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Self Control

Self Control

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All your virtues will lose their value if you do not develop this virtue of self-control.
All your virtues will lose their value if you do not develop this virtue of self-control.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Aug 14, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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SELF CONTROL Based on II Peter 1:6By Pastor Glenn PeaseIn 1949 the Honorable Harold R. Medina was the judge whopresided at the trial of 11 communists charged with plotting tooverthrow our government by force. In his book Power To BecomeLewis Dunnington gives an account of an interesting sidelight to thatgreat trial. For 9 months the judge was plagued with every possibletrick to cause a mistrial. Insolence and disorder were common in thecourtroom, but judge Medina with great patience refused to doanything to cause a mistrial. Then the communists learned of aweakness he had. He was afraid of high places. He had hadacrophobia all his life, but had kept it under control even though hiscourtroom was on the 22 floor of the courthouse, and his apartmentwas many stories up as well.Nevertheless, it was a real fear, and the communists took fulladvantage of it. Shortly before the trial began Secretary of DefenseJames B. Forrestal had jumped to his death. You can imagine judgeMedina’s shock when he came to the courthouse and found picketswalking back and forth chanting, “Medina will fall like Forrestal.”Only those with a phobia can appreciate the problem this caused forthe judge. As this continued day after day he could not escape hisfear, and it became an obsession.He asked his wife, even on hot summer nights, to keep thebedroom windows closed. In court one day, after hearing the chantagain, his head began to swim. He quickly recessed the court andwent to a couch. He prayed as he never prayed before that he wouldgain control of himself, and escape the control of his fear. His requestwas granted, and with renewed confidence he returned to court andsaw the trial to a conclusion, which put the communist behind bars. Itwas a victory for the nation, and a personal victory for judge Medina.He had courage and he had knowledge, but without self-control allcould have been lost. All the boldness and knowledge in the worldwill not keep a man from going down in defeat if he lacks self-control.The Apostle Peter knew this to be a fact from personal experience,and that is why he urges Christians to add to their courage andknowledge self-control. Lacking this virtue in his own earlierexperience, he denied his Lord, and several times rushed ahead of Christ and needed to be rebuked.Another Peter, Peter the Great, was a bold conqueror and a man of 
knowledge. He passed many laws for the protection of his subjects,but he was often subject to maniacal outbursts of anger. In fury hestruck and killed his gardener and his own son. With great sorrow hesaid, “Alas! I have civilized my own subjects, I have conquered othernations, yet I have not been able to conquer and civilize myself.Anyone of us can be greater than Peter the Great, for the truly greatruler is the man who is king of himself.This is a truth that has been universally recognized. If we turn tothe Orient we read Lao-Tsze who wrote, “He is strong who conquersothers; he who conquers himself is mighty.” If we turn to the Greekswe read Aristotle saying, “I count him braver who overcomes hisdesires than him who conquers his enemies; for the hardest victory isthe victory over self.” If we turn to the Romans we read Senecasaying, “He is most powerful who has power over himself. If we turnto modern statesman, philosophers, and poets, they all agree that self-control is an essential quality for success. Shelly and one of hissonnets writes-Man who man would be,Must rule the empire of himself, in itMust reign supreme, establishing his throneOn vanquished will, quelling the anarchyOf hopes and fears, being himself alone.Self-control is so essential to the success of any pursuit that it iseven a virtue among evil men. Successful crooks are those whodevelop self-control. They have to be able to remain calm as the nightwatchman makes his rounds, and as they hide behind merchandise.They must have nerves of steel when the alarm goes off in the bank.As soon as a thief loses his nerve and lets emotion take over, he kills orgets killed, or makes foolish moves that lead to his capture. Youcannot even be a successful crook without the virtue of self-control.Satan encourages his troops to add this virtue to their equipment, justas Christians are urged to add it to theirs. Whatever your goal, it iseasier to reach it through self-control. Burns expressed this in ABard’s Epitaph.Reader, attend! whether thy soulSoars fancy’s flights beyond the pole,Or darkling grubs this earthly holeIn low pursuit.No prudent cautious self-controlIs wisdom’s root.We would expect to find this root of wisdom in the wisdomliterature of the Bible, and it is there in Prov. 16:32, “He who is slow
to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than hewho takes a city.” This was written in a day when taking a city couldbe a long drawn out process of out witting and out waiting itsinhabitants. But Scripture agrees with thinking men everywhere thatthe greatest victory is to conquer and rule ones own spirit. CarolineLe Row in True Heroism writes,But I will write of him who fights,And vanquishes his sins,Who struggles on through weary yearsAgainst himself and wins.Peter is not trying to be original when he urges Christians to addself-control to their character. He is not coming up with anything newfor victorious living. He is calling for us to take up a universallyrecognized value essential to the doing of anything effectively. Thereis no need for something new when the old is the best thing available.You can’t improve on what is an absolute essential. Nothing can takethe place of self-control. The old word for it was temperance, and thisyou can improve on, for the word temperance has too limited ameaning today to give us the biblical meaning. Temperance refers toself-control in regard to alcohol, but the biblical word takes in controlover all of the emotions and appetites of life. To be temperate in allthings is to avoid all excess so that one’s reason is always in fullcontrol.The fact that Peter urges Christians to add this virtue to theirlives implies that people do not naturally possess it, but have atendency to be a slave to their passions and appetites. The NewTestament is filled with passages that indicate Christians can be sweptalong by their lusts and desires into disgrace and judgment. That iswhy they are constantly being warned to walk in the spirit and makeno provision to fulfill the lusts of the flesh. That is why they arewarned about connections with their old life of sinfulness. That iswhy they are warned about the false prophets who could lead theminto a false liberty in which they would again come under the bondageof the flesh. The whole second chapter of this letter deals with the judgments of God upon those who lost self-control, and it warnsChristians not to add themselves to the list by forsaking the truth of God in giving themselves over to the lust of the flesh.The simple fact is, there is just no chance of living the Christian lifewithout self-control. Depravity is written into the very nature of thefallen universe, and our tendency is ever downward. If our self doesnot cooperate with the higher laws of God, we will follow the laws thatlead to degeneracy. Control of the downward tendencies is so basic tosuccess that it even has to be applied in machines. Cybernetics is a

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