spirit.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Galatians 5:22-23

This is something that manifested out of us by the Holy Spirit. This isn’t like being nice to our neighbors or co-workers, the fruit of the Spirit shows us certain standards that are only found in Christianity.

We want to win, like Paul with our Christian lives.

It takes work!

In case you are wondering, I did run that 5k race, it wasn’t a great finish time…but I finished!

Are you willing to work at it?

Then pray and work out what God has already worked in you!

…and that’s a beautiful thing!

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