The King James Version of the Bible never uses the word “self-control.” The reason it does not is easily explained. When the King James Version was translated in 1611, the word “temperance” meant self-control. Today the word “temperance” is applied primarily to refraining from strong drink or using it moderately. The King James Version uses a number of synonyms of the word “self-control.” For example, Paul asked the Corinthians: “Do you know that they who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? So run, that you may obtain. And every man who strives for the mastery is temperate in all things” (1 Cor. -25). The Greek verb translated “temperate” means self-control. This verse could be translated: “Every man who strives for the mastery exercises self-control in all things.” Several modern versions of the Bible so render the Greek.
A brief examination of some New Testament words should help us in understanding today’s topic, “Self-Control.” Paul explained to the Corinthians God’s will concerning the intimate relationship in marriage. He stressed the truth that the husband owes his wife sexual fulfillment and the wife has a reciprocal duty to her husband. He says the wife’s body does not belong to her alone, but to her husband, also. The same is true of the husband’s body: it does not belong to him alone, but to his wife, also. If the husband and wife decide to refrain from sexual intimacy for a specified time, they must both agree. After the specified time has elapsed, they are to continue sexual communion, so that Satan will not tempt them for their incontinency (1 Cor. 7:1-5). The word “incontinency” comes from the Greek akrasian and means lack of self-control.
Acts 24 tells of
Paul’s appearance before Felix, a governor of
If you were given the opportunity to speak to an audience that included a notorious adulterer like Felix, what would you say? Would you emphasize the great love that God has manifested toward men in sending his Son Jesus Christ into the world? Would you speak on subjects that would not offend Felix and Drusilla? Can you think of any more offensive ideas than those Paul actually discussed? As Paul “reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go your way for this time; when I have a more convenient season, I will call for you” (Acts 24:25). I have no idea what Paul said on these topics, but I know why those topics caused Felix to tremble. Felix was not a righteous man; he had not exercised self-control, and if there is to be judgment to come, Felix would probably rather be elsewhere.
In his letter to the Galatian churches, Paul contrasted yielding to the lusts of the flesh (Gal. -21) and producing the fruit of the Spirit. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law” (Gal. 5:22-23). Temperance or self-control is one of the characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit. The apostle Peter provides for us what we commonly call the “Christian graces.” He urges us to add to our knowledge temperance or self-control (2 Pet. 1:5-7). One other word needs to be mentioned. Paul used the Greek akrates which literally means without power, but is translated “incontinent” in the King James Version and “self-control” in most modern versions.
There are many
areas of our lives where Christians and others should exercise self-control,
but sometimes fail to do so. For
example, we often use our tongues in destructive ways. We use filthy and suggestive language or we
spread rumors about our friends or family members. We may also fail to control our sexual
appetites. As important as all these
matters are, I shall devote the remainder of our time in this study to some
people’s failure to control their use of beverage alcohol. We need to realize that probably as many as
100,000,000 people in the
On the same day
According to the
article, “Drink too much? Get a free ride, tow,” the Nashvillians who are
unable or unwilling to control their drinking will have available a way to get
home and to have their cars towed. The
program, developed by the Governor’s Highway Safety Office in the Tennessee
Department of Transportation, is called “Tow to Go.” Other cities in the
I have no doubt
the leadership in
There will be thousands of Tennesseans who will drink too much during the holidays. Imagine being so foolish and uninhibited that you have to call for someone to drive you home and to tow your car to your house. It seems to me it would be very embarrassing for a grown man to get so drunk he cannot drive his own automobile. Do intelligent people not know what their alcohol limits are? If they do not know—and most of them do know and do not care—they ought to stay in the safe environment of their own homes. Getting drunk in a tavern or in a beer joint and having to have someone take you home makes absolutely no sense.
There are a
great number of problems associated with drinking. Many people honestly believe they are better
drivers when they have had a few drinks.
About twenty-five years ago, Molly and I owned some sporting goods
There will be
Nashvillians who will know they have had too much to drink and will call for
help. There will be others who have also
had too much to drink but whose judgment has been seriously impaired by their
drinking. They will not know whom to
call or even if they ought to call. So,
while the streets of
Why is not every person who gets drunk arrested for public drunkenness? There ought to be a policeman at every door of every tavern, beer hall and saloon in the city. If a person is drunk when he walks out the door of any of these sleazy establishments, he ought to be arrested for public drunkenness. Why do we coddle people who have so little self-control? If they must get drunk, let them do it at home. No one has a right to drink and endanger the lives of their families and others. Drunken drivers have adversely affected my family. I cannot readily overlook such unconscionable behavior.
Not long after Molly and I married, a drunk ran over her eighty-five year old grandfather and killed him instantly. About twenty years later, another drunk killed her mother, her older sister and severely injured her brother-in-law and two nieces. My Molly suffered the rest of her life because of the tragedies that occurred in the family. Will there be a substantial number of deaths and injuries in our state and throughout the nation during the holidays? Hundreds, maybe even thousands of families will almost unquestionably be adversely affected by drunken drivers. If people would simply exercise self-control, these tragic events would not happen.
The two other articles
Tennessean pertained to
information provided by Mothers Against Drunk
Driving. One of the articles says that
Mothers Against Drunk Driving gives
While I was
thinking about examining self-control as it pertains to drinking, I bought and
read a very disturbing book, Dying to Drink: Confronting Binge Drinking
on College Campuses (Rodale:2002).
Dr. Henry Wechsler, Director, Harvard School of Public Health,
The authors of the book, Dying to Drink, discuss some of the reasons binge drinking is so rampant of American college and university campuses. There is what these authors call “a culture of alcohol” surrounding most major colleges and universities. In the communities where some colleges and universities are located, there are dozens or even hundreds of licensed alcohol dealers. Wechsler and Wuethrich say they found 185 licensed alcohol dealers within two miles of one campus (p.6). Would it surprise you that those dealers want to make money from their investments? So they sponsor drinking parties where alcohol flows freely. They have drinking contests to see who can drink others under the table, figuratively speaking. Because the competition is so fierce around some college campuses, the dealers offer two drinks for the price of one or they cut the price of beer to twenty-five cents a can. The beer companies cooperate with the dealers in the ridiculous practices. The breweries and the beer distributors want to make money, regardless of the cost in human lives.
Many universities take large sums of money from the breweries and from other producers of alcoholic beverages. They allow the manufacturers of alcohol to advertise during ballgames, in the college newspapers and in other places on campus. As a result, the students accept drinking as being perfectly legitimate. Some of the breweries sponsor events that appeal to women, such as breast cancer runs. The breweries and other producers of beverage alcohol do all within their power to sell as much alcohol as possible. So what if some students become addicted to alcohol and some die from alcohol poisoning? When the makers and distributors of alcoholic beverages ask their customers to drink responsibly, you can rest assured those companies could not survive if their customers followed that advice. The beer, whiskey, wine, and vodka manufacturers make money only when their customers drink enthusiastically and heavily. So-called “moderate drinking” would put all of the manufacturers out of business.
Do you remember
the tragedy that occurred at
My heart goes out to the parents who lose their sons and daughters because our colleges and universities are oceans of beverage alcohol. I can just imagine the hurt those parents experience. There is no excuse for this to happen in our great nation. If we did not know what alcohol does to the human brain or to other systems in our bodies, there might be some room for wondering about the damage alcohol does. But scientists have shown over and over what drinking does to the brain, to the heart, to the lungs and to the liver. We also know the heartaches drinking causes our families and society in general. If we do know, our ignorance is willful.
If you are about to send your son or daughter to college, should you not check on the drinking practices of that school? If there is a “culture of alcohol” surrounding the college or university, you might want to send your child to another college. Many colleges are offering dormitories that are alcohol free. Should you not know what challenges your child will be facing? Besides, some drunken bum may rape your daughter. Or she may be run over by a drunk.
If you are preparing to send your child to college, you should buy and read the book, Dying to Drink by Henry Wechsler and Bernice Wuethrich. It just might help you save your child’s life.
Then you should seriously consider these words from king Solomon. “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging; and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise” (Prov. 20:1).
The International Gospel Hour
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