Self-Control: Another Excerpt from The Practice of Godliness

Sound judgment is the beginning of self-control, and the Bible is absolutely essential to its exercise. Sound judgment must be based on a thorough knowledge of God’s standard, as revealed in the Scriptures, for our

  • ==> bodies,
  • ==> thoughts, and
  • ==> emotions.

Years ago when I first began to grow as a Christian I read the quotation, “God’s word will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from God’s word.” This is not simply a cliche, nor is the Bible some magical wand to wave at temptation. It is sound judgment, growing out of reflection on the word of God, that warns us when the enemy of sinful desire is assailing the citadel of our hearts.

Sound judgment also enables us to form an accurate estimate of our particular needs in the area of self-control. Paul’s admonition, “Think of yourself with sober judgment” (Romans 12:3), is good advice, not only for assessing our spiritual gifts, but also for assessing our spiritual needs. Proverbs 27:12 says, “The prudent see danger and take refuge.” Spiritual prudence requires that we know ourselves – our particular weaknesses and vulnerabilities. Only as we study both the Scriptures and ourselves will we be able to exercise sound judgment.

Next, we must face the issue of whether we are truly willing to give up enjoying the fleeting pleasures of sin in return for knowing that our lives are pleasing to God. Kehl points out, “The beginning of self-mastery is to be mastered by Christ, to yield to his lordship. ‘Wouldst thou have thy flesh obey thy spirit?’ Augustine asked. ‘Then let thy spirit obey thy God. Thou must be governed, that thou may’st govern.'” (D.G. Kehl, Control Yourself! (Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan Publishing House, 1982), page 79.) Are you willing to acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord of your appetites and desires, of your thoughts and emotions? If self-control begins with sound judgment, it must be carried forward by surrender to the authority of Christ in every area of our lives. (Emphasis added.)

The above excerpt is from Jerry Bridges’ book The Practice of Godliness, Chapter 11 – Self-Control, pages 142, 143.

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