1 Thes. 4:3-6
For this is the will of God, that you be sanctified: that you abstain and back away from sexual immorality; that each of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God and are ignorant of His will; and that no man shall transgress and defraud his brother because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we have told you before and solemnly warned you.
In my early teens, I developed a bad habit of stealing. Later, in my early twenties, the repercussions of my foolish youth came back to haunt me. A friend of mine had just gotten pretty good paying job at a call center for a department store. I was looking for a new job, so I asked if she would give me a recommendation. The next time I saw her, she laughed when I asked her why no one had called me for an interview. She looked me in the eyes and asked me if I could think of one reason why that department store would not want to hire me. In fact, she said I would never be able to work there. That is when I remembered that sixteen-year-old me got caught trying to steal a twelve-dollar cassette tape years earlier. At the time of my foolish act, I could not have imagined that one lapse in self-control could create such an issue for me down the line. It was a valuable life lesson we never stop learning.
There’s a reason why God asks us to practice self-control and makes this available for us to walk out. When we give in to temptation and do what we should not do, there are consequences. Sometimes we focus on the physical consequences. For example, if I got caught stealing today, I might have to spend time incarcerated. Perhaps there would be a civil suit that would cause me to incur additional monetary damages. We cannot, however, forget that the more critical thing is that our lack of self-control can bring spiritual consequences. These consequences not only apply to us but also to others. If I profess to follow Jesus Christ but live a life without self-control, I set a very bad example for any who are watching me for guidance on how to live this Christian life. Although unwittingly, I may be leading others astray as I myself allow sin to separate me from God.
The self-control that God imparts to us and requires from us is simply a fight against everything that would drive us to do other than the will of God. Our self-control really is a resolute steadfastness that causes us to take God into consideration with everything we say, do and think. This brand of self-control has the goal of keeping us in line with what God desires instead of what our flesh desires. In time, his desires then become hours. When that happens, it is easier to exercise control over ourselves because we actually desire to do what God wants. The act of submission is no longer such a stern fight. Self-control is really giving the control to God. Father, thank You that You give us the ability to steer ourselves in your direction, and teach us to pray for this to be developed in us daily.