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Spirit of Self-Control Sermon – 2 Timothy 1:7

In this message Pastor Tim explores Paul’s exhortation in 2 Timothy 1:7 to have a Spirit of power, love and self control.

preached by Tim Giovanelli on Sunday January 10 2021

Spirit of Self Control

So we start the new year a bit like most of 2020… socially distanced… a few new regulations…

  • But compared to my friends around the world I went to bible college with… incredibly fortunate.
  • So welcome… and let’s do this Manly Life!
  • God loves his church and is faithful and pours out his Spirit on the thirsty and fills the hungry!

Well, it’s that funny time of year when we make New Years resolutions…

  • I didn’t make any this year… I think I was still in shock about being back in lockdown…
  • But last years admittedly didn’t go that well… I bought weights!
  • They now sit idly by my karate suit, my Nutri-bullet blender and Victoria’s gym membership card…
  • Issue, as is so often the case is what? Discipline…
  • We know what we want to do… but struggle to do it!
  • And I wonder as we start the new year, how often could you reflect on that feeling of letting yourself down. Not quite being able to live up to maybe lofty ideals you set for yourself?

And I wonder what that might be for you this year?

  • Maybe there is something in your character that you would love to see change or grow?
  • Maybe it’s a habit of addiction that you would like to break.
  • Maybe it’s a relationship you would like to see improve or reconciled.
  • Or maybe it is something here at church. You want to commit in your discipleship to Jesus, to bible reading or serving in a ministry team, or making your involvement more committed?
  • Maybe it is something a little less lofty like cutting back on the hot chips and red wine…

There is an amazing verse I want to look at 

As we start the year, it is found in Paul’s letter to his young disciple Timothy

  • Now Paul had brought Timothy to the faith and commissioned him to do the work of an evangelist and church leader. 
  • So Paul wrote to Timothy who was then in leadership in the church in Ephesus.
  • And it is an exhortation to faithfulness and to stand firm in the truth in the face of opposition.
  • But it also includes this wonderful promise of the gift, God has given to Timothy… and to you and to me… 

2 Timothy 2:7 NIV: For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

2 Timothy 2:7 ESV: for God gave us a spirit, not of fear, but of power and love and self-control.

Fascinating thing to me that one of the things the Spirit of God does in us is give us self control. Or self discipline. 

  • Now, the Spirit of God is given as a gift to all those who trust in in his Son Jesus and confess him as Lord.
  • And we live in the age of the abundance of the Spirit. Poured out on believers in Acts chapter 2… and available to all of God’s children. 
  • So the bible makes it clear that;
  • The Spirit of God, which is his presence, active and alive in the world today, does all kinds of things in God’s church and his people.
  • We get the assurance of adoption to sonship – you know you are loved. 
  • The Spirit in us illuminates the word (the bible) and gives us revelation
  • The Spirit as we will see produces Fruit in our lives – changing your character
  • The Spirit gives us gifts for service in the church and mission – make you useful
  • Finally, the Spirit pours the love of God in our hearts 

But here is the interesting thing… one of the greatest gifts given to us… imparted to us is self control. 

  • Not a Spirit of timidity or fear or cowardice…
  • But of love, power and self control. And I think we all need that! So much!
  • As the followers of Jesus we get a Spirit of self discipline, that empowers us to live faithfully. That allows us to not be captive to our fleshy desires and egos and pride. 
  • As we co-operate with God, we find ourselves not out of control, but able to live lives of love, joy, peace, patience, faithfulness and so on!

As some of you know, I do some teaching on leadership up at the International College of Management here in Manly. 

  • Every student who graduates has to do a leadership weekend with me where I get to teach on servant leadership and the example of Jesus
  • And I also take all the student leaders through some training. And I love it… it’s a great privilege. 
  • And a part of the student leadership training for the student leaders is they do a strength finder test
  • Right? So after doing a survey, it reveals to them what are their strengths and weaknesses… things like vision, courage, focus, compassion, justice and so on…

Consistently… every time… the lowest strength they always all posses… always… every single one of them… is??? Self control.

  • What that means… is that despite high ideals… or knowing what they want their lives to look like, they find they don’t have power to follow through.
  • Right? And maybe that is true for you? It is just all to easy to give in to temptations…
  • I know for me… there have been periods in my life when I haven’t lived up to being a follower of Jesus as much as I wanted to. 
  • And I don’t think it is just the students at ICMS or this upcoming generation… I think this is typical of human nature. 

The brilliant Apostle Paul described human nature this way in Romans 7… 

Now listen to this… as you may find yourself in this passage!

14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do… 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.

