Certain About His Calling and Choosing You—Self Control

2 Peter 1:6 “and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness,”

How certain is your salvation? On the one hand, nothing in this world or the next can separate us from Christ’s love (Rom. 8:39); on the other hand, it is also true that we ourselves can lose our salvation through neglect and unfaithfulness (Rom. 11:22). Staying called and chosen (2 Peter 1:10) is something that we should be giving focus to, because what we do effects it. Last week we focused on adding knowledge to moral excellence; this week we’ll add “self control” (2 Pet. 1:6).

2 Peter 1:6 “and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness,”

It’s no great news flash that self control is probably the least popular of the virtues listed in this passage—unless, of course, you’d like someone else to exercise some of it. But in numerous ways, it is the key to the exercise of the rest of them.

It is “the virtue of one who masters his desires and passions, especially his sensual appetites” (according to Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament). And it is necessary for any human being to exercise any sort of righteousness. Human beings (perhaps as part of our being made in the image of God) are a fusion of reason and passion. While some might wish for a “Vulcan-like” lack of emotion, the truth is that our emotions and passions are what make it possible to enjoy life. Yet, it is undeniably the passions that so often get us into trouble. Self control, self mastery, having a grip on yourself, is what properly monitors and moderates our passions, lusts, anger, pride, hatred, joy, laziness, impatience, grief, greed, and all the rest of our emotions, longings, and inclinations—good and bad.

Self control is necessary to be diligent, for example. Self control will push the disciple to keep working hard, when it would be easier to either quit or give a mediocre effort to the task at hand. Self control in diligence deliberately refocuses the mind’s attention away from distractions and gives the proper spiritual concentration to things like moral discernment, prayer, the work of the church, and one’s own heart to name just a few common things.

Self control is likewise important in regard to the gaining of knowledge, since reading, studying, and meditating on God’s word is so often interrupted or preempted by modern gadgets and and entertainments. And the same could be said for perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love found later in our context.

But how does one “get a grip on oneself”? There’s the question of questions, and the answers aren’t especially easy.

It should start with early childhood parental discipline, in which the softer clay of the child’s heart to say no to itself to avoid punishment. But not every child has this advantage, especially in this “progressive” society. So, lacking this, what now?

Learn to say no to yourself and mean it. It sounds very simple, yet to many without much self control, it is really hard. “No” in self control really means no; not maybe, not except for…, and not “just one won’t really mean that I’ve messed up”. Mean it! Let your yes be yes, and your no be no. Remember each time you’re tempted, you do have a choice.

Secondly, know where the lines are that you must never cross. This may be slightly different for everyone, but it is learned by experience, godly teaching, or observation. And by the way, the first line to never cross on some things is the line of doing it in the first place—drink, drugs, illicit sex fit this category. Successful dieters will know how much they can eat and will not eat a smidgen more. Good men will know the point where they must walk away when they get angry. Godly teens will know the godly lines of affection, when they date. TV watchers will know when they need to turn it off and pick up their Bibles.

Be self controlled, and be increasing in it, to make your calling and election sure.

Park Linscomb

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About parklinscomb

I'm a minister for the church of Christ in Manchester NH where I've worked since the 1970's. I'm a big fan of my family, archaeology, the Bible, the Lord's church, and Gander Brook Christian Camp.
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