Self Control

Posted by on October 2, 2017 in Armour of God, Blog, Discipline, Life Skills | 4 comments

Self Control

We’re all aware that self-control is one of the Biblical disciplines of a Christian life. Some forms of self-control are relatively easy for us, and others considerably more difficult.

For example, you may state confidently that you are not promiscuous, a drunkard, gambler or practice any of the other troublesome human behaviours which are prevalent in society. However, before we take any personal credit for being such a ‘good person’, perhaps we should dwell on why we do not indulge in these behaviours.

I’ve never smoked – not because I made a conscious decision not to, but mostly because it never appealed to me so there was no temptation to do it. I’m virtually teetotal, enjoying perhaps half a glass of wine two or three times a year at most. I have no longing for alcohol so wouldn’t miss it. I’ve never been promiscuous as I find the whole idea abhorrent. None of these disciplines though are anything to do with me because I was never tempted to do them so I can’t take any credit for avoiding them.

I’ve seen others, including Christians, who struggle with a particular behaviour or habit and that struggle has been  lifelong. This may be partly due to the fact that they indulged in it prior to becoming a Christian, or just that there was an initial attraction which appealed to them and then led to them becoming addicted. It may also have been a weakness in them which prevented them from detaching themselves from the company of others who indulged freely. Whatever the reason, I have enormous sympathy for people in that situation. I can’t say to anyone that they should just walk away from destructive behaviour if I never personally wrestled with it myself. How can I explain what real love is to someone who has never been shown it and looks for it in all the wrong places? If I didn’t come from the same starting point as them then I can’t possibility know what I would have done in the same circumstances. Perhaps I would have gotten into an even worse predicament than them.

For that reason, I feel it’s a very worthwhile process to search our own lives and seek to identify the areas which are our Achilles heel. We all have them – some are just more obvious than others.

I love entering competitions and I find the thrill of winning the best part of it. Nothing wrong with that you might say, however, it would be very easy to move from that to a lottery, fruit machine, or casino. Whenever I see a fruit machine, I have an overwhelming urge to start inserting coins into it to see what I could win. The reality is that, in the end, I would have much to lose, financially and spiritually, so it is a place I can’t allow myself to go. If anything was going to lead to my downfall, I seriously suspect it would be gambling.

Those who’ve been through terrible trials linked to addiction, and come out the other side, have much to offer to those presently grappling with it. We always listen more to someone who has already experienced what we are in the midst of, as we know they understand and may be able to offer real practical help to lead us out of the problem too.

As well as making use of whatever practical help others can provide, God’s Word is full of wisdom and that’s where we should turn.

Keep company with the wise and you will become wise. If you make friends with stupid people, you will be ruined. (Proverbs 13:20)
Do not be misled – bad company corrupts good character. (1 Corinthians 15:33)
If sinners entice you, do not consent. (Proverbs 1:10)

Being able to be enticed towards inappropriate behaviour is all too easy as often there is an element of appeal. Eve was easily enticed by the serpent and her disobedience had dire consequences, for herself and all mankind thereafter.

The most sobering advice for a Christian is the following verse: What has a believer in common with an unbeliever? (2 Corinthians 6:15)

When we partner with, or surround ourselves with, non-believers we risk becoming like them and losing our self-control. It’s much easier to indulge a harmful habit in the company of others who are doing the same and who see nothing wrong with it. Equally, being in the company of other believers can, in itself, make it easier to stay away from foolish behaviour.

The following verse sums it all up nicely:

Come out of her, my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues. (Revelation 18:4)

4 Comments

  1. Andrea, thank you for your encouragement. Your thoughts are much appreciated. I am sorry that I did not come back to the site before today but I have read your kind comments this morning – thank you. S

  2. Thanks Andrea and Sheila for your discussion on this very important topic. I believe that everyone, without exception, is troubled by besetting sin in one form or another. Sometimes it arises from our habits, our circumstances or the company we keep. Other times it may be related to our own individual nature, temperament or predilections which may not be sinful in themselves unless we allow them to get out of control. Of course, Satan is adept at manipulating all these things.

    Fortunately, as you point out Andrea, ALL our sin – past, present and future – is forgiven because of Christ’s redemptive work at Calvary. However, it’s important to remember that evil still abounds and the enemy is very powerful. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12 ESV)

    And God has provided us with the armour we need to wage battle.

    Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. (Ephesians 6:10-11 ESV)

    The trouble for me is that I’m the ‘weak link’. I’ve learned through painful experience that honesty, humility and repentance have to form an intrinsic part of the fabric of my life, day by day, hour by hour and even moment by moment. I’m so grateful that God’s grace is greater than all my sin!

  3. Andrea, once again a very well thought out text and a very tough subject for all of us. For me it is red wine! I try but when life gets tough, I go for a glass or two or … of red wine and there are some weeks when every day is tough. Sometimes, we are not very sympathetic as Christians and often tell people effectively ‘pull yourself together’ if you are a ‘real’ Christian then you would not do this. I know God is guiding me to a more responsible approach to alcohol, it’s a slow process but he is also giving me understanding of how hard it is for Christians and clearly non Christians to break out of a habit which is acceptable in society. If we truly trust God then none of these addictive habits would be attractive because they are used by Satan to sow seeds of doubt in our minds about our own abilities to cope. But God never meant for us to cope on our own, he meant for us to trust Him to guide us through the tough times. Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.

    • Thanks Sheila. We all have different struggles and no one has the right to look upon another Christian’s weakness as more serious than their own. If something we do is taking us away from God, then it is serious, regardless of whether or not it is seen that way by the world. Before we can address a certain weakness though, we first have to admit to it, most importantly to God, and then seek His help in changing our behaviour.

      Your conscience is clearly troubled and, as you have admitted your own weakness, you have taken the first and most important step to begin to address it. It doesn’t matter if someone else is of the opinion that your alcohol consumption is minimal compared to others, it is troubling your conscience therefore it is wrong for you.

      All too often we compare our own behaviour with the world’s standards, which can make us look good, but we are not held to the world’s standards, we are held to God’s standards and, no matter how well we do, we can never equal them. However, God knows that and is gentle with us as we all wrestle with our particular weaknesses. Sometimes, we manage to change our behaviour in such a way that we are no longer attracted to a particular habit. Other times, it is a lifelong struggle which manages to trip us up again and again. One most amazing realisation is that, when God forgave us our sins, He also forgave our future sins as well. So this confirms that there is no one who doesn’t continue to sin in some way, despite their salvation. So it is going to be a lifelong struggle for us all.

      If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

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