The concept of Self Control in the bible exposes us to a practice of self-mastery; the ability to exert command over one’s behavior.
There are a certain interesting components associated with biblical self discipline. These recurring elements are discussed in later sections of this article in the light of God’s word.
Ultimately, God wants us display this trait. To this end, he has also provided an aid that enable us bear fruits of righteousness. Seed after seed, we become masters of our vessels.
Is self discipline biblical?
Anyone (including persons who haven’t read a page of the bible before) can practice self-discipline. However, it is not always in entirety. We have a few behaviors under control, and others in a frenzy.
Self discipline, as with other regimented practices, have a body of instructions that govern its successful execution. Just as there are handbooks for meditation, athletics etc, the bible is one for self discipline amongst others.
Because the bible is an extensive documentation of the practice of a form self-discpline that is complete, perfect and eternal, self discipline is biblical. And from its documentation, we learn that self discipline is spiritual as well.
What does self control mean in the bible?
Self control, according to the bible, can be said to be the ability to exercise influence over the fluctuating nature of one’s thoughts, desires, and conduct, bringing them to order.
One of the most popular scriptures regarding self control in the bible is from the second writing of Paul to his coworker, Timothy in 2 Tim 1:7.
For God gave a spirit not of fear but of power, love and self control2 Timothy 1:7
According to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, the Greek word for self control is ho sophronismos,-ou which means an admonishing or calling to soundness of mind or moderation.
We display self-control when we can bring ourselves to accomplish specific outcomes. This state can be achieved through mastery and possession of an individual’s mind, emotions, and behavior.
Components of biblical self control.
There are core concepts that are common denominators when it comes to the praxis of biblical self discipline. These fundamentals interplay with one another in a fine pattern that describes how self discipline works
1. Perception, Emotions and Actions .
There is an existing interaction between thoughts and emotions that goes on to drive actions. From recent studies in personality and behavioral sciences, it is found that the external environment and internal processes contribute significantly to how a person conducts himself.
Cues from the environment are registered as sensory data from our physical senses.
“That’s a double-decker homemade burger!”
“Oh. It’s a party with unlimited boos and highs! ”
“That is one beautiful lady.” (2 Sam11:2)
These data are being processed by more than a million specialized neurons in the brain and a corresponding emotion is prompted.
“I’m hungry. I want.”
“I feel like taking the edge off.”
“I want to feel like a man.”
Influenced by these powerful feelings, we commit to actions.
When these emotional elements are left unchecked, destructive actions and compulsive behaviors are imminent. Gluttony, alcoholism and adultery(2 Sam 11:4) become a thing to bother about.
2. Powers of varying capacity.
In the Bible, self-control suggests the ability to bring temperance or sobriety to an undulating thought, emotion, or desire. It means self control requires power.
After the creation of Adam, man receives the mandate and authority necessary for executing responsibilities God had given him. (Gen 2:15, Gen 2:19)
To independently deliver on his responsibilities, God gives Adam the power of will: the ability to carry out his own wishes. (Gen 1:28-29).
It is still useful in the day-to-day activities that man may want to engage in. However, as we find through the procession of the events in the Bible, willpower is inconsequential (on its own) against an evil nature.
But there is a greater power.
The power of the Holy Ghost is promised to all who believe in Jesus Christ.
And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:
And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.Joel 2:28-29
When we live according to the dictates of the flesh, we are sure to die. We know this by the fruits of wantonness; health complications, anxiety, depression, drug dependency, pride, disease, and so on.
Thankfully, we can put to death the misdeeds of the flesh by the power of the Holy Ghost.
3. A profound relationship
Another component of the construct of self control in the bible is seen after the receiving the Holy ghost.
The same spirit that gives us power is the very same spirit that adopts us as sons of God by which we cry out “Abba, Father!!!” (Rm 8:15)
Even when we feel guilty of our sin, we are declared righteous in Christ Jesus.
It isn’t a plot by God to brainwash you, but it is the proclamation of a future state: a state of perpetual holiness as a child of God.
But at the time being that we have blemishes, expect to be disciplined.
What does a father do to a misbehaving child? He disciplines him. So does God. (2 Samuel 7:14)
But unlike our earthly parents who discipline us as they think best, God actually chastens us for our good: Here are some of the reasons God disciplines us;
- to make us modest and morally pure.
- to prime us for good works, for a good tree produces good fruits.
- to equip us to walk the path he predestined us to.
If He spares us, leaving us the way we are, he shows us no love. Then, we can question the legitimacy of our sonship.
A father disciplines the child he loves. Rev 3:19
4. The Good Law
In the absence of laws, chaos and divide is a guarantee.
The Mosaic law is good. However, the Bible records that many couldn’t carry out the law. The power of the Law was weakened by the flesh and the glory itself fades away. 2 Cor 3:7-8
But there is an even greater law. The Law of The Spirit.
The unity of God’s Kingdom is in the obedience and keeping of His laws that are now in the personhood of the Holy Spirit.
Every child of the Lord has to be trained by it (Ezekiel 36:27). It embodies the norms and values of God’s family.
So, in the gift of the Holy Ghost, we receive
- adoption into God’s family, sharing in His holiness,
- the power to cause death to our flesh and subjugate our bodies.
- Instructions that guide us unto eternal life.
The commands of the spirit are the disciplines of God and are far more glorious than the written law.
We exhibit the biblical concept of self control when we spot the development of sinful elements (internal or external) in our subjective experiences and choose not to entertain it but walk in righteousness by the power of the Holy Spirit for the sake of being like God, the father.
You have to be aware of harmful invading pressures, when and how they occur, and what the end goal is. Choose to not adhere to its prompts and deprive it of any resource that facilitates its further development.
Where we show weakness, the spirit of God shores up our inadequacies while training us to be perfect in every way. Then we have a shot at genuinely possessing ourselves.