I just can’t stop looking at it. Really, you have no self-control? Just one look won’t hurt, will it? It means that you don’t care with what the Lord of Hosts, the Holy Spirit of God gets drenched. It’s only Sports Illustrated swimsuit models. You know healthy, very healthy girls. Just because they don’t have much on or the suits are just painted on doesn’t mean I shouldn’t look at it. Of course not Satan will say. It is good for you and your virility. Or is it downgrading your self-control and discipline and downgrading the women in the photos along with all women? The answer is yes it does. Each time you fail to use your self-discipline you break down barriers to sin. Sin becomes easier. Your heart slowly becomes more hardened to sin and lust. This usually means that your shield comes down and space junk will crash in. “Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-discipline” (Proverbs 25:28).
So what do we do to build up self-control or discipline? Peter tells us, “For this very reason (God’s precious promises) make every effort to add to your faith goodness, knowledge, and to knowledge, self-control, and to self-control perseverance; ad to perseverance godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For if anyone does not have them, he is blind” (2 Peter 1:5-8). This is part of God’s formula for success in overcoming our weakness. How do we add these qualities? We must seek and practice these characteristics through self-discipline. That’s right, we obtain it through practicing it and proclaiming, “I have self-control.”
The fruit of the Spirit includes “self-control.” All of fruit works together toward helping us in our self-control. “You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. Son then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled…But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:5-8).
These are the traits God holds for the Elder and the Deacon. In 1 Timothy 3 we find listed the characteristics of one who is above reproach, the husband or wife of but one spouse, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well. Notice that self-control is again in the middle of the pack.
So how are you doing on your self-control? The only road to holiness and godliness is practicing the spiritual disciplines that lead us to self-control. “Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness” (1 Timothy 4:7 NASB). It is a channel to God’s transforming grace. Notice that 2 Peter 1:6 says, “and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness.” It is the sequence of development of godliness in a lifelong pursuit.