Self-control, or "temporance" (Gr: ἐγκράτεια) is the eighth and last listed "fruit of the Spirit"[1] that the Apostle Paul reminds his readers "there is no law". As the preferred translation indicates, this virtue denotes the ability to master one's desires and passions. It is the ability to be civil and to do what is right.

Meaning

The Greek word is a compound word meaning "strength within". The root word is κράτος is use 12 times in the New Testament to power of God. When combined with the preposition ἐν ("in"). Strenth, or power, is relative to the creature, but absolute in the Creator. In Ephesians Paul uses this root word to describe the power of God to raise Jesus from the dead[2]. The noun translated "Self-control" (that is, temporance, or continence) is used to describe an ability found in mankind to rise above the "animal instinct".

Usage

Speaking Truth to Power

Paul had been turned of to the Roman authorities for his preachining "dangerous" things that caused trouble among the Jews[3]. After taking custody of the apostle, the governor of the province, named Felix, wited for a private audience. At that time, Paul spoke to him about the Law and how, and why, it mattered[4]. Since Felix was well aware of the Jewish Scriptures[5], he got nervous when told that he did not measure up. No verdict was rendered, so Paul remained in prison until Festus came to power two years later[6].

Strong In the Spirit

The believers in the province of Galatia also were quite aware of the Law. Unfortunately, they did not understand tht the power to obey the whoe Law was not within them on their own. False teachers from among the Jews had tried to convince them that rituals from the Old Testament had to be followed for someone to "be a Christian". Paul taught them that all kinds of sin came from trying to do things by human strength alone. He taught them that God had worked on their inner being to change them. The evidence of that was found in the resulting "fruit of the Spirit". Starting with love, Paul lists attributes that one should expect if they are truly saved. The last of these is a sense of enpowerment to do what is right.

Spiritual Growth

The Apostle Peter communicated to the Church late in his ministry about progress toward maturity in the Faith. Progress flowed from Knowledge to Self-control, and on to Patience on the way to Godliness[7]. The progression from saving Faith to Love is evidence that a Christian is genuine[8]

Paul, in writing to Titus, a young pastor on the island of Crete, described what to look for in the office of overseer, the prime example of what Peter meant. Such a man, a steward of God, was not to be "self-willed" but rather "self-controlled" in his dealings with those under his oversight[9]

Verses

  1. Gal. 5:22-23 (Link)
  2. Eph. 1:19 (Link)
  3. Acts 24:65- (Link)
  4. Acts 24:25 (Link)
  5. Acts 24:22 (Link)
  6. Acts 24:25-27 (Link)
  7. 2 Peter 1:6 (Link)
  8. 2 Peter 1:10 (Link)
  9. Titus 1:7-8 (Link)
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