Self-Control: Do You Have It? Part Four

“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a servant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” Philippians 2: 5 – 8

The striking definitive nature of Jesus is summed up as: He “… emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.”

Understanding the nature of Jesus is difficult. He was as much God as though He was not a man, and He was as much man as though He were not God. He was the God/man, the man/God.

Scripture relating to Him “emptying Himself “means He never used His divine nature for His personal welfare, but He did use it for others. So, when Jesus was confronted by the devil in the wilderness of temptation He did not call on His divine nature to respond, but His human nature. Thus, He became a peerless example of self-control. He was tempted even as we are. “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot be touched with the feelings of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4: 15) Consider the three temptations.

“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, ‘If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.’”

This was a temptation regarding provisions. We don’t like deprivation. Our inclination regarding things challenges our self-control.

“Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. ‘If you are the Son of God,’ he said, ‘Throw yourself down.’”

This was a temptation regarding protection.

‘Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. ‘All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.’” This was a temptation regarding possessions.

(These three tests are based on Matthew 10: 1 – 11).

Each test has a strong appeal on all persons. Each represents a good thing which the devil tempted Jesus to use in an improper way at an inappropriate time.

Some of the devil’s most clever tactics are not the use of a bad thing, but the use of a good thing in a bad way. Under those conditions self-control is most genuinely threatened. 

Jesus put each temptation in the proper context by the proper use of Scripture. In each instance He interpreted the appeal in light of the teaching of Scripture.

This necessitated Him being prepared for the allurement by knowing the Scripture and how to apply it.

The Lord offers three gifts as an antitoxin to the wrong response to good things: “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (II Timothy 1:7)

Bronze them and put them on the mantle of your mind: power, love, and a sound mind.

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.