Let Loose

I want to begin this post by acknowledging the great job Wes Autry did in teaching our Bible Class last night.  Wes made some great applications in a review of Exodus 32:1-6 which is the story of Aaron making the golden calf for rebellious Israelites.  One point in particular seemed especially appropriate and applicable for our purposes here in our study of “self-control.”

Verse 25 says:  Now when Moses saw that the people were out of control—for Aaron had let them get out of control to be a derision among their enemies...  The word translated “were out of control” literally means “were let loose” and when he says Aaron “let them get out of control” it is literally “let them go loose.”

These rebellious Israelites had lost all inhibitions in their revelry.  “Out of control” is a very good way of describing the sentiment present among them.  They had “let go” of any restraint and were following the direction of their own fleshly lusts.

God was not pleased and three thousand people died as a result of this kind of behavior.  God wants us to live Spirit-led lives and bear fruit that includes self-control.  Remember, He loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates

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Equipped to Oversee

The apostle Paul said that, among other things, an overseer (or bishop) must be self-controlled (Titus 1:7, 8).  Overseers (also called elders, shepherds, pastors, or presbyters) are those men who meet all the qualifications given in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9.  They are those who “keep watch over” the souls of Christians in their congregations and who will “give an account” of the spiritual well-being of those souls (Hebrews 13:17).

Such a daunting task makes it easy to understand why self-control is a requirement.  The term “elder” (or “presbyter”) implies age and maturity, which help with the development of self-control.  However, physical age does not automatically equal spiritual maturity.  Something else is required.

Self-control comes as a result (fruit) of living at the direction of the Spirit.  The Spirit guides us through the revealed, written word of God.  So, in order for a man to achieve the spiritual maturity he needs to be trusted with the oversight of the church, he must be a man who spends time studying the Scriptures and a life living what is found therein.

God’s plan for His church is beautiful…and effective…and the only plan that works!  He loves you, you know, and so do I.

Donnie Bates

Without Self-Control

In the last several weeks we’ve looked at just what it means to live according to the Spirit, but what does the Spirit Himself say about living according to the flesh?  The apostle Paul can answer that question for us:  But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come.  For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good… (2 Timothy 3:1-3).

The apostle Peter made it clear that we are in the last days now (Acts 2:16, 17); he was in the last days on the Day of Pentecost and, since there are no days after the “last days,” we must still be in them.  No one would question that we are in difficult times now, and every one of these negative characteristics is on display in our society, today.

The ugliness of the negative is easy to see, but we need self-control and Paul says that comes from living the Spirit-led life.  Plant yourself (in study and practice) in the Scriptures and bear that precious fruit!  Remember, God loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates

An Olympic Fruit

The last in our series of aspects of the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22, 23) to discuss is self-control.  With the Olympic Games not long past, we’ll use an illustration from Scripture that has reference to the “games” (the original version).  Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things.  They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable (1 Corinthians 9:25).

I would venture that most of us understand the need for self-discipline one needs if he or she desires to be a world class athlete.  Olympic athletes give up a great many things the rest of us take for granted in order to be competitive on that level.  The apostle Paul used that characteristic of self-control as an illustration of the attitude the Christian should have in order to “perform” on the level that is most important…in order to please God with a faithful life.

Putting these two passages together, the training regimen the “Olympic” spiritual athlete (the one with heaven as his/her goal) needs, includes living at the direction of the Spirit through His revealed word, the Scriptures.

God will help you train because He loves you.  Oh, and I love you, too.

Donnie Bates

Gentle and Humble in Heart

From the beginning Barnabas Notes have been about encouraging the discouraged.  As we come to the penultimate week of our closer look at the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22, 23), I hope that the words offered here have been of some comfort, as well as, informative.

Today’s offering comes from what is perhaps the greatest example of encouragement offered in Scripture.  Jesus said:  “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

How comforting for the discouraged and broken-hearted to read such an invitation!  If we will come to Him, in the way He prescribes in His Word (John 8:31, 32), we are comforted by His gentleness.  When we put this together with what Paul says to the Galatians, we ourselves bear the fruit that includes gentleness.

Isn’t it amazing what God has done for us?  He put together this plan because He loves you.  I wanted you to know about it because I love you too!

Donnie Bates

A Spirit of Gentleness

After noting that living the Spirit-led life bears the fruit that includes “gentleness” (Galatians 5:22, 23), the apostle Paul encourages us to indeed live by that Spirit.  Note this command just a few verses later:  Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted (Galatians 6:1).

“Gentleness” here has to do with humility. In other words, the Spirit-led Christian is not going to be haughty, or proud when he approaches a brother about the sin in his life.  He will approach that brother, but he’ll do so with a heavy heart and one full of love.

How do you do that?  Most of us have a hard time doing this in any manner, much less the correct one.  However, stop and think for a moment that the Spirit-led person is humble toward God, too.  He humbly obeys the command to restore the sinner, and in the right manner.  Honestly, it cannot be done without that precious fruit.

I am amazed at God’s wisdom and His love.  He loves you, you know, and so do I.

Donnie Bates

A Difficult Reminder

Sometimes it’s hard to be gentle.  Circumstances sometimes appear to demand harsh responses.  However, the apostle Paul commanded a different course of action.  In his letter to Titus he gives several instructions about what he is to say to the brethren.  Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men (Titus 3:1, 2).

The part of this list that concerns us here is that word “gentle.”  All of these are good things for us to remember.  However, at times they are all difficult to achieve.  “Gentle” here becomes even more difficult when we understand that this word is a different word than the one found in Matthew 5:5 and Galatians 5:23.  This word can be defined as a surrender of one’s will to another.

Although different Greek words are involved, we do not violate the teachings of Scripture by understanding that living the Spirit-led life, rather than giving in to the impulses of the flesh, will help us bear the fruit we need to obey this command.

Yes, God loves you…and so do I, by the way.

Donnie Bates