Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Self-Control

Leslie Basham: Purity helps us make wise choices, even in a tempting situation, but purity and self-control walk hand in hand. Here's Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: If you have self-control, you'll find out there are a whole lot of situations you'll never end up in because you've made wise, restrained choices on the front end—with your tongue, with your eyes, with your spirit, with your physical touch.

Leslie Basham: It's Friday, June 9, and this is Revive our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Yesterday Nancy taught us about modesty from First Timothy. We saw that modesty and self-control complement one another. Now let's look closer at self-control as Nancy continues in a series called The Attractive Christian Woman.

Nancy: Somebody sent me an article a week or so ago from the New York Times called, "She's Got to Be a Macho Girl." Let me read the first part of that article.

John Bernard is 16, strapping, handsome, a hormonal hot pocket of a teenager. Guys like him were once every father's nightmare. No longer. "The girls are way more aggressive than the boys," John said during his 11 a.m. lunch period last Monday at his high school as a half dozen girls buzzed around him.

"They have more attitude. They have more power, and they overpower guys more. I mean, it's scary."

 This is a 16-year-old-boy. Then the writer goes on to say,

After a half century, during which generations of young women were advised to never even call a boy on the telephone, it's now teenage girls who not only do the calling but who often initiate romantic and even sexual activity.

Whether they are influenced by the trickle-down effects of feminism, which has taught girls to be assertive in all areas of life, or have internalized the images of sexually powerful women in popular culture, American girls are more daring than ever.

"The teenage boys I see often say the girls push them for sex and expect them to ask them for sex and will bring it up if the boys don't ask," said Tabi Upton, a counselor at the Johnson Mental Health Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Ever since Sadie Hawkins, teenage girls have chased and flirted with boys. But now they are initiating more intimate contacts, sometimes even sex in a more aggressive manner according to many counselors, psychologists, magazine editors, and teenagers.

Then he quotes a girl named Sarah, who's 17, a high school senior in Massachusetts who said that all her friends consider asking out a guy normal. She says,

"No one is a stay-at-home mom anymore. Women don't have to wear skirts. We are empowered, and we can do whatever we want."1

Now, that article, and it's much lengthier than that, actually a terrifying article. It talks about some of the sexual values and attitudes and behavior of women today. That's the culture in which we live, yet Christ calls us as Christian women to be counter-cultural.

You hear that word a lot on Revive our Hearts. That's because I believe God has called us to be different, to go against the flow, to go against the tide, to go against the current. It's not easy. It's hard to be a godly woman in a pagan culture. It's hard to be light in a dark world.

The ones who want to do it God's way will always be a remnant. The right way will always be the narrow way. But it's so important that we, as women, represent the heart and the spirit and the gospel of Christ by the way that our lives are different than the norm, different than the culture, whenever the culture is contrary to the Word of God.

We're studying this week one of the most counter-cultural passages in all of God's Word for us, as women. Let me ask you to turn, if you would, to 1 Timothy 2:9-10. We've talked about how the context of this passage is first in teaching men. In verse 8 it tells men how they're supposed to behave at church and how they're supposed to provide spiritual leadership for the Body of Christ. Then verses 9 and 10 tell women how to behave themselves in the family of God.

Paul says, "Women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel." That has to do with our attire, our appearance. It should be respectable, decent, well-ordered, well-arranged. Then he says it should be with a heart attitude of "modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works."

In those two little verses, the apostle was talking to us. The Holy Spirit, through Paul, was talking about our appearance, our attitudes, and our actions. Now, women who don't profess godliness have no capacity, no motivation to live this way; but those of us who have the Spirit of Christ within us, this is what we want deep in our hearts.

We may not always measure up to it. I can get discouraged by reading a passage like this, or I can be encouraged and say, "Lord, whatever You've called me to do and to be, I can't do it apart from You, but that's why You live in me, by the power of Your Holy Spirit to make me this kind of woman."

Let me tell you, if you try to do this on your own, you'll die in the legalistic effort, but if you let the Spirit of God do it. . . . Look at this word self-control. The fruit of the Spirit is self-control. As He controls us, He will produce this heart attitude in us. It's a word that means "moderation." Some of the translations say sobriety, and it means "soundness of mind." It means "mental sanity, self-control."

It's a picture of someone who's not extravagant, not outlandish, not extreme but who willingly, willfully chooses to restrain their sinful desires by the power of the Holy Spirit. They choose not to exhibit their pride through ostentatious clothing or extreme styles.

It speaks of a woman who exercises self-control over her sexual passions and exercises control over her demeanor and her dress and her attitudes and her way of dealing with men so that she doesn't excite inappropriately the passions of other men.

