Developing the Spirit's Fruit of Self-Control - p3

Steve Viars July 8, 2000 Romans 6:11-14

- Well, this morning we’re going to be concluding our study of the Fruit of the Spirit.
- we’ve worked on this topics for 16 weeks, and I hope what we’ve studied from the Word of God has been a help and encouragement to you.
- let me take a moment and tell you what the preaching plan is from here.
- for the rest of the summer, until the middle of August or so, we’re going to be asking the question, “What Comes After Fruitfulness?”
- after this marvelous list Paul gives us in Galatians 5, there’s a little over a chapter of material that logically follows what Paul has already said...that I think we might as well logically study it while we’re “in the neighborhood” so to speak.
- I think you’ll find that Paul deals with some very practical issues in the remaining verses of the book that can challenge us both individually and as a church.
- Then Lord willing this fall we’ll begin a study called “Walking with the Master.”
- its been some time since we’ve done a concentrated study on some aspect of the Life of Christ.
- and I think its one thing to talk about being more like Jesus Christ, its something else to carefully and systematically study what the Bible records about His words and works.
- you can’t become more like someone unless you know them well.
- we’ll have more to say about that as we get closer to this fall.

- if you were here a couple of weeks ago, you know that I asked several questions about the issue of self-control.
- that’s the final characteristic of the Fruit of the Spirit.
- one of the question we considered was, do you find self-control to be an easy thing, does it come naturally?
- and we concluded, I think, that most of us would say that while in some areas of life self-control might come easily, most of us [and perhaps I should just say it], all of us have some “self-control trouble spots”----some areas in which we just wrestle with being under the control of the Holy Spirit of God.
- we went on to ask, what are some of those?
- and the one we concentrated on two weeks ago was the matter of sinful anger.
- some of us really struggle there so we studied what God’s Word says about bringing that area of life under control.
- my guess is, that after clearing that one off the deck....for many of us, what would be left regarding areas of self-control in which we struggle would have something to do with the body.
- and that’s what I would like us to conclude our series with this morning, thinking about Developing Self-Control in the Way We Use Our Bodies

- now you might say, PV, what do you mean by the phrase “the way we use our bodies”?
- well, that’s still a pretty broad category, isn’t it?
- but I’d like to ask you to personalize it to the things with which you especially struggle.
- for some, its going to have something to do with the matter of human sexuality.
- like it or not, we live in a sex crazed culture.
- the temptation to sin in some way in this area of life is immense...
- and the opportunities to sin in this area are becoming more complex and sophisticated all the time.
- the computer is a tool that can be great blessing and a great aide to productivity, but it can also be a source of tremendous temptation that most of us would have never imagined just ten years ago.
- television can be a powerful tool, but its programming gets ranuchier by the year.
- and when I hear announcements about the cable company and satellite dishes being available with over 200 channels, I look at that and say, God deliver us.
- some of you are in work environments where the conversation is focused on sins of the body day after day after day.
- its hard to keep your mind pure and its hard not to let that daily barrage of sinfulness eat away at your convictions.

- so I’m going to be applying some of what we’re talking about today to sexual sins because that is a significant area of temptation for many.
- but there’s other sins of the body....
- for some its the matter of the appropriate amount of rest....
- for others, its laziness...
- for some, its eating, or diet, or exercise.
- also under this heading is the way we communicate....our tongue is one of the “members of our body” to use King James English.
- there’s also the matter of violence and how we use our hands and for some even their fists.

- so friend, I’d like to ask you to be thinking about the areas of life regarding the body in which you especially struggle....and let’s investigate whether God’s Word can really help us develop self-control even on this important matter.

- now someone might say, PV, is there really any hope, here?
- this person might think -- I’ve made a lot of progress in my Christian life....but there’s an area of self-control of the body that’s just a hold-out area
- its like that closet in my house that needs to be cleaned and I’ve tried a few times but its always a mess...

- friends, the bottom line is, an important part of the way we glorify God is what we do with our bodies
- an important part of how we demonstrate His transforming power to a lost and dying world is how we use our bodies
- an important part of how we demonstrate our love for Him and His love for us is how we use our bodies.
- and God can help us even in this challenging area of life.

