Berean Studies / Ber04 - Temperance And Self-Control
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Single Click a triangle below to see the references CT Russell selected for the associated question. The study questions (with the references) are also included as an attached Adobe PDF file at the bottom of this page.
1. What is the importance of self-control?
2. Is self-control necessary in the interest of others?
3. Are we to be ‘temperate in all things’?
4. Does self-control imply purification of the thoughts and intents of the heart?
5. Does temperance or self-control apply to our language?
6. Does self-control extend to business affairs?
7. Why is temperance necessary in our eating and drinking?
8. Should we be temperate in our joys as well as in our sorrows?
9. Is it possible to be intemperate in studying the Scriptures and in attending religious meetings?
10. What is the relation of the ‘new will’ toward the control of the flesh?
11. What is the duty of the Church toward those ‘new creatures’ who are lacking in self-control?
F148 ¶2; F149 ¶1; F150 ¶1; F289- 292;
Another class of the consecrated, but spiritually diseased, needs consideration. These, apparently justified by faith and sincere in their consecration, seem to make little or no progress in controlling their flesh. Indeed, in some instances, it would appear that their faith in God's goodness and mercy, removing the brakes of fear, have left them rather more exposed to temptation through weaknesses of the flesh than they were at first--when they had less knowledge of the Lord. These have experiences which are very trying, not to themselves only, but to the entire household of faith with whom they come in contact; their lives seem to be a succession of failures and repentances, some along the lines of financial inconsistencies, others along the lines of moral and social delinquencies.
What is the remedy for this condition of things? We answer that they should be distinctly informed that the New Creation will not be composed of those who merely covenant self-denials and self-sacrifices in earthly things and to walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit; but of those who, because of faithfulness in the willing endeavor to keep this covenant, will be counted overcomers by him who readeth the heart. They should be instructed that the proper method of procedure for all the consecrated is that, being made free by the Son, they should be so anxious to attain all blessings incident to divine favor, that they would voluntarily become bond-servants--putting themselves under certain restrictions, limitations, bondage, as respects their words, their conduct, their thoughts--earnestly desiring of the Lord in prayer the aid he has promised them, expressed in his words to the Apostle, "My grace is sufficient for thee; my strength is made perfect in weakness." Each time they find that they have transgressed they should not only make amends to those injured, but also make confession to the Lord, and by faith obtain his forgiveness--they should promise greater diligence for the future, and should increase the limitations of their own liberties along the lines of weakness ascertained by their latest failure.
Here we remark, however, that so long as they give evidence of repentance for their wrong course and a desire of heart to go in the right way and of continued faith and trust in the Lord, they must be esteemed as brethren--however necessary it may be to restrict fellowship with them until they have given some outward, tangible demonstration of the power of grace in their hearts in the restraint of their fleshly weaknesses. Nevertheless, they are still to be encouraged to believe that the Lord is very merciful to those who trust him and who at heart desire his ways, although they cannot be encouraged to expect that they could ever be counted worthy of the overcoming class unless they become so earnest in their zeal for righteousness that their flesh will show some considerable evidence of its subjection to the New Mind.
Discipline in the Ecclesia --Matt. 18:15-18--
The administration of discipline is not the function of the elders only, but of the entire Church. If one appears to be in error or in sin, his supposed wrong should be pointed out to the erring one only by the one he has injured, or by the member first discovering the wrong. If the reproved one fails to clear himself, and continues in the error or sin, then two or three brethren without previous prejudice should be asked to hear the matter and advise the disputants. (Elders they may or may not be, but their eldership would add no force or authority in the case except as their judgment might be the riper and their influence the more potent.) If this committee decide unanimously with either party, the other should acquiesce and the matter be wholly at an end--correction, or restitution, so far as possible, being promptly made. If either of the original disputants still persists in the wrong course, the one who made the original charge or one of those called in committee or, preferably, all of these together, may then (but not sooner) exercise their privilege of bringing the matter before the Ecclesia, the body, the Church. Thus it is evident that the Elders were in no sense to be judges of the members--hearing and judgment were left to the local body, or Church.
