Paul teaches us to exercise self-control in all things
(1 Cor. 9:25).
In this article, we examine the necessity of self-control,
while exploring some things we can do to control ourselves,
as we live in a sinful world.
We Can't Avoid Every Sinful Influence
We can't always avoid exposure to sin.
- "I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral
people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people
of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers,
or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of
the world" (1 Cor. 5:9-10).
Since we can't avoid every sinful influence, we must learn
to live in the world without allowing sin to have a negative
impact on us.
When Possible, Avoid Temptation
It's important for us to avoid temptation, thereby decreasing
the pressure to turn away from God.
- "Do not be deceived: Bad company corrupts good
morals'" (1 Cor. 15:33).
- "But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that
which is good; abstain from every form of evil
(1 Th. 5:21-22).
We greatly decrease temptation by associating with good
Unfortunately, it's impossible to avoid exposure to everything
In such instances, we must be strong enough to control
our thoughts, so we're not tempted.
You Are In Control
As Christians, we have the ability to control our thoughts,
in obedience to God's commands.
- "Set your mind on the things above, not on the
things that are on earth" (Col. 3:2).
- "Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable,
whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely,
whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence
and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things"
The problem occurs when we don't control our thoughts.
- "But each one is tempted when he is carried away
and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived,
it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it
brings forth death" (Jas. 1:14-15).
When we associate with worldly people and we're exposed
to sinful behaviors, we must control our thoughts so we're
Enslave Yourself to Righteousness
We make ourselves slaves of sin or slaves of righteousness.
- "Do you not know that when you present yourselves
to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves
of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting
in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?
But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin,
you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching
to which you were committed, and having been freed from
sin, you became slaves of righteousness" (Rom.
As slaves of righteousness, we present ourselves to God
for obedience. Thus, we make a conscious decision to focus
our attention on God rather than sin.
As slaves of righteousness, we abhor sin and abstain from
every form of it (Rom. 12:9; 1 Th. 5:22).
We're not tempted by things we abhor. We're so repulsed
by them, we don't want anything to do with them.
- If you abhor homosexuality, you won't be tempted to
commit homosexual acts.
- If you abhor murder, you won't be tempted to murder.
- If you abhor stealing, you won't be tempted to steal.
If our attitude toward sin is proper, we'll control ourselves
in respect to sin.
Set Your Mind on Things Above
As slaves of righteousness, we seek the things above, setting
our minds on the things above, not on the things that are
on earth (Col. 3:1-2).
Therefore we "consider the members of your earthly body
as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and
greed, which amounts to idolatry" (Col. 3:5).
Since we consider ourselves dead to sin, we don't lust
for sinful things. As a result, we control our thoughts
and avoid temptation.
- A young lady and young man come to school dressed immodestly.
When we see them, we ignore their licentious behavior
rather than dwelling of sinful things. The way they dress
has no impact upon us.
We should avoid sin whenever possible. But we live in the
world, and it's impossible to avoid all exposure to sin.
As Christians, we control our thoughts and avoid temptation
by enslaving ourselves to righteousness, abhorring evil,
and setting our minds on things above, considering ourselves
dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and