Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:2-11)
Governing The Passion Of Self
There is an animal that is more difficult to control than any of God’s creation. That creature lies within the soul of man and is the agent of goodness or wickedness. It is the part of man that declares his free moral agency allowing him to be accountable for his life. Established by the Lord by separating him from the beasts of the field, the struggle of self-will makes man a moral creature accountable for his words, thoughts and actions. The passion of the spirit of man can make him to be a creature of worship toward his creator or it can lead him down a path of self-destruction. Giving the ability to choose right and wrong the condition of the heart decides what the will of man will do. Self-control is learning how to guide the desires of the heart towards what the Lord wants man to do. More often than not man will choose to follow his own self-will because he believes he knows more than God and the appeal of the flesh is better served with no limits. Disciplining the passions of lusts is very difficult. As the fruits of the Spirit manifest themselves in the life of the child of God, the need to restrain the free spirit of man is more apparent. The forbidden fruit looks appealing and desiring to become wise man allows self-restraint to be forgotten. Self-control is learning how to control the creation of man’s inner desires for good.
The passions that drive a man were placed there by God. It is what separates us from the animal world. Right and wrong are determined by the manner we control the will of self. Placed before man is the choice of life or death and the control of the passions will either come from obedience to the word of God or abandoning the Lord for self-gratification. What makes self-control so difficult is the willingness to follow the path of righteousness but the temptation to enjoy the temporary fruits of sin overtakes the heart. David failed to control the feelings of self when he committed adultery with Bathsheba. He further lacked self-control when he devised a plan to cover up his sin and in the end lost control of every part of his life. A choice was made and he made the wrong choice. The heart of the problem was the lack of self-control. Without the governing influence of the word of God, there is no guidance and the devil wins.
Self-control is where character comes from. Peter shows that knowledge is a vital part of the growth of the Christian but without the discipline to implement that knowledge in the proper manner, sin will have its victory. Self-control is dependent upon knowledge and will need to be fortified with a spirit of perseverance. Self is hard to wrangle as it wiggles around seeking its own enjoyments. The wiles of the devil can only be defeated when the spirit is controlled with the strength of God’s word and the steel character of goodness protecting the way. Every sin can be defined by the lack of self-control. Growing in the grace and knowledge of Christ comes from the character building exercise of discipline. Learning to control the heart from anger, jealousy, passions, sinful lusts and a host of maladies that challenge the character of righteousness will change the person of God into a valiant soldier of Christ. Battle worn veterans in the war with Satan know that controlling self is where victory is found.
The graces defined by Peter present a complete picture of the Christian model of righteousness. No one character is more important than the other but without self-control there will be failure. Self-control is a key to fighting the passions of sin that destroy character, reputations, families and the work of the Lord. Faith must be fortified with the discipline of placing the will under the hand of God and forging a heart guided by the knowledge of truth established with a mind of perseverance. The great men and women of scripture have one thing in common: the presence of self-control. Every story of failure can be laid at the feet of lacking self-control. The word of God trains the mind to control the passions in the proper context. Finding the courage to stay the course and allow the Spirit of God to possess the soul will bring greater victory. Eternal life is rest from the weary battle of self-control. Learning to put self in its proper place will bring everlasting joy in this life and the life to come.