“and in [exercising] self-control [develop] steadfastness (patience, endurance)…” 2 Peter 1:6 AMP
I hope you have read Step 3 already, because it is necessary before you will understand this next major action of your spiritual training. It is one thing to finally get enough strength to defeat an opponent in one contest, but quite another to become the reigning champion with the steadfastness to continue over time, to defeat the challengers from that day forward, one battle after another. In military battles, there is finally one crushing victory that changes the tide of the whole war, and the victor becomes stronger and more powerful. From that moment on everything has changed!
Do you remember the description of the third phase of a Christian’s life? John stated, “I write to you, young men, because you are strong and vigorous, and the Word of God is [always] abiding in you (in your hearts), and you have been victorious over the wicked one.” [1 John 2:14 AMP] The Greek word, nikao means “to subdue (literal or figurative) :- conquer, overcome, prevail, get the victory.” The true strength of the mature saint is expressed in these words.
Using your self-control (especially continence), you must begin the process of training for the spiritual marathon that lays ahead of you. Under constant trials and pressures, the Spirit of God leads you to a place where you will sustain a “cheerful (or hopeful) endurance, constancy :- enduring, patience, patient continuance (waiting).”
Your Master calls you, the young, vigorous and strong because the Word of God always reigns in your heart, to join in the spiritual fight for your generation! As a disciple of Jesus this huge task will look hopeless, the victory, impossible, and the future very dark for the world around us. Only God converts the wicked. You must have trust in God that you are important to His mission, and therefore not give up, no matter what you face!
The calling is clear!
“Jesus approached and, breaking the silence, said to them, All authority (all power of rule) in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go then and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you, and behold, I am with you all the days (perpetually, uniformly, and on every occasion), to the [very] close and consummation of the age. Amen (so let it be). [Matt 28:18-20 AMP]
Every Christian is called to follow Christ in this eternal mission
This is not a command to preachers and missionaries, but to every disciple of Jesus. And since a spiritual war is so trying, God trains His saints through circumstances to strengthen them to be able to have the endurance and faith to press forward in this fight throughout their generations.
This is explained in James, chapter 1, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”
Yes, all the rough trials are just basic training to turn you into the strong Christian that you must become to complete your mission and not turn back or give up.
The enemy of God, Satan the Tyrant, holds the people of the world in his blinding grasp to haul them with him, into eternal damnation in hell. If you take this command of Christ to heart, your days will be filled with problems and trials because you take up the fierce war for the souls of men. Like a secret agent movie, for example the 007 series, you must not allow anything the devil throws at you to keep you from your holy mission. Only as your faith is tested will patience be produced in you.
Let me allow the apostle Paul explain this to you.
“But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4 whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. 5 For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. 8 We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed—10 always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. 11 For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So then death is working in us, but life in you.
13 And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed and therefore I spoke, ”we also believe and therefore speak, 14 knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you. 15 For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God.
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. [2 Corinthians 4:3-18 NKJV]
Every Christian needs to see that their mission is to join this cause, because their generation will pass away quickly. God has written His Word to instruct the church in the training up of a team of spiritual giants who carry the love of God to their cities and communities, but not in their own abilities. Instead, invested with the mighty power of God resting upon them, they proclaim the Good News. This invisible power has everything to do with the devil and his demons, not some kind of trickery to convince the lost world they need Jesus.
Paul already tells us, “However, their minds became closed. In fact, to this day the same veil is still there when they read the Old Testament. It isn’t removed, because only Christ can remove it.  Yet, even today, when they read the books of Moses, a veil covers their minds.  But whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.  This Lord is the Spirit. Wherever the Lord’s Spirit is, there is freedom.  As all of us reflect the Lord’s glory with faces that are not covered with veils, we are being changed into his image with ever-increasing glory. This comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” [2 Cor. 3:14-18 GW]
Satan, Your enemy, will try to destroy you
So while we persevere in spreading the Good News of Jesus, every force, distraction and lie Satan can muster to stop you from your mission will be flung upon you. Only while you stand strong under this relentless attack from the dark forces of hell, will the seed of God’s Word be planted in the hearts of men, and the grace of God save many. If you give up, the attacks will stop, but the people around you will die and go to hell. If you are strong and vigorous, and endure by sharing “the Word of God is [always] abiding in you (in your hearts)”, your experience will be “hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; …perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.”