The two preliminary steps (above mentioned) having been taken, the facts being certified to the elders, it would be their duty to call a general meeting of the Ecclesia, or consecrated body, as a court--to hear the case in all of its particulars, and in the name and reverence of its Head to render a decision. And the matter should be so clear, and the condemned should have such generous treatment, that the decision would be a unanimous one, or nearly so. Thus the peace and oneness of the body (the Ecclesia) would be preserved. Repentance even up to the moment of the Church's condemnation is possible. Nay, to secure repentance and reform is the very object of every step of these proceedings--to reclaim the transgressor; his punishment not at all the object. Punishment is not ours but God's: "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord." (Rom. 12:19) Should the wrongdoer repent at any step in this proceeding, it should be a cause of thanksgiving and rejoicing to all who possess the Lord's Spirit, and no others are members of his body. Rom. 8:9
Indeed, even if the transgressor refuse to hear (obey) the decision of the entire Church, no punishment is to be inflicted or even attempted. What then? Merely the Church is to withdraw from him its fellowship and any and all signs or manifestations of brotherhood. Thenceforth the offender is to be treated "as a heathen man and a publican." Matt. 18:17
At no time in these proceedings are the faults or failings of the offender to be made public property--scandalizing him and the Church, and the Lord, the Head of the Church. Nor is he to be harshly spoken of even after the separation; just as we are not to berate, or rail against, heathen men and publicans, but are to "speak evil of no man" and to "do good unto all men." (Titus 3:2; Gal. 6:10) Love is the quality which insists on the strictest obedience to these last two requirements to "all men": how much more will love insist that a "brother," a fellow-member in the Ecclesia, the body of Christ, shall not only not be injured by false or garbled statements, but that additionally, his weaknesses or blunders or sins be carefully covered, not from the unsympathetic world only, but also from "the household of faith" and from even the Church--until the final step of "telling it to the Church" should be found absolutely necessary. At every step the spirit of love will hope that the wrongdoer is laboring under some misapprehensions, and will be praying for wisdom and grace to turn a sinner from the error of his way and thus (possibly) to save a soul from death. James 5:20
Oh, that the holy Spirit, the spirit of love, might dwell in every member of the Ecclesia so richly that it would give pain to hear a defamatory tale about any one, and especially about a fellow-member! This would at once eliminate one-half the friction, or more. Nor would the following of the above procedure, outlined by our Lord, lead to frequent church trials: rather, while removing the ground for animosities, it would inculcate a respect for the judgment of the Church as being the judgment of the Lord, and the voice of the Church would be heard and obeyed accordingly. Furthermore, with order and love thus prevailing we may be sure that each would seek as far as possible to "mind his own business" and not attempt to reprove his brother or correct him, or bring the matter before a committee or the Church, unless the matter were one of some importance as concerned himself or the Church or the Truth.
Unquestionably, the majority of the Church troubles (and society and family troubles as well) spring not from a desire to wrong, nor even from a wrong unintentionally committed, but from misunderstandings and, at least, partial misinterpretations of intentions or motives. The tongue is the general mischief-maker; and it is part of the spirit of a sound mind, therefore, to set a guard upon the lips as well as upon the heart, from which proceed the ungenerous sentiments which, the lips expressing, set fire to evil passions and often injure many. The New Creation--the Church-- has strict instructions from their Lord and Head on this important subject. His spirit of love is to fill them as they go alone, privately, to the injuring person without previous conference or talking with anyone. They go not to make him (or her) ashamed of his conduct, nor to berate him or otherwise punish, but to secure a cessation of the wrong and, if possible, some recompense for injury already received. Telling others of the wrong, first or afterward, is unkind, unloving --contrary to the Word and Spirit of our Head. Not even to ask advice should the matter be told: we have the Lord's advice and should follow it. If the case be a peculiar one, the wisest of the elders should be asked for advice along the lines of a hypothetical case, so as not to disclose the real trouble and wrongdoer.
Unless the trouble is serious, the matter ought to stop with the personal appeal to the erring one, whether he hears or forebears to hear--to yield. But if the second step be deemed necessary, no explanation of the trouble should be made to those asked to confer until they gather in the presence of the accuser and the accused. Thus slanderous "talk" will be avoided and the committee of brethren will come to the case unbiased and be the better able to counsel both parties wisely; for the trouble may be on both sides, or, possibly, wholly on the side of the accuser. At all events, the accused will be favorably impressed by such fair treatment and will be much more likely to yield to such counselors if his course seems to them also to be wrong. But whether the one deemed by the committee to be in error shall yield or not, the whole matter is still strictly private, and not a mention of it should be made to anyone until, if thought sufficiently important, it is brought before the Church, and passed upon finally. Then for the first time it is common property to the saints only, and in proportion as they are saints they will desire to say no more than necessary to anyone respecting the weaknesses or sins of anybody.*
In carrying out the findings of the Church court, the matter rests with each individual; hence, each must discern the justice of the decision for himself. The penalty of withdrawal of fellowship is designed to be a correction in righteousness, and is of the Lord's prescribing. It is to serve as a protection to the Church, to separate those who walk disorderly, not after the spirit of love. It is not to be esteemed a perpetual separation, but merely until the reproved one shall recognize and acknowledge his wrong and to the extent of his ability make amends.
*Additionally see Chap. ix--"If thy brother trespass against thee."
12. Why is self-control an essential qualification in an Elder ?
13. Why is it important that parents exercise self-control?
14. How can suggestion be applied in teaching children self-control?
15. How can we cultivate self-control?
16. What other most important grace will naturally be developed by attaining a large measure of self-control?