In Matthew 5-7 we find Matthew's summary of the core of Jesus' teaching. This was not just a collection of spiritual ideas, but Jesus' vision and proclamation of what the Kingdom of God was like and who it was for. Jesus had a clear vision as well of how His followers were to respond to His teaching... to put it into practice.
Paul describes through four spiritual laws the dynamic of why and how we struggle and wrestle with sin and temptation in Romans 7:14-8:2 and the surrounding passages. Why do we struggle in our mind to do the right things we want to do? How has Jesus brought freedom to us? How do we co-operate with His Spirit of life?
Why doesn't God just immediately change our character so we never sin again? He can't, because He has made us with the free will to make moral decisions. That means our decisions matter because the choice to love God is not a one-time decision. But God has given us everything we need to learn and grow in self-control, including His grace and standing with Him as His children. By looking at these, we will encourage ourselves and find empowerment to live self-controlled lives.
God calls us to 'make every effort' to add to our faith qualities which will make our faith effective in our day to day lives. Part of this is using our willpower to build positive habits which will align our lives with what God has already done for us. Some habits (patterns of behaviour) are more powerful than others in shaping our lives, keystone habits such as prayer, engaging Scripture and being connected in community with other believers.
Christian self-control is for the purpose of releasing us to love God and others. Our two greatest enemies to our self-control are our selfish orientation (flesh, sinful nature) and Satan. Both bring temptations prompting us to take short-cuts to what we see as good things. So how can we co-operate with God to stay on His course to His good?
Self-control is a key fruit of the Spirit as it provides a basis for the others to grow and be displayed to fuller effect. The goal of self-control is to free us to love God and love others. As we begin this series, we look at the value of self-control and the meaning of self-control as defined by the New Testament.