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Self-Control

The self is an unruly creature. Within us arise manifold desires that, if not resisted, would lead us away from the living God. Scripture calls this resistance “self-control.” Self-control is the ability to control one’s self. It is the ability to say “no” to our impulses. It is the ability to rule our impulses and to not be ruled by them.


Hebrews 12:1 is a helpful passage for understanding and practicing this virtue. The passage specifies two hindrances to Christian perseverance—“weight” and “sin.” “Weighs” and “sins” are two different categories of hindrance. As Christians, we are called to have self-control with “sins” and “weights.” Self -control with former is easy to understand—a basic Christian practice is to resist ungodly desires. The “weight” category is harder to grasp. What does the author of Hebrews mean by this concept?


“Weights” are those habits in our lives that are not necessarily sinful but do hinder our sanctification. In my life, one “weight” is wasting time on the computer. At the end the day, after the kids are in bed and when Kathryn and I are zonked, I routinely get on the computer to “veg out.” This habit isn’t necessarily bad. Rest is good. I have freedoms in Christ. Housework still needs to be done, though. My wife immediately begins to clean the war zone that my kids created. In this moment, what is most conducive for my walk with Christ--to surf the internet or to help my wife clean? The answer is obvious. While there is nothing wrong with relaxing, this habit is a “weight” that should be resisted.


I imagine that you have different “weights” than I do. That’s to be expected. We are all different people. Nevertheless, God calls you to resist the impulse towards “weights” (and “sins,” too). “Make every effort,” Peter commands, “to add to your faith self-control” (2 Pet 1:5–6).


Pastor Chance

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