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Man Up - Pt. 1

July 7, 2019 Pastor: Philip De Courcy Series: Doing Good

Topic: Sunday Sermons Scripture: Titus 2:6-8

Transcript of our Sermon Audio:

Well, let's take our Bibles and turn to Titus 2:6-8. We're in a series of sermons on the Book of Titus, called Doing Good. If you're with us for the first time, our custom here at Kindred is expository preaching. We just take a book in the Bible and work our way through it. For some time, we have now been in the book of Titus, in chapter two. Here you've got designed discipleship. In chapter one, Paul reminds the Church that there are those called of God who will teach the word of God. Titus 1:9, "They'll exhort and rebuke through Bible preaching." That's the role of the pastor or the elder. But in chapter two, he reminds the church that, indeed, the Church can teach itself, that the body of Christ can disciple itself.

In chapter two, he addresses different groups. Older women, younger women, older men, younger men, and he encourages the older women to disciple the younger women and he encourages the older men to disciple the younger men. This morning, we're coming to look at that group of men Paul designates as young. I want to begin to address verses 6, 7, and 8 this morning. We'll spill over into next Sunday morning, a message I've entitled Man Up. Stand in honor of God's Word. Follow verses 6, 7, and 8, as we read it together, Titus 2:6. The word, likewise, here that begins this verse is Paul's way of identifying a new group. He's transitioning to address a new group. He has addressed the older men. Likewise, he addressed the older women. Likewise, the younger women were addressed and now likewise, the young men are to be addressed, also. "Likewise, exhort the young men to be sober-minded. In all things, showing yourself to be a pattern of good works in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed having nothing evil to say to you." So reads God's word, and you may be seated.

Since my days as a young Christian, I've always been inspired by the stories of Christian martyrs. And one story has stayed with me long in life. It's the story of two English Protestant reformers, Bishop Hugh Latimer and Master Ridley. They are two Protestants who die under the reign of Bloody Mary. They are burned at the stake in Oxford, England. The date is October 16, 1555. They're put back-to-back on a post to be burned for their confession of faith and their denial of the presence of Christ within the Lord's Supper, the doctrine of transubstantiation. While they're being burned, the older bishop turns to the younger disciple, and here's what he says, "Be of good comfort, Master Ridley, and play the man. We trust that this day a light shall be lit by God's grace in England, as I trust shall never be put out." I've always been struck by that little phrase. Master Ridley, Play the Man. Die well. Confess your faith in martyrdom.

Play The Man is a divine call on the life of every man. God expects men to act like men in distinction from women. God expects men to act like men through leadership, personal responsibility, hard work, bravery, devotion to family, neighbor, church and country. God expects men to act like men through a no holds barred commitment to the man, Christ Jesus. We're to play the man. If you go to 1 Kings 2:2, David is dying and he says to his son Solomon, "Prove yourself a man or show yourself a man." You go to I Corinthians 16:13, the great Apostle Paul challenges the men at Corinth to act like men. Guys, God calls us all to play the man, not playing at being a man. Yet, today men are missing in action. They're falling down on the job of being a man. By all indication, men are struggling and young men particularly. There's a crisis among men in America. Something awful is happening to our fathers and sons in this great nation.

In fact, I want to show you that. If you're not convinced of that fact, I want to try and convince you, because it's going to bring us to the urgent message of Titus 2:6-8 where young men are called to self-control and a life of good works and doctrinal integrity. In his book, Ship of Fools, Tucker Carlson outlines the crisis in America concerning men. Most of what I'm about to share, I took from his book. Let me talk about this crisis. Let's think about the confusion of transgenderism where men are denying their own biology, where men are looking like and living like women, lying to themselves, denying every gland and part of their body that cries maleness and masculinity. Think about the fact that 75% of all suicides are committed by men. Think about the fact that 90% of inmates in prison are men. Think about the fact that more girls than boys graduate from high school. Considerably, more go on to graduate from college. Women, not men, earn the majority of doctoral degrees in America.

Think about the fact that seven million American men, between the ages of 25 and 54 no longer have jobs. That's more than 10% of the entire working age male labor force. In fact, nearly half of those men take pain medication every day. That's the highest rate in the world. Think about the fact that one in five American children, many of which are boys, live with only their mothers. There's an epidemic of fatherlessness in America. That means that boys, trying to become men, are being taught by women, mothers and sisters. Think about the fact that 75% of American men are obese or overweight. Think about the fact that men are a distinct minority on college campuses as I alluded to. In fact, all major universities in America have women's studies departments whose stated goal, often, is to fight expressions of masculinity and disempower men.

Let me change gears. Let's go from the outside to the inside, to the church. Think about the fact that within the church, the body of Christ, women outnumber men 60% to 40. They serve in greater numbers within the ministry of most local churches. If you look across the world, to the mission field, women outnumber men on the mission field two to one. There's a crisis among men, in the culture and in the church. Men are in trouble. Men don't know what it is to be a man. Men are being raised by women. Men are being pushed around by the culture. Men are falling down on the job of getting a job. Men are fathering children and then leaving those children without a father. Men are serving themselves. Lazy. Governed by self-interest. They're not serving their families, their communities, their church, their country or their Lord.

Just look at those statistics, outlined by Tucker Carlson in his book, Ship Of Fools. I think you can say, generally speaking, men are unhappy, unhealthy, and unholy. Given all of that, the text we're about to look at is going to challenge them to look up. It's going to challenge them to step up. It's going to challenge them to man up. Because here in Titus 2:6 we read, "Likewise, exhort the young men to be sober-minded, in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works, in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you." Paul is encouraging Titus to lay the gauntlet at the feet of young men in the church at Crete. The gauntlet is this, to become mature manly Christians, to express some muscular Christianity. Paul wants to see the men of God rise up on this island and make their mark on life for Jesus Christ. In fact, it's interesting, if you look at verse six, "Likewise, exhort the young men." Several of the groups don't have a definite article attached to them.

I think there might be some significance in the fact that Paul says to Titus, "Hey, I want you to speak to the, or those young men." It's like he's singling them out for particular focus. It's like he's got a pressing concern. Hey, I want you to speak to the older men. And I want you to speak to the older women. And I want you to speak to the younger women. Those young men over there, exhort them. I think Paul understood the vulnerability of this group. I think he understood the significance of young men. If you can put them onto the straight and narrow, if you can make them manly, mature disciples of Jesus Christ, that's good for the church. That's good for family. That's good for society. If we lose a generation of young men, disaster results. I think Paul's fired up. Hey, exhort those young men. By inference since many of these letters are read out in a church. The young men would have sat up because Paul's saying, hey, yeah, it's you I'm speaking to this morning. You young man. Because young men, on Crete, apart from the grace of God, given what we know about the culture from chapter 1:12 and chapter 3:3, those single adults, those young men would have tended to be undisciplined, hard-drinking, morally loose, disobedient, pleasure-oriented, shifty, fast-talking, and flippant.

They needed mentoring. They needed motivating, and that's what's happening in the verses we're about to look at. And so do we. Men are struggling in America. Men are falling down on the job at home, in the church, in life. Paul doesn't give young men a free pass. Kevin D. Young, in a message on the next generation, said something I want to quote to you this morning. I want you young men to listen up. He said this, "We have expected almost nothing out of our young people, so that's what we get." A couple of generations ago, 20 year-olds were getting married, starting families, working at real jobs, or they were off fighting the Nazis.Today, 35 year-olds are hanging out on Facebook, looking for direction, trying to find themselves. We have coddled them, rather than challenged them. I agree with that. Whether it's passive parenting, whether it's materialism, whether it's just ... you know what, give into this idea. They're young. They're immature. Let them rattle about in life for a while, and then they'll kind of wise up. No. We've coddled them too long.

They need to be challenged, and this is the text to do it. As we come to this passage, I want us to see several things. We're only going to cover two of them this morning, and we'll see all of you back next Sunday morning for the rest of it. Let me say this, by the way. The assumption is, among most of the commentators, that young men probably deal with the group somewhere between 20 and 30 or a little bit either side of that. You could just conclude that a young man is anything beneath an older man. But I don't think we're dealing with mid 40s, early 50s here.

We're dealing with young men who need to exercise self-control, who need to get their life on track, who need to get their ducks in a row, who need to prioritize some priorities. I think we're dealing with 20 to 30 year-olds, here, who need to embrace life's responsibilities. Let's look at what I call the encouragement. That's verse six. "Likewise, exhort the young men to be sober-minded." Just circle that word, exhort. That's what Paul tells Timothy to do. Exhort them. Encourage them. He's to do for them what the older women were to do for the younger women. While men and women can disciple men, and men and women can disciple women, especially couples together like Priscilla and Aquila. I think generally speaking, men are better at discipling men, and women are better at discipling women. That's what you've got going on here in Titus chapter two. This is a present imperative, which means it's a command. Paul is commanding Titus to do this. It's a present-tense verb, which means he's to constantly do this. It is a reminder that if you and I are going to shape the next generation, if they're going to grow up into manly, mature, disciples of Jesus Christ, that's going to take time. You're going to have to beat that drum loud and long. If you're going to be a discipler, I think Tim would tell you, or anybody would tell you. It's going to take a while, you know? It doesn't happen at the end of a men's retreat. It might not happen after six or seven sessions. This is a life on life, life-long thing where you help a generation, maybe across a decade, grow up into manly, mature disciples of Jesus Christ. The word, encourage, parakaleo, is to come alongside to speak. It's a phenomenal word. It's the image of a coach on the sidelines, running up and down, hollering and encouraging. In fact, this is a word for the Holy Spirit. One of my favorite titles for the Holy Spirit in the upper-end discourse, is comforter or encourager. The paracletus. The one who comes alongside us to encourage us after Christ. That's the role of the Holy Spirit. It was saying here, Paul is saying, hey, Titus, I want you to beat this drum long and hard.

Tell these young men to grow up, to mature, to be self-controlled, to be sober-minded. Do it often and do it with perseverance, and become a channel of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Lifting them when they have fallen. Pushing them forward when they want to turn back. Folks, bottom line, the church must be a community of encouragement. We have failed, in any given Sunday, if the majority of us don't leave encouraged. Whether it's standing out on the patio with a cup of coffee in your hand, in a KU class, over with the children, down the hill with the youth. Whatever it is. Sitting here under the word of God. It all is to this end that we feel encouraged, that the body of Christ, through the Holy Spirit, in the preaching of God's word, has come alongside us and said, "You know what? Can you go one more week until Jesus comes? Can you follow the demands of discipleship? Can you live up to the will of God for your life?"

We all need to be involved in that. Paul knew that wasn't going to come easily for these young men. They need encouraged to self-control, because there are things working against them. Their old nature, their old lifestyle, the old man that still resides within them, the principle of sin. They could be urged to go back to the life they left. The grace of God needs to teach them to deny ungodliness and worldly pleasures and to live soberly and righteously. They need to be reminded of that. There's a godless culture all around them. We read in verse 12 of chapter 1. "The Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, and lazy gluttons." This is an immoral, decadent culture. These young men needed to stand straight for Jesus Christ. There was the deception, right, of the false teachers, verses 10-16. They were coping with their own flesh and urges to go back to their old life.

They were dealing with a decadent culture tempting them to give in to temptation. They were dealing with disruptive and false teachers. They needed some cheerleading. They weren't going to become manly, mature disciples of Jesus Christ by themselves. That doesn't come easily. They needed some men in their lives like Titus. Men in their corner, calling them out, calling them up, calling them forward. We all need that. I've quoted this before, but I'll quote it again. You know Howard Hendricks of Dallas Theological Seminary famously said this. "Every disciple needs three types of relationships in his life. He needs a Paul, who can mentor him and challenge him. He needs a Barnabas, who can come alongside him and encourage him. He needs a Timothy, someone who can pour into his life." We all need three types of people like that. That's what's going on here. In fact, it is Paul who's telling Titus to become a Paul in these young men's lives and to become a Barnabas in these young men's lives.

In fact, speaking about becoming a Barnabas, take some time and study Barnabas in the Bible. Anybody looked at his life recently? You should. He's introduced to us in Acts 4:36 His name is Barnabas, which means son of encouragement. What a nickname. In fact, people in the early church would have pointed to Barnabas and said, "He's an encourager. He's a cold drink on a hot day. He's some spiritual smelling salts man when you feel like life's plowing you down to the mat. Son of encouragement. We all ought to be sons and daughters of encouragement. We ought to look out for each other. We ought to speak into each other's lives. I don't have time to trace him, but there's several stories. In Acts 4:37, he was a man who was well-healed financially, and he sold up many of his possessions, and he gave the money to the church for the poor. In Acts 9:26-27, it's the story of Saul's conversion.

