SELF-CONTROL by Travis Evans
November 22, 2006, 6:30 am
Filed under: Leadership

By Walt Alexander

As leaders, we must be self-controlled. We must not be tossed to and fro by the desires of our body and our deceitful hearts. We must be men of faith, different than the men of the world. We must steadfast and controlled. So, over the next couple weeks, I will strive to give some practical ways to cultivate self-control.

Why be self-controlled? Why be self-governed?
We want to be self-controlled because we want to live for Jesus. We want to magnify Him with our lives. We want to honor him with our lips and our lives. At the cross, we were set free from slavery (Rom 6:1-10; Gal 3:1). He died in our place, receiving the just punishment for all of our sins and freeing us from slavery to those sins. Therefore, we must not be a slave to anything because we have been set free! We want to be self-controlled so that we can live for Jesus, magnify Jesus, and honor Jesus.

Also, we want to be self-controlled because we want to have true, substantive joy. This is only found in Jesus. The joy of the world in excess and indulgence is a thin, weak joy that leads to eternity in hell. But the joy of Jesus in self-control is deep, massive, eternal joy.

Look at Psalm 16:11.

You make known to me the path of life;
In your presence there is fullness of joy;
At your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Therefore, self-control is not an exchange for something less satisfying but for that which is most satisfying! It is the pursuit of “fullness of joy” and “pleasures forevermore” found in knowing God. There is no satisfaction that can compare.

Where do I need self-control?
As leaders, we must ruthlessly examine our lives to see where we lack control, to see where he is the least enslaved. We must examine our desires, our wants, our cravings, our “needs,” our relationships. Everything. We could be enslaved to anything. John Calvin once observed:

The evil in our desire typically does not lie in what we want, but that we want it too much.

So, it could be a something not inherently sinful used wrongly, like coffee, good food, alcohol, sex, exercise, television, computer games, any hobby, etc. Or, it could be something inherently sinful, like sex before marriage, debauchery (“excessive indulgence to sensual pleasures”), gluttony, stealing, lying, cussing, lust, pornography, laziness, etc.

We must search our lives for these things because they are idols – anything that competes with our passion for God. They compete with our worship of God. John Calvin points out:

The human heart is  a factory of idols….Everyone of us is, from his mother’s womb, expert in inventing idols.

Our hearts create idols all the time. We must not ask ourselves, “Do I have any idols?” But rather, “What are my idols?”

We must search our lives for the things that entice us. Where do you lack control? What is competing for your passion for God?

The good news
The good news is that God does not deal with us as our sins deserve (Ps 103:10). In Christ, he is quick to give mercy. And this does not just happen at our conversion but for the rest of your life. We identify the areas we lack control and are sinning against God, so that we can cry out for mercy and change to be more like Jesus!


The John Calvin quotes came from a message entitled “The Idol Factory” given by C.J. Mahaney at Sovereign Grace Ministries’ 2000 New Attitude conference.


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