Summary: “A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls.” Proverbs 25:28 (NLT)
In a world of deteriorating morality, we must give special attention to Self-discipline and Self-Control to live a virtuous life. Everything we do in life is a choice, and I think most of us realize that. But what most people don’t seem to realize is that everything we don’t do in life is also a Choice. Our Father in Heaven has told us "Look, today I am giving you the choice between a blessing and a curse! (Deuteronomy 11:26NLT) “…. that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live,” (Deuteronomy 30:19ESV)
Bible also admonish us “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.”(Romans 12:9) in other words keep our thoughts, appetites, and emotions within certain bounds. As our Father, God would not ask us to do something that we are not capable of doing. We are his children. We have the capacity to “Hate what is evil; cling to what is good “and become like him. We can choose. … We can break bad habits; we can acquire good habits; we can choose what we think by the sheer determination to do so. The knowledge of right and wrong is a prerequisite to the control of sinful desires, but knowledge alone, without a system of values, is rather powerless.
A person's values are deep seated and not easily changed. Yet, if there is going to be any lasting improvement in a person's pattern of life, his values must change. Beliefs are what we hold to be true. Values are what we hold to be important. When we rank our values into a system, then we have determined what we hold to be most valuable and important. When we have consciously determined our value system, we have something which can be as powerful in creating conscious motivation as the subconscious needs and desires are in creating subconscious motivation. For example, it is one thing to believe that honesty is right and lying is wrong. It is quite a different thing to also value honesty as one of the most important virtues. A person who values honesty will be much more likely to live honestly than the person who values other things, such as popularity, power, position and possessions... etc more than he values honesty.
I recall a story about a priest, serving as a missionary in the overseas was confronted by a college student who was less interested in the Bible than in the Priest’s strict moral code. The student mockingly asked the priest how he controlled his desires when there were so many beautiful girls around, implying that the priest must not [have normal feelings]. The priest explained: ‘It is not that I am abnormal; it is that I know I am responsible and in charge of mind and body. You think you are helpless in the face of your desires. You think you are a victim of them. I have proven to myself that I am the master of those feelings’” Being morally clean and virtuous requires physical restraint and self-control. Self-discipline is a skill. It is the ability to focus and overcome distractions. It involves acting according to what you think instead of how you feel in the moment. It often requires sacrificing the pleasure and thrill for what matters most in life. Therefore it is self-discipline that drives you to succeed in the long-term.
Self-control is the foundation of a strong godly life, growth, and producing fruit. If a person cannot govern himself, if he cannot master his passions, he will certainly not have a good relationship with his God or fellowman. His life will likely be marked by major excesses. A person who has self-mastery is even-handed, and his passions are under control. He makes proper use of his drives and desires, and his manner of life is not one of extremes. A person reflecting this quality will be making steady progress in growing into the perfectly balanced character of Jesus Christ.
If success depends on effective action, effective action depends on the ability to focus your attention and make right choice where it is needed most, when it is needed most. This is the ability to distinguish the good from the Evil, which is a much needed skill in all walks of life, especially where there are ever increasing temptation and distractions.
As we observe the daily news reports, especially as it describes the present moral conditions of the society as we know it. It all comes down to a society out of control, without self-control and inner discipline. A prophetical scripture portion in Second Timothy 3:1-5 goes on to say, "But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God--having a form of godliness but denying its power." If you skipped hurriedly over the list, thinking you knew them all, you might have missed "without self-control." All the other evil behaviors in the list are examples of the absence of self-control.