The Apostle Paul gets saved. He comes to join himself to the disciples in Jerusalem, and they slam the door so hard in his face, it flattens his nose. We're not letting you in. We don't trust you. We know who you are. Yeah, you think we forgot the story of Stephen? When all the coats were laid at your feet while he was stoned to death? No, we're not trusting you. You're a snake in the grass. You're a Trojan horse. We don't believe you're converted. It's all fake. In that passage, you'll read that Barnabas comes alongside Paul. He discerns and determines this is a genuine conversion, that God has truly met this man on the road to Damascus. He takes Paul to the Apostles in Jerusalem and to the church and introduces him. Beautiful image of what we ought to do, certainly, when someone gets saved, maybe from outside our circles, maybe comes from a really checkered, dirty background.

We need believers who have got big hearts and a big enough belief in God that these kind of people can be truly saved, and they belong among the body of Christ and they take them by the hand and introduce them to God's people. You read the story of Barnabas, both in Acts chapter 11 and Acts chapter 15. He's involved in the fact that the gospel has spread, now, to the Gentiles, and there are those that want Gentiles to become partial Jews. They believe that to be a full Christian, you need to be a partial Jew. Therefore, you need to be circumcised. You need to keep the dietary laws of the book of Leviticus. Barnabas, along with Paul says, "No. They need to stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has set them free. We're not going to put our Jewish foibles onto these young gentile believers. They're free in Christ. Faith alone in him is enough." He's just part of a fresh work of God. He's not bothered or put off by that which is a little unusual and where new boundaries are being broken.

Lastly, Acts 15:37-39. Another great story of his where he defends John Mark. Remember how John Mark gave up on Paul, went home. Then Barnabas says, "Hey, we need to take him back." Paul says, "I'm not taking him back. I don't need a spiritual crybaby that runs home to his mum the first sign of trouble." Barnabas says, hold on a minute, that's harsh, that's hard. He failed. He let you down, no doubt about it. But you know what ... didn't the word of God come to Jonah a second time? Can't we pick ourselves up and move forward, even after a real face plant spiritually? Paul's not buying it, and Barnabas takes John Mark with him, the son of encouragement. Later on, by the way, second Timothy, four, Paul will say in his last letter, "Hey, bring John Mark to me. He's profitable."

Barnabas didn't give up on him. That's just a little profile of this wonderful man who's got a heart for new believers, who believes the best, who contributes to the poor, who sponsors the forgotten and who defends the fallen. Folks, oh, that God would be so gracious enough to give us a Barnabas in life. That can be your father. That can be a pastor. That can be a friend. That could be a coach. But we need people like that in our lives. People who are generous with their time and finances. People who help us get up when we fall down. People who give us room to grow. People who are not put off by your strangeness or your background, who are up for the challenge of getting to know you and introducing you to others who are standing off. We need people in our lives who trust the Holy Spirit to do something new in people.

We all need Barnabases with a warm heart and a helping hand. Let me illustrate this and move on. In his sermon on Barnabas, John Ortberg, an author and Presbyterian minister, he says this. "Cars and grills aren't the only things that have fuel tanks." What he means by that is you and I need our tank full, our emotional tank. The tank of our life. We need to be affirmed and loved and encouraged. Life is a team sport. We need people to pour into us. We need Pauls, we need Barnabases. He calls them balcony people. He takes that idea from a early church father by the name of Gregory of Nyssa, who wrote to a friend. Then he took an image from the world of athletics where someone might go to a Roman stadium and watch a chariot race. They might be in the balcony or up in the stands, rooting for their particular rider and his team of horses. They're cheering and shouting and hollering.

Gregory of Nyssa says, "I want to be like that to you." I want to be up in the stands, as you run your race, cheering you on. John Ortberg says, we need that. We need that and we need to be that. We need to be balcony people. He says, "Hey, but in life, it's just not balcony people. There's basement people." There's people that want to bring you down to where they are. There are those who fill your tank and there are other people who stick a hose in your tank, take a deep breath and siphon you dry, who criticize you, put you down, say you'll never make it, nor can you do it. Oh, Paul's saying to Titus, you need to be a balcony person for all the young men, 20 to 30 in your church. Need to root for them. You need to pour into them. You need to exhort them to better things in Christ. You need to pick them up when they've fallen down or give them a good kick in their rear-end to push them forward.

