By Elizabeth Prata
In Paul Twiss’ sermon in the series at Grace Community Church “Sundays in July”, at about the 25:00 minute mark, Twiss said,
There is a decided lack of virtue in society today. It’s an old-fashioned word, virtue. Virtue is “behavior showing high moral standards.” Synonyms might be: goodness, virtuousness, righteousness, morality, ethicalness, uprightness, integrity and so on.
Society is not exercising self-control, and that’s not a good thing. In large measure it’s because of our preoccupation with the idea of freedom, misconstrued. The way people think of freedom today is just licentiousness. We just substitute it for freedom and it’s wrongly used.
Another indication of a society not exercising self-control these days is because we have no end goal in sight. Society has no idea where it’s headed. We don’t know what we’re doing and why we’re doing it or where we’re meant to be going.
When you have an end goal in sight, all of a sudden the notion of self-control becomes a lot easier. Think of putting your 4-year-old in time-out because he threw the cereal bowl on the floor after you told him not to. If you just put him there, and he’s in there without an idea of how long, he will not go quietly into that good night, lol. If you tell him it’s 3 minutes, and remind him at intervals of the countdown, he will be more amenable.
Adults are like that too. Anything we do that has no end date is a lot harder to endure than one where we have an end goal, even if the end is far away. This American society is juvenile, and we are behaving like we’re three-year-olds in time-out with no end goal in sight.
Christians have an end goal. We know at death or the rapture, all our tears, trials, difficulties, and sadness will be washed away. We know that the self-control we’re developing as a fruit of the spirit has a purpose and we can hang on even as societal pressure mounts.
Unsaved people don’t have knowledge of release. They just live a life of spiritual anguish and confusion and sometimes great anger on earth feeling like it’s forever. They do not know it can end. That there can be peace with God on earth and joy forever in heaven. So their self-control goes out the window and they just “let it all hang out”. This was an idiom that entered American vernacular in the 1960s and it meant ‘be totally candid in expressing feelings and opinions; hold nothing back’. It’s been turned from a catchphrase to a lifestyle. And worse, a lifestyle where not only do the unsaved let it all hang out, but insist that others do, also. (Romans 1:32). Society is increasingly trying to control Christians by insisting on participation in their lack of self-control.
Restraining ones’ self in word and deed for civility’s sake, for politeness’s sake, for the sake of others around us, has become passe.
Of course a society on its way to total abandonment, populated by sinners galore, would soon turn that phrase ‘let it all hang out’ into a life trajectory of lack of self control. Lives lived with no virtue, honor, or dignity. Naked feminists in libraries flaunting to children, pedophiles clamoring for acceptance, Sodomy parades vying for attention, ‘proud’ of their depravity, and so on. A society that lacks self-control en masse is a society that impacts neighbors in highly negative ways.
The Bible commends self-control and discipline. We are told that self-control is fruit of the Spirit, an imprint of God’s presence in our lives. We are told to discipline and train ourselves to godliness (1 Timothy 4:7), to labor for habits and patterns that will drive us toward holy thoughts, holy desires, and holy lives. Challies, The Lost Virtue of Self-Control
As this American society collapses, the more we develop and display self-control, the more we will be shining the light in the darkness, even if the darkness comprehends it not. (John 1:5). But Jesus will be honored, and that is what we live for, with the end goal in sight, when faith becomes sight.
Westminster Shorter Catechism
Q: What is the chief end of man?
A: Man’s chief end is to glorify God,1 and to enjoy him forever.
1 Corinthians 10:31. Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. Romans 11:36. For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.
Psalm 73:24-26. Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: but God isthe strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.
John 17:22, 24. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one… Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.