Bible Study Notes:

Fruit of the Spirit: Self-Control

Galatians 5:23-6:1

 

These notes are from a transcript of the postings during Bible Study on Thursday Nights at 9 PM Eastern Time US at Bible Study Chat at churchusa.com. You are welcome to join us!

Praise the Lord! Thank you Father tonight for victory in Jesus Name! Jesus Your Name is Wonderful, Counselor, Everlasting Father, Almighty God, Prince of Peace! Praise Your Name Forever! Father, open our hearts to hear Your Word tonight. Teach us and help us put it into practice.

satan we come against you in the MIGHTY Name of Jesus, we bind you and rebuke you and cast you out in Jesus Name.

Holy Spirit, we invite you to be our teacher and to bring all things to our remembrance. In Jesus Name. AMEN and AMEN!

Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

We've been talking about the Fruit of the Spirit for several weeks. We've covered them all but self-control. This is an area that is a struggle for many believers - but it is one in which we can be victorious through God's Spirit!

Temperance (enkrateia) or self-control is a moderation in the indulgence of the appetites and passions.

Remember that the works or acts of the flesh are something we CHOOSE to do, the fruit of the Spirit is produced in us by the Spirit as we yield to God. God intends for EACH believer to produce ALL of the fruit of the Spirit in their life. In our society, there is a lack of self-control, to say the least! We are taught to fulfill all our desires RIGHT NOW, no matter what it takes or who it hurts. There is more drug, alcohol and sexual addiction in this country than ever before.

You see if you don't control your appetites and desires, THEY will control YOU. God is not a "party pooper" - He has given us all things freely to enjoy. But we are not to use our freedom to indulge our sensual appetites in an unlawful way. God has set limits on our behavior for our own good. We can't always see that, but nevertheless it's true. And He has equipped us by the power of the Holy Spirit to do what He asks of us.

It's very important I think not to let the issue of self-control bring you under bondage. "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." In Hebrews 12:1 we are told: "Therefore since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entanges, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." There are things that hinder us in our walk - oh like circumstances, finances, people - we need to throw off those weights. We also have entangling or besetting sins - those are the things we struggle with. Sometimes we get discouraged when we fail God over and over in some thing. And we feel like quitting, giving up, saying "I can't make it!"

But we MUST remember that we are still God's children and He is our helper through the Spirit. When we fall - and we ALL do at times - ask forgiveness, let the Lord set you on your feet again and keep on keeping on! His desire is to strengthen us - and eventually we will be victorious. Did you know that a bone that is broken and healed is STRONGER than one that hasn't been? So the very things that the devil tempts you with the most, the very things that have caused you to stumble and fall, your worst weaknesses, when yielded to God, will be the areas of your greatest strength! Hallelujah! Praise God for His strengthening power.

So when things get hard for you, when you feel like you've failed the Lord, then that is the time to rejoice! Why? Because WHEN you have achieved victory, you will be stronger than ever! Now the next verse relates to self control.

V. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.

I am crucified with Christ - when He died for our sins, He killed their power over us. When we identify with His death on the cross, we crucify our sinful nature. As we walk in the Spirit and yield areas of our life to Him, He places them on the cross and there they die. The chains are broken and we are set free!

This process is also called sanctification. To sanctify means to make holy, to set aside for a sacred use. As we walk in the Spirit, we are cleansed from sin and the sinful nature, and become more like Christ. This is a lifelong process really, but we must walk in that sanctifying, cleansing power of the spirit daily.

It's hard to keep the corpse of our old nature dead I know! But part of what I've learned is that when we become too anxious about it, it gets worse. There is a place of rest and peace in Jesus that sanctifies wholly. And sanctification is a two edged-sword, as the negative it is a crucifixion, as a positive, the joyous infilling of the Spirit.

I think a lot of people get hung up on the negative and forget the positive I think the line between walking in the Spirit and being ruled by Law is when we become too fixated on the negative. Remember the FRUIT is PRODUCED by the SPIRIT as we yield to Him, received by faith just like any other grace of God. Of course the opposite would be living in liscense, which is not freedom but sin.

V. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

Wow, walking with the Spirit of God! Just like in Eden, we have been restored to fellowship with God, walking with Him by His Spirit, how awesome.

Some presume to tell God what to do, instead of vice versa. Which is what this verse is addressing - keep in step, walk alongside of, the Spirit.

V. 25 AMPLIFIED: If we live by the (Holy) Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. -- If by the (Holy) Spirit we have our life [in God], let us go forward, walking in line, our conduct controlled by the Spirit.

Jesus said the Holy Spirit would be our paracletos, one called alongside to help. This really helps me see it - the Spirit our friend and guide walking with us, guiding us, holding us by the hand, ever so gently whispering God's love to us. Praise the Lord!

I think whether we walk in the flesh or in the Spirit directly relates to our vision of Jesus. How do we really see Him? Just as a ticket out of hell, and don't bother me until I'm old and had my fun? Or the suffering savior who sweated drops of blood, who hung on a thief's cross, who became sin for us, who has been made both Lord and Christ, and deserves our love, honor and respect?

