From a biblical perspective, self-control is about gaining mastery over your body and bringing it under submission to God. “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God” (Romans 6:12). It’s a matter of ignoring the desires of your flesh and disciplining yourself for the purpose of righteousness.
There are two key aspects to gaining that mastery over your body. The first is to feed on the riches of Scripture. Consistent, faithful study of God’s Word stimulates your spiritual growth, sharpens your mind, and strengthens you against temptation. Train yourself to think and live biblically, and you’ll find it increasingly easier to turn away from temptation. “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16).
The second aspect of gaining mastery over your body is starving yourself of opportunities to sin. You know what triggers temptation in you—avoid those people, places, and things at all costs. It does you no good to develop positive patterns if you continue to expose yourself to all kinds of input that corrupts your thinking. You can’t afford to toy with your desires and emotions—you’ve got to flee temptation and never look back.
Read the rest by John MacArthur at Grace To You
Because the God of the Bible is not a god who comes to indulge us. He is a God who makes demands upon us. He is the God [speaking] when Jesus turns to His disciples and says If you want to be serious about Christian living, take up your cross, die to your “self”, lose the world, gain your soul, shame now, honor later.
It’s a radical message! Here’s something worth living for! Here’s something worth dying for!
“There are mornings when I wake up feeling fragile. Vulnerable. It’s often vague. No single threat. No one weakness. Just an amorphous sense that something is going to go wrong and I will be responsible. It’s usually after a lot of criticism. Lots of expectations that have deadlines and that seem too big and too many.
As I look back over about 50 years of such periodic mornings, I am amazed how the Lord Jesus has preserved my life. And my ministry. The temptation to run away from the stress has never won out — not yet anyway. This is amazing. I worship him for it.
How has he done this? By desperate prayer and particular promises. I agree with Spurgeon: I love the “I wills” and the “I shalls” of God.
Instead of letting me sink into a paralysis of fear, or run to a mirage of greener grass, he has awakened a cry for help and then answered with a concrete promise.
Here’s an example. This is recent. I woke up feeling emotionally fragile. Weak. Vulnerable. I prayed: “Lord help me. I’m not even sure how to pray.”
An hour later I was reading in Zechariah, seeking the help I had cried out for. It came. The prophet heard great news from an angel about Jerusalem:
Jerusalem shall be inhabited as villages without walls, because of the multitude of people and livestock in it. And I will be to her a wall of fire all around, declares the Lord, and I will be the glory in her midst. (Zechariah 2:4–5)
There will be such prosperity and growth for the people of God that Jerusalem will not be able to be walled in any more. “The multitude of people and livestock” will be so many that Jerusalem will be like many villages spreading out across the land without walls.
But walls are necessary! They are the security against lawless hordes and enemy armies. Villages are fragile, weak, vulnerable. Prosperity is nice, but what about protection?
To which God says in Zechariah 2:5, “I will be to her a wall of fire all around, declares the Lord.” Yes. That’s it. That is the promise. The “I will” of God. That is what I need. And if it is true for the vulnerable villages of Jerusalem, it is true for me a child of God. God will be a “wall of fire all around me.” Yes. He will. He has been. And he will be.
And it gets better. Inside that fiery wall of protection he says, “And I will be the glory in her midst.” God is never content to give us the protection of his fire; he will give us pleasure of his presence.
This was sweet to me. This carried me for days. I took this with me to the pulpit. I took it with me to family gatherings. I took it to staff meetings. I took it to phone calls and emails.
This has been my deliverance every time since I was first marking my King James Bible at age 15. God has rescued me with cries for help and concrete promises. This time he said: “I will be to her a wall of fire all around, and I will be the glory in her midst.”
Cry out to him. Then ransack the Bible for his appointed promise. We are fragile. But he is not.”