Self-Control Requires Self-Denial
Volume IX ~ Issue XXXIII ~ May 10th, 2009
By: Brian A. Yeager
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As a child of God you are expected to have self-control [temperance in the KJV]. Consider the following Scriptures as we enter into our study of self-control: “He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city… But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway… But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law… According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (Proverbs 16:32, I Corinthians 9:27, Galatians 5:22-23, and II Peter 1:3-11).

Some struggle with matters relating to self-control. We have to be able to control our speech (Proverbs 13:3 and Matthew 12:34-37). We have to exercise enough self-control not to be gluttons (Proverbs 23:1-3; 25:16). You cannot leave self-control at the door when it comes to anger (Proverbs 15:1-4 and Ephesians 4:26). The list could go on. The point we shall address in this article is simple, deny yourself and self-control becomes easier.

What Does Self-Denial Have To Do With Self-Control?

You’re at work and doing your job as expected by the Lord and your employer. Some bonehead comes up and interrupts you rather rudely. You want to explode and take all your frustrations out on this person. However, you must ask yourself what will that accomplish? Maybe you will feel relieved because this person has become your punching bag of sorts. Yet, does that accomplish your will or the Lord’s will? Remember, you are a Christian and you’ve given up living according to your will (Romans 6:3-13, Galatians 2:20, Philippians 1:21, Colossians 3:1-4; 17, I Timothy 6:11, and I Peter 4:1-2). It is the Lord’s will that you live peaceably with all men if it is possible (Romans 12:18).

If it is all about pleasing yourself you’ll find that you will do what feels right to you. You will want to satisfy your flesh. Yet, we know we cannot do what feels right or start running after that, which satisfies the flesh (Proverbs 14:12, Romans 8:5-8, Romans 13:14, Galatians 5:16-17, and I Peter 2:11).

If you are a Christian, ask yourself what you gave up when you obeyed the Gospel? While the answer could be somewhat long if you start a list, the overall principle is that you gave up yourself. Notice a few passages that should be familiar to us:
“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul… He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal… Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live” (Matthew 16:24-26, John 12:25, and Romans 8:12-13). You see, if I live to the flesh I will not have control over those carnal thoughts and desires. If I live to God, it is He who rules over me rather than myself!

The Point Applied

One thing that seems to be a universal problem in every congregation I have labored with is the inability for the erring to control their mouths. We know we are supposed to control our tongues (Proverbs 10:19; 13:3; 15:28; 18:21; 21:23 and James 3:2-6), but sometimes the lips of saints sure do not accurately resemble whom we confess to belong to (James 3:9-18). So, let’s apply this truth in a way we can see it improve weaknesses of those who lack self-control when it comes to the tongue.

Let’s return to the example situation we began with at the top of this page (the frustrating and rude interruption at work). You are furious. This same thoughtless moron has rudely interrupted you hundreds of times. You’ve been polite and have addressed the matter many times, but nothing has changed. You’ve gone to the boss and talked with him. The boss has intervened, but still nothing has changed. So, do you now give this person “a piece of your mind”? Will you tell them “where to go”? NO! Now is when self-control comes into play. Now is when you must remember that you are in Christ and have denied yourself (Mark 8:34). Now you reason and ask whose will is going to be accomplished by a good right hook? Will it help anyone get to Heaven? Aren’t you concerned with his soul as the Lord is? Your interest is in being left alone, what is the Lord’s interest (Luke 19:10 and I Timothy 2:1-4)? You now remember that you belong to another (I Corinthians 6:20). Self-control is now accomplished with the aid of self-denial!


We have to remember that we belong to the Lord. We’ve forsaken our way of thinking for His way of thinking (Isaiah 55:7-9). Since you’re now Christ-centered instead of self-centered, you can control yourself.