And after some days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, he sent for Paul and heard him concerning the faith in Christ. Now as he reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and answered, "Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you." (Acts 24:24-25).
The topic of Paul’s speech to Felix could form the basis for many sermons. Let’s explore self-control a bit.
Self control re: Words
Do you remember the children’s song ...”oh be careful little mouth what you say”? James noted that controlling our tongue can be a challenge! (Js 3).
“Let the words of my mouth ... Be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer.” (Psa 19:14).
“Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” (Eph 4:29).
Self control re: Desires
What we long for can be a blessing to our lives, "I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." (Phil 3:14). Or it can be destructive to a whole society. So God warned Israel, "'You shall not covet your neighbor's wife; and you shall not desire your neighbor's house, his field, his male servant, his female servant, his ox, his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor's.'" (Dt 5:21).
Self control re: Hearts
"For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man," (Mat 15:19-20).
"But King Solomon loved many foreign women ... and his wives turned away his heart." (1 Kngs 11:1&3).
"Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life." (Prov 4:23).
Our actions are primarily determined by our heart. In order to act differently we must come to believe differently in our heart. The power of a car’s battery, electronics, gasoline, engine and other systems are controlled by a key. The “key” that controls how we live is our heart. What I believe and hold dear in my heart will control how I live my life. Self control is part of “the whole counsel of God.” (Acts 20:27).
- Tim Orbison