  • It’s a good summary of the predicament of human nature…  right?
  • Now does that relate to anyone here?
  • You know what you want to do, or you should be doing… but you keep messing up.
  • Pauls says, “For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.”
  • And my guess is that is the case for everyone of us. For some obvious, glaring flaws… for others more secret but no less damaging flaws.
  • The issue is self control.

I remember watching a Simpson episode as a kid that for some reason stuck with me. 

  • In it, Lisa plays a joke on Bart where she puts out a donut on a plate attached to an electrical current.
  • So Bart grabs it, gets a massive electric shock. 
  • But he wants it, but it hurts him… so he braces himself and goes again… same result… massive electric shock.
  • He tries again…. Zzzz… tries again… zzzz… 
  • And to me it was this insight into human nature… we have these things in front of us that we desire that end up hurting us… 
  • But then even knowing the pain it causes… we keep going for it!

But this is serious stuff right?

  • I know of a marriage that ended because of the husbands addiction to pornography. 
  • I don’t doubt he desired to do what is good and pure… but he just couldn’t carry it out. He lacked self control.
  • I think of a friend who lost tens of thousands of dollars gambling at the pokies…
  • So if we are going to live the Christian life… if we are going to have faithful marriages and integrity and live holy and pure and whole lives…
  • Then we need the gift of God… his Spirit at work within us… producing new life!

So Paul says one of the characteristics of the Spirit of God, given to us is self control or self discipline…

So how does that work? Are you zapped with the Spirit of God and never struggle again?

  • Do you become a Christian and all bad habits, toxic thought patterns, addictions to sin and sinful things disappear?
  • Well no… we know that from our own experience… we know that from Paul’s description in Romans 7…
  • And also Paul wouldn’t have to remind Timothy of what he had received if it wasn’t an issue.
  • No… we need to learn to appropriate what God has given us… 
  • To co-operate with the gift of God’s renewing presence… his Spirit alive and at work within us.

So for Paul there were two states of life or two ways of living… 

And we either end up in one category or the other. 

  • Find it in Galatians… which is also going to give us the clue to how to appropriate this…
  • But for Paul there were only two realities…
  • Life according to the flesh and life according to the Spirit. 
  • These are eschatological realities… these are the essential realities as Gordon Fee states of the two ages… before and after Christ!
  • The Greek is Kata Sarx… (living according to the flesh) and Kata Pnuema (living according to the Spirit).

So flesh is defined as our essential fallenness of life outside of Christ. It is being ruled by our sinful nature. 

  • Living according to the Spirit of course then, is living with the presence of God alive within us, conforming us into his image. 
  • Right? We get empowered to live in keeping with the in-breaking kingdom of God and its norms and values…

We find this particularly in Galatians 5… but indeed all through Paul’s letters.

So Galatians 5:16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 

  • So there it is, pnuema or sarx… Spirit or flesh!

17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

  • Right so two types of living that are contrary to one another… 
  • The flesh where we have no self control and do whatever we want…
  • And the Spirit which guides us into a new life. 
  • And just a side note… if we are led by the Spirit why are we not under the law….
  • Well… and this is another sermon… but again, like the flesh, the law belongs to life before Christ, that like the flesh was inadequate to bring about change.

Right… sometimes we just think if we know what is right or the law, that will be enough to do the right or moral thing…

  • But we all know the law can’t do that.
  • I remember being at Oxford University in one of the fancy colleges… and there was a sign on every lawn saying… “do not walk on the lawn.”
  • So immediately I had this desire to do what? Walk on the lawn…
  • And so sometimes the law that we read about in the Old Testament is like that… it actually arouses sin within us…
  • And at it’s very best it was still unable to produce a renewed life!

So then we get descriptions of what the two kinds of lives look like…

19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. 

  • Right? So it’s a bit of a list of naughty…
  • Santa would not approve…
  • But seriously, these are the things that destroy lives and relationships, that cause pain and brokenness in our lives!
  • We don’t grow up to aspire to these things… 

So then the life of the Spirit is contrasted and the fruit it produces in our lives…

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 

  • So don’t just put these things on a tea towel… actively pursue these virtues in your life. 
  • You see if we belong to Jesus Christ…. The flesh with its passions and desires gets crucified. 
  • Right? We no longer desire after the very things that harm us… we get a new set of priorities. 
  • In the new age we live in, empowered by the Holy Spirit… this gets produced in us!

So that leads me to one final thing today? 

How? How? How do we get the Spirit of self control. 

  • Mentioned both in 2 Timothy 1:7 and here in the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5?
  • Right? How do appropriate this? 
  • How do we increasingly live kata pneuma and not kata sarx?

