Sermon – Self Control (Galatians 5:13 – 5:26) – Cornerstone Church Kingston
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The Fruit of the Spirit

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Sermon 10 of 10

Self Control

Philip Cooper, Galatians 5:13 - 5:26, 29 April 2018

Galatians 5:13 - 5:26

13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.

16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 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. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.


Transcript (Auto-generated)

This transcript has been automatically generated, and therefore may not be 100% accurate.

Galatians Galatians 5 verse 13. You, my brothers and sisters were called to be free, but do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh rather serve 1 another humbly in love for the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this 1 command. Love your neighbor as yourself. If you bite and devour each other, watch how till you'll be destroyed by each other. So I say live by the spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

For the flesh desires what is contrary to the spirit and the spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the spirit, you are not under the law. The acts of the flesh are obvious. Sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery, idolatry and witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, and envy, drunkenness, orgies, and the like.

I warn you as I did before that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of god. But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control against such things, there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the spirit, let us keep in step with the spirit. Let us not become conceited provoking and envying each other.

And then page 1198 for Titus 2, You, however, must teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine. Teach the older men to be temperate worthy of respect, self controlled, and sound in faith, in love, and in endurance. Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderous or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children. To be self controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands so that no 1 will malign the word of god.

Similarly, encourage the young man to be self controlled. In everything, set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching, show integrity, seriousness, and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us. Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything to try to please them, not to talk back to them and not to steal from them, but to show that they can be fully trusted so that in every way they will make the teaching about god our savior attractive. For the grace of god has appeared, that offers salvation to all people.

It teaches us to say no to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self controlled, upright, and godly lives in this present age while we wait for the blessed hope the appearing of the glory of our great god and savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own eager to do what is good. These then are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority do not let anyone despise you. And Phil Cooper, 1 of our elders is gonna come and preach god's word to us now. Let's pray.

Father, we thank you for your word. We thank you that it's a living word. As we look at it now, lord, we we ask that you'll speak to us through it. Help us to focus, help us to concentrate, help us to put aside whatever else is going on in our minds from the day. That for a little while, we might concentrate on you.

It'll take your word and put it in our hearts and our minds. In Jesus' name, our men. So there are times, aren't there in our lives where we we get so focused on 1 thing that we missed the bigger picture. You know, it might be something that's particularly worrying us might be a decision that you're you've you've gotta make. It might be an event that's coming up.

And actually, a wedding is quite a good example of that. I mean, Phil and Rahina, I don't know if they're experiencing this, or where's the other fill, how there is at the back, Phil and Mim, they might experience this as well as they planned. But it can become such an all consuming thing a wedding that it's not just a day in your life. It's like a year of your life. Or or we've heard the old saying, haven't we?

You can't see the wood for the trees, meaning we get so focused on 1 thing, 1 tree that we miss the whole forest in front of us. And when it comes to living the Christian life, this can be a problem for us in the in the same way. Perhaps it's because we're struggling with 1 aspect of our walk with Jesus. 1 aspect of our lives as as being a follower of Jesus Christ, 1 pattern of sin that is, you know, something we're constantly battling with. Whatever it is, it ends up overshadowing everything else, and it can rob us of our joy and our assurance.

The point is we can be so taken up with that thing that we can't appreciate what's going on around us. Spiritually, we lose sight of everything else. We lose sight of the fact that the Holy Spirit is growing us in lots of areas of our lives because we're busy battling in that 1 area. Now why am I talking about this? Because the problem with the sort of series that we're finishing tonight on the fruit of the spirit is that we've been looking at individual words over the last few months weeks.

And there's always a danger when you do that. When you look at individual words, that you lose sight of the whole of the fruit of the spirit. You lose sight of what it's all really about. Now don't don't get me wrong. It's a fantastic thing to be able to spend a whole sermon on 1 word working out, what does faithfulness really mean?

