For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 2 Peter 1:5-7 (ESV)
The Greek word for self-control used here by Peter is often translated temperance. Temperance is moderation in action, thought or feeling, habitual moderation in the indulgence of the appetites or passions.
We are commanded to exercise self-control and have mastery over all of our appetites and/or evil passions. Paul wrote, “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. (1 Corinthians 6:12 ESV) When we refer to appetites or evil passions, we are referring to anything in which we would indulge ourselves that goes beyond what God’s word, the Bible, allows. Some of those passions would include what we eat (1 Corinthians 10:31), what we drink (Ephesians 5:18), what we wear (1 Timothy 2:9) and our sexual inclinations (1 Corinthians 7:5, 9).
If we do not practice self-control in our lives we expose ourselves to varied temptations from Satan (1 Corinthians 7:5). Proverbs 25:28 says, A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls (ESV). A city without walls is unprotected, without defenses. It is in grave danger of being invaded and plundered by an enemy (Amos 3:11).
Paul wrote to Timothy that in the last days people will lack self-control. And these people will always be learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth (2 Timothy 3:1-7). Maybe that is why the apostle Peter exhorted us to supplement (fully supply) our knowledge with self-control. Without self-control the knowledge we have gained will give only us an appearance of godliness but deny its power. So, it could be that our lack of self-control is proof that we have no moral reverence of God (which is the beginning of knowledge). Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet [lacks self-control] misses his way. (Proverbs 19:2 ESV)
Knowledge without self-control only serves to inflate our egos and destroys rather than builds up the body of Christ (Romans 14:13-23; 1 Corinthians 8:1-13, 10:23-31).
The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians, Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. (1 Corinthians 9:24-27 ESV)
Paul equates our Christian walk with that of an athlete who exercises self-control in all things. We have a mandate to discipline our bodies and bring them under control. The stakes are high. If we falter, we will be disqualified from the race. However, if we are fervent in our efforts to practice self-control we receive an imperishable reward. Let’s run that we might obtain it.
How are you running? Are your desires out of control or under control of the Holy Spirit?
Scriptures for meditation: