“For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with goodness, goodness with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with godliness, godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they will keep you from being useless or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:5-8, HCSB)
How would you know if you’re a righteous man? Can you trust your own opinion of yourself?
Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Attila the Hun, Genghis Kahn, Alexander the Great…these men probably didn’t look in the mirror and say, “Wow I am a villain!” In fact, the opposite occurred. They were so impressed with themselves that they demanded people worship them.
All of these leaders probably were much more gifted and smart than we are, so if they can be so deceived about their own state, so can we. Because of the fall of humanity we naturally tend toward worshipping ourselves, and we have an enemy who is always pushing us in that direction. So how can we know?
We must learn what God says a godly person looks like, not trust our own faulty opinion.
The Scriptures quoted above contain two lists of a godly or holy person. Notice though that the well-known first passage about the fruit of the Spirit is a list of characteristics that are the result of something—as Paul states, a person who has crucified the flesh and lives by the Spirit (Romans 8:13, HCSB).
Do the qualities of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and self-control typify your life?
If not, let’s look at the second Scripture passage. Here Peter gives us another list of the characteristics of a godly person. Notice, though, that his list is not showing the results of a life lived in the Spirit, but is a list of things we are to “make every effort” to do.
Peter assumes we have faith, which is the starting point of salvation, then he exhorts us to add: goodness, knowledge, self-control, endurance, godliness, brotherly affection, and love. In essence, making every effort to do the things on Peter’s list will make us people who naturally demonstrate the things on Paul’s list.
There are only two characteristics that are in both passages: self-control and love.
In Paul’s passage, he lists the characteristics of a Spirit-led life, starting with the most important quality: love. Peter gives a list that builds on itself, each one leading to the next, which ultimately results in the most important one: love.
Notice, then, that we can’t have true love unless we have self-control.
In Rise of the Servant Kings, I intend to show the path toward true manhood and being real men—which will allow us to live life on earth in joy and victory and to have a rich welcome into the kingdom of heaven. We see here the first aspect of such a man: self-control.
A friend of mine, Steve Brown, is a well-known pastor and author. He tells the story of a young man coming up to him after a sermon and saying, “I’d love to be all those things you talked about but I can’t.”
“Why not?” asked Steve.
“Because I’m a heroin addict,” he said.
“Do you want to stop being a heroin addict?” Steve asked.
“Of course!” came the reply.
“Then stop doing heroin,” said Steve.
If you knew Steve, this story would be even more surprising, because Steve is not a brusque, hard person—in fact he’s a gracious and loving man. But in this instance the Lord moved Steve in what he needed to say to this young man.
A month later, the man returned and let Steve know that he’d given his life to Christ and had stopped doing heroin that same night. “No one ever told me it was that easy,” he told Steve.
One of the most important aspects of masculinity is accountability.
And the beginning of accountability is self-control. A man takes responsibility. He understands that he and only he is accountable for what is in his charge.
An accountable man seeks to serve in some capacity in all of his relationships because he understands that he is responsible for the health of any group of which he’s a part, whether it is his family, his church, his work, or any other organization to which he belongs.
A passive man looks to take from his relationships. He looks to be served rather than to serve.
The way to destroy the society is to destroy masculinity. The way to do this is to have males who are not accountable. How does this happen? Eliminate self-control.
If you drink too much, look at pornography, look at things that lead to pornography, are addicted to mood-enhancing drugs, are obsessed with sports, are a workaholic, or ________, you need to stop. Stop now. Your flesh has control of you.
How do we do this? We must walk in the Spirit of God.
“The most earnest efforts to abide in Christ, to walk like Christ, fail when we depend more on the wisdom of this world than on the power of God.” – Andrew Murray
The greatest hindrance to many Christians being truly filled with the Holy Spirit is their trust in their orthodoxy—the sufficiency of their religious knowledge. They are not open to the teaching of the Spirit, because they read the Bible with a closed mind. Their mind is closed to anything that doesn’t agree with what they think they know because their religion says so.
What hinders God most is the will and wisdom of this world, and religion and religious philosophies are high on this list. Jesus spent much of His time debating with people who were puffed up in their religious knowledge. So puffed up that they couldn’t see God when He was standing right in front of them.
We must die every day to what we think we know, seeking God and His wisdom only.
We seek Him through reading Scripture, praying, and seeking the gentle voice of His Spirit as He speaks to us through His Word and in other ways. And, then, we put what we have heard into obedient action through faith.
Acting in faith is so vitally important, because Satan is there, even as we read God’s Word and pray, telling us that “knowing” is what we’re about, rather than doing (James 1:22, HCSB).
The church, especially Protestantism, has a history of limited and brief revivals, where prayer and worship become amazingly alive. His people repent and begin truly serving each other, serving the poor, and carrying out the great commission of making disciples of all people. But then faith and action diminish; and preaching and Bible study become, rather than a means to an end—the end.
Obviously, Bible study is important, but its end is for us to know God and His will for us.
He wants us to get in the fight to bring the hurting and lost people around us into fellowship with Him, and we can’t do that if we can’t even control ourselves.
Make your move toward holy masculinity.
The first move is on us, to put to death the deeds of the body so that God’s Spirit can lead us into a special relationship and sonship with Him. Then the attraction to sin will fade, and we will begin to see things through God’s eyes – as they really are. We will no longer see a woman as an object of sexual lust but see her as she is: a soul that our Lord loves and wants to have in fellowship with Him.
We will no longer see relationships as something to manipulate or manage, hoping to get what we want from people. We will see them as opportunities to bring others along with us in a growing relationship with God.
As we see things in this light, we will no longer strive to win an impossible battle (Romans 7, HCSB). Rather, our life will become one of peace, joy, fulfillment, and blessing to others.
Holiness, being set apart to God, becomes our nature.
It becomes our identity. The things of this world fade, and our relationship with Jesus Christ becomes our overwhelming desire. It becomes who we are.
Being a gunfighter, being wealthy, belonging to the right club, or being promoted to the highest level of society, even things like earthly power, become nothing in comparison to knowing our Lord and obeying His Word.
We are on the road to becoming holy.
We have started to become servant kings.
Excerpted from RISE OF THE SERVANT KINGS: WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS ABOUT BEING A MAN. Copyright © 2019 by Ken Harrison. Published by Multnomah, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.
KEN HARRISON is author of Rise of the Servant Kings: What the Bible Says About Being a Man and the CEO and chairman of Promise Keepers, one of the largest Christ-centered movements ever – calling men back to courageous and bold servant-leadership as changemakers for their families, churches and communities. Ken also serves as CEO of WaterStone, a Christian Community Foundation that oversees donations of millions of dollars per month to build God’s kingdom. After starting his career as an LAPD street cop in South Central Los Angeles, Harrison spent nearly two decades in the commercial real estate arena both nationally and internationally. Ken has been married to his wife, Elliette, for 28 years and they have three children. For more information, visit www.riseoftheservantkings.comand @promisekeepers.
Read more at How Is Masculinity Made Holy?