What does it mean to be gentle and peaceful? What does it mean to be kind? You know, it was terrific to do that, and we're gonna do it again with self control later on this evening. But it can be too easy for us to be fixated on 1 word. You know, perhaps it's the 1 we struggle with most And so we lose sight, don't we?

Have everything else that's going on in that's fruit of the spirit sentence, that fruit of the spirit verse? That passage in Galatians 5. So before we get to self control, I wanna spend a little bit of time just looking at what is going on in this passage in Galatians 5. Because the fruit of the spirit is entirely different from the gifts of the spirit, you know, where you might be, gifted in 1 area or 2 areas by god. Here, we're to have all of the fruit of the spirit.

We're to display the entire fruit that's in verse 22 in our lives. See, Paul's using quite an odd phrase in 22. Just look at it, but the fruit of the spirit is love joy peace, patience or forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. He's responding there He's following on from verse 19, where he said the acts of the flesh are obvious. Sexual immorality, impurity, and debauchery, idolatry and witchcraft, hatred discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, and envy, drunkenness, orgies, and the like.

See, he's quite clear there. Those acts, those individual things are things to be avoided in our lives. But then in verse 22, he doesn't say what it would be natural to say, does it? See, what it would be natural to say is Having said all this about the acts of the flesh is but the acts of the spirit are love joy peace so on. Doesn't say that.

It could say the traits of the spirit are or the characteristics of the spirit are. He could have said any of those things, but he deliberately chooses the fruit of the spirit. Because he's trying to show us several things, just in that 1 little phrase. And the first thing he's trying to show us is that that whole series of words in verse 22 is actually singular, not plural. So he could have said, but the fruits of the spirit are love joy peace, so on.

But you notice what he does right, he says the fruit singular of the spirit is singular. And the reason he does this is because they're not individual fruits like oranges and apples. It is a single fruit produced by the Holy Spirit in our lives. That is very, very important that we see that that we understand that. Because what it means is that none of those aspects in verse 22 should be missing from our lives.

In fact, I think you can go as far as to say, if you only have 1 or 2 of those words, I don't know, pick 2 present in your life. They may be fake fruit. Because you see, we're not to be people who say, well, yeah, I I'm I'm quite a loving person. I'm joyful. But I'm not faithful.

I'm not kind. I'm not gentle. That doesn't work. We are to see all of those words every 1 of them growing in our lives because they're all 1 thing. You can't separate them out.

Secondly, Paul uses the term fruit of the spirit to put into our heads, this sort of, I don't know what you call it really, farming, fruit farming reference. He wants us to think growing. He wants us to think about fruit because he's trying to tell us just in that little phrase, look, this isn't gonna be instant in your life. Yeah. You're gonna need you're gonna want to see all these aspects but it's not going to happen instantly.

You grow. You're mature. You will ripen over time if you like, because that's what fruit does. That's what he's trying to get at. So let's not get depressed with ourselves when we feel it's taking a little longer.

You know, why am I the same? Why haven't I've got this? Let's not get depressed. It's this process. It'll grow in your life.

And let's not be critical of each other when we see growth, but perhaps it isn't at the same speed as someone else. I remember talking to somebody quite many years ago, actually, about this sort of subject, and they gave me a terrific example which was about a baby. So let's take any baby. If you notice we're moving into baby references to respond to what the congregation are doing, take a baby. Let's, take Joshua Wolf, bends at the back, on the sound desk.

And when Joshua Wolf takes his first few steps, perhaps he's holding on to the sofa, perhaps he's holding on to his parents, whatever, he takes his first few steps. They will be cheering him on, won't they? They'll be clapping and cheering him on, and it'll be very exciting for Ben and Rachel and then probably anyone else in the house at the time. It would be odd if he's doing that, and Rachel calls Ben down from his computer. And he comes down and he says, well, this isn't very exciting.

