“Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Matthew 5:48 NASB
But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control…
II Peter 1:5-6 NKJV
Another Word for Self-Control,used in other translations, is temperance ; from which the word temperate is gotten.
Self-Control is the building block added to Knowledge on your path unto Perfection.
It is very important to gain quality knowledge. Not just head knowledge but heart-knowledge where you are fully convinced of what you know and experiential knowledge where you seek to experience and practice what You learn from Scripture. Then comes Self- Control.
Self-Control deals with how you practice whatever you have gained from knowledge.
Self-Control is the English translation for the original Greek word enkrateia/egkrateia(eng-krat’-i-ah). This word means mastery of strength.
The Knowledge that you have gained from the Word must be put to use with mastery. You must control yourself on how to use this kind of knowledge. Someone might ask? If Self- Control means mastery of strength, what has that got to do with knowledge? Knowledge is strength. Scripture affirms that too.
A wise man is strong, Yes, a man of knowledge increases strength.
Proverbs 24:5 NKJV
From God’s Word, we have gained knowledge on so many things that we are meant to control. One of which is our fleshy desires. Desires of anger, pleasure of food, sex and money etc. These desires are meant to be put in check. They are meant to be mastered.
Another meaning for egkrateia is continence.
What is Continence?
Meriam-Webster dictionary puts it this way:
1 : self-restraint; especially : a refraining from sexual intercourse
2 : the ability to retain a bodily discharge.
An illustration of a bodily discharge can be the passing of urine. Yes It looks disgusting But it’s the best illustration.
Continence of that sort is the ability to retain urine and pass it out when the environment is ideal. Now replace urine with Anger. Just like Urine, there’s nothing wrong with being angry. The Word of God never speaks of anger being sin. Anger is a reaction to hurt or disappointment. The problem is the control of anger.
Be angry, and do not sin: do not let the sun go down on your wrath.
Ephesians 4:26 NKJV
Note that the passage of Scripture never said Don’t be angry. It actually says Be angry. Then adds a word of caution, …Do not sin. Do not also let the sun go down on your wrath. You are expected to retain your anger and pass it out in the right environment, the right way. Do not hurt someone because of your anger or do something stupid that will eventually lead to regrets. Just like urine, you can control its flow. Instead of being forceful with when angry and you control yourself to pass out anger in calmness, choosing your words rightly.
The same goes for sexual pleasure. Just like urine, sex is not bad or wrong. It is one of the best gifts God gave us. Imagine you feeling like passing out urine and you are in a Conference Room of a Large Corporation, having a business meeting. Will you pass out urine there right in front of everyone?
Or you move to a site that clearly states that it is against the law to pass out urine there. Will you do it? Well you can (an unwise decision) but you have to be ready for the consequences.
The same goes for sex. You have to retain the urine until you get to the right environment (eg. A bathroom) to pass it out. The ideal environment for sex is MARRIAGE and with your married partner who MUST BE of the opposite sex.
But if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.
I Corinthians 7:9 NKJV
The exercise of Self-Control is not an easy task. It is very difficult to control fleshly desires that is why it is not news that everyone has failed to control a particular kind of fleshy desire at certain point in time in the past. Not only for fleshy desires but also the ideal environment and manner for the release of Knowledge gained.
Without the grace of God, self-control is impossible. We all need to make use of God’s supply of help through Grace by His Spirit living within us.
God is always faithful and just to forgive your past mistakes and help you at the same time nurture the quality of Self-Control in all things. The supply of Grace is always sufficient for you in Jesus Name!
In our next session, we will deal with another aspect of the quality of self-control unto the goal of Perfection.
E. O. UcHe