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?
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?
R3273 col. 1 ¶2, 3; R2355 col. 2 ¶3
(a) By prayer- F149 ¶1, 2
(b) By study of the Word- R3090 col. 1 ¶1, 6, 7
(c) By being filled more and more with the holy Spirit- R3070 col. 2 ¶1, 2; E252 ¶2; E260 ¶2, 3
(d) By fasting- R2260 col. 2 ¶3
R3273 c1 p2,3
As we look at the world of which we once were a part, "Children of wrath even as others," we see that all of its strife is for some purpose. The politician strives for emoluments and sometimes for honor; the merchant strives for affluence and wealth; the struggles in the social arena are for place and influence. These are their prizes, and in their efforts to attain their ideals many are the sacrifices that are endured, many are the risks that are run, many are the night vigils and careful plans and schemes and plottings. Nevertheless, few of those who strive ever attain to their hearts' desires. The prize eludes their grasp; and the more fortunate ones who do grasp the prizes find that there is much bitterness connected with the success, much disappointment as to the real pleasure accompanying them. The Apostle compares these earthly ambitions of the world with the higher ambitions of the soldiers of the Lord's army. He points out that those who strive in earthly matters, either as race runners or as prize fighters in any department of the strife of earth, put themselves to certain tests of patience, endurance and self-denial in their endeavors to attain their ambitions; and he indicates that much more the soldiers of the cross should highly esteem the great prize for which we are called to fight the good fight--the prize of life eternal. The Apostle says, "Every man that striveth is temperate in all things: now they do it to attain a corruptible crown [reward], but we an incorruptible."
These who strive for earthly prizes do so in the face of much uncertainty. Every politician admits the strong probability of his defeat; every one who seeks wealth will acknowledge a strong probability that he will fail in his fight for it; but not so with the soldiers of the cross. The prize is not only superlatively great and grand and incorruptible, but it is a certainty, as the Apostle adds, "I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air." We know that faithfulness as followers of our Captain will bring results not only blessed to ourselves, but results which will be under the Lord's providences a blessing to all the families of the earth. It is in view of this certainty on our part as to the results and the grandeur thereof that the Apostle intimates that we, as soldiers of the cross, should be willing to endure much greater hardness and self-denial and buffeting for the sake of the cause we represent than would those who strive for the earthly crowns and prizes. And if they practice self-denial and disciplines late and early, in season and out of season, when convenient and when inconvenient, whether of food and drink if preparing for some physical contest, or of comforts and conveniences and pleasures if for political or business contests, much more should we not be slothful in our business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord, fighting the good fight of faith, laying hold on eternal life as a sure thing, not an uncertainty. The Apostle applies this thought too, saying, "I keep my body under [its ambitions, appetites, desires], and bring it into subjection [to the new mind]: lest by any means when I have preached to others I myself should be a castaway [rejected from being a member of the little flock]."-- `1 Cor. 9:25-28`.
R2355 c2 p3
There is need for this temperance, moderation, self-control, and its accompanying spirit of kindness and gentleness everywhere; in the shop, in the store, in the schoolroom, in traveling, in visiting, at home with the various members of the family,--and above all, in the Church, the household of faith, the family of God. It will help us in cultivating this Christian temperance in all things to remember that we are the representatives of God and of our Lord Jesus Christ in the world. We are his ambassadors, and as such our lives of temperance and godliness, or of intemperance and ungodliness, are living epistles, known and read of all men with whom we come in contact. It is a part of our bounden duty, day by day, to see to it that not only the thoughts of our hearts, but also the words of our lips and all the acts of life are acceptable in the Lord's sight, and showing forth the praises of him who called us out of darkness into his marvelous light.
(a) By prayer –
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.
Thus watching and praying, and setting guards upon the actions and words of life, and bringing "every thought into captivity" to the will of God in Christ (2 Cor. 10:5), it will surely not be long until they can assure themselves and the brethren also respecting the sincerity of their hearts, and walk in life so circumspectly that all may be able to discern, not only that they have been with Jesus, but also that they have learned of him, and have sought and used his assistance in gaining victories over their weaknesses. The cases of such brethren or sisters would come under the head of what the Apostle terms "walking disorderly"--not after the example of the Lord and the apostles. In another chapter we will see the Lord's direction respecting the manner in which those weak in the flesh and who bring dishonor and discredit upon the Lord's cause should be treated by the brethren.
(b) By study of the Word –
R3090 c1 p1,6,7
To such a virtuous character we are counseled to add knowledge--the knowledge of God's character, that we may the more thoroughly imitate it, and of his truth, that we may more fully conform to its teachings: and to knowledge, temperance--moderation, self-restraint, in all things. "Let your moderation be known unto all men." We are not to be hasty and hot-tempered, or rash and thoughtless. But we should strive to be evenly balanced, thoughtful and considerate: our whole manner should be characterized by that carefulness which would indicate that we are ever mindful of the Lord's pleasure, of our responsibility to him as his representatives, and of our influence upon our fellow-men, to see that it always is for good, never for evil.