- with that in mind, I’d like to ask you to open your Bible to two important passages of Scripture.
- one of them is the key passage we’ve been studying all along, Galatians chapter 5 and the other one is Romans chapter 6.
- if you’re new to finding your way around the Bible, there’s a pew Bible in the pew in front of you, and you’ll locate Galatians 5 on page 149 of the back section of the pew Bible, and Romans 6 on page 122 of the pew Bible.
- now, this will be the last time we’ll read our key text in Galatians 5 for a while, but please be thinking about how many of the areas the Galatians were struggling with involved a lack of self-control.
- READ Galatians 5:13-26
- with that in mind, let me ask you to look over at Romans chapter 6....
- we’re going to be especially looking at verses 11-14.
- READ Romans 6:11-14

- in the time we have remaining this morning, I’d like us to think about....
Three Areas of Life that Need Attention to Develop Self-Control of our Bodies.

I.  Self-Control of the Body Involves Your Mind.


- that’s what Paul is arguing in verse 11 of this great text.
- its important for us to say this morning that Biblical Christianity is not religious behaviorism
- too often in Christian circles, there’s an inordinate amount of attention given to the outer man but not near enough emphasis on the heart.
- but even in a message like today that is specifically on what we’re doing with our bodies, we still have to talk about the important place of the inner man.
- Paul says in verse 11, an important part of this puzzle is, what you consider yourself to me...
- its an accounting term....”what you consider yourself” or “what you reckon to be true”

- now this isn’t the power of positive thinking....
- its not, tell yourself you’re going to win the lottery, and imagine the right numbers in your mind and then confidently march up to the cash register ad if you just believe in yourself, you’ll win....

- this isn’t mind games, or mind manipulation....but it this...we’re talking about you learning what is true of you biblically, and then factoring that into the struggles of daily living.
- why?....because if you go into a temptation with defeated, unbiblical thoughts.....friend, you’re in real trouble.
- conversely, if you walk into a situation, taking what you know to be true and factoring that into what you’re facing now....you’re much more likely to succeed.

- when I was a boy my parents let me play little league baseball.
- frankly, I wasn’t very good.
- usually I was the guy who played right field and batted last.
- [if I’ve just described you, I can feel your pain....]

- my biggest problem was, I couldn’t hit the ball....and the reason was, I was afraid of getting hit.
- in Little league, you were forever getting beaned with the ball, and I didn’t like that....
- my parents tell me that there were times that even while the ball was on its way I would start yelling because I was sure I was sure I was going to get beaned again.

- well, at the beginning of one season, we were going to have an exhibition game.
- and the coach was going to try a whole bunch of people at a whole bunch of different positions, so he announces that I’m going to be the lead off batter.
- I didn’t want to be the lead-off batter, because that’s when the pitcher’s arm the strongest, and he can throw the hardest, so when he beans you, it really hurts.
- to make matters worse, we were playing one of the best teams, and they had Bobby Kodeiker as their star pitcher....
- so I’m standing there hoping that their coach is going to try someone else out first, but sure enough, he sends out Bobby Kodeiker
- and I’m watching Bobby warm up, and he’s throwing smoke.
- that ball was coming in like a freight train....
- its always a bad sign when the catcher occasionally takes off his catchers mitt and shakes his hand....

- and I told myself right then and there, Steve, there are worse things than getting hit by a baseball....
- you’ve been hit dozens of times and you’re still alive....so stand up there and try to make contact with the ball....
- and sure enough, the game started, Bobby Kodeiker threw one of his fastballs, and I smacked it and ran like crazy.
- you should have seen my coach....you should have seen my teammates....
- no one in Lake County would have believed it.....

- but the best thing about it was, the next time I got up to bat, their coach had taken Bobby Kodeiker out and was trying one of their new pitchers....and my friend Chuck Dallman who was watching the game came over while I was warming up and said....hey Fuzz, if you can hit Bobby Kodeiker....you can hit anybody.
- that statement was made to me over 25 years ago, and I can remember it to this day.
- what he was saying was, if you take what you know to be true, and factor that into what you’re facing now....you’re much more likely to succeed.

- now, what does verse 11 say is true?
- you are dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
- now what does all that mean?

- it means that if there has been a definite time in your life when you’ve admitted your sin and trusted Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord....your relationship to your sinful habits was forever changed....
- your relationship to the power of adversary was forever changed....
- your relationship to what formerly had mastery over you forever changed....
- you died to sin....that is, you were no longer enslaved to it.....
- and you were raised to a new life in Christ.

- we don't have time this morning to thoroughly study verses 1-10 this morning, but they give specific detail about what happens to a person when they come to Christ.
- there’s an identification with the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ....
- at that moment, you die positionally to sin, and you are raised to a new life in Christ.

