Freedom From Carnal Anger

Freedom From Carnal Anger

Chapter Eleven

Freedom From Carnal Anger
Destructiveness Of Carnal Anger 79 Power Of a Righteous Indignation 82
Character Of Righteous Anger 80 Discussion Questions 83
Psychological Understanding Of Anger 81    

Ephesians 4:26, Ephesians 4:31; Luke 9:51-56

Destructiveness Of Carnal Anger

University studies show that a man will get angry, on the average, about 6 times a week, and a woman about three times a week under the same conditions. Men are more likely to get angry at inanimate objects, whereas women get angry at other people because of a real or imagined slight.

There is a right kind of anger and there is a wrong kind of anger. Most anger is carnal and motivated by basically selfish considerations. However, our two texts in today's Bible reading (Ephesians 4:26, Ephesians 4:31) show the possibility of exercising a righteous anger, but even this anger must be carefully controlled.

Declared the distinguished minister, Clarence E. MaCartney, "Anger is one of the most common sins, yet one of the most dangerous and injurious to the peace and well-being of man. More than any other sins, it blasts the flower of friendship, turns men out of Eden, destroys peace and concord in the home, incites to crime am violence, and turns love am affection into hatred."

It has been shown by some scientists that anger can cause ulcers, arthritis, indigestion, partial blindness, and a variety of other physical problems.

The Bible speaks of at least two kinds of anger. There is the lighting-quick, agitated outburst of temper ('Thumos'), what we might call 'flying off the handle'. There is also the more subtle, abiding, revengeful type of anger that results in nursing grudges ('Orge'). It is more lasting and devasting in nature. Anger is dangerous because it can motivate one to dangerous action. Most anger is born out of deep insecurity and is evidence of an unsurrendered ego.

The answer to controlling anger is found in surrendering the anger to the Spirit's control, "Many of the forces which consume men – like anger – must themselves be consumed by something more powerful. Only the purifying fire of the Holy Spirit is capable of devouring the driving forces that devour us and waste our lives. There is only one answer – turn your anger and your life over to Christ." (Robert Andrews: quote from a sermon)

James and John were called sons of thunder in their early lives, for they apparently were often filled with anger. Even as followers of Christ they found themselves wanting God to exercise His divine powers to destroy God-rejecters (Luke 9:51-56). But Jesus cleansed and rechanneled their anger and the day came when they were love-filled disciples. John is now known, not as a 'son of thunder', but as the 'Beloved Disciple'!

"Father, many times I have felt the turmoil of inner anger, and have seen that anger either well up into outrage or harden into a bitter grudge. a God, cleanse me from all carnal anger. Re-channel my anger into constructive channels of expression, and may my anger be motivated by unselfish considerations and focused on righteous causes. Through the cleansing power of Christ. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: My anger can be a powerful force for either good or evil causes. I will allow the Holy Spirit to use my anger for His holy cause!

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Mark 2:14-16

Character Of Righteous Anger

"Our capacity to love the good, determines our capacity to hate the evil. But note that it is our virtue that is to be lashed into a rage – rot our pride, our hurt egoism, our fears. There is all the difference in the world between the two: one is harnessed to higher ends, hence constructive; the other is harnessed to the ends of a wounded self, and hence destructive. The one is a righteous anger, and the other is unrighteous." (Abundant Living; E.S. Jones: pg. 50)

Righteous anger is motivated by unselfish considerations. "Jesus Christ never spoke one angry word when he was personally mistreated – not even at Calvary, when he was unjustly put to an excruciating death as a common criminal. His indignation was aroused only over wrong done to others, particularly the weak and helpless." (How To Be Good – And Mad: Christianity Today: Muly 19, 1968: pg. 4)

Righteous anger is properly focused and directed. Righteous anger "is directed not against persons, wrong though they be, but against wrong deeds, things, institutions, am situations." (Ibid)

Righteous anger seeks positive and constructive action to end the wrong that occasioned the anger.

"We do not see the vital point, 
That 'tis the eighth most deadly sin, 
To wail, 'The world is out of joint', 
And not attempt to put it in." (Ibid)

As Christians we are "duty bound, not merely to protest against whatever evils prevent human beings from reaching their full God-intended stature, but to do all in our power to end such evils… It is always characteristic of righteous anger that it not only protests but also proposes, that it not only raises its voice to object but also raises its hand to remedy." (Ibid)

Let's not forget that Jesus was angry with a holy indignation on occasion (Mark 3:1-6: John 2:14-16). The apostle Paul was angry on one occasion with the apostle Peter because the latter betrayed the basic principle of 'salvation by faith', curl attempted to bind Gentile converts with Jewish law (Galatians 2:11-16).

