To Be Self-Controlled
By Alexander Samuels
"Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings" (1 Peter 5:8-9).
Self-control is like a wall of defense against the temptations of evil. As I think about "self-control," I often think about how many times my own efforts at it have been . . . pitifully unsuccessful. My attempts to go on a diet, for instance, usually go like this: I see food and I eat it. If I want to save money, I see something I want on sale, then I buy it and tell myself I'm saving money. Of course, I have this problem with lying to myself, too.
The point is, however, that the lack of self-control leads us to destruction. It may be that the first step is a faux pas you hardly notice, but it opens the door to a desire, and then to overpowering emotions you did not suspect were in you. When we practice self-control, we govern our desires. We avoid all excesses. It is not dullness and boredom that we seek, for the self-controlled life yields health, joy and success. Above all, it is almost impossible to be a follower of our Lord Jesus Christ without exercising the spiritual fruit of self-control.
Some translators of the Bible say that the word for "self-control" points to "soundness of mind" or "sound judgment." This might lead us to think in terms of the person not possessing self-control as being "out of his mind." Is it the lack of self-control that leads us to psychiatric counseling? Perhaps lack of self-control is Satan playing chaos with our minds.
Self-control is sober and sensible and surely a work of grace by the Holy Spirit but not by the Holy Spirit alone. There is surely the part that the character of a man must play. The Christian must be willing to draw from the inner strength that has been imparted to him by the mercy of God. The Christian must be determined to exercise sound judgment in his life. Self-control is strengthened by Holy Spirit courage and weakened by Satanic fear. Why does the lion roar? He roars to make his victim fearful, knowing that fear inhibits sound judgment.
Self-control takes courage. This is the kind of courage that too many in our society lack. We are a culture where the individual is out of control. Chaos has become "normal" for many, too many. Sound judgment alone, however, is not enough to return self-control to our sick society. The inner strength of knowing Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord is the essential thing. True self-control is the desire to please God in every decision we make. "Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control" (Proverbs 25:28).
Alexander Samuels is a regular contributor to Carolina Christian Conservative.