Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. -I Thessalonians 5:5-8 (KJV)
The subject of self-control comes up numerous times in the New Testament. The Bible teaches we as followers of Christ are to practice self-control as a lifestyle. This involves a day-by-day surrender to the power of God over self-will. Failure to exercise godly self-control has long been a problem which then leads to larger issues. Any sin we commit, from what goes on in the mind to an actual deed, extends from a lack of self-control. When we do as the Scripture teaches and put on Christ we are taking on an attitude in which we allow the Holy Spirit to guide us in every aspect of life. We are then empowered to stand firm in the face of the temptations we face very day.
The Word of God speaks of self-control as being “sober.” In modern English the word sober refers to not being under the influence of alcohol. The mind is then clear to make rational and carefully thought out decisions. We understand that being intoxicated robs a person of this crucial ability, which explains why so many people have engaged in behavior while intoxicated which they would never have done while sober. Similarly, we find people will often do something while not practicing self-control which they would not have done were this vital spiritual discipline been in place.
Understand when the Scripture speaks of self-control it refers to being guided by the Holy Spirit. As we are led by the Spirit we are then empowered to make good decisions and use sound judgment. Plunging forward into something which will harm us or damage our witness comes when we fail to practice the self-control taught in the Bible and exemplified in the life of Jesus. The promise of God is when we add to our spiritual gifts the discipline of self-control we are blessed with peace, joy, and the love of Christ ruling in our hearts (II Peter 1:5-8).
I have witnessed firsthand the fallout in peoples’ lives when they fail to practice self-control. Reputations can be ruined and relationships damaged when we lack this vital discipline. However, practicing godly self-control leads to the peace of Christ reigning in our hearts at all times – even in the midst of trials and difficulties. How is self-control developed? It comes through daily prayer, meditation on God’s Word, worship, and seeking the Lord’s will for our lives.
Keep going forward, continue seeking Christ, and remain in His Word. Self-control will be the result.