INTRODUCTION TO SELF-CONTROL:
WHAT'S MISSING IN MY EXPERIENCE?
“...and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness...”
// 2 Peter 1:6
Ahh, self-control! That oft hated but most beneficial of virtues that Peter celebrates. And it is beneficial, yes? We so often forget the power and benefit that comes from self-control. As we have examined knowledge, it can be a bit of a head-scratcher to wonder why Peter jumps from experiential knowledge into self-control: what is the link?
Well, have you ever had a mind-blowing revelation of the Lord, or gained insight into circumstance and you finally saw a way forward, and you celebrate that revelation? But then three days later the glow of that revelation has dimmed; the prophetic word you got no longer cheers you; the illumination on a verse you read seems to have all but disappeared. What happened? Given a few cycles of this – revelation followed by circumstances that don’t change – and we could quite well despair of hope and become rather heartsick with depression. We could find ourselves saying, “When will this ever change? God showed me the way forward, but now I feel like I am in the middle of a maze, in a worse state than before He said anything! Woe is me!” Have you gone that route, like so many of us?
Self-control, my friend. Self-control. “But why that?” we might ask. When God opens the eyes of our heart, flooding them with the light of His revelatory insight, giving to us His knowledge, He intends it not to be a momentary epiphany or a one-off experience, but to be the experience of our life! In other words, self-control comes our way to help us ground the revelation we had as an ongoing life experience. Immediately after the Father gives us a revelation of what our life in Christ truly looks like (often the total opposite of where we might be at that moment), the Holy Spirit sneaks up on us and offers us self-control. This is often where we miss it, in the process of transformation, and where we often halt our own growth. That is when we sink into cycles of despair and hope, flouncing wildly about when we should be making steady growth.
Self-control, or elsewhere translated self-mastery, isn’t about you or I not doing XYZ things, but about focusing our energies to do one thing really well. Every time the Father grants to us revelation – experiential knowledge – He is giving to us, in a singular experience, the knowledge of who we are becoming in Him, of how He wants us to live in an on-going experience of that grace given to us. And self-mastery is our great help then, for we must learn to master ourselves in the experiential knowledge He grants, until it becomes a continuing experience of how we know His life in us.
// Samuel Nicolosi