Garry continued his series on 2 Pet 1:3-9 this morning, looking at adding self-control to our goodness and knowledge.

Self-control (translated as ‘temperance’ in the KJV) is having power or force or strength over one’s self. Temperance reminded Garry of ferrous metals which need ‘tempering’ (a process by which the hardness or elasticity of metals (such as steel) is improved by heating and re-cooling it.) If a metal is heated and then cooled suddenly, it becomes very hard but is also very brittle; if a metal is heated and cooled gradually, it becomes softer and more pliable. The ideal is somewhere in between!

Christians are often characterised as soft and pliable, this being seen in negative terms (‘soppy’, ‘wimps’ etc.) We need to have backbone, a strength of character that allows us to bend without snapping, even if others are urging us to go one way and we know that we need to go God’s way. Sin no longer has mastery over us (see Rom 6:5-6), because our old self has been crucified with Christ. God has liberated us from the desires that ruled over us (see Eph 2:1-2). We have been transferred from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light, but the Spirit does not make us slaves (see Rom 8:15). God has purchased us with the blood of Christ and is our rightful owner now, but it is as if He has given the remote control back to us. We are now free to choose to obey and to surrender to Him (or to give in to the old way of living and to the temptations of the devil.)

Paul talks about self-control using the imagery of athletics in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. Self-disciplines is required in any aspect of life if we are to succeed. We don’t hate our bodies (see Eph 5:29), but at times we have to push through the pain barrier and do that which is the right thing to do, regardless of our feelings. Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit and is something that, although instantly accessible to us through God’s Spirit, tends to grow within us as we learn to say ‘no’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age (Titus 2:13).

Paul urges Timothy to spurn all that is evil and to ‘run away from infantile indulgence. Run after mature righteousness—faith, love, peace—joining those who are in honest and serious prayer before God.’ (see 2 Tim 2:19, 22-23, The Message.) We have been given the power to choose whether we serve God or serve our own appetites, whether we ‘become the kind of container God can use to present any and every kind of gift to his guests for their blessing.’ (2 Tim 21, The Message)