Now, it's one thing for you to excite the passions of your husband. That's appropriate. But to do it with other men, and we women do it in so many subtle ways. Flirting is a violation of this principle, this heart attitude of self-control. We see women today being so aggressive, throwing themselves on guys. What does it mean to be self-controlled? What does it mean to be careful how we compliment men, so as not to inappropriately express admiration for them?

I deal with this in ministry. I work with a lot of married men. God has blessed me with some wonderful, godly men around me in Revive Our Hearts. I so appreciate their hearts and their labors. I want to express a grateful spirit, but I always want to do it in a way that is appropriate, that is restrained. That way has to do with our speech, with our physical contact, with what we do with our bodies. It has to do with the way we use our eyes. That takes self-control.

Today's women don't know what self-control is, they're just out there, just talking and doing and acting in ways that are not controlled at all. It's a result of not having a sound mind, not having a disciplined or controlled mind, not having common sense, not having a spiritual radar, as one writer said, that tells a person what is good and proper.

Isn't that what so many women are missing today? No spiritual radar. I see the way that some women get into trouble with men. I'm talking about women in the church. I say, "Where was your spiritual sense? How did you get in that situation?"

Now, I know flesh is flesh and temptation is always there. But I tell you what, if you have self-control, you'll find there are a whole lot of situations you'll never end up in because you've made wise, restrained choices on the front end—with your tongue, with your eyes, with your spirit, with your physical touch. Let's ask ourselves some questions and let God evaluate our hearts.

  • Am I a self-controlled woman?
  • Are you a self-controlled woman?
  • Do you have sound thinking?
  • Are you moderate and temperate in your eating habits, your exercise habits?

Oh no. Now, you've started meddling. Well, I'm just meddling where the Holy Spirit meddles with me.

As I think about this quality, if I'm going to eat excessively, obsessively, in an out-of-control way, that's an evidence that I don't have this quality of self-control in my heart.

  • Is your tongue temperate?
  • Is your tongue controlled and restrained by the Spirit of God?
  • Are you one of those people that just blurts out whatever comes to your mind?

This is so important in your home because you're likely saying things in your home that you would never blurt out at church out of anger or frustration. As a mom, as a wife, as a teenage gal, you need self-control when you're dealing with your family members.

  • Are you self-controlled in your use of time?
  • Are you prone to emotional outbursts, to anger, to temper?
  • Do you have command and discipline over your body and your physical appetites: food, sexually, morally, alcohol, drugs?
  • Are there any habits that enslave you, habits that are not godly habits?
  • Are you willing and able to restrain yourself from unnecessary extremes?
    • In the way you spend money?
    • In the kinds of clothes you buy?
    • In your work habits and doing chores around your home?
  • Are you disciplined to do the job when it needs to be done?
  • Or are you like I am so many times, a perpetual procrastinator? 

When you find yourself up against the deadline do you throw everybody's life into a tizzy because you didn't have self-control over your schedule.

  • Are you restrained and appropriate in relationships with men? In your demeanor with men?

You say, "This sounds like we can't have any fun. You've just got to be rigid, disciplined. Who likes that word?"

Let me tell you, the greatest freedom in life comes when we're under the control of the Holy Spirit. That's when you can really enjoy life. That's when you can enjoy healthy and wholesome relationships in the Body of Christ.

It's the women who have no self-control who are the ones who end up with their lives in a million pieces, sitting in a therapist's office, calling us saying, "Humpty Dumpty has fallen off the wall, is there anything you can do to put him back together again?"

A heart of self-control is what will bring freedom and joy and peace in your life. It will also help you to adorn the gospel and to make it believable.

Leslie Basham: That's Nancy Leigh DeMoss helping us see that having self-control really brings freedom in our lives. If you'd like to learn more about modesty and self-control and what the Bible has to say about these things, I hope you’ll order a package we’ve put together called "The Attractive Christian Woman."

The package contains two booklets written by Nancy. One is called The Look, and it’s about choosing modest clothing. It also includes answers to commonly asked questions on this important topic. The other booklet will help you develop a modest attitude in all areas of life. It’s called Becoming A Woman of Discretion.

When you order "The Attractive Christian Woman Package," you’ll also get a copy of Nancy’s current series on CD. You can order for a suggested donation of $25 or more by visiting ReviveOurHearts.com.

Does it ever seem like immodesty is growing in our culture? All you have to do is take a look at your grocery checkout aisle for examples of modesty run amuck. On second thought, don't take a look. We want to spread the word about the beauty and peace that comes from modest attire, attitudes, and actions.

Would you consider helping us? We're able to be on the radio and the Web because of the gifts of our listeners. If you want to help this message to spread, you can donate online at ReviveOurHearts.com.

On tomorrow's broadcast Nancy will talk about how we need to look at more than price and color when we go shopping for clothing. We hope you can join us for Revive our Hearts.

Revive our Heart with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version.

1Alex Kuczynski, New York Times, November 3, 2002 .

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.