That's the encouragement. Number two, the emphasis. The emphasis is on sober-mindedness or self-control or self mastery. Look at verse six. "Likewise, exhort the young men to be sober-minded." You'll notice that that's as far as the list goes for young men. It's pretty short. It's one thing. It's a dominant quality. Self mastery, self-control, discipline. Look at what he says to older men, "You need to be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, love, patience." Look at the older women. You're to be reverent in the behavior, not slanderers, not giving too much wine, teachers of good things. Look what he says to young women. "Love your husbands, love your children, be discreet, sexually pure, homemakers, good." Then he gets to young men, one thing. "Exhort the young men to be self-controlled." I think you and I will realize this some day, that life or a season in life can often be reduced to one dominating passion or pursuit. When it's pursued, and when it's achieved and when it becomes part of our life, it is operational. Most other things work with it.

There's some things more important than other things. There's some keys to success that are without question. Remember what Paul said in Philippians 1? "This one thing I do. I press after Christ." Remember what David said in Psalm 27? "One thing have I desired. And that will I seek after, that I might dwell in the house of the Lord and behold his beauty." Remember what Jesus said to the rich young ruler who wanted to know the answer to the question of how do I get eternal life? Jesus said, "One thing you lack." Remember Martha and Mary? Martha's upset because Mary's not helping her in the kitchen. She's sitting at Jesus' feet, being discipled. What does Jesus say to Martha? "Martha, Martha, you're disturbed about many things, and one thing is needful." As Paul writes to Titus and then tells Titus to exhort and encourage and become a balcony person for the young men. He says one thing, "Tell them to exercise self-control."

I'm reading a book right now on Margaret Thatcher, a hero of mine. When I was growing up in Britain, she was Prime Minister for almost 10 years. In the book, a friend of hers, a man by the name of Alfred Sherman says this about Margaret Thatcher and part of her success and tenacity. He says this, "Here greatest intellectual gift was for simplification. She saw life in primary colors." It's one of the secrets to life. Knowing what's what. Knowing what's more important than anything else. Seeing life in primary colors. Because life can get so diffused. It becomes distracting. We need to simplify life. We need to know that there are some things that are non-negotiable, some things that we have got to master and pursue. One of them is self-control. Paul knew that. He's writing with primary colors in mind. He knows the struggle for these young men. Young men, apart from the grace of God. Young men apart from parental oversight, mentoring by others, pastoral leadership.

Young men will tend to be lazy. Their hearts will govern their heads. They'll be imprudent. They'll be impetuous. They'll become recklessly risk takers. I think Paul knew that. He understood the indwelling presence of sin in their lives. He understood the permissive culture around them that would urge them to indulge their sexual appetite, would encourage them to not take care of their bodies by overeating and over drinking. Would encourage them to demand rights and shed responsibilities. Make it about yourself. He understood the tempter would never be far away with temptations. I think Paul understood that. He understood, according to Proverbs 4:23 that a man must guard his heart, for out of it the issues of life flow. He's got to be clear-headed and clear-hearted. What about Proverbs 25:28, "The man who doesn't control himself is like the city whose walls have fallen down."

Paul understood the importance of self-control. In fact, this word, sober-minded, in the New King James may be translated in your version, self-control. That's a good translation of it. It's got nuisances to it. It carries the idea of being sensible, to make good judgments with your mind. It encourages the idea of being responsible, being prudent. Again, being self-controlled. You see, they were going to struggle with this as young men. All young men do. When I was a child, I thought as a child. But when I became a man, I put away childish things. As we've said from Kevin DeYoung, that took place a generation ago when you were about 20. Now, it's taking place when you're about 35 where we've got boys in men's bodies. The widest demographic for video games and the purchase of video games is 34 year-old men. Play the man or play at playing the man.

Put down the Call Of Duty, and go and join the Army, the Air Force or the Marines. Do the real thing. That's what a man does. He doesn't play at being a man. He plays the man. Paul knew that. It's true of their generation, our generation. A lack of seriousness, impulsiveness, emotions trumping thoughts. These young men were endanger of living life without good reason, healthy restraint, a sense of responsibility. Paul knew that in the life of any young man, lust could replace love. Anger could replace grace. Rights could replace responsibilities. I like how Charles Swindoll paraphrases this. Listen to these good words. "Titus, help younger men learn how to apply the brakes to life. Help them understand how to bridle their tongues and control their tempers. Help them know how to curb their ambition and purge themselves of greed. Show them how to master their sexual impulses and how to follow their minds instead of their glands. Teach them to be responsible stewards of money, rather than squanderers. Show them the rewards of unselfish leadership and the folly of self-centered pursuits."