- by the way, that’s why its so important, after being saved, to be baptized....
- not that water baptism saved anyone because it doesn’t.....
- but your baptism pictures this very truth.....[develop....you are proclaiming that what you’re trusting for your salvation is the death, burial and resurrection of Christ.....and that what happened to Him has now happened to you.....you’ve died to sin and been raised....]

- some of the greatest words by the way are the last three of verse 11.....”in Christ Jesus”....
- when a person comes to Christ....they are now in Him and He is in you.
- you are forever united with Him.
- that’s one of the uniquenesses of Biblical Christianity....
- I’ve spent hours talking to Muslims seeking to learn about their religion, they never talk about being in Mohammed or in Allah...
- you’ll never hear a Buddist talk about being in Buddah.....

- this is a uniquely Christian doctrine, where because of the shed blood of Jesus Christ forgiving us of our sins and the righteousness of Christ being placed on our account....it is possible for you to be in Christ, and Him to be in you.

- now friend, I want to ask you a question....do you know that?
- and I’m not asking you if you know that theologically....I’m asking you if you are learning to use that truth at a time of sinful temptation with your body?
- Paul is saying, self-control of your body involves your mind in the sense that you must learn to habitually consider yourself to be dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
- we’re talking about knowing the kind of theological truths we’re discussing right now and then choosing to think about them as we face temptation.

- part of the problem here friend, is that many of are not disciplined enough to study what the Bible says about who were are in Christ so we don't have the truth necessary to consider when we need to.
- and that problem has plagued God’s people forever.....
- Hosea 4:6 - My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being My priest. Since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.
- Isaiah 1:2-3 - Listen, O heavens, and hear, O earth; For the LORD speaks, "Sons I have reared and brought up, But they have revolted against Me. "An ox knows its owner, And a donkey its master's manger, But Israel does not know, My people do not understand."
- that’s why Paul told the Colossian church, Colossians 3:10 - put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him
- now, let’s pause there and think about some applications....
1) Is it possible friend that you are here and you struggle with self-control of the body because you don’t yet genuinely know Christ?....and you’ve been trying to control some aspect of the physical body but you’ve not yet died to sin or been raised to a new life in Christ?
2) Is it possible that you need to go on a disciplined study plan regarding what the Bible says about who you are in Christ so that you have a knowledge base of Biblical truth on this matter when you need it?
3) Is it possible that you need to establish a more disciplined habit of factoring these truths into times of temptation of the body?

- now, let’s push this one step further....
yes, self-control of the body involves your mind, but Paul also says....


II.  Self-Control of the Body Involves Your Will.


- that’s the point of verse 12 --- Don’t let sin reign in your mortal body....
- what does “reign” mean.....be in charge, or have dominion...
- and Paul says, in that area of self-control of the body in which you especially struggle.....use the will that God has given you and choose to no longer let sin control your body
- now, someone might say, PV, you don't understand....this is a monster of a habit.....this has been around a long time....
- well there again, that’s where the issue of our union with Christ helps us.....

- this is not simply you up against smoking....its not you up against alcohol or drug use.....
- its not you up against pornography or some other sexual sin....
- this is you in Christ, and Christ in you.....and let’s always remind ourselves....greater is He that is in you than He that is in the world.

- this line of reasoning really helped Paul when he was writing the book of II Corinthians....
- he was listing some of the challenges of ministry and he sort of throws up his hands and says, “who is sufficient for these things?”.....
- and the answer is, in and of ourselves, no one is....
- which is why he goes on in that text and says, but our sufficiency is of God.

- now, there’s another important part of verse 12....don’t let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should do what?.....obey its lusts.
- friends, that brings us to one of the primary differences between the way biblical Christianity thinks about the body, and the way the unsaved world thinks about the body.
- for many in our world, the position is, find out what you want, and then be true to yourself by acting on those desires.
- our world knows very little about self-control and knows a whole lot about self-indulgence.

- many times the worst thing you can do with your body is to simply do what you want to do....or do what feels natural.
- this text makes it clear, there are many desires or lusts that you should not obey....you should not give into....
- if it came naturally or easy, we wouldn’t be talking about “self-control”

- now, we need to push the pause button for a moment.....an important part of the sanctification, or the growth process, is understanding what the Bible says about lusts, or desires.....
- let me ask you this....are all desires sinful?
- no?
- are all desires godly?
- certainly not according to this text.....