I also see one problem stemming from not reading the Word - they don't know what God wants because they don't listen. But in the end, they suffer loss. The only way to live is God's full counsel - written in His Word. Now letting us produce the fruit of the Spirit and allowing us to walk with the Spirit is pretty heady stuff, and sad to say, some Spirit-filled Christians let it go to their heads, as if they did something. I think Paul must have seen the same problem in the early church for he says:

v. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

Oh Lord, help you people love one another! Like you love them, equally without envy or argument! Lord, send a great thirst for the living water and a hunger after righteousness we pray. Stir your sleeping saints, open their eyes to the scalding forces of evil in our land.

That's why the Word is so important. God's people need the Word! It grieves me that so many know so little - and don't really want to know it! Paul said that knowledge puffs up but love builds up. Whatever knowledge the Lord has given us should be used to build up the body of Christ, not bring glory to an individual or group.

Conceited means proud of who you are and what you know. But what do we have that has not been given to us? We are not our own, we are bought with a price - the precious, priceless blood of Jesus! What do we have to be puffed up about?

v. 26 Amplified: Let us not become vainglorious and self-conceited, competitive and challenging and provoking and irritating to one another, envying and being jealous of one another.

You might not agree with me, but I dislike Sunday School "campaigns" where the red group is competing with the blue group to see who can bring in the most visitors. I just seems the wrong spirit to me. We need to learn to cooperate, work together, not fight each other.

Philippians 1:15-18 It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice.

This is interesting, but I think the point is that when God's Word goes it, it achieves results even if the preacher ain't quite all that. It's the Word that saves! The Gospel has power even from the mouths of those whose motives are not pure. But how much more when delivered in love, unity and peace! Wouldn't it be better if our motivation was winning the lost, not winning a contest? If it was a 12 month thing instead of a once-yearly campaign?

And some think they have the "gift" of irritation. Like the devil doesn't do enough of that without their help! I see a lot of, "It's just the way I am, I can't help it". Lord help you, it's the way your carnal nature is, and the Spirit wants to change you. But we are a competitive nation and it's hard for us corporately and individually to give up our "competitive edge" for the sake of one another. We never stop to ask if the "profit motive" is valid.

Provoking and envying one another - sounds like a soap opera plot doesn't it? But sadly it is the state of some in the body of Christ. Instead of provoking we should be encouraging. Instead of envying we should be rejoicing at the blessings of others!

Father God produce in us the Fruit of Your Spirit, we pray. Sanc tify and cleanse us and help us love one another from the heart.

OK, let's go on to chapter 6!

Galatians 6:1 Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.

What is this verse talking about? Well first of all we need to review the way Jesus said to handle offenses in the Church. Most Christians I know either try to ignore it, or gossip or get mad, what did Jesus say to do?

Matthew 18:15 "If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over."

Our first step is to go to that brother ALONE and try to work it out. If he listens, you forgive him and the matter ends there. OH, how many small matters would not become mountains of contention if Christians would do this very thing!!!! Just work it out yourself between the two of you and let the Lord restore your love for one another. The second step:

Matthew 18:16 But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that `every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.'

Notice it doesn't say anywhere that you should gossip about it, or write a letter to the editor, but take 2 or 3 godly brothers or sisters along and then try to resolve it. And of course, this pre-suposes that you have dealt with your own problems first. But if it is the "plank in your own eye" that's causing the problem, the 2 or 3 witnesses just might bring that to y our attention too! Third step:

Matthew 18:17a "If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church;"

Now I think we really need to be careful here - tell it to the CHURCH - I think this ought to be an assembly of believers not just any old meeting. Because a great deal of harm can be caused by these kinds of conflicts, especially if done before baby Christians or unbelievers. Step 4:

Matthew 18:17a "and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector."

This is extreme and is known as dis-fellowshipping, shunning or ex-communication. Or treating him as an IRS agent! Paul gave an example of this when a man was expelled for having unlawful sexual relations (I Corinthians 5:1-5). I have known of some who believed that God "called " them to commit adultery or some such nonsense, and they thought they were still genuinely doing God's will. The human heart can justify all kinds of evil.

This brings us to 6:1 - after a person has been shunned (or whatever you prefer to call it) they may then repent and come back. This is when we should restore them gently. When the one mentioned above repented, Paul admonished the Corinthians to forgive and comfort him (I Corinthians 2:5-8). We shouldn't make them feel uncomfortable or treat them like second class Christians because they've failed, but restore - give back to them what they lost - our fellowship, our concern, our trust. The Greek word for restore is the same one used for setting bones, mending nets or bringing factions together = a healing in the body.

Father God thank you for your Word. Plant it deeply in our hearts and help us to put it in to practice. AMEN

God's blessings on you all! Thank God for willing patient, learners!

 

Remember, whenever God gives us a revelation, the devil tries to steal it from us. Guard your hearts and meditate on what you've learned!
And put it into practice!

 

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