That's all there. It's all under this idea of self-control, disciplining your life, prioritizing your priorities, saying no to some things. Because God wants you to say yes to some greater things. Time for acting like a child is over at some point. Time to get a job. Time to start saving. Time to find yourself a woman, because a man that finds a wife, finds a good thing. Time to start having children. It's time to start putting a roof over everybody's head. Time to start paying back to society that's invested in you. On and on, we could go. That's all under self-control, all under discipline, under self mastery. It doesn't come easily. It doesn't come naturally. It doesn't come quickly. That's why Paul just ... hey, I could go down a list. I've got one thing. Here's what's on my shopping list for you guys. Go and get yourself some self-control, because everything else will tend to fall into place if you're a self-controlled man. If you're discipling your body, if you're expanding your mind, and worshiping God with it. If you're guarding your heart, if you're managing your finances, if you're redeeming your time, so on and so forth. It doesn't come easily.

I think you'll identify with the lady who was part of a diet club. She was talking to her girlfriends at a meeting of this diet club about how she was so disappointed in herself and her lack of willpower. She said, "The weekend before, we were having a family gathering, I cooked a big cake for everybody. Everybody indulged but me, and half the cake was gone before the day was half done." She says, "The next day, man, that half of a cake was sitting there for my husband to finish that night, but it started calling my name. I fought it. I went out of the kitchen. Went back into the kitchen. Went out of the kitchen. Back into the kitchen. I talked to myself, but then after a while, I took a knife and I just cut off a little slice of that cake. Just a little slice. Then after that slice, I had another slice. After that slice, I had another slice until that half of the cake was gone. I knew my husband would be disappointed." One of the girls said, "Well, what did he say when he found out?" To which she replied, "Well, he never found out, because I made another cake and ate half."

We can all identify with that, alright? We can all identify with that. That's a simple analogy, the desire to eat. It's just one appetite. It's just one desire, one pleasure. We've got to fight those all the time. We're not advocating asceticism. We're not saying it's evil to enjoy a nice piece of cake. We're just saying, where's the self-control? Where's the discipline that allows you to be healthy within the providence of God? Allows you to be physically responsible. That allows you to be more about responsibilities than rights. It's about other people and not you. This is a great quality. It's an indispensable quality. They needed it then, and given what we've talked about at the beginning of this sermon, we need it now. Great souls and productive lives have known the benefit of saying no to that which is diminutive, destructive and distracting. Great souls and productive lives have known the benefit of saying yes to that which is primary, Christian, biblical, virtuous, eternal and expansive for your life.

Great souls and productive lives have given themselves to self-discipline. Not out of cold resignation. They've actually embraced it with excitement. Study the great lives of artists, politicians, athletes, generals, the great men and women of God who left their mark in life for Christ. You'll find that they embraced discipline with excitement, because they knew this paradox, that restraint leads to freedom, that self mastery allows us to become more than we are. You know this, right? You see, people of this idea that freedom is for freedom, okay? It tends to be the American or, at least, the contemporary understanding. Well, you know what? This is a free country, so I can be who I want to be. If I want to be a woman, I can be a woman. If I want to be a man, I can be a man. If I want to get drunk, if I want to sex with a thousand partners, on and on it goes. Freedom is for freedom, and the Bible would say, no. No, the Bible would say freedom is to show restraint and discipline so that you can become more than you are. It's more about responsibilities than it is about rights.

Laws allow societies to flourish. Practice allows musicians to perform. Discipline allows athletes to excel, and regiment allows soldiers to win. Listen to these words by President Harry Truman. "In reading the lives of great men, I have found that the first victory won was over themselves. Self-discipline, with all of them, came first." Let me quote another president, Dwight Eisenhower who spoke at a state of the union address. He said this, "Freedom has been defined as the opportunity for self-discipline." He's saying, hey, if America gives you freedom, take that freedom responsibly. Show restraint. Show discipline. Suppress sinful urges. Manage your moods. Watch you diet. Redeem your time. Give yourself to study, self-improvement. Pursue discipleship in Jesus Christ. All of those things, so that you might become more than you are.