Call me again when he's running. But that's a great illustration of sometimes how we are. You know, even little steps, we should be excited about for each other, not saying, you know, Well, talk talk to me about them again or about yourself again when when you're fully on. Often, we need to get a perspective about ourselves by talking to someone else because we don't always see the growth that we very rarely see the growth that's cropped up in in home group this week, actually. You need to talk to somebody, perhaps an elder, perhaps your home group leader who is a bit more objective than you are about you.

Because what you'll find is that there are other people in this church cheering you on and clapping, and happy that you're taking steps forward. By the way, just as an aside, if Ben and Rachel, of course, if they notice that after 6 months, Joshua still only manages 3 steps and falls down all the time, they might not be clapping and cheering him on so much. And some of us might need that spiritual lesson too. We've got to move on. Doesn't matter how old you are until we are made perfect in heaven.

We should be growing. Thirdly, Paul uses this little phrase to make sure that we understand that this growth that we've just been talking about is from the spirit of god. It's from the Holy Spirit. It is not by our will power. It is not by our religious duty.

It is not by our desire to be liked, whatever it is that causes you to try and be kind and gentle. It is not down to us. It's down to the Holy Spirit. And it's worth us remembering that the spirit grows this fruit that we're talking about in verse 22 in conflict. If you've been here for this series or if you want to go back on online, the first sermon that Pete did introducing this really brought this out strongly.

Look at verses 16 and 17. So I say live by the spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh for the flesh desires what is contrary to the spirit and the spirit what is contrary to the flesh, they are in conflict with each other so that you are not to do whatever you want. Our natures battle against the spirit. We are sinful people and our hearts want to do what's listed in verse 19, not what is listed in verse 22. Yet when we're born again, we're changed, and we have a desire to live in step with the spirit, to live in step with god.

And as we love and worship Jesus Christ, we're prepared to enter that battle. Remember in that first sermon, what the illustration Pete gave? It was about 4 dogs in Jessington in the park. Buster, Benji, Spike, and we were to be like Max because Max was the dog who wasn't on the leash, who walked by his master's side, looking up in adoration as his master. The point was that Pete made.

Max was still tempted by the rabbit. Max was still tempted. I think was the illustration by the rancid Meach, I think must only happen in Chesington. But it's on those occasions that Max could grow in obedience. It's on those occasions when he was tempted that Max could grow in love, and it's the same with us.

So are you up for the battle that causes the fruit to grow in you? Let's not kid ourselves. It could be tough. There are gonna be times when you are battling your nature against the spirit, it is gonna be tough. But the amazing privilege we have is that we can do it in the safety and security of being part of god's family here at Cornerstone.

So what is self control all about? In the light of that, in the fact that we know it's a battle, We know it's only 1 aspect of the fruit, and we're gonna see all of the fruit in our life. What is self control all about? Well, we know what it means. We know when we lose it, but what is it in the context of what Paul is talking about?

Well, don't lose sight of the first word of verse 22. The first word is but And that tells us that the fruit of the spirit, including self control, is in response to something Paul's already said. So we need to go back and we need to look through what he said and see how self control fits in with that. So let's quickly go through those verses. Verse 13, You, my brothers and sisters were called to be free, but do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh rather serve 1 another humbly in love.

So self control there means not indulging the flesh. That's what it says. But it's not just a negative self control because it goes on, doesn't it? Rather serve 1 another humbly in love. That's the positive bit of self control.

So you have to be self controlled to serve You have to be self controlled, to be humble. You have to be self controlled to serve 1 another humbly in love. Those things require self control just to say no does. Verse 14 and 15. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this 1 command, love your neighbor as yourself.

If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. See, it's the other way around that time. Firstly, you get the positive. Self control means loving your neighbor. But then you get the negative.

Are you self controlled enough not to bite and devour each other. That means are you in control of your temper? Your tongue? Why are you just gossiping? Are you just plain spiteful, actually?

