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’?
1Co 9:25; R2155 col. 1 ¶4; R2119 col. 2 ¶2 to end
(1Co 9:25) And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.
R2155 c1 p4
The third addition, self-control, is one of the most important elements of good character. He that ruleth his own spirit is greater than he that taketh a city, is the counsel of the wise man; and many a victorious general has yet to learn to conquer and control himself. Self-control has to do with all our sentiments, thoughts, tastes, appetites, labors, pleasures, sorrows and hopes. Its cultivation, therefore, means a high order of character-development. Self-control, accompanied by faith, fortitude, knowledge from on high, implies increased zeal and activity in divine things and increased moderation in earthly things, in judgment, in conduct, in the regulation of temporal affairs, etc. "Let your moderation be known unto all men."
R2119 c2 p2 to end
The Apostle's declaration, in the lesson before us, is an illustration of the right spirit concerning every such question. If our neighbors meet in worship on the first day of the week, because they believe it to be the command of God, our liberty can be just as fully exercised meeting on the same day; not from a sense of obligation, not under law, but in the full enjoyment of the liberty wherewith Christ makes free. Indeed, we can enjoy the day very much more when we realize it as a liberty and privilege rather than as a duty and command. Yet there are trifling liberties which we should yield; for instance, our neighbor, thinking that he is under the Jewish law, might consider the driving of a tack to be a violation of the day of rest. We who know that we are not under the law but under grace, realize that no sin would be committed in driving a tack; but nevertheless we can well and properly set aside our liberties in that matter and conform and cooperate in the maintenance of the peace and quiet of the day. Indeed, we realize that the mistake of our friends is in many respects a blessing and a mercy to us. For if many appreciated the matter as we do, as a liberty and privilege and not as a law of God, quite probably a majority would pay no respect whatever to the day, and very soon it might be as other days. We are very glad, therefore, that a day for rest and quiet and study and meditation on holy things is set aside by the laws of the land in which we live. But even if we saw no reason whatever for observing the day, the fact of its legal secular appointment is a sufficient ground for abstinence from earthly labors. But on the contrary we see the wisdom of having a day for special fellowship in spiritual things and the day adopted by early Christians is eminently proper. The opening day of a new week symbolizes our new rest, new hopes and new life--all of which spring from the resurrection of our Lord.
We advise those who are seeking to walk in the "narrow way" to follow the Apostle's counsel and example closely, and while realizing themselves free in Christ to make themselves servants unto all--"doing good unto all men as we have opportunity, especially to the household of faith."
The Apostle was not moved to this abrogation of his own liberties from any selfish motives, but by his love of the gospel and his desire to supply to others its blessed healing balm, which had come to his own spirit. Wherever the spirit of Christ is, this spirit is received; and if developed it will manifest itself sooner or later by this disposition of self-negation in the interest of other--especially in spiritual interests and affairs.
(`24-27`) The Apostle would have us see that while we are granted liberties in Christ, nevertheless the essence of Christian teaching is to deny ourselves the use of those very liberties. As slaves of sin we were set free in order that we might become the voluntary bond-servants of righteousness--serving with self-sacrifice "even unto death." The Jews, as a house of servants under Moses, were bound as servants by rigorous laws, the meaning and object of which were not even explained to them. But the house of sons, of which Christ is the Head, is left free from any law, except the one--to love God with every power of being and our neighbor as ourself. But this very liberty, which is granted to us on the one hand, is the greater trial on the other hand. It leaves with us each the responsibility of proving our love to God and to his cause and to his people, and our sympathy for the world, by the extent to which we are willing to abandon our liberties for these--as their servants.
The Apostle illustrates this by the Olympic games of his day, prominent amongst which was foot-racing. Racers were set free to run, so we as Christians are set free from the law that we may run our race and win the great prize; but he that complies with certain recognized conditions, and "so runs," shall be crowned an overcomer.
Consecrated Christians have entered the lists, to run the great race for the prize of our high calling in Christ Jesus--the prize of joint-heirship with him in the kingdom of glory, to be established at his second coming. We start on our race course not aimlessly, not hopelessly, not simply for the sake of denying ourselves, not to do penance for sins, nor simply for the sake of developing character; but the Lord has graciously arranged the matter so that we will have a grand and noble incentive to self-denial. The prize at
the end of the race is his "Well done, good and faithful servant;" and to the faithful little flock "the crown of life" and the glory of the Kingdom. Therefore we are not running uncertainly, doubtfully, not knowing what the prize will be, for we are instructed by the Lord's own words.
The Apostle points out in this connection that if we hope to be overcomers and approved of the Lord we must be moderate, temperate, self-denying in all things. This he emphasizes in verse twenty-seven. It is not only necessary that our whole being should be consecrated to the Lord at the beginning of the race, but it continues necessary all along the way, that it shall be continually subject to the new mind, the mind of Christ, which is to dwell in us richly and abound. Otherwise, if we allow the old, fallen nature to rise up and hinder the new mind, the mind of Christ in us--if we permit the will of the flesh thus to come into control again, we may count the race as ignominiously terminated and ourselves as "castaways;" because the mind of the flesh leads to death, but the mind of the new spirit of life in Christ, by which we are begotten through the Word of truth, leads to life everlasting, and through faithfulness to eternal glory.
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?
16. What other most important grace will naturally be developed by attaining a large measure of self-control?