If you become more than you are, America becomes greater than it is. That's the way life works, at home, in the church, in the nation. I love that quote. "Freedom has been defined as the opportunity for self-discipline." Paul understands that. He wants the best for these young men. He want's them to flourish in life. He wants them to succeed in their walk with God. He wants them to leave a legacy among their community. He says, it begins with restraint. It begins with saying no. It begins with setting boundaries. It begins with prioritizing priorities. Look, for the time that remains, I want to help the young men. Most of us ... I hope you haven't checked out, because I've been addressing young men. Because ladies, mothers, these young men are your sons or your husbands. If you're a single girl, these young men I'm talking about could be your future husband. If you're an older man, these young men ought to be on your radar screen for discipleship. Then if you're a younger man, well then, I'm talking to you.

What we'll do, we'll pick this up next week, because there's so much in this. I've got several things here that help with self-control. Remember, we're after that. If a man doesn't control his heart, doesn't manage his life, he's like a city whose walls are broken down, Proverbs 25. What happens to a city when the walls are broken down? They get possessed by the enemy. It's defeat, left, right and center. You want to construct a life that pleases God, brings satisfaction to you, blesses the church, strengthens the country, and leaves a legacy? Then you need to build some walls of self-control around your life. How do we that? What does that look like? Number one, a few words jumped out. The first word is dependence. I've used the word self-improvement. It's not, maybe, a great phrase, because it tends to come from the world of psychology and humanism. But if you and I do want to, at least, develop ourselves as disciples, if you and I want to broaden our spiritual life and we want to deepen life in general. I hope you haven't heard from me, "Hey, put your tongue between your teeth and bite down and just bull your way through to improvement."

I hope your not hearing, hey, you know what, take a deep breath, resolve, gather all energy and effort and pull yourself up by your bootstraps. You can't do that. You will not be able to master yourself by yourself. How do I know that? Because you have a principle of sin in you, so do I, that Paul talks about in Romans 6:7. He says in Roman 7, "The good that I would do, I don't do, and that which I don't want to do, I do." If you and I are going to attempt self mastery, we have got to remember that we begin that fight with one hand tied behind our back, that we are our own worst enemy. That our hearts will betray us. No. You and I are marked by fallenness, by sinful impulses apart from the grace of God and apart from the gracious work of the Holy Spirit. That's why you and I need to pursue the Holy Spirit. You and I need to walk as men, day in and day out with the filling of the spirit. This is the verse to right down, Ephesians 5:18. Because remember in Galatians 5:22, "The fruit of the Spirit is self-control."

He produces this. I don't work it up. He gives us it as a gift. He give us it as a grace as we walk in the Spirit. Remember, since the Spirit authored the word, if we want to walk in the Spirit, we're going to walk in the statutes of God's word. Where with all shall a young man cleanse his way but by taking heed to the word of God, which was inspired by the Spirit of God. It's the tool by which he shows us what self-control looks like and how you and I might achieve it. Ephesians 5:18, right? "Don't be drunk with wine." What happens when you're drunk? You're controlled by a substance. You loose your reasoning. You start acting like an idiot, or you start throwing punches or you taunt the police. You're an embarrassment to whoever's with you, because that's what alcohol does. It controls. That's why we talk about alcohol. Under the influence. You know what? These young me would have come out of somewhat of a party lifestyle in Crete where people could be evil beasts and lazy gluttons, Titus 1:12. Now, they must submit their desires, their pleasures, their drives, their urges to the power of the Holy Spirit.

Don't be drunk with wine. Don't be influenced by that substance, but be filled with the Spirit. Playrol in the Greek, it spoke of someone whose body was captured by a cold or a flu. It spoke of wind that filled the sails of a ship. It was the same word for control. Don't be controlled by alcohol. Be controlled by the Holy Spirit. Come under his tutilage. Come under his leadership. Don't grieve Him by sinful actions. Study the word. Submit yourself to His leadership. Self-control is upward, not inward. Don't go looking to yourself to control yourself. Look to the help of the Holy Spirit to control you. Back to our thought, by the way, exhort young men to be self-controlled. Remember parakaleo, it's the same words used for the comfort of the Holy Spirit. Paul says to Timothy, "Become a channel for the Holy Spirit, urging these young men to, indeed, exercise self-control." As Titus did that, his life becomes a pattern of good works, and they see a life controlled by the Holy Spirit. These young men emulate that.

