The Fruit of the Spirit series is rolling along… maybe we should have kicked off this series with this weeks fruit focus – Self-Control. Aristotle, Plato and Socrates spent much time thinking about this Fruit of the Spirit and had some interesting things to say about it.
Socrates thought that Self Control was the foundational human virtue. The beginning of any virtue in life began with one’s exercise of self control over desires.
Plato thought about this for awhile… and came tot he same conclusion… who is the self anyway? Who is the self being mastered and who is the self doing the mastering? The more he thought, the more absurd this sounded. Anyone who is his own master is also his own slave… it would seem that the self trying to master itself will always be at war with itself.
Plato solved this problem by defining a noble self: the noble self is the rational self within a person. And the less nobler self is the passion and desire driven self. For the ancient Greeks it was like this: Freedom is of supreme value and freedom is maximized when one’s desires and passions are mastered by the rational self so that one was free to enjoy them rather than be enslaved to them.
This starting point of mastering the self with the self has some Biblical inconsistencies. Basically, if the self is sinful then the self cannot self-control the self. We are in need of an outside influence or outside power in order to control the self. It’s a fundamental understanding in Scripture that self-control is a bit of an oxymoron, for self-control is found in being controlled by the Spirit of God.
I’ve always liked the analogy of a lure and a fish to describe the lure of pleasures that can quickly lead to addictions. We are like fish, swimming around the vast waterways of life – so much freedom of where to travel. And along the way we have hungers and desires that long to be satisfied. And then, we see something enticing that promises to fulfill the hunger and desire. We swim around the lively lure – looks so real, so promising. And then we decide to consume this promising pleasure… and when we realize the promise wasn’t real – its too late – we are hooked.
Sounds like we have a challenging one for Sunday. In a world bent on pursuing pleasure as an end game, where addictions of many kinds seek to control us and our lives, this message is relevant for each and every one of us. Title of the message is: Cultivating Self Control in the Midst of Pleasure and Addiction. Our text will come from a couple places: The Parable of the Sower (seed among the thorns), Titus 3:3-5, and 1 Corinthians 6:12. Word out!
In Jesus name,