Are you willing to climb over other people to get what you want? That's what biting and devouring is talking about. Or are you gonna love your neighbor? Then the next few verses, you get roughly the same sort of stuff. There's a negative.

Can you not gratify the desires of the flesh, it says in verse 16. Or the positive, are you going to walk in step with the spirit? And then, of course, you get verse 19. This massive list, the acts of the flesh, and Paul is directly contrasting those acts of the flesh with the fruit of the spirit in verse 22. So what he's saying there is look, if you have self control, then you won't do these things debauchery, drunkenness, jealousy, fits of rage.

It's a massive list there. But you see there's an element here to which you either have self control, which is god given, or you don't. See, I could stand here. Well, I am standing here. And I could say, look, I don't have a problem with sexual immorality.

I don't have a problem interestingly with witchcraft, I don't have a problem with drunkenness or orgies, but I am prone to selfish ambition. I am prone to dissentions. I am prone to factions. Well, it doesn't work. That's not self control.

Proverbs 25 verse 28 is really I found this really helpful on this. Like a city whose walls are broken through, is a person who lacks self control. Now, I'm not a military expert, never been in the army. I don't know anything really about tactics and defenses, but I've watched enough films, and I've read enough, books. In fact, you're only gonna look at the Battle of Jerico in Joshua 6 to know that the walls of a city are built strong and high to protect the people in them.

But, and this is the key. Once the city walls are breached, and it only needs to happen in 1 place, You are completely vulnerable. Despite the rest of the walls standing up, the invading army pours through the gap. Just 1 breach. I've seen that time and time again at Hillside in walking dead, if any of you watch that.

You know, 1 problem and all the zombies are through. Joshua 6 verse 20 and 21 says this, when a trump sounded, the army shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the men gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed. So everyone charged straight in and they took the city. See? It's not enough to have a little bit of self control in certain areas.

That's a breach of the wall in the area you don't. We had a hub lunch as usual today. And before it started, I was standing around not nowhere near the kitchen, chatting to people. And Emily, who was serving tea and coffee, earlier if you if you know, Emily. It's came up and she said, oh, those new new glasses.

And I said, yes. And she said, oh, they're nice. Yeah. Thanks. And, she said, they but gray.

I said, yeah, they are a bit. And she said, they just they match your hair. So she's plunged the knife in at the end there. But anytime like that, you say something you wish you hadn't. Anytime you you wish I hadn't reacted like that, Anytime you wish, wish I hadn't done that, the chances are you lack self control.

So learn. At that point, when you say something like that and you you've we all do it and you've lacked self control and you've said this thing. At that point, the fact that you're strong in other areas of your life doesn't matter, does it? A single area of weakness has left you prone to defeat. That's the point.

Self control is to be exercised and displayed right through your life in all areas. No points of weakness. In other words, what's it mean for us? God wants us to build great big walls around our lives in the sense that He does not want the desires of the flesh penetrating it. They should not be able to get through, and the fruit of the spirit will help us do that.

So with that in mind, let's spend the remainder of our time on 2 specific aspects of self control I wanted to focus on. Firstly, the importance of self control. See, self control is very important because all of us attempted in those areas in verse 19, and we're tempted fairly frequently. So just like Pete was talking about when he was talking about max the dog trotting along by his master's side. It wasn't that Max didn't see the rabbit.

It wasn't that Max was a vegetarian dog. Is that he'd learned a better way, and he kept his eyes on the master. And so what I want I want us to think about immediately is training ourselves, training ourselves both in the negative of saying no to the stuff in verse 19, but also in the positive to say yes to a better way. Now think about your own life for a moment. When are you most likely to feel tempted in pretty much any area of your life?

When you most likely to feel tempted, isn't it when you're alone? Isn't it when you're tired? Isn't it when you're hungry? That's when we're at our most vulnerable. You see, Jesus was all of those things when he was fasting in the desert.

