The Discipline of Self-Control (Titus 2:11-12)
By: Betsy St. Amant Haddox
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. - Titus 2:11-12 (NIV)
Self-control isn’t really the most popular thing to talk about in Christian circles. It can bring a lot of shame for those who struggle with it, and a lot of pride to those who think they have it mastered (newsflash—they don’t!)
The Bible puts a lot of emphasis on the importance of self-control in a believer’s life. For instance, in the book of Proverbs, it says that someone without self-control is in danger of a break-in: Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control Proverbs 25:28. Think of how many other bad things sneak in when our “walls” of self-control are down. Anger. Bitterness. Lust. Unforgiveness, to name a few.
The Word also says that having patience is better than being a warrior! Proverbs 16:32 says, Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city. In our “microwave” culture today, where we tend to expect everything to be given to us immediately, patience can become a foreign concept. But this Scripture links patience directly to self-control. It’s hard to have one without the other.
So, we agree that self-control is crucial, and we all wished we had more of it. But what do we do about it? Thankfully, the Holy Spirit doesn’t leave us alone to figure it out. He does the work of sanctification is us that produces good fruit. Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV) 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. One of those good fruits is self-control. It goes hand in hand with the others listed, which makes sense. Think how much easier it is to have self-control when you already possess joy, love, and peace!
Our theme verse in Titus 2 informs us that the grace of God is what teaches us to say no to sin, and to live self-controlled lives. It’s not something we pull out of ourselves, but what He works in us.
Sometimes, we think “it’s just too hard” or “no one would blame me if I binge-ate right now.” We think we deserve to indulge in this vice or in that sin because of what we’ve been through. We justify our wrong thoughts or motives with “no one can be expected to withstand this.”
But 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV) begs to differ. No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
We are truly without excuse. All temptation is common. King Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes that there is nothing new under the sun. Jesus even went through the same temptations as we did, and yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:15)
The Bible promises us that we will be able to withstand temptation through the power of the Holy Spirit—through the Lord working self-control in us. That means we have the ability to change the channel, avert our eyes, put down the second helping of cake, drop the cigarettes or alcohol for good, or leave the room. We can walk away, bite our lip, hold back the mean words, or stop seeking revenge—not because of our best efforts, but because of the Spirit in us. Because of God’s grace.
If you’re struggling in this area of your life today, pray for grace. Pray for the Holy Spirit to teach you self-control. Ask Him for that particular fruit in your life. Then trust Him to grow it in you.
Betsy St. Amant Haddox is the author of more than fifteen inspirational romance novels and novellas. She resides in north Louisiana with her hero of a hubby, two total-opposite young daughters, a vast collection of coffee mugs, and an impressive stash of Pickle chips. Betsy has a B.A. in Communications and a deep-rooted passion for seeing women restored in Christ. When she’s not sweating it out at Camp Gladiator or trying to prove unicorns are real, Betsy can usually be found somewhere in the vicinity of a white-chocolate mocha—no whip. Look for her latest novel with Revell, The Key To Love, coming October 2020. Visit her at http://www.betsystamant.com.
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