Study Guide: The Maturity Gap

Sunday February 16, 2014 | Nick Cunningham

Focus Scripture:

Brief Summary:

Self-control can often feel like God is just trying to stymie our happiness. In this sermon, Nick Cunningham shares with us why this isn’t true and points us to the real reason Jesus calls us to self-control.

Extended Summary:

Spiritual maturity is something that we should all strive for in our lives. But for a lot of us, we feel like God is a cosmic debbie-downer who doesn’t want us to have any fun. However, spiritual maturity is about becoming the humans we were originally created to be. And when we do, we will relish the life God has pointed us to.

Self-control is one important aspect of spiritual maturity. Right about now, people are starting to give up on their new year’s resolutions. There is a gap between our will and our reality, and self-control helps us to narrow that gap. But this gap won’t be narrowed without the discipline of self-control.

We tend to think of self-control only in terms of abstinence or things that we refrain from doing. We think it’s all about saying no, but the Bible has a much more complex picture of self-control. A person of self-control is able to govern and direct their appetites and desires in a healthy way.

We have appetites and desires for many things. Food, sex, work and to be known are just a few of the appetites in our life. Self-control doesn’t mean we abstain from these things. Rather, it is about living these things out in a healthy way. These things are part of our physical nature, and God created us as physical beings that have appetites. But, he also created us as a spiritual being as well.

Lust is the opposite of self-control, and it affects both our physical and spiritual lives. Lust looks to use our physical desires to satisfy our spiritual desires. Lust is dangerous and is built on a lie. Lust tells us that we’re going to feel great about fulfilling a physical desire, but we discover it’s a lie when it doesn’t fulfill the spiritual void that we have.

Self-control isn’t just a matter of resistance but of redirection. The Bible doesn’t just tell us to stop doing things. Rather, it tells us to stop and to do something else. For instance, fasting isn’t just about not eating food. It’s about learning to feast on something that will satisfy our hunger.

We can self-control in any area of our life. The same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead is the same Spirit that helps us gain self-control in our lives. God’s divine power has given us everything we need. This gift given by God is important to realize and utilize. This gift gives us the picture that we should aim towards through self-control.

Reflection Questions:

  1. What additional questions and comments did you have about the sermon and supporting texts?
  2. How have you understood self-control in the past? Did you ever have trouble with feeling like it was just holding you back?
  3. Why do you think it might be important to see self-control as a way to a good life?
  4. Lust is the opposite of self-control. Do you agree that lust is a spiritual battle as much as a physical one? Why or why not?
  5. The same Spirit that raised Jesus works in us today. Have you ever felt like a lust you have was too big to overcome? Why or why not?