Bible Examples of Self-Control
There are numerous examples of men exhibiting heroic self-control in the Bible. Let’s consider three of these.
Joseph: He was sold by his envious brothers into slavery in Egypt. As a youth he was purchased by Pharaoh’s captain of the guard, Potiphar. Joseph served his master well and the entire house prospered (Genesis 39:5). After a while, Potiphar’s wife began to seduce Joseph. She wearied him incessantly with her invitations to commit adultery (39:7-10). His response was always the same -- No!
The free thinkers and free lovers of today would mock Joseph’s Godly morals. They claim, “Teenagers are going to have sex; nobody can stop this from happening.” Their view of things is that teens do not and cannot have mastery over their desires. Yet, Joseph a teen away from home, on his own, with a willing partner refused to sin against God, his master, his master’s wife and his own body (I Corinthians 6:18).
Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah: They were four youths that demonstrated incredible mastery over themselves (Daniel 1). These four teens were brought from Palestine to Babylon by king Nebuchadnezzar. His intent was to train them for service in the government. One aspect of their training involved their diet, which was provided from the king’s table. This food and drink was regarded as unclean by Jews because it had been offered to idols (Leviticus 11; cf. I Corinthians 8) The drink may have been rejected because it was intoxicating (Proverbs 23:31; Isaiah 5:11, 22).
Again, these views would be ridiculed by most men today. The disbelief that youth can possess self-control is popular, even among the most educated. For example, Richard Keeling M.D. said, “Teenagers are going to drink no matter what the legal age is” (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 07/15/05). However, here are four teenagers that did not and they proved themselves the better for it (Daniel 1:12-16).
The greatest example of self-control found is that of our Lord Jesus. The Holy Spirit led Him into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. The test began after He had fasted for forty days and nights. Having had no food and no water He was hungry (Matthew 4: 2). In this time of weakness, Satan came and tempted Him to turn stones into bread. But, our Lord refused because “man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Luke 4:4).
It was only natural that He should be hungry; there was no sin in hunger. Yet, He understood that He must rely upon God for His needs to be supplied, and, so, He disciplined Himself. God had brought Him into the wilderness and God would provide (Psalm 78:19).
How foolish this seems to men today. The psychiatrist Theodore Rubin claims we are not human if we exhibit mastery, saying, “I must learn to love the fool in me…it alone protects me against that utterly self-controlled, masterful tyrant whom I also harbor and who would rob me of human aliveness, humility and dignity but for my fool” (Love Me, Love My Fool, p. 76). Well, our Lord Jesus was ever as much a man as lived (Hebrews 2:17–18; 4:15) and He gained the mastery over the flesh (Romans 8:3).