Sun. a.m. AGCC 8/6/2000
"SELF-CONTROL IS LOVE'S VICTORY"
TEXTS: Gal. 5:23; Rom. 8:22-27; II Tim. 3:1-4; I Cor. 9:22-10:13
INTRO: One of the greatest dangers in life is not from an outside source! The greatest danger a person can face is an undisciplined life! There have been those who nearly conquered the world but never themselves, men like Napoleon, many of the Herods, Alexander the Great, and even many of the Pharaohs of Egypt. We have seen this failure even in our modern political leaders whose discipline over their own lives was sorely lacking though they lead this great nation. Success in conquering others but failing to conquer self makes men and women unproductive, unfulfilled, sometimes broken and depressed … which many of these leaders experienced.
Much of the unproductiveness, pain, and unhappiness in our culture today is the result of undisciplined lives. For evidence of this look at the following:
ILLUS:Estimated number of Americans attending Twelve Step programs today: 14,000,000 -- Spires and Spirals (Vol. 5; 1995). "To Verify," Leadership.
Greatness does not come from power over others, it comes from power over self. It is a terrible lie that it does not matter how a leader lives his/her own personal life as long as he governs well -- the example of an undisciplined life will only encourage another generation of undisciplined lives!
Victory and happiness does not come from what we have but who we are.
Love can become lust without self-control,
Faith without self-control becomes fanaticism,
Good pride without self control becomes arrogance,
Courage without self-control becomes craziness,
Joy without self-control becomes giddiness,
it is impossible to be what God wants us to be without self-control.
PROP. SENT: The Bible teaches us that an undisciplined life results in terrible losses, no one is truly victorious in life without real self-conotrol.
I. PROBLEM OF SELF-CONTROL Rom. 8:20-27; II Tim. 3:1-4
A. Predicament! 8:20-25; II Tim. 3:1-4
1. In a single moment of failed self-control the universe was plunged into sin!
a. This distortion of God's design for humans has left the entire human race prone to being out of control.
b. Paul describes life in the Universe now as "Groaning" 8:22-26
(1. The whole creation is groaning!
(2. We ourselves groan
(3. The Holy Spirit groans in us!
2. Tragic as the first moments of failed self-control were, each additional moment where self-control was absent only plunged mankind into ever deepening rifts of tragedy.
a. This horrible condition hit a real low in Noah's day when every man did evil in the sight of the Lord … where all self-control was abandoned!
b. It again hit a low point during the time of the Judges when the Bible states in Judg 17:6 "In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit."
c. Paul says that the last days will be characterized by the lack of self-control: 2 Tim 3:1-4 "But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God--"
3. Each time history has seen an explosion of undisciplined lives the stage has been set for judgment.
4. Even the world at times has recognized the absolute importance of self-control for success in life:
ILLUS:Never excuse. Never explain. Never complain. -- motto of the British Foreign Service. Leadership, Vol. 16, no. 3.
5. Our armed forces could not exist nor could our military strength without major amounts of self-control!
6. It is not likely that you will live a successful Christian life without well developed self-control.
a. Sin is a reality, and victory as a Christian will hinge on the right kind of self-control.
b. The predicament we are in is simple, we are sinners, and even when saved by grace our lives cannot continue to be a success without self-control.
B. Provision 8:26-27
1. Thankfully we are not alone in our self-control!
a. God has made a special provision available in order to be self-controlled.
b. The Holy Spirit has been given to all believers for the sake of helping us in our weaknesses.
c. BUT, while the Holy Spirit helps us we must also exercise self-control!
d. God does not remove our free will in the exercise of our lives even after we are saved, in fact we aren't really free until we are saved … we are now free to be self-controlled.
2. God's Spirit is thus teaching us, training us … but we must yield to that training and exercise our self-control made possible now by God's power in our lives.
3. The world may not understand this process but we must not ignore it!
a. The world can't understand how a Holy Spirit can possibly make things different … but they will understand the results if they see us yielded to God and our lives self-controlled.
ILLUS:Quarterback Tony Rice led Notre Dame's football team to a national championship in 1988. Before the season, sportswriters wondered whether Notre Dame could beat the tough teams with a quarterback like Rice, whose passing often was inaccurate. They didn't know that coach Lou Holtz had bought Rice a dart board and told him to practice throwing darts an hour a day.
Rice didn't see how that would help his passing, but he did as his coach said. Soon he began to throw passes with more accuracy and confidence--both of which were evidenced in a banner season. Christians likewise find the practice of sharing a sentence or two of testimony or prayer on a regular basis can sharpen those skills. Any activity will improve with practice. -- Richard C. Kauffman, Jr. Leadership, Vol. 10, no. 4.
b. Does your life reflect the training of the Holy Spirit or the values of this world?
c. The world will judge us more by what they see in our lives than what they hear us say.
d. A self-controlled godly life will do more that all the theology books in a library!