I love a quote that I came across. Philip Melanchthon was one of the great reformers, alongside Martin Luther. Here's what he said. Young men, write this down. "Old Adam is much too strong for young Philip. Old Adam is much too strong for young Phillip." The old Adam in you is much too strong. You need the power of the Holy Spirit to break that cycle of ill-discipline, imprudence, lack of seriousness. Number two, not only dependence but discipline. Discipline. You know this, that there's a beautiful balance and tension in God's word about God's part and our part. It all begins with grace, and it's all centered on the cross. Any good in us is produced by the work of God's gracious spirit within us, Christ within us. The hope of glory. You and I are to respond to God's work. We're to cooperate with God's grace. We're to seek God's grace.We're to be dependent upon God's grace. Philippians 2:12-13, what do we read? Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to do his good will and pleasure.

We go to God as paupers, as those in need of his grace. We ask him for his grace, we submit ourselves in obedience to the word of God, that the spirit of God might release that energizing grace and help for us to overcome. We must give ourselves to that process. Good intentions will not do. We must resolve and turn that resolve into action. We must obey. We must be disciplined. Self-control is a gift, but it is a duty. What about first Corinthians 9:24-29? Paul takes the analogy of the athlete, and talks about, "Hey, I buffet my body." Remember guys, that's not buffet, it's buffet. He buffeted his body. He said no to certain things. He disciplined himself. He managed his time. He managed his moods. He got up everyday to prioritize the priorities and pursue God's glory by the grace of God. I want you to notice that I buffeted my body. I disciplined my body. I wasn't like a boxer, punching the air. I directed all my energy and effort to self mastery and self-control by the help of the Holy Spirit.

I like what David Mathis says about this. He says this, "True self-control is a gift from above, produced in and through us by the Holy Spirit. Until we own that it is received from outside ourselves, rather than whipped up from within. The effort we give to control our own selves, will redound to God's praise and glory, rather than ours." He goes on to say this, "But we also need to note that self-control is not a gift we receive passively but actively. We are not the source. We are intimately involved. We open the gift and live it. Receiving the grace of self-control means taking it all the way in and then out in actual exercise of grace." Ed Welch says this. "As the Hebrews were promised the land, the promised land but had to take it by force, one town at a time, so we are promised the gift of self-control, yet we must take it by force." That's a good word. It's a good reminder of that fact, that you and I have got to pursue self-control by God's grace. But we've got to take it by force. Wasn't it Spurgeon who said, "Better to learn to say no than to learn Latin"?

I don't often quote him, he's not my theology, but Jack Hayford was once once asked about his secret to success and life in the ministry. He said this, "On many occasions I have had to decide against myself." That's one of the secrets. Deciding against yourself. Saying no to ungodliness and worldly passions but saying yes by the help of the Holy Spirit to a life of sobriety and righteousness and just living. Let's leave it there. We'll pick it up next week. May God give us the grace, as young men and men to play the man and to stop playing at being a man. Lord, we thank you for the admonition of David to his son, Solomon. The admonition of Paul to the Corinthians. Prove yourself a man. Act like men. Lord, we want to be as men a man's man. But more than that, we want to be men of God, who reflect your image in us. Where we display maleness in a manner that reflects the character of Christ. It reflects the glory of God. It's a blessing to our sisters in Christ. It's a blessing to the church, to society.

Help us to guard our hearts, for out of it flow the issues of life. Help us to, indeed, build walls of restraint and discipline and self-control. Help us to shed that immaturity where it's about us, where we become lazy and self-indulgent where it's all about our toys. Lord, help us to be men on the move for God, living out the lordship of Jesus Christ. Men constrained by the love of Christ and controlled by the power of the Spirit so that we're not some kind of runaway train, that we're not some kind of reckless piece of humanity but indeed that we are men who are on track with God. Men who have moved beyond boyishness to manliness. Men who love our wives sacrificially, disciple our own children, who work hard and well and honestly in our workplaces, who have got goals and plans. That will mean that we are something else and somewhere else, five, six years from now. We pray and ask all theses things for your glory, so we might be like the man, Christ Jesus, amen.

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