25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 

  • The Christian life, according to Paul is appropriated, becomes a reality by keeping in step with the Spirit.
  • As we learn to co-operate with God, his promptings, get immersed in his word
  • We begin to walk in the same direction as the Spirit of God directs us. 
  • Now this has a Supernatural presupposition… this isn’t going to come from just trying harder…
  • It isn’t going to come by reverting back to a whole lot of laws.
  • It is going to come by getting to know the will of God and the voice of God and the ways of God and keeping in step!

And it will come through supernatural empowerment. I cant say that enough. There is a supernatural strength and self control that the Spirit alive in us, can give us.

  • We can overcome habits and addictions. 
  • We can see our character change.
  • We can commit to righteous living and service in his church!

As I’ve thought about this… self control and the renewed life comes from 3 convictions  

Conviction 1: Jesus is Lord.

Conviction 2: Jesus way, or truth, or will for my life truly is the best 

Conviction 3: I will align my life with his will and co-operate with the Spirit of God. 

One of the things my kids love doing is walking on my feet… 

  • So they go where I am going… they learn to stay in the same direction… to get the rhythms of how to walk together. 
  • So let’s get practical… we need to learn how to keep in step with the Spirit of God!
  • To when facing decisions or temptations to stop and pray…. And listen
  • Immerse yourself in the Christian community and practices… know the Word of God
  • And then pray… for the renewing of your mind… and the strengthening and control that comes with the gift of the Holy Spirit.
  • Amen?

Be blessed this week as you love and serve the Lord!

The Golden Rule Sermon – Do Unto Others

In this sermon, Tim explore the golden rule of Jesus and how it applies to our lives. As we learn to treat others how we would like to be treated, we fulfil the law and the prophets – to love God and love our neighbour as ourselves. Text below.

Welcome to Manly Life Church!

We did a big series this year in the Book of Acts this year…

  • And then to finish the year in the lead up to Christmas we have just been looking at some of the simple things Jesus taught… not simplistic.
  • Preacher who started at his new church (been a bit of a mess) and preached on Jesus saying love one another like I have loved you… next week the same, next week the same…
  • Began to complain… he said, I’ll move on to the more meaty stuff once we have the basics down…
  • Not saying this about Manly Life – incredibly loving community… but we never want to tire of the basics of our faith! 
  • Major in the majors… and minor in the minors…
  • Right? That’s what 1 Corinthians 13 is all about… you can know stuff… you can do stuff… but if you don’t love, your just a clanging cymbal…

Talking about serving others – that is a good place to start. Jesus says whoever wants to be great amongst you, will be your servant!

  • So a deep and simple mark of the Christian life is you begin to serve other people, putting others interests ahead of your own. 
  • Last week Victoria spoke so clearly and beautifully on love… specifically that its shape in our lives is sacrificial, merciful, obedient…
  • I want to continue that today by looking specifically at the golden rule! Can anyone tell me what that is? Yell out?

It is interesting to me, that even amongst non-Christians, you often hear people say they try and live by the golden rule…

  • Luke 6:31 Jesus says, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”
  • Matthew 7:12 Jesus says, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”
  • So in other words, treat people how you would like to be treated. 
  • Treat other people with the concern and kindness you would like them to show toward you. 

Now, just in terms of where does this idea come from…

  • Although Jesus was the Word made flesh, He made Himself a student of the Old Testament law.
  • In the book of Leviticus, a core book of the law, we find another variation of what we call The Golden Rule.
  • “When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.”(Leviticus 19:33-34 )
  • So Jesus is deeply grounded in this. You could even say, that as the Word of God made flesh, he is their source!

Some people may say that it’s in our nature to do good to others. What do you think? And its true that parental love is often selfless, there are acts of great kindness and heroic sacrifice…

  • But, in general, I don’t think it is too harsh to say, most people only help other people when:
  •  It’s their friend or family, It’s convenient for them.
  • They’re in a good mood, or They expect something in return.

So the golden rule doesn’t say “treat the people close to you how you would want to be treated…”

  • And it doesn’t say – treat people how they have treated you.
  • Certainly doesn’t say do unto others before they do unto you! Hit first…
  • It is clear – love others as yourself. Treat others as you would want to be treated. 

Now, although this all sounds simple, the reality is that we all hurt other people…

  • Indeed, hurt people, hurt people…
  • And everyone is hurt or has been hurt in some way in this world; nobody has the perfect life. 
  • The hurts of life can harden us and make us cautious, maybe even bitter, causing us to only look out for ourselves. 
  • It is easy for hurt people to continue the cycle of hurting other people whether they realize it or not. 
  • But if everyone hurts in some way, how do we stop this cycle of hurting others?