When Abraham Lincoln, as a young man, saw "the slave market at New Orleans for the first time, he is reported to have said, 'Let's get out of this, boys. If I ever get any chance to hit this thing, I'll hit it hard.'" (Ibid)

Aristotle once said, "Anyone can become angry: it is easy. But to be angry with the right person to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way – that is not easy!"

"Father, help me not to sit back, passively observing wrong practices around me, inwardly seething with anger because of them, but actively doing nothing to rid society of evil institutions. Stimulate a holy anger within me, and harness that anger to high and holy causes. For the sake of Christ's kingdom. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: By God's grace, I will not only raise my voice to object to evil, but will raise my hand to help eliminate evil!

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John 2:14-16

Psychological Understanding Of Anger

All human beings experience anger, for it is a basic emotion with which we are born.

Perverted anger is stored in what can be called the 'slush fund' of our subconscious mind. I once heard a psychiatrist outline the following as inadequate ways of dealing with anger: (1) Putting it down – saying anger is really not there. (2) Putting it off – delayed response in dealing with anger. (3) Putting it on – 'Scapegoating' or using someone else to vent one's anger upon. (4) Diluting it – feeling anger but diluting it to make it less intense. (5) Freezing it – removing one's self from what he feels, attempting to freeze his feelings.

Anger is a basic emotion which must be dealt with, rather than denied. If one can't feel anger, then one cannot feel love intensely. One must feel all his emotions or none of them. To negate anger is to negate love.

It is true that anger varies in degrees of responses and in kinds. Anger many times is expressed towards people whom one considers important in his life.

There is what one might call 'cold anger' and 'warm anger'. Cold anger is sinful and ungodly and very hurtful, for it cares nothing for the person, and undermines and destroys relationships. Cold anger can be unexpressed and thus turned inwardly, resulting in bitterness and malice.

'Warm anger' is heal thy and is the kind of anger God Himself expresses. Little time elapses between the stimulus (anger) and the expression (proper treatment with the subject). There is no vindictiveness, and there is a willingness to listen to the other person's responses and viewpoints. In this anger there is a warm emotional exchange in an atmosphere of self-control. There is no exchange of malicious words and there is no coercion. There is no grudge-carrying. This anger is short-lived, and it results in a cleansing effect in loving relationships. It is followed by forgetting and forgiving, and results in increased confidence between the parties involved. Warm anger builds relationships and is an expression of love. It is reaction against the bad things in a loved one, and it works for the removal of that which is hindering the fuller development of the loved one.

Jesus' anger was always a 'warm anger'; He was always seeking to bring conviction out of complacency; to bring insight out of spiritual blindness; to restore righteousness where evil was rampant!

"Heavenly Father, deliver me from oversensitivity and touchiness which oftentimes become the bridgehead for sin – the sin of carnal anger. Let me be so enraptured by your love that I will be oblivious to the hurts and insults others inflict upon me. Unleash my anger in defense of the weak and oppressed, rot in defense of my own rights. In Jesus' name."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: He who is able to control his anger is stronger than he who can control an entire city!

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Matthew 23:1-39

Power Of a Righteous Indignation

Although it must be admitted that most of our anger is carnal and self-centered, there is a great need for the expression of Spirit- controlled anger. Writes A.. Powell Davies: "That is one of the truly serious things that has happened to the multitude of so-called ordinary people, They have forgotten how to be indignant. This is rot because they are overflowing with human kindness, but because they are morally soft and compliant. When they see evil and injustice, they are pained but not revolted. They mutter and mumble, they never cry out. They commit the sin of rot being angry. Yet their anger is the one thing above all others that would make them count. If they cannot lead crusades, or initiate reforms, they can at least create the conditions in which crusades can be effectual and reforms successful. The wrath of the multitude could bring back decency and integrity into public life; it could frighten the corrupt demagogue into silence and blast the rumormonger into oblivion. It could give honest; leaders a chance to win." (Christianity Today; July 19, 1968; How To Be Good – And Mad; pg. 4)

Should we not, as believers, be angry against a situation that allows a liquor traffic which is taking thousands of lives and destroying thousands of homes?

Should we not, as believers, be angry because of millions of unborn babies being aborted, made possible because of the selfish agreements made between consenting women and consenting doctors – all in the name of 'personal rights'?

Should not Christians be angry because of violence and sexual exploitation on television?