- desires are all lot like anger that we studied two weeks ago.....
- God made us to be desiring people.....that’s a significant component of our motivation.....

- we do things because of what we want....or what we desire.....
- and again, that’s not intrinsically bad.....
- I Timothy 3:1 - If a man desires the office of a bishop......

- So God has created us as desiring, or wanting people....
- but the problem is, so often we have let that process be corrupted by sin....
- so what we want is displeasing to God.....

- so those desires of the heart lead to sinful actions with the body....
- that’s why James said in James 1:14-15....every man is tempted to sin....
- well, what does that mean for what we’re talking about this morning.....
- many of us need to think about that area of the body in which we especially struggle with self-control...and answer the question.....what am I wanting when I do that with my body?
- or worse, what am I worshipping when I do that with my body?

- some people have become hooked on pornography because they want the control that comes with that sinful habit....
- they’re in charge and the objects of their affection exist for their selfish pleasure....
- some people get involved in illicit sex because they enjoy the rush of doing what’s forbidden....”it feels better when I cheat” the country music star says....
- some of us overeat because we want the peace, or the instant gratification.....

- and we could go on and on but friends, if we’re going to grow in the Spirit’s fruit of self-control with regards to our bodies, we’re going to have to do business with the question, when I sin with my body in that way, what am I wanting in my heart?
- what lusts am I obeying?
- what god am I serving?

- I had a elderly gay male call me this week as a result of some writing I had done recently....and I’m glad he called....
- we had a very civil conversation....in fact he appreciated that I said we ought to try to show love even to people with whom we disagree....
- but his position was....this is who I am.....these are my desires....to act any differently would be to deny an essential part of who I am as a person.....

- friend, listen, that’s the last thing you want to do.....
- there’s a lot of urges, desires, wants, lusts....whatever you want to call them....that you have to learn your will to say “no” to.....
- in the power of the Spirit of God, you can learn to do just that.

- and the beauty is, over time, you can replace sinful desires with godly ones so it becomes as habitual to want to do something to please God with your body as it used to be habitual to want to do something sinful.
- [could deal with --- how do I know if a desire is sinful or not?...check it with the sufficient Word of God]
- so far we’ve seen that self control of the body involves your mind, and it involves your will....lastly Paul emphasizes that....


III.  Self-Control of the Body Involves Your Behavior.


- that shouldn’t surprise us....at some point we have to bring this discussion down to pure behavior.
- and Paul says in verse 13 --- this comes down to a matter of where, and to whom you present your body.
- your “members” literally means body parts.
- and Paul says, if you are presenting your body to activities that are sinful....you’ve got to stop.
- and better yet, if you haven’t yet presented your body to sin in that area, don’t even start.

- God has given us a body, and no one can make us present it to anything, or anyone, for any purpose that we don’t want
- so what does this mean on a down to earth, practical level.....

1) If you’ve never smoked a cigarette before, I can speak for every person who’s ever smoked when I say, don’t ever start.
- don’t present your member to sin in that way, you will regret it.
- If you’ve never checked out pornography on the Internet before, don’t ever start.....
- If you’ve never had an illicit affair before, don’t ever start....
- If you’ve never fallen into gluttony, don’t ever start....
- If you’ve never abused alcohol or drugs, don’t ever start.....

- don’t present the members of your body as instruments of unrighteousness....

- now you might say, but PV, its too late, I’ve already started....now what?
2) The text still says what it says.....
- stop presenting your body to sin in that way......
- it will be harder than if you hadn’t started.....
- but God would want you to stop now.....

- and if you need to get some help, get some help.....
- talk to a friend, talk to your ABF teacher, talk to a deacon, talk to a pastor, but if you need to get some help, get some help.

- and if you say, but stopping will be hard.....that’s true....but a) it will never get any easier, and b) it will get nothing but harder and c) getting some distance between you and the sinful habit will be amazingly liberating......

- and here’s the beauty of it.....this is not simply a negative, stop doing sinful things with your body.....
3) but what’s the positive side....start presenting your body as an instrument of righteousness...
- and I realize that what I’m about to say can be taken to an extreme....
- but if you get involved in the body life of the church....
- and you get involved in the lives of people....
- and you get involved serving.....

- its amazing how much time you don’t have to sin.

- I hear stories in counseling and think, how in the world did you ever have time to do that?
- and I’m not talking about sanctification by busyness....but I am talking about using the Put Off / Put Principle so that you’re not just putting off what’s wrong but you’re also putting on what’s right in its place.

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video