5 “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.“ (2 Peter 1:5–7 ESV).
The Holy Spirit commands believers, through the Apostle Peter, to supplement, or add, to their saving faith. This supplementation is not contributing to their justification but rather it is a necessary component of each believer’s sanctification. Sanctification is the believer’s growth in holiness.
Believers are to add to their faith virtue or godly character and moral excellence. To virtue, believers in Christ are to add knowledge. To knowledge, believers in Christ are to add self-control.
Self-control (ἐγκράτεια; enkrateia) means to have control over one’s desires and actions. It is a Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Proverbs 25:28 says, “A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.”
Dr. John MacArthur writes that, “Self-control literally means “holding oneself in.” In Peter’s day, self-control was used of athletes, who were to be self-restrained and self-disciplined. Thus, a Christian is to control the flesh, the passions, and the bodily desires, rather than allowing himself to be controlled by them (cf. 1 Cor. 9:27; Gal. 5:23). Moral excellence, guided by knowledge, disciplines desire and makes it the servant, not the master, of one’s life.
Dr. R. C. Sproul writes, “Basically, to have self-control means that we behave in a manner appropriate to the given situation. It means we defer when it is appropriate to defer. It means we speak when we need to speak. It means that we control our tempers and do not blow up every time things do not go our way. It means that we ignore the minor mistakes of others instead of trying to prove that we are always right.”
“Exercising self-control often means that we put other people before ourselves. It often involves putting the good of a group ahead of the good of an individual. We see this when we look at sports teams. To be sure, good teams have athletes who stand out from all of the others on the team. But if every athlete is always trying to get his time in the limelight, the entire team will suffer. Successful teams always have players that defer to one another when necessary in order to win the victory.”
Dr. Sproul concludes by saying, “When we seek to practice self-control in our lives, we must take care that we do not become wimps. Jonathan Edwards offers helpful advice by saying that when it comes to matters of truth and integrity, we cannot yield to other people. If someone is teaching rank heresy, for example, exercising self-control and behaving in a manner appropriate to the situation means that we call attention to the matter and stand up for the truth.”
Ask God today to give you the strength by the Holy Spirit to exercise self-control in your thinking, feelings and decision making.
May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.
Soli deo Gloria!