Opposition from every side is proof that you are in the middle of the war, and God is using you to bring life to the perishing, even during times when you cannot see any victory, or success. This happened to Jesus, in Luke we read, “… when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time. 14 Then Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and news of Him went out through all the surrounding region. 15 And He taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all.” [Luke 4:13-15 NKJV]
What proof am I speaking of?
Well if all you think Jesus was famous and crowds followed him like a rock star or movie star, you have missed the whole point. The mobs demanded that He give them free food, medical treatments, and deliverance from the Roman tyrants. The Lord was covered in the Spirit’s power, but Jesus preached repentance for the people to turn from their greedy, immoral lifestyles, a multitude of other sins and demanded they completely turn back to full obedience to the law of God.
He told them to love their enemies, and that He did not come to start a war. As He refused to give the crowds what they wanted, and he pressed them to repent, they turned against him.
Even at the very beginning of His public preaching ministry the crowds savagely attacked Him, attempting to murder Him! For example in Luke we find their vicious character. “Everyone in the synagogue became furious when they heard this.  Their city was built on a hill with a cliff. So they got up, forced Jesus out of the city, and led him to the cliff. They intended to throw him off of it.  But Jesus walked right by them and went away.” [Luke 4:28-30 GW] He needed protection from the devil, and the dynamic power of God miraculously preserved His life!
He was steadfast as the scribes and Pharisees followed Him everywhere like the paparazzi, but not to get pictures to sell to the crowds, instead they wanted to find some dirt they could use to shut Him up. His message of repentance was relentless, and the spiritual hypocrites hated Him because they loved their sin. Finally, the crowds refused to hear Him, so Christ started preaching cute little stories, and explained why in Matthew 13:
“Because it has been given to you [the disciples of Jesus who repented] to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12 For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. 13 Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says:
‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand,
And seeing you will see and not perceive;
15 For the hearts of this people have grown dull.
Their ears bare hard of hearing,
And their eyes they have closed,
Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears,
Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,
So that I should heal them.’
Now it was hard enough with all the opposition from those controlled and blinded by satan attacking Him the entire three years of His ministry, but then most of His disciples also quit following Him. John describes it this way, “When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, ‘Does this offend you? 62 What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before? 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe.’ For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him. 65 And He said, ‘Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father’ 66 From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.” [John 6:61-66 NKJV]
All the way to the cross Christ endured being “hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; …perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.” The large crowds cried for Him to be crucified, they spit at Him, jeered and taunted Him, and in a maddening rush of hatred watched Him die. Only a very small band of rag, tag followers mourned for Him.
Remember God is your strength
Our God wants you to endure all things by “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin.” [Hebrews 12:2-4 NKJV]
The sad thing is, few people who go to church are willing to follow Christ and do these things that God demands. And so, the vast majority of people go to hell, and their blood is on our heads. [Ezekiel 3:18]
Now be sure of this, you will not progress to true spiritual maturity, until you have suffered the testing of your faith. And this always means conflict with a dying, blinded world around you who does not want to believe in Jesus or stop doing their thing. They are very comfortable living in sin and rebellion against God, just like all their best friends and heroes.
Also, you must understand that you are not being tested because your car broke down, man made things break and wear out. Do you think your faith is being tested because you suffered an accident, or you lost someone in an accident? The Lord says no! [See Luke 13] Only when you attempt to share the gospel with your community and face the wrath and rejection of the self righteous are you being tested. Then you are facing the largest test of all, just like the Lord Jesus and all the apostles and saints from the past.
Will you proceed and obey the great commission, or quit and quietly be a silent Christian, allowing “your life to be your testimony because you do not judge anyone”? Even if all you have left is a little strength in you, at least pray for your enemies, and not give up. Remember hope in your God! Waiting for God to convert sinners is different than quitting, and losing your faith.
Also don’t forget, self-control, the power to not give into temptation as a permanent lifestyle, leads to the cheerful, strong patience that believes God will give the gift of eternal life to the blind and wicked people all around you. In His way and in His time. Never, never, never give in!