Well, the answer is the golden rule and it’s source which is love… to receive the love of God and then be transformed to be able to live out the golden rule…

  • So key to this is Romans 5 where Paul says the love of God is poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit…
  • I really believe that so key to this is being filled up with love by God…
  • Why ministry time is so important! That is why we so often see tears when we pray for people to be filled with the Holy Spirit…
  • It is God dealing with so many of the hurts and brokenness within us… and loving us with supernatural love…
  • That was my experience… HS Alpha Day… to truly know you are loved is amazing!

A similar passage, a parallel to the Great Commandment, is Luke 10:25-28

25 Behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested him, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read it?”

27 He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 He said to him, “You have answered correctly. Do this, and you will live.”

  • So love your neighbour as yourself.
  • The lawyer then asks who is my neighbour… good lawyer question…
  • Followed by story of the good Samaritan. 
  • The point of that story is your neighbour is anyone in need.
  • And like so much of Jesus teaching… the challenge is not in the comprehension… it is not in the understanding… but in living according to the teachings of our saviour.

So Jesus teaches his followers “do to others what you would have them do to you” 

  • Do you want compassion? Give compassion. 
  • Do you want mercy? Show mercy. 
  • Do you want to be respected? Show respect.
  • Right? Step outside ourselves and consider others point of view, situation, or circumstances. 
  • We are all pretty self-serving creatures, and no one wishes for a life of hardship or difficulty. 
  • No one wishes to be disrespected at work, insulted on social media, or excluded at a dinner. 
  • Therefore, Matthew 7:12 provides a way to interact with people in healthy and ethical ways. 
  • So… When in doubt about how to respond to a situation or how to react to a person, simply consider how you would like to be treated—and then do that.

One of the shows that Victoria and I really enjoyed watching this year was the ABC’s Old Person Homes for 4 Year Olds.

  • Did anyone else watch that? It was actually set in a retirement home here on the Northern Beaches. It was heart warming stuff!
  • But I think one of the things that shocked us and was really hard to see was all these elderly people who just sat there everyday with no one visiting them, no one talking to them.
  • Premise of the show was putting a preschool class of 4 year olds in the nursing home to create a warmer, more human experience for everyone.
  • But it makes you think… when I am old… how will I want to be treated…

You know I get the golden rule wrong so often… hear that clearly…

  • But one thing I am proud of is that when I was at uni and my grandfather was in his last years, I would regularly visit him on my way home and just spend time chatting and connecting with him.
  • How would I want to be treated when I am old… now go and do likewise for others.
  • You know so often in the face of a broken and lonely and messy world we can think – what can I do?
  • Well the imperative in this teaching from Jesus is start… do what is in front of you. 
  • Work out who needs love and then love them like you would want to be loved…
  • And my grandfather died while I was living in Africa… but I was so glad that I had no regrets with him… Treat others as you would like to be treated!

So this kind of life says Jesus is the fulfilment of the law and the prophets…

  • In other words, you can understand the entire ethical and moral law of the Old Testament through the lens of love!
  • If we can get the basics of love God and love your neighbour as yourself 
  • Then we are on the way to living a good and moral life…

The Apostle Paul puts it this way in Romans 13:8-10 – one of my all time favourite passages!

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

  • Right? And so here is Paul…. Trained deeply in the ways of Jewish law, but now reframed through his encounter with Jesus…
  • And so he gets it… all the commandments that are meant to keep us from harming one another and ourselves… get summed up in this one command. 
  • Love your neighbour as yourself!

You wouldn’t commit adultery because surely if you love yourself, no one here would want their partner to cheat on them… 

  • So out of love… out of treating people how you would like to be treated, we come up with a way to live an ethical, moral life. Adultery gets put off the table…
  • Right – you wouldn’t want to be murdered… so don’t murder.
  • Right? We hate it when things are stolen from us… so don’t steal. It’s the loving, right way to live. 
  • So the mark of being a Christian is not rule keeping, but making choices through the lens of love.

There is an old story often told about the way of love…

  • A woman died and was taken to heaven. The angel wanted her to see hell, so they stopped there first. Hell had a lake of nutritious stew, but the people had only meter long spoons and so were frustrated when they tried to feed themselves. 
  • So the people were miserable and hungry. And the people were fighting each other…
  • Then the woman was taken to heaven. Amazingly, heaven was exactly the same, with the same stew and meter long spoons; but here the people were happy and well-fed. 
  • The woman asked, “Why are these people so different?” The angel replied, “They feed each other; these people have learned the way of love.”