Do not Christians have a right to be angry because of the widespread disregard for the Lord's Day, with so many today making Sunday a holiday instead of a holy day?

Jesus was both grieved and angry because of the hardness of men's hearts. Should rot Christians be angry for the same reasons?

Frederick Robertson was one of the greatest preachers of the 19th century. His biographer writes of him: "The indignation with which he heard of a base act was so intense that it rendered him sleepless. His wrath was terrible, and it did rot evaporate in words. But it was Christ- like indignation. With those who were weak, crushed with remorse, fallen, his compassion, long-suffering and tenderness were as beautiful as they were unfailing. But falsehood, hypocrisy, the sin of the strong against the weak, stirred him to the very depths of his being." (Ibid)

"Father, don't let me be complacent in a world where evil abounds. Help me to put in motion those movements which will result in healing society's wounds. Help me to exercise terrible anger against sin but a tender compassion towards sinners. In Jesus' name. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: My vision of spiritual degradation will cause my heart to break with a tender compassion for sinners and my soul to kindle with a holy wrath against sin!

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Discussion Questions On 'Freedom From Carnal Anger'

  1. How do you distinguish between carnal anger and righteous anger?

  2. What are some of the harmful effects of carnal anger, both socially and physically?

  3. Describe and define the two kinds of anger of which the Bible speaks.

  4. Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: "Most anger is born out of deep insecurity and is evidence of an unsurrendered ego."

  5. What is one of the primary answers to controlling anger in one's life?

  6. Will God destroy anger or simply re-channel and cleanse anger in the life of the believer when the Holy Spirit does His sanctifying work in the life of the believer?

  7. List at least three characteristics of righteous anger.

  8. Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: "It is always characteristic of righteous anger that it not only protests but also proposes, that it not only raises its voice to object but also raises its hand to remedy."

  9. Give examples from the life of Christ when Christ manifested anger, and describe the distinguishing characteristics of his anger that made it righteous rather than carnal.

  10. Do you agree with Aristotle's statement: "Anyone can become angry; that is easy. But to be. angry with the right person to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way – that is not easy!"

  11. Name and describe five inadequate ways, from a psychological viewpoint, to deal with anger.

  12. Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: "Anger is a basic emotion which must be deal t with, rather than denied. If one can't feel anger, then one cannot feel love intensely."

  13. What is the difference between 'cold anger' and 'warm anger' and describe the characteristics of both.

  14. Why is oversensitivity oftentimes the bridgehead for sin – the sin of carnal anger?

  15. What are some of the moral and social situations in our present world that ought to be the occasion for inciting righteous indignation in the hearts of sincere Christians?

  16. Do you agree with the following statement: "Spiritual maturity can largely be measured by the degree that one's heart is able to break with a tender compassion for sinners while at the same time his soul is able to be kindled with a holy wrath against sin!"

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Cultivating the Fruit of Gentleness and Self-Control

Cultivating The Fruit Of Gentleness and Self-Control

Chapter Thirteen

Cultivating The Fruit Of Gentleness and Self-Control
The 'Golden Mean' In Christian Gentleness 156 Mastery Over Lust 162
Misconceptions Regarding Gentleness 157 Mastery Over Money 163
Can a Gentle Man Be Angry? 158 Mastery Over Self 164
Teachable In All Good Things 159 Discussion Questions: 165
Christ-Control Leads To Self-Control 160 Discussion Questions: (Continued) 166
Secret Thoughts Give Birth To Outward Actions! 161 Discussion Questions: (Continued) 167

Matthew 5:43-44, Acts 7:59-60, Luke 6:29

The 'Golden Mean' In Christian Gentleness

"Prautes, gentleness, is an interesting word. Aristotle defined it as the correct mean between being too angry and being never angry at all. It is the quality of the man whose anger is so controlled that he is always angry at the right time and never at the wrong time. It describes the man who is never angry at any personal wrong he may receive, but who is capable of righteous anger when he sees others wronged." (Daily Study Bible, Corinthians, p. 238; Barclay)

Jesus never became angry when he was personally insulted or injured. He was a perfectly God-controlled man. "Anger you will find in Christ, but not bad temper. .He is entirely free of anger when most strong men would be choked with rage… Christ bore with sublime serenity the indignities and injustices heaped upon himself … Hate at its most venomous nails him to two pieces of wood and provokes him to nothing but prayers for his murderers' pardon. Nothing of anger, only prayer and love. Nothing that ever happened in this universe was more unrighteous than the Cross. But they did not crucify an angry man." (The Secret of Radiant Life, p. 121; Sangster)

