1) Proverbs 16:32, "Better a patient person than a warrior, those with self-control than those who take a city."
2) Proverbs 25:28, "Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control."
3) Galatians 5:22-24, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, v23) gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. v24) Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires."
4) Proverbs 29:11, "A fool vents all his feelings, But a wise man holds them back."
The very concept of "self-control" actually implies there's a battle between a divided self. It implies that our "self" produces desires that we shouldn't satisfy but instead "control." Think about that as you mull over some area of your own temptations and self control. Jesus says we should "deny ourselves" and "take up our cross daily," and follow him (Luke 9:23). Every day our "self" produces desires that should be "denied" or "controlled." That path that leads to heaven is very narrow and it is strewn with suicidal temptations to abandon the way. Therefore, Jesus says, in Luke 13:24, "Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able." Here the Greek word for "strive" is "agonizesthe," in which you can hear the English word "agonize."
Self-control is very much an important part of maturity. One of the basic characteristics of infancy is a lack of self-control. Not only do babies need diapers, they must be carried because they lack the necessary control and muscle coordination to sit up much less walk or run. If babies are healthy and normal, in time they will develop more and more self-control, a sure sign of growth and maturity. I always found this comparison very interesting, but very spot on! The more you mature in the Lord, the more self-control you will have in your life. Isaiah 3:4-5, "v4) I will give children to be their princes, And babes shall rule over them. v5) The people will be oppressed, Every one by another and every one by his neighbor; The child will be insolent toward the elder, And the base toward the honorable.” Isaiah sternly warned them that the objects of their trust, their leaders who were traditionally respected because of their maturity and discretion (self-control), i.e., “the old,” “the honorable,” would be replaced by those who were totally inadequate and incapable of leading the nation. Why? Because they were immature, unwise; indeed, they would be like mere lads and/or capricious children. The word “capricious” refers to someone who acts according to impulse or whim. It’s a perfect word for one who lacks self-restraint or wise discretion. How pertinent to our society today!
When we "strive to enter through the narrow gate," we get a taste of what is truly involved from Matthew 5:29, "If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you." This is the fierceness of self-control. This is what's behind the words of Jesus in Matthew 11:12, "The kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force." Are you laying hold on the kingdom fiercely? The Apostle Paul says Christians exercise self-control like the Greek athletes, only our goal is eternal, not temporal. 1 Corinthians 9:25, "Everyone who competes in the games (agonizomenos) exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown." In 1 Corinthians 9:27, he goes on to say rather directly and intently, "But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified." Self-control is saying no to sinful desires, even when it hurts. And sometimes, when it hurts, we remember the lesson much quicker!
Just because "self-control" is listed last, doesn't mean it loses it's importance! In looking at this in the light of Scripture, it quickly becomes evident that by reserving the mention of self-control last, the apostle Paul is deliberately emphasizing it as the capstone of all the graces of the Spirit. While the fruits reflect the maturing work of the Spirit in an individual’s life, they also become apparent in relationships with other people. How do we "strive" against our fatal desires? Paul answers this in Colossians 1:29, "I labor, striving (agonizomenos) according to His power, which mightily works within me." He "agonizes" by the power of Christ and NOT his own. Similarly he tells us in Romans 8:13, "If by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live." And in Zechariah 4:6, "Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the LORD of hosts." We must be fierce! Yes. But not by our might. Proverbs 21:31, "The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the LORD."
|His Perfect Power!|
It should be noted that our true spiritual condition is to be measured first and foremost by the inner person, the heart, and not by the external person, the habits. Why? Because habits and/or overt behavior are the product of the condition of the heart. Mark 7:14-23, "v14) When He had called all the multitude to Himself, He said to them, “Hear Me, everyone, and understand: v15) There is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him; but the things which come out of him, those are the things that defile a man. v16) If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear! v17) When He had entered a house away from the crowd, His disciples asked Him concerning the parable. v18) So He said to them, “Are you thus without understanding also? Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him, v19) because it does not enter his heart but his stomach, and is eliminated, thus purifying all foods?” v20) And He said, “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. v21) For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, v22) thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. v23) All these evil things come from within and defile a man.”