Ok, lets get practical… 

  • Because the challenge is not in the understanding but in putting into practice. 
  • Spurgeon, the great British preacher once said “The golden rule is more admired than practiced by ordinary men.”

Surgeon goes on… “In this place our King gives us HIS GOLDEN RULE. Put yourself in another’s place, and then act to others as you would wish others to act towards you under the same circumstances.  

Oh, that all men acted on it, and then there would be no slavery, no war, no swearing, no striking, no lying, no robbing; but all would be justice and love! What a kingdom is this which has such a law!” 

So take the issue of slavery. How can Spurgeon suggest under the golden rule, that it could not exist?

  • See Jesus doesn’t say… treat your own race, or treat your own religion, or treat you own countrymen – as you would want to be treated…
  • It is universal… premised on the fact that we are all created in the image of God. 
  • So, John Newton, an Englishman of the 1700s, was a successful businessman. His business was the slave trade – taking people from Africa, transporting them across the Atlantic Ocean, and selling them as slaves in America. And he made good money.
  • Through a storm at sea and an illness, Newton came to rethink his life. He became an Anglican priest and an advocate against slavery. 

He wrote a book, Thoughts upon the African Slave Trade (1788), which began with the golden rule and condemned the slave trade. 

  • He wrote the most famous hymn of all time, Amazing Grace, which begins “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me!” 
  • Until that point it was generally regarded that slaves were wretched… and not slave traders or those who benefitted from slavery… 
  • But he came to see, that the greater wretch is not the enslaved, but the enslaver… the one who cannot treat others as they themselves would want to have been treated!
  • So, Manly Life, when you come across modern day causes attempting to end modern day slavery around the world… that is a great cause to give your time, money and voice to!

Let me just finish with two scenarios. 

Now I am going to bring one political and one personal one…

  • Try and do these with no ifs and buts… just apply the golden rule… how would I want to be treated… OK (formulate that)… then think, now I will try and treat others that way.

So firstly a political one… I can see some nervous shuffling… and I am not saying this isn’t complicated and that there wont be different, strongly held views…

  • So… MEDIVAC… and I’m not going to give you my view here. And I don’t want to hear yours!
  • I just want us to try and apply the golden rule to how we might thing politically and ethically as we approach a very real and very important issue.
  • What is our Christian response to refugees being held offshore in camps by our government who need urgent medical care?
  • Assuming the care needed is real, it is urgent and it is all of our collective responsibilities as citizens of Australia who elect a democratic government.
  • If you were in the camp and needing urgent medical care… how would you want to be treated?
  • Now I am not saying it is not complicated… but after answering that question, let that guide your response to how you voice how you think they should be treated…

OK last one… a personal situation…

  • Your marriage is having real troubles… you don’t particularly enjoy spending time with each other because you just seem to argue.
  • There is always a list you both seem to have of hurts and wrongs done to each other. 
  • On top of that, you are tired, you are busy and you sometimes wonder if it would just be easier to call it a day and go your separate ways.
  • But you remember the golden rule. That Jesus guy said something about love your neighbour as yourself. He said do to others as you would have done to you.
  • So you stop… you think how do I want to be treated in this marriage. What would I want to receive from my partner… and then you begin to treat them as you yourself would want to be treated.
  • What are some of the things you would begin to do?

Alright… simple, not simplistic… teachings more admired than practiced… 

Lets have some ministry! Got to love this Jesus!

John Peters Ministry Night

Here is John Peters sermon from our ministry night on Wednesday. John is the Senior Minister of St Mary’s Bryanston Square in central London. He explore how Jesus relied on the Holy Spirit to minister to people and how we are called to do the same. Apologies for sound quality (you may need to turn volume up). There are also great tips for praying for people and ministering in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 18 – Paul in Corinth, women in ministry and the good, the bad and the ugly of local church!

In this sermon Tim explores the church Paul plants in the city of Corinth as he takes the good news of Jesus to the Greek speaking world. After an amazing year and a half of fruitful ministry, the church subsequently becomes a mess – leading to Paul’s letters to the Corinthians. This sermon deals with the life of a local church, full of mess, but ultimately always in the grip of God’s grace. It also explores women in ministry as we encounter Priscilla – an amazing early church leader!

Acts 2 – Pentecost Sermon

In this sermon on Acts 2, Pastor Tim explores how at Pentecost God fulfils his promise to his people that they would be blessed and a blessing to all nations (Genesis 12). A new family is created as they all hear the gospel in their own language and the message of the Kingdom begins to bless the world.

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