He was tired. He was hungry. He was alone, and it is no coincidence that that's when Satan decided to tempt him. Do any of us not struggle in the area of self control when we're tired and alone and hungry and vulnerable? So be aware of that.

Train yourself. Avoid putting yourself at risk by staying up too late. Or by being constantly tired or by going without food. Avoid being on your own if you know that's a problem for you. Remember, we are in a battle here, and small things can really help.

Train yourself. Go to bed early. Eat well. Hang out with your brothers and sisters at church to make sure you're not battling alone. They're all good things that will help us in self control, but self control is also important because of how easy it is and this is definitely a fault of mine to misstate being in control as being through to the spirit.

When in fact it's really our nature. You see, I may appear self controlled to many of you, but it's possible I'm a control freak just possible, which means often actually is not fruit. It's idolatry. That's the reality. And that applies to all of the words we've been looking at over the last few weeks.

It is too easy for us to just have 1 or 2 aspects of the fruit that we focus on and assume we're being godly. When actually we're just exercising fake fruit in our life. You see, look, let me give another example. You may know someone who's a very kind person. Okay?

Think of somebody very kind in in your head. They might be very gentle as well, because it often goes together. So you've got a kind gentle person, and if you need to see somebody because you're feeling guilty, or about something, or you've got something wrong and you need to talk it through with somebody, or you just need to talk about whatever's going on in your life, you go to them because they're always kind. They're always gentle. They always understand.

They put an arm around you. Now those are good things. If they're combined with the other aspects of the fruit of the spirit. Then they're godly, and they're very much to be sought after. And frankly, that person you're thinking of is a great person to go and see.

The problem is if they're not combined with faithfulness or self control or joy, for example, Then we need to question, are they the fruit of the spirit, or are they just that person's nature? Because you see, you do meet people in life, don't you? Who are just lovely? You know, they're just lovely people. The problem is they might be that way because their their kindness, their gentleness, if you like, comes out of a sense of failure in their own lives, which leads them to want to let you off absolutely everything.

Because otherwise, you just condemn themselves. Or it might come out of a complete lack of self control, which means they can't possibly comment on something going on in your life. Because they have no control over their own. It might even come out of a cowardice so they can never correct or caution or discipline because they have no courage And if you were here for the faithfulness taught from Ben, faithfulness is a lot about courage. That's why we looked at Abraham and I said, didn't we?

Do you see the point? In those examples, what appears lovely, gentleness, kindness is really just weakness. For gentleness and kindness to be a fruit of the spirit, it has to be combined with self control. And faithfulness and joy in the others. And self control is exactly the same.

You see, in isolation, and I'm This is where I know this was hitting me as I was preparing this because this is my area. In isolation, in isolation on its own, self control without the other aspects is legalism or perfectionism or fear of the peer group. And none of it is god given. Colossians 2 verse 20 says, since you died with Christ, to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why as though you still belong to the world? Do you submit to its rules?

Do not handle? Do not taste? Do not touch? These rules which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use are based on merely human commands and teachings Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom with their self imposed worship, their false humility, their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining central indulgence. Paul is saying there that self control that is based on human effort, it may constrain bad behavior for a little while, it may make society superficially better, hence the common appearance of wisdom.

But in the end, it is destined to fail because it's all about doing stuff in your own strength. 1 writer said when looking at the fruit of the spirit that perhaps the reason self control is the last in the list is because it's the capstone. It's the 1 that tops off all the others. And he comments, it takes a lot of self control to exercise the other 8 in the list. So self control is very important, and the importance of it is set out as clearly as it can be in the other reading.

So if you turn with me to Titus 2, page 1 1 9 8, we're going to very quickly look at this passage. And I don't know if you noticed when Tom read it, just how frequently self control came up here. So turn with me Titus chapter 2, page 1 1 9 8, and verse 2, teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self controlled, and sound in love and in endurance. Verse 4, then they, that's the older women, then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self controlled and pure, to be busy at home to be kind, to be subject to their husbands so that no 1 middle will malign the word of god. Verse 11, for the grace of god has appeared, that offers salvation to all people It teaches us to say no to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self controlled upright and godly lives in this present age.

