Living by Grace

Dedicated to providing guidance in daily living through the power of God's grace as experienced in our union with Christ.

Power for Restraint 

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  Galatians 5:22-23a


A literal translation of the word “self-control” would be “in power.” In light of the context in which the word is found, this is no reference to self-generated power within. It is the in power that the Holy Spirit gives.


The Greek word translated “self-control” has been used in the secular world to make a reference to restraint. One Greek Scholar has said that in secular Greek it is used in relation to food, sex, and use of the tongue. In our day we could say that it is a word that deals with addictions. One can be addicted to food, sex or even use of the tongue. We can, of course, enlarge the power of restraint to such things as drugs, alcohol, profanity, and other addictions.


The translation of the word as “self-control,” can leave one with the impression that we are to work up the restraint in our own strength and discipline. However, it is in the context of a passage that tells us that the Holy Spirit gives the restraint.


When a believer has an addiction of some type, he does not need to think of self-control as the answer to his problem. He needs to receive the filling of the Holy Spirit by living out his oneness with Christ.


Galatians 5:17 talks of our flesh and Holy Spirit being in conflict for the control of our lives. So, we can be filled with the Spirit by experiencing our crucifixion and keeping the flesh out of power.


The “in power” of the Holy Spirit also gives the believer the strength for victory at the time of temptation by providing the power of restraint. Because of the many addictions being experienced in our day, many victories can come to believers who experience the filling of the Holy Spirit.