II. POWER OF SELF-CONTROL I Cor. 9:24-10:13
A. Prize! 9:24-27
1. Paul mentions the fact that in a race all the runners run, but only the MOST disciplined person usually wins … so we are to run FOR THE PRIZE.
a. The self-control we exercise in this life does have a focus, both now and in eternity.
b. The Olympics will be starting soon, imagine how many undisciplined athletes will be there … NONE!
c. The level of self-control can actually determine the quality of our life as well as the rewards of our life … both now and in eternity!
2. Athletes don't accept excuses, only those who lack self-control have a myriad number of excuses, judges don't accept excuses either!
a. imagine telling a judge at the Olympics that you were just too busy to train since the last Olympics 4 years ago so you hoped that the judge would be a little easier on them.
b. If you want the prize, you must accept the self-control that comes with getting it!
c. We cannot choose to become a believer and then expect to ignore God's call in our lives for self-control.
3. For those who learn to have self-control the rewards can be sweet, we must not forget what is most important.
ILLUS:When Matthias Corvinus was made king of Hungary, he declared that his first objective was the protection of his country's borders. His second objective was the recovery of the historic crown of St. Stephen, worn by most of his predecessors. As Christians our first objective is to win the crown of life. -- Robert C. Shannon, 1000 Windows, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1997).
4. Self-control is required for every step of our lives, there will never come a time where we can avoid it.
a. God has marked out the course, we must accept the course and follow His plan if we would enjoy the rewards He also has for us.
ILLUS:When I was in college, the cross-country team ran on the golf course. The officials for the race would go out ahead, placing flags on the course to show the runners where they were supposed to run. A certain color indicated "left turn." Another color meant "right turn." Another said "straight ahead."
There was a race marked out for the runners; and if they had any intention of taking home a medal, they had to follow the race course marked out. You couldn't decide, "Boy, this is a six-mile race, but I've only got four miles in me this morning. I'm going to take a short cut. I hope nobody minds."
You can't look at a particular hill and say, "That hill just looks nasty. I'm not going to tackle that one today. I'll just skip around it." You have to run the race marked out for you.
So it is in this Christian life. God has gone before you. He knows your end from your beginning. He knows all the days of your life. In his great foreknowledge, he has gone ahead of you and planted these flags ahead of you. And the Scripture says, "Run with perseverance the race marked out for you." -- Craig Brian Larson, "Strong to the Finish," Preaching Today, Tape No. 155.
b. We can spend a lot of wasted time either manufacturing excuses for our lack of self-control or trying to explain our reasons for ignoring self-control … but it will not change anything for the better.
5. Paul even states how important it was for him as a leader to be sure that his own life reflected strong self-control while he has preached it to others or he himself could lose the prize.
a. Real leaders have a great deal of self-control in their lives.
b. Such self-control should be evident to all.
B. Possibilities! 10:1-13
1. Israel serves as a great example of the possibilities of self-control, and the results when such control is absent.
a. All the Israelites had experienced equal realities, both with God and each other … and so many of them perished through failed self-control. They now serve as a warning to us to not follow such an undisciplined life.
b. Less than a handful of Israelites who left Egypt made the promise land, it was the constant lack of self-control by the vast majority that took them from one disaster to another, and it was the basis of their constant grumbling!
c. Generally speaking people who complain a lot are usually undisciplined people … their complaints help them excuse their own lack of self-control by putting the blame on others.
2. It has always been true that both possibilities exist for our lives, darkness and deliverance … and so much of this comes from either the lack of self-control or the exercise of it.
ILLUS:No horse gets anywhere until he is harnessed. No steam or gas ever drives anything until it is confined. No Niagara is ever turned into light and power until it is tunneled. No life ever grows great until it is focused, dedicated, disciplined. Harry Emerson Fosdick (1878-1969) - Edythe Draper, Draper's Book of Quotations for the Christian World (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1992). Entry 9971.
3. How productive is your life? How fruitful has your life been? Is your life a demonstration of self-control that others can admire and follow?
4. It takes a narrow focus to be self-controlled … but this will keep us moving in the right direction.
ILLUS:A compass is narrow-minded-it always points to the magnetic north. It seems that is a very narrow view, but a compass is not broad-minded. If it were, all the ships at sea and all the planes in the air would be in danger. We must discipline ourselves, personally, to fight any deviation from the course Jesus set for us. We cannot be tolerant of any other course. To deviate is to sin. Billy Graham (1918- ) - Edythe Draper, Draper's Book of Quotations for the Christian World (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1992). Entry 9965.
5. All of us face the same temptations (10:13), we have the same opportunities (10:1-4), AND the same need for self-control if we are to be a success spiritually and otherwise.
6. Self-control is love's victory, are you living victoriously?
CONCLUSION: Of the 8 characteristics of the fruit of the Holy Spirit 7 are directed either Godward or manward … this last one however is directed selfward! No progress in a believer's life can occur without this final quality, "self-control is love's victory!" The undisciplined life will be a disaster spiritually and otherwise. How victorious is your life?