And then the 1 I deliberately missed out, because I want to spend a bit longer on it, verse 6, similarly encourage the young men to be self controlled. Not only fat leaped out at you, but older men, older women, younger women that all to be self controlled but it's mentioned amongst other things. Do you notice that? But with young men, nothing else is mentioned. Verse 6, they are to be self controlled, full stop.

That's it. Now why? You see, the bottom line is that self control is a young man's greatest need. Because his greatest failures often occur as a direct result of having none of it. That's the truth.

This is what Paul is seeing as the crucial lesson that the older men have to teach the younger. It's what he wants the younger men here In that verse 6, to focus entirely on, have self control. So if we go back to Galatians chapter 5 and and verse 19 again, surely we can see those acts of the flesh are massively likely to be tempting young men. And those acts of the flesh ruin lives. So we must understand how important self control is.

It's why in that letter to Titus, Paul writes, emphasizing that characteristic every single group of people, self control, self control, self control, self control, See, if you know of anything about the letter to Titus, it's written of 2 Titus who's in crete, And Paul himself says in verse 1, 1 of Crete's own prophets has said it, Cretons are always liars, evil brutes, glazy gluttons. It was a very difficult place to be a Christian. It was a very difficult place to grow a church. Now can you imagine against that backdrop, that culture, if younger men could be self controlled. What would an what an impact that would have?

What a stable environment it would provide for all the young members of the church. If you had younger men being self controlled. And it's exactly the same for us today. Can you imagine the impact on our friends and our neighbors on Kingston itself if we were people who exercise self control, not just in the way of saying no in of legalistic, mustn't do that, mustn't do that. But in a way in which enables us to do the other 8 through to the spirit, to love, to be patient, to be peaceful, to be kind, to be gentle, to be joyful, to be faithful.

But now we get to the problem is our last point. Looked at the importance of self control, and now we get to the problem, it's the impossibility of self control. You see, I guess many of you of you, as you've listened to this this evening, have been reminded how difficult it is to be self controlled. When we think about the fruit of the spirit is 1 thing, you're thinking, well, I haven't got half of that. When we have a goal in our lives, that is extremely important to us.

Mostly, mostly, we do what it takes to get there, don't we? If you've got a goal and you really want that thing, you're gonna do what it takes to get there. So if we want to lose weight, but we can't be bothered to exercise or stick to the diets. Or if we want to be comfortable later on in life, but we can't be disciplined enough to save now. Or if we want a good marriage, but we don't wanna make the effort, Then actually, we need to ask ourselves how important was that goal really?

On the radio this week actually, they were talking about obesity, not just a bit overweight, we're talking about obesity. In the particular areas of the country where some study had been done, and there was 64 percent of some counties, in this country were viewed as a beast. And they were saying that people know what they should do about it, and they don't do it. And the psychologist on the show was saying the gap between in this area of our lives, the gap between knowing and doing has never been bigger. There's more information and we do less about it.

And listening to this, you might think, wow, I think self control is an impossible task for me. Now in our strength, of course, that's true, but that's the whole point, isn't it? It is not about you. It's not about your own strength. See, Paul uses the term, the fruit of the spirit, because it's the spirit's work.

It's not down to you. So what we what we really need actually is not self control. It's spirit control. That's really the answer because the Holy Spirit needs to have control of our lives. See, we can have a good go in our own, particularly for someone like me, you can have a good go at self control.

In your own strength, in your own life, and sometimes you'll be able to do a bit of it, but any addict will tell you that self control is incredibly unreliable. See, self control needs to be called spirit control because in the end, it comes down to surrender, surrendering ourselves, surrendering self to the Holy Spirit. We know that nothing is impossible with god, and you know in your heart that Jesus is the solution to this. Jesus is the solution to the impossibility of self control. Jesus is our role model Jesus is our example, and Jesus is the personification of the fruit of the spirit, all of them.