Self-control is the ability or power to rule over and regulate one’s own personal life, and personal choices, so that we aren't driven nor dominated, as the apostle John puts it, by the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes, or the pride of life (See 1 John 2:16 and also Gal. 5:19-21). Paul contrasts the sanctified life with characteristics of the old life: “sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness and orgies, and the like.“ All these categories reflect behaviors that are out of control and were common in New Testament times. Passion, pleasure, and pride are the three areas in our lives that are strong, powerful and driving forces in the heart of man that energizes our behavior patterns. It's these inner forces that Satan and a fallen world appeal to in order to promote a sinful way of life that seeks to exist apart from God. Such self-regulation is the ability to delay or refuse an impulse in the service of biblical truth, values, beliefs, and objectives. Self-control means to be in control of one’s attitudes or thought processes, desires or passions, and patterns or habits so they do not dictate one’s behavior. Speaking scripturally, self-control is a matter of controlling the self-life from within by spiritual means: God’s weapons of spiritual warfare as described in the Word of God (2 Cor. 10:3-5; Eph. 6:10-18; Col. 2:20-23).The biblical understanding of the term requires crucifixion of the sinful or lower nature by divine grace as we surrender ourselves to the Lord.
Titus 2 11-12, "For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age..." Self-control enables the believer to overcome sinful and destructive habits, focus on ministering to others, build up the body of Christ, and live in mutual submission to others (Ephesians 5:21), thereby leading a life that is positive and productive in the family, the neighborhood, the church, and place of employment. For example, Paul exhorted the Ephesian churches: “He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need” (Ephesians 4:28). To the Galatians he wrote: “You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other” (Galatians 5:13-15).
Self-Control is surrendering and allowing God to be in control of your will and heart and seeking the Spirit to enable us. Only then, we will know what not to do and guard the areas that we are weak in. This will allow us to have discipline and restraint with obedience to God and to others. It's not letting distractions derail us or remove us from His will and His ultimate plans for us so we will not be held back with what Christ called us to do. Self-indulgence is the polar opposite, from eating a gallon of chocolate ice cream all in one sitting or partying your way to oblivion. Too much excess will leave you empty and alone, it will, at best, cause us to gain a lot of weight if we over indulge in eating and lose your friends if we over indulge in the excessive partying. The worst case scenario is to lose your life and miss out on our heavenly rewards being built in heaven! Self-indulgence seeks what is fleeting here on earth when we, as a Christian, are made for eternity. Over indulgence and lack of self control or discipline is very typical for soothing, comforting or stifling deep seated pains of one's past. Another area Satan loves to bring up and torment us with! If self-control seems impossible, we must change the circumstances to avoid the temptation. For example, Paul instructs single people and young widows to marry if they cannot control their sexual urges.
You won't see self-control being the subject of the media though. You may not see a movie with this subject as the premises because it is anti-climatic and a tad bit "boring" to the world of this day. The world wants us to grab all of the gusto that we can, go for that brass ring regardless of the consequences or who we step on to get it. And it sure doesn't want us taking the responsibility of our actions. Just look around you! Rarely is "accountability" being spoken about in the media forums! Rarely are "consequences" shown in it's truest light. Why? Well, Satan is the god of this world and he wants everyone to sink deeply into excesses! He doesn't want us to have and practice self-control because he loses. Since he is the god of this world, he also controls many of the worlds devices. Those worldly devices are tools to drive temptations which eventually lead to the act of sin. Satan is a liar though so he doesn't tell you what the consequences are, nor does he want the media to "leak" that little tidbit out. By only showing sinful excesses in a good light, in a good manner, and never showing the downside of what happens to the soul, the lives and the mind afterwards, only adds to his agenda. Lust, greed, gluttony, alcoholism, conceit, sexual sins, gossiping, violent quarreling and false and reckless speech are just a few of the many sins that Satan can tempt us to commit if we allow him.
|Don't Be Ruined.....|
Christ is calling us by His example and Word to seek what is in eternity! He is calling us to seek what is permanent and lasting, NOT what is fleeting and empty. Christ is our greatest example from the humbleness of the incarnation through Gethsemane to the Cross He was the perfect model of self-control! Self-control will be the key to inner strength that will help deliver us from fear, depression, harm and the pain of this life by being focused on Christ and not on our circumstances. I know it's easy to get entangled in thoughts of this life because sometimes, it's all we can see right in front of our eyes. But it's not all there is and it's temporary. It's fleeting. And, it's already been done! It's Christ's strength in us that allows us to do what we cannot do on our own! The key to receive this strength is our total surrender to His Lordship over all aspects of our lives! Remember God wants us to have fun too and enjoy life; we aren't to be prudes but at the same time we are not to seek sin either!
