And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.
One of the greatest illustrations of self-control in the Scriptures is from the life of Joseph, the stepfather of Jesus. Joseph married his wife Mary, but he chose not to enjoy the joys of marriage until after she brought forth her firstborn son, Jesus. This act of self-control was critical to our salvation. The Scriptures prophesied that Jesus would be born of a virgin, and had Joseph enjoyed the joys of marriage, which he had a right to enjoy because he was married, Jesus would not have been born of a virgin. It does not matter if everyone knew that the child was not Joseph’s; it was the fact that Jesus had to be born of a virgin if the Scriptures were to be fulfilled. Joseph’s ability to practice self-control absolutely affected the eternity of all people.
We live in days when people do what they feel like doing. This is one of the reasons that we have so many abominable lifestyles that are prevalent in our day. If people learned self-control, they would never practice the sodomite, adulterous, and fornicating lifestyles. Nobody would ever do wrong if they practiced self-control. Every sin is committed when a person loses control of themselves and allows their flesh to dictate what to do. You will live a holier life if you develop self-control. Let me share four thoughts about how essential self-control is to your life and future and to the lives of those you influence.
First, self-control is a choice to control yourself. I hear people say that they just can't control themselves, which is a lie. Anybody can control themselves if they choose. For instance, you can always say “no” to doing the wrong thing or “no” to eating something you should not eat when you are on a diet. Self-control is telling yourself “no” when you should not do something and pushing yourself to do something when you don't feel like doing it. Self-control is going against the desires of the flesh; if you don't control your flesh, your flesh will control you to your detriment.
Second, self-control is telling yourself “no” for God’s greater good when you have a right to tell yourself “yes.” Joseph had every right to enjoy his wife, but for the greater good of the eternity of all souls, he had to tell himself “no.” There are times when what you want to do is not wrong, but for God’s greater good, you must tell yourself “no.” For instance, I love to play golf, but I rarely play because I see the need for the ministry is much greater than taking time to enjoy something for myself. If you are unwilling to sacrifice your rightful pleasures for God’s sake, you will likely have problems practicing self-control.
Third, self-control always affects more than you. Joseph did not realize how much his self-control impacted others, but one day when we get to Heaven, every soul in Heaven will be there because one man practiced self-control. Self-control always affects more than you. There are people you lead and influence that need you to practice self-control so that they will either get saved, or they will not live a life of sin.
Fourth, the ability to practice self-control does determine how much God can use you. If God can't trust you to control yourself in the small areas, He is not going to allow you to have influence in greater areas. The more self-control you practice, the more God will use you for His purpose because He knows He can trust you.