Can You Control Yourself?

2:59 pm self-control, virtue

Self-control (temperance) is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23).  It is also a Christian virtue (II Pet. 1:5-8).  Self-control regulates desires and impulses (the lusts of the flesh).  Self-control involves wanting to do one thing, but choosing to do another.  Self-control regulates what we think, do, and how we express our emotions.  Willpower is the emotional and mental energy used to exert self-control.  Self-control is inner regulation by one’s willpower keeping ourselves from sin.  Self-control is the fruit of submission to God.  It is energized by faith in God and love for God. The more self-control is used, the stronger it becomes.  It weakens immediately after use, but strengthens with frequent use.
Automated and Controlled Actions
Automated actions develop whenever we learn a skill or activity through repeated actions (Driving a car).  Controlled actions involve conscious thought and effort (Driving a car in a foreign country).  Automated and controlled actions team up to help us function.  Self-control involves both automated and controlled actions.  Self-control exercised over time produces habits of the mind and heart which affect behaviors.
Self-Control and the Bible
Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”  Self-control is a result of the pursuit of the Spirit rather than the lusts of the flesh (carnality or worldliness).  “As many as are led by the  Spirit, these are the sons of God” (Rom. 8:14). We must be vitally connected to the Vine in order to bear these fruits (John 15:1-5).
Self-control is a virtue of the Christian life.  II Pet. 1:5-8, “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance: and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness: And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.”  Self-control is acquired by exercising ourselves unto godliness (I Tim. 4:8).  Lack of self-control is like a city without walls (Prov. 25:28).
Results of Low Self-Control
If we possess a low willpower level, then there will be more indulgence of the flesh.
A low willpower level, will result in the display of more negative emotions like anger and strife.
Low willpower or lack of self-control make temptations more alluring.  Yielding to temptation creates a greater desire for the object of the temptation (we now have a memory of the pleasure of sin).
Factors Involved In Increasing Self-Control
Each person should get plenty of rest and pursue a proper diet (remember Elijah who became despondent whenever Jezebel sought his life).
Don’t add stressers to your life (rushing to get somewhere increases anxiety-which wastes emotional energy).
Work to reduce or eliminate personal conflict.
Don’t overload or overwhelm your abilities to cope with life.
Steer away from wasting emotional energy on things like constantly checking email or social media.
Self-control must be used or it will be lost.  Use your own willpower to make habits out of your thoughts, feeling and behaviors that you know are good and beneficial.
Don’t accept weakness or shortcoming.  This leads to failure.  Failure to hit the mark (God’s standard of righteousness) is sin.
(see Can You Control Yourself, Christianity Today, May, 2017, pp. 36-41 for more information).

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