Lack of self-control will be a sign of the end time. 2 Timothy 3:1-3, "But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: v2) For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, v3) unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good,..." Looking around this fallen world today, I see the progression of every single one of those attributes. Look at the "lover of themselves." We are living in a "facebook selfie" - "youtube" generation that focuses on "look at me," and that focuses on "SELF" and that perpetuates a self-centeredness and a self-love that is not godly. Blasphemy is nearly on every channel, in every movie or on every corner. Disobedience is at an all time high and is only increasing with every second. Brutality is at an all time high as well. We can't turn on the news without seeing some horrific crime, evil doers or some form of darkness being reported on. I could go on for each of the above, but I think you are beginning to see a pattern.
Godly self-control requires making no provisions for the flesh, which ultimately means not allowing backup plans or harboring thoughts that could sprout into sins. Romans 13:14, "But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts." Harboring thoughts is a very hard "habit" to break ON YOUR OWN! When we allow ungodly thoughts to fester too long, lingering where they don't belong, will ultimately turn into a sinful act. So it's imperative that we surrender those thoughts to the Lord Jesus Christ, asking Him for His help in removing those temptations and to replace them with godly thoughts. This is a struggle for many of Christians. Me included. It took me a very long time to learn how to surrender my thoughts over to the the Lord so that He can control them and not ME. We're all a little controlling by nature, some more than others, and maybe that's why it's a big struggle for most of us to overcome. But it CAN be overcome! Not fully, as we will slip from time to time, but eternally, it will be! Governing our lives by the Power of God will produce such a fruitful, satisfying and glorious fruits of life!
In closing, what is the best form of self-control? FLEEING! Whenever we're confronted with temptation, we really need to strive, and run, as far as possible, to get away from it! Fleeing the "inevitable." The more we choose to face those temptations, the easier it's going to be to fall victim to them! Even if you think you have a lot of self-control, don't put it to the test unnecessarily. Be wise! Not foolish! Some of the things we are told to flee: from a "stranger" (a teacher of lies), "flee sexual immorality" (as Joseph had to literally flee, Genesis: 39:12), "flee from idolatry," flee "all kinds of evil," "flee also youthful lusts" (John 10:5; 1 Corinthians 6:18; 10:14; 1 Timothy 6:10-11; 2 Timothy 2:22). We need self-control to avoid not only outright evil but also too much of the good things. Proverbs 25:16 cautions: "Have you found honey? Eat only as much as you need, lest you be filled with it and vomit." People often lack the self-restraint to stop when they should. People overeat, over-drink, overspend, over medicate and just overindulge in general in lots of things. We need to rule over our "appetites" (strong desires) rather than letting our "appetites" rule us. Overindulgence can lead to intoxication and/or addiction. In either case, the person is then really out of control! Self-control often means resisting sexual temptations, a subject addressed many times in the Bible, and for good reason. Tragically, the standards of morality, and modesty, are plunging to another all time low, all around us. Sexual sins are especially damaging, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually (1 Corinthians:6:13-20.)
The Spirit of Christ who works in our hearts to help us live above sinful practices, as well as the offering of loving counsel by Christian brothers and sisters, enables the fruit of self-control to grow for the glory of God. As a result, we can model God’s values, demonstrate in our behaviors His power to aid us daily, and more effectively share His love for others. In THIS life, no one can achieve all the fruit of the Spirit equally. In regard to gaining perfection in this life, Paul wrote to the Philippian believers, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me” (Philippians 3:12). God provides a way to overcome sinful thoughts and behaviors, silence the victim-mentality, and gain the self-mastery and self-control that you seek! Each of us must rule over self before we can reign with Christ in His Kingdom as were promised to those who overcome in Revelation 3:21 and Revelation 20:6!
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