“And as he reasoned about righteousness and self-control and the coming judgment, Felix was alarmed and said, ‘Go away for the present. When I get an opportunity I will summon you.’ “ Acts 24:25
Paul was in prison for preaching the gospel. He was questioned by Felix and had the opportunity to talk to him on numerous occasions. This verse tells us that he reasoned with Felix about “righteousness and self-control and the coming judgment.” I think it is interesting that Paul specifically talked about self-control. He obviously shared the gospel with Felix. He told him about Jesus and his death and resurrection. He told him how to become a Christian and told him that Jesus would return and there would be a final judgment. He also reasoned with him about self-control. It would seem that self-control is very important. Self-control in the extreme produces a monk who abuses himself and allows no pleasure or enjoyment in life. But without any self-control, you have a person of depraved and perverted behavior who is bent on self-destruction. Self-control is vital for anyone who wants to be a follower of Jesus Christ. Jesus said that anyone who comes after him must deny himself and take up his cross daily. (Luke 9:23) So, where is the balance between the legalist who allows no pleasure and the person who indulges the flesh in any way it wants? Proverbs 25:28 says, “A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.” (ESV) A city left without walls (or protection) is open to any attacker and leaves the people vulnerable to destruction or enslavement. A person without self-control leaves their body and soul open to destruction or enslavement also. Without self-control we become addicted to behaviors and products or substances that are harmful.
I need to remember that self-control is important. I don’t have to have everything I want, eat everything I want or always have my way. I don’t have to watch everything I want, spend what I have mainly on myself or spend all my free time entertaining myself. Paul writes in I Corinthians 6:12 “Everything is permissible for me – but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible for me but I will not be mastered by anything.” And again in I Corinthians 10:23-24 “Everything is permissible but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good but the good of others.” It is not about being legalistic. Christ has set us free from the law. But not everything is beneficial to our well-being and Christ does not want us to be mastered by anything. He does not want us to be slaves to our flesh. We also have to remember Galatians 6:7 “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” If I refuse to exercise self-control, there will be consequences. It may result in addictions, broken relationships or worst of all wasted opportunities to serve God. We do not have the power on our own to consistently produce self-control. Galatians 5:22 says that self-control is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. As we seek God, meditate on His word, pray and yield to the Holy Spirit in obedience, He will enable us to choose self-control.
Thank you Jesus that you died for me, you redeemed me. Thank you for your Holy Spirit who lives in me. I could never muster true self-control apart from you. Help me to walk yielded to the Holy Spirit and allow Him to produce that fruit in my life. Help me to remember that not every choice is beneficial to me even if it is permissible. Thank you for loving me even when I fail. Please let your will be done in my life, not mine.