1. Self-government is the commitment to govern or rule oneself so that you don’t need external coercion to guide you into acceptable behaviour.
2. Many external incentives can be a benefit to self-government, but it is only an enduring lifestyle by the grace of God. Self-government is generated through the power of God’s Spirit (Galatians 5:16-26), so we cannot talk about self-government without addressing the person and work of Jesus Christ. Men fail in self-government because they are in rebellion against God. The heart of rebellious sinners must be regenerated. Only the renewing work of the Holy Spirit can effect such a change.
3. Self-government is reflected in self-discipline, acceptance of personal responsibility, virtuous character, politeness, dignity and good manners.
4. Self-government is the ethic and spirit that accepts one’s circumstances and is committed to making the most of the life given by the providence of God.
5. Self-government is a repudiation of blame-shifting and an entitlement mentality. The greater the number of people in society who are personally committed to self-government, the less will be the demand for a messianic state as a back-stop to subsidize failure and deviancy. Broadly speaking, self-government is the alternative to the social welfare state.
6. The greater the number of people in society who are personally committed to self-government, the less need and demand there will be for a large and expanding police force and the many entities that regulate every part of our lives (including most of the regulations that come under the guise of health and safety, but which are excessive and really amount to the development of a “bubble-wrapped” society).
7. Any society that has a history of self-control among the citizenry has at its foundation a biblical moral order. Those nations that attempt to copy the fruit of a Christian society without copying the root (the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit) will eventually degenerate and collapse.
8. Those who are not self-governed need to be controlled by an external governor. Scripture tells us “that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, murderers and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching” (1 Tim. 1:9–10).
9. Personal liberty is the hand-maiden to self-government. Today’s humanist leaders talk a great deal about liberty, while simultaneously building a centralized, totalitarian society with a massive state bureaucracy and a growing police force. The language of liberty is used almost exclusively to argue for sexual license and the right to be free from the influence of Christianity. These two themes probably represent about 95% of today’s rhetoric about liberty. On the other hand, the Christian ethos of self-government provides the foundation for a robust ordered liberty that includes freedom of religion, conscience, speech and assembly, economic liberty and freedom from the fear of arbitrary rule.
Thanks to American Vision for the helpful language for some of these points.