Everything he did, everything he said, his whole character displays all 9 aspects of this fruit, including self control. See, we've touched on it already this evening when he's tempted by Satan in the desert, when he was tired, when he was alone. He exercised self control. Incidentally, actually, if you just think about that story for a minute, what what resource did he call on? In that situation, vulnerable on his own, what resource did he call on?

The answer is the word. It was scripture, wasn't it? He quoted scripture. He leant on scripture. He clung to scripture.

And so it says in Matthew chapter 4 verse 11, then the devil left him. But it wasn't just that incident. What about the night of his arrest? Think about the night of his arrested betrayal. When the soldiers came, did he fight them?

Did he unleash his tongue on Judith with some choice words? Even before in the garden, did he crumble under the pressure? Was he out of control then? Did he flee? In front of pilot and the chief priests and the teachers of the lord, did he look for way out?

In front of herod who fired question after question at him, it just says in Luke chapter 23, but Jesus gave him no answer. Ultimate self control. Yet, the thing is that power is available to us too through the Holy Spirit and to access it, we must turn from the acts of the flesh, but not in our own strengths by just saying no, Instead, we must recognize that all of this tonight, all of this is a worship issue. Our hearts must be turned to Jesus. The reality is, you see, we didn't need this.

You didn't need to come here this evening to be reminded that you shouldn't get drunk. Or that you shouldn't get angry, or that you shouldn't indulge in sexual immorality. We know those things. Forgetfulness isn't our problem, is it? Our problem is we need to be reminded that Jesus Christ is all we need.

Jesus Christ is worthy of our hearts and minds. Self control cannot be achieved by the suppression of your passions. Because we're made in the image of god and he's a passionate god, and we're a passionate people. To achieve self control requires the Holy Spirit to redeem and reconfigure or change those passions. So that they're all about Jesus.

Self control, just like Max the dog, is about the delight we get in pursuing a relationship with Jesus Christ, not the drudgery of a sort of boring dead religious thing. We will love sin less. As we love Jesus Christ more. We haven't got to this point in the Roman series. If you come in the morning services, we've been going through Romans, we've had a break the last few weeks, but we'll be back to Romans.

We haven't got this far yet. And when Pete does It's a terrific chapter, chapter 13, powerfully sums up what we're talking about tonight. And I'm I'm gonna finish just by reading a couple of verses. So this is Romans chapter 13 verse, starting at verse 11. Let me read it to you.

And then we'll pray. The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over. The day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of the light let us behave decently as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy.

Then you get the key bit. Rather, clothe yourselves with the lord Jesus Christ and do not think about how to gratify the desires of flesh. Let's pray. Father god, we thank you for your love for us for bringing us to you. We thank you for the Holy Spirit that he's given to us.

In power that he will change, change us, and change our lives. Lord help us as we think about this fruit to the spirit as we think about the whole fruit, not little elements of it. Not bits that we can do because they're our nature. Law change us that we might display all 9 aspects of this fruit. Father help us to understand that this is, not on our own strength.

This is not something that we can do that we have to turn to you, that we have to worship Jesus, that the more we worship Jesus in our hearts and our minds, the more like him we will be, the more we will surrender to the spirit, and the more you will display the fruit in our lives. Father, thank you so much for that. Help us to build up, build each other up, to encourage each other. Help us to ask others if we're feeling, down about our progress, because we're just not objective, help us to talk to other people that they might cheer and clap us on as we take steps forward. Or help us in our lives to worship you more that we might sin less.

In Jesus' name, amen.

Preached by Philip Cooper
Philip Cooper photo

Phil is an Elder at Cornerstone and oversees our Finances. Cathryn is on the staff team as our Women’s Ministry Coordinator.

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