Peter indeed describes a most amiable character, but who can consider it without feeling that to attain it will be a life-work. It cannot be accomplished in a day, nor a year, but the whole life must be devoted to it; and day by day, if we are faithful, we should realize a measure of growth in grace and of development of Christian character. It is not proper that we know the truth, and are contented to hold it in unrighteousness. We must see to it that the truth is having its legitimate and designed effect upon the character. And if the truth is thus received into good and honest hearts, we have the assurance of the Apostle that we shall never fall, and that in due time we shall be received into the Kingdom of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Hence we see the necessity of ever keeping the instructions and precepts of the Lord fresh in our minds, and of drinking deep into its inspiring spirit, although we are already established in the faith. To be established in the faith is one thing, but to be established in Christian character and in all the graces of the spirit is quite another.
(c) By being filled more and more with the holy Spirit –
R3070 c2 p1,2
Having so entered, the Apostle now urges that we be filled with the Spirit of Christ, that we may not be led by the desires of the flesh away from God and from the course which he has marked out. Then the body, the human nature, must be kept under the control of the new mind, the spirit of Christ in us. Its ambitions and hopes and desires must be kept down; and the only way to do this is to keep filled with the spirit. "Walk in the spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the desires of the flesh."--`Gal. 5:16`.
If we are filled with the spirit--with the same mind that was in Jesus Christ--we will act from the same motives: it will be our meat and drink to do the Father's will. We will engage in his work because we love to do it, even aside from the inspiring prize at the end of our course. Christ was so full of sympathy with humanity, and so thoroughly of one mind with the Father, that he could not do otherwise than to devote his life to the good of others. Yet in all his labors he strictly observed the divine plan. Though, like the Father, he loved the whole world, he did not go beyond Israel to bless the Gentiles with his ministry, because the appointed time for that work had not yet come.
The question arises, How or wherein does the impartation of the holy Spirit to the Christian serve to repair his judgment, and become to him the Spirit of a sound mind? We answer that the divine mind is perfect, "sound," and consequently to whatever extent Christians are able to set aside their own minds or judgments, on any or all matters, and to accept instead the divine mind, will, judgment, for the control of their lives, to that extent they will have the spirit or disposition of a sound mind--God's mind. We do not mean by this that the brains of Christians undergo a change or a reversal of the order of nature in their operation, but that under the guidance of the holy Spirit, the Spirit of the Truth, such learn gradually to rectify the errors of their own judgments in respect to all the various questions which come before them, to harmonize with the teaching of the holy Spirit through the Word of God. To illustrate: suppose we had a clock, a poor timekeeper, and without means for regulation; suppose also that we had access frequently to a chronometer of absolute correctness, which showed us that our clock lost thirty minutes every twenty-four hours, we would learn how to correct it, by resetting every twenty-four hours. Moreover, we would learn also how to estimate its error at any point in the day. So with our judgments, and the various matters and affairs of life: when we measure them with the perfect standard, we find that we are either too fast or too slow, too weak or too strong, in our mental and physical emotions. And while we are quite unable to alter our methods of thought and action so as to have them perfect and in full accord with those of our Lord Jesus, our standard, nevertheless we are enabled to regulate our thoughts, our judgments, according to the standard which is before our minds, in a way and to a degree which those who have not this perfect standard, or who are not seeking to be regulated by it, will neither appreciate nor be able to copy.
In proportion as he develops in this holy Spirit of his adoption, a "new creature in Christ Jesus," he becomes, through its operation, gradually more patient, more sympathetic, more generous, more loving--more Godlike. And these benevolences of character will affect not only the outward acts of his life, but also his words and his thoughts. In proportion as his holy Spirit discountenances a dishonorable or dishonest action, in the same proportion it discountenances a dishonorable or a dishonest word, in respect to friend or neighbor or enemy; and similarly it discountenances the slightest injustice or unkindness of thought to any of these.
The Spirit of a sound mind will therefore gradually but surely make the husband a better husband, the father a better father, the son a better son, the wife a better wife, the mother a better mother, the daughter a better daughter. It will do this, because the basis of thought and word and conduct has changed from selfishness to love. The one possessed of this Spirit of a sound mind, the holy Spirit, the Spirit of love, will, in proportion as he comes into possession of it, be less touchy in respect to his own rights, privileges, preferments, and more considerate for the rights and feelings and preferences of others. The will of the Lord must, of course, stand first, but next to pleasing the Lord he will take pleasure in pleasing others with whom he may come in contact, especially those of his own family: and in harmony with this desire to serve and to please the Lord first, and then the Lord's family, and all men as he may have opportunity, his thoughts will operate, his words be guided and regulated, and his conduct shape itself.
(d) By fasting –
R2260 c2 p3
Fasting is proper enough when intelligently done and from a right motive, but it is certainly worse than useless when done as a formality or ceremony, or to be seen of men, that they might think us holy. Fasting is specially commendable to the Lord's people at times when they find themselves lacking in spirituality and exposed to severe temptations from the world, the flesh and the devil; for by impoverishing the physical force and vitality, it may assist the full blooded and impulsive to self control, in every direction. We believe that a majority of Christians would be helped by occasional fasting,--a very plain diet for a season, if not total abstinence. But fastings, to be seen and known of men or to be conjured up by our own minds as marks of piety on our part, would be injurious indeed, and lead to spiritual pride and hypocrisy which would far outweigh their advantages to us in the way of self-restraints.
16. What other most important grace will naturally be developed by attaining a large measure of self-control?