Self-control/How to ward off temptation

Why do we need to practice self-control?
Self control is an aspect of the fruit of the Spirit

(Gal 5:22-23 NIV)  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, {23} gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Sin will bring dishonor to God’s name

(Prov 30:7-9 NIV)  "Two things I ask of you, O LORD; do not refuse me before I die: {8} Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. {9} Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, 'Who is the LORD?' Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.

Sin causes us to dishonor God. People are always watching the behavior of those who claim to know God. If Christians profess to know the true God and still lead a life of consistent sin, this will cause people to doubt the reality of our God.

Lack of self-control will increase our potential for harm

(1 Pet 5:8 NIV)  Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

(Prov 25:28 NIV)  Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control.

The Bible even compares a man who lacks self-control with a city whose walls are broken. In those times, the main form of protection that a city has is its walls. This means that a man who has no self-control is opening himself up to destruction.

If a person has no control over his greed or sexual desires, it is very likely that he will eventually be destroyed financially or his family may be destroyed.

Lack of self-control means we are under addiction

(1 Cor 6:12 KJV)  All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.

When we do not have self-control over an action, it means that that action has taken control over us. We cannot allow anything to have control over us other than God.

How do we ward off temptation?
Resist the devil

We have to make a decision to want to be holy. A holy life definitely needs striving for; it does not come naturally.

2 Peter 3:14 So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.

James 4:7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

"Submit" and "resist" are all verbs. We have to do something.

Preventing ourselves from falling into sin takes effort. We are told to resist the devil. Temptation is not going away easily.

God gives us strength to say no to sin.

Philippians 2:13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.

1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV) No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

2 Thessalonians 3:3 (NIV) But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.

Be very clear what the Bible forbids

Know the Bible well.

Ps 119:9­11 9 How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. 10 I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. 11 I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. (NIV)

(Eph 6:13-14 NIV)  Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. {14} Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,

We need to have the belt of truth in order to withstand the devil’s attacks. In other words, we have to know the truth of what is permissible and what is not. If we are not even sure about this, it opens us for easy attack by the devil. We see this in the very first temptation of mankind.

(Gen 3:1 NIV)  Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?"

Satan tried to make Eve fall into sin by casting doubt about what is permissible and what is not.

Pray that God will not lead us to temptation

(Mat 6:9,13 NIV)  "This, then, is how you should pray..  lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.'

When Jesus taught His disciples how they should pray, He sees it important enough to tell them to pray that God will deliver them from temptation. This means that the strength to resist temptation can be increased if we ask God to help us to resist it.

Ask God to provide a way out when you encounter temptations.

1 Cor 10:13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. (NIV)

Ask the Holy Spirit to make us want to be holy.

Philippians 2:13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.

Fasting during times of intense temptation

Matthew 4:1­2 (NIV) Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.

Jesus took on extreme temptations by the devil after He has fasted for a prolonged period of time.

Flee from temptation

One sure way to avoid falling into temptation is simply to avoid it. Joseph physically ran away from the danger zone. Had he stayed back, he may not have been able to stop her advances. We can learn to do the same. We can avoid magazines and movies that stir up sexual thoughts. We can avoid going out with friends that encourage us to sin.

Gen 39:11One day, however, no one else was around when he was doing his work inside the house. 12She came and grabbed him by his shirt, demanding, "Sleep with me!" Joseph tore himself away, but as he did, his shirt came off. She was left holding it as he ran from the house.

Remember God’s goodness

We have to realize that sin hurts God because God loves us and knows that sin is doing us damage. Do we want to hurt the God who loves us and has redeemed us? The next time we are tempted to sin, contemplate on the good that you have received from God and determine not to hurt God by your sin.

(Eph 4:30-31 NIV)  And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. {31} Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.

Meditate on the consequences of sin