Only the true, Spirit-controlled, love-filled man can exercise out restraint and remain free from inner resentments! John Wesley was a man of strong character who knew how to whip his will into a holy anger against social evils, but Wesley was a Spirit-controlled man. He knew when to be angry and when not to be angry. His anger was leashed by God's Spirit. As a true gentle man, he mastered his spirit, because he submitted to God's control. He did not retaliate during times of physical persecution or mental abuse. John Wesley writes that at Wednesbury the mob came "pouring down like a flood". He then writes, "To attempt speaking was vain; for the noise on every side was like the roaring of the sea. So they dragged me along till we came to the town; when, seeing the door of a large house open, I attempted to go in; but a man, catching me by the hair, pulled me back into the middle of the crowd. They made no more stop till they had carried me through the main street, from one end of the town to the other."

The man of gentleness knows when to be angry and when not to be angry. John Wesley remained loving amidst the unlovely treatment he received. The man of gentleness returns good for evil. Said Jesus, "If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic." (Luke 6:29, NIV)

"Father, make me a Spirit-controlled person, one who is gentle, keeping his anger under control. I confess that my natural reaction to mistreatment is retaliation. I surrender myself and my passions and instincts to your control, asking you to cleanse me from carnal anger and to rechannel all my anger to constructive purposes. In Jesus' name. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: My God-created emotion of anger must be cleansed and controlled by the Spirit for redemptive ends today!

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Matthew 11:25-30, Matthew 5:5

Misconceptions Regarding Gentleness

The worldly-minded man thinks that Jesus' Beatitude 'Blessed are the meek' is ridiculous. The man of the world "believes in the survival of the fittest. He believes the most fit to survive in a world like ours is the aggressive, heavy-handed, hard-fisted, self-assertive man". (Sermon On The Mount, p. 36; Clovis Chappell) "The world thinks in terms of strength and power of ability, self-assurance and aggressiveness. That is the world's idea of conquest and possession. The more you assert yourself and express yourself, the more you organize and manifest your powers and ability, the more likely you are to succeed and get on." (Studies in the Sermon On The Mount, p. 63; Lloyd-Jones)

So many "do not want to be meek. We prefer to be like the little boy whose mother kept calling him, 'my little lamb'. Finally, he said, 'Mother, I don't want to be your little lamb, I want to be your little tiger'." (God's Psychiatry, p. 137; Charles Allen)

We must eliminate all misconceptions from our thinking regarding the meaning of meekness or gentleness. Gentleness or meekness is not a natural disposition that some are born with and others are not born with. Those who are endowed with a good-natured disposition from birth are not meek or gentle in the Biblical sense of the term.

Gentleness is not a quality that only some Christians are able to possess and express. All believers, regardless of natural temperament, are to express this God-given quality. Meekness cannot be humanly achieved, independent of divine enablement. Moses had a very fiery disposition in his earlier life, but God made him meek. "Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth." (Numbers 12:3)

Gentleness or meekness is far removed from mere niceness. Niceness is a mere human quality and has nothing to do with meekness. One can be meek and yet be firm in conviction and assertive in character. There are some people who never want to disagree with anyone or about anything. They are the kind of people who stand firm for nothing and fall for anything. Meekness is not spinelessness or excessive tolerance.

Meekness is not indolence, laziness, or apathy. Those who are meek are "not those who grieve at nothing, because they know nothing; who are discomposed at the evils that occur, because they discern not evil from good. Not those who are sheltered from the shocks of life by a stupid insensibility." (Wesley's Sermons, vol. 1, p. 188)

"Father, forgive me for thinking that meekness is weakness, that gentleness is cowardice. Help me ever to remember that might is not right, but that the gentle spirit of Christ likeness is always right! I confess my hypocritical role-playing. I have often appeared peaceful on the outside while suppressing my rage of anger on the inside. Purify my inward spirit that my outward behavior may manifest a genuine gentleness. In Jesus' name. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: The strength of gentleness is stronger than the might of violence!

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1 Thessalonians 2:7-16

Can a Gentle Man Be Angry?

Jesus never became angry when he was personally insulted or injured. But Jesus became very angry when injuries and injustices were done to others! When self-righteous, hypocritical leaders reacted to Jesus' healing of a man with a shriveled hand on the Sabbath Day, "Jesus looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man: 'Stretch out your hand'. He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus." (Mark 3:5-6, NIV)

When the money changers made God's Temple a center for dishonesty in business transactions, resulting in exploitation of the poor and weak, Jesus' anger blazed within him! Jