Holiness Requires Personal Self-Control
We live in a soft, lax age which does not like discipline. But if we would live holy lives for the Lord Jesus Christ, we must learn to discipline ourselves. Such discipline will include a resistance of temptation to forbidden indulgence and also a careful control of the legitimate powers of body and mind. This is for several reasons. First, legitimate desires and appetites, when allowed too much indulgence, become the avenue of temptation to sin.
Beside this, the Christian must make sure that his life is dominated by the spiritual, not by the material or the physical. Unless this is true, he becomes earth-minded and soon sinks to the level of the flesh and the world. A third reason is that all the desires, impulses, and appetites of mind and body must be kept within due bounds lest they become so engrossing or powerful as to become our masters. And above all, desire must not become fixed upon a forbidden object.
This discipline must include the appetites, the desires, the thoughts, and the imagination. To be safe from Satan’s snares, there are some things one cannot look at, some pictures one will not want in his room, some magazines and books one will not read. In many other ways one will keep the legitimate powers of body and mind under control, so that they will not become his masters nor become fixed upon wrong objects.
He will certainly never feel that he has the right to do a thing or allow an indulgence just because he “feels like it.” He will have higher purposes and controlling principles to which his life is disciplined.
And finally we name a great scriptural principle upon which all the foregoing warnings are founded. The Christian is to glorify God in his body. The following scriptures bear this out, the first one making the direct statement as given above, the others stating the same truth in other ways.
One speaks of the body as a sacrifice to be yielded to God; one urges the holy use of the members of the body; and one urges that every act performed by the body be done in the name of Christ.
Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own.
For ye are bought with a price:
therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Cor. 6:19, 20).
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Rom. 12:1).
“As ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity:
even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness” (Rom. 6:19).
“And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Col. 3:17).
As Christians we are redeemed creatures. As such we should be vigilant to allow nothing to drag us back under the yoke of sin, but in all ways and always to glorify Christ in our lives.
Leslie Wilcox (1907–1991) was a well-known holiness movement theologian, writer, and church administrator. He served for many years on the faculty at God’s Bible School & College. This edited extract is taken from Beacons for Youth (Revivalist Press,1967).
Dr. Leslie Wilcox (1907–1991) was a well-known scholar and writer who served with distinction for many years at God’s Bible School & College.