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  • Writer's pictureRob

The Hundred-Thirty-Eighth (Self-Control)

Updated: Apr 28, 2023

I hope you had a wonderful week! Did YHWH bless you with anything special this week? I hope so! Make sure you thank Him for it! We're going to look at a topic this week that the world seems to be designed against. At least that's what I see in the majority of the world today.

All over, you can see evidence of the world promoting a lack of self-control. When you check out at a store, they conveniently line up little items that aren't the most expensive thing so that as you're waiting they're tempting you. Candy bars, sodas, chips, etc. They even call them "impulse buy" products!

As you surf the internet trying to research how best to grow your fruits and vegetables, advertisements cover the screen. Sometimes they even take over such that you have to wait until they're done for you to continue researching. And obviously, I won't go into the more evil things that are easily accessible online.

But you might say that's just companies trying to get you to buy their product. It's all in the name of capitalism, right? People should be responsible enough to not go into debt buying candy bars and gardening equipment. Yes, I agree, they should. But that's not the worst of what the world promotes as far as a lack of self-control.

I watched a video the other day of a couple that literally busted open someone's apartment door. They broke the door frame and the molding went flying, and they came in yelling and fuming asking the occupant where his brother was. Well, it turned out not only did the person not have a brother, they were only visiting said apartment, and the couple was actually at the wrong apartment because whoever they were looking for lied about where they lived.

Why were they fuming and yelling? They claimed that whoever they were looking for hit their daughter while driving. I cannot confirm or deny that because it wasn't in the video, but I bet if you went and asked people if the couple's actions were justified (assuming they had been at the right location) the majority of them would say yes. You have to stand up for injustice, right? Fight back when someone does you or your loved ones wrong!

There's even countless movies about revenge and vigilantism. Punisher, Daredevil, Batman, Death Wish (a whole quintilogy featuring Charles Bronson), Seeking Justice...The list is long. It's no wonder you see so many news articles about attacks, shootings and the like.

And on the other side there's promotion of loving anyone and anything you want. And no, I don't mean just as your neighbor. Phrases like, "you just can't help who you love," make it sound like you literally have no control over who you're attracted to. As a result, people are called "hateful" when they speak against things that are sinful, because according to the world's logic no one can help it, or control it. So you're supposed to just accept it.

Those things are what the world promotes, but what does our YHWH say? Well, it turns out He put a lot about self-control in His word. To start, we see that we're warned not to follow this pattern we see in the world (Romans 12:2). We're to renew our mind, which will transform us into having the ability test what is the will of YHWH. Paul uses the word metamorphoo here, which is translated to transform. It's the same word that is the root of our English word of metamorphosis. It's also the same word that's translated to "transfigured" in the recording of Yeshua's transfiguration (Matthew 17:2).

But what is the purpose of testing for the will of YHWH? Clearly, in this verse we're being shown a dichotomy. On the one hand, we're told there's a pattern in this world, and on the other there's a will of YHWH. And these two things are in opposition. When you live in an environment that is full of what is opposed to His will, it takes self-control to follow His will. And of course when the dust settles, one hand leads to death and the other to eternity (1 John 2:17).

If you recall, self-control is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:23). In fact, it was a fruit that Paul talked a lot about, and not everyone welcomed that message (Acts 24:25). He wrote about disciplining his body much the same way athletes discipline themselves in preparation for their competitions (1 Corinthians 9:24-27). He also wrote about having a lack of self-control, and making sure to account for it to prevent giving into temptation (1 Corinthians 7:3-9).

Now, the world would tell you rather than worrying about if you can't control yourself just give in and do whatever you desire. The false logic being if you desire it, then there's nothing against doing it. If there's a man-made law against it, we'll just change it once enough people protest about it publicly. The United Nations at this point is putting out documents stating that regardless of a country's laws underage children are able to consent to relations with adults, and some are even trying to change the term pedophile into "minor-attracted person" to "destigmatize" pedophilia.

But how do we identify what we need to control ourselves against? What do we self-control ourselves to do and not do? Paul calls them the acts of the flesh (Galatians 5:16-21), but they all point back to the Law of YHWH. And isn't following the commandments, in many cases, wholly an act of self-control? The commandments themselves were given as a result of man's nature to do things that sin against each other and against YHWH. If we didn't have a propensity to do those things there would be no need for commandments against them. And if there were no need to follow those commandments, why so much discussion and exhortation in scripture about self-control?

In fact, there is a great response given by Eleazar, the High Priest successor to Aaron, to Antiochus, a particularly horrible king that ruled over the Jews for a time (4 Maccabees 5). This response was given when Antiochus brought Eleazar in, the next in line of the Jews that Antiochus was systematically torturing and killing if they wouldn't eat pork or food sacrificed to idols. I recommend you read the whole chapter to see Antiochus' reasoning, his attempt at convincing Eleazar to eat. You may have already heard such arguments, or perhaps you have made them yourself for various things, but I imagine they will be similar to those made to Christians as the world gets worse.

Eleazar's response is excellent, with one of his main points being that following the law teaches self-control, to master all pleasures and desires (verse 23). He also lists a number of other things that the commandments provide, as well as on the topic of food pointing out that what is allowed is most suitable for us and what is forbidden is not (verse 26).

But it's not just about controlling ourselves in that aspect, it's also about self-control of our tongues and what we speak. Scripture is very clear, there is a lot of power in what we speak (Proverbs 18:21, James 3:5-10). Speaking negativity, speaking in anger, especially speaking curses, without even thinking about it is like firing a gun wildly in every which direction. You might miss some, you might maim some, and you might kill some, but any way you look at it your action caused it. You've likely seen the news articles about kids committing suicide because of bullying or even someone literally telling them to kill themselves. Clearly, this is another area where scripture is proven true.

When it comes down to it, one of the hardest, but most important things we can do is have self-control. We can be fools and give into our rage or be wise and hold it back (Proverbs 29:11). We can be conformed to the pattern of this world, or we can live set apart from it and in accordance with YHWH's will. Self-control is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, and the only way we can bear His fruit is by remaining in Him, remaining in His love by keeping His commandments (John 15:1-10).

Shabbat shalom and God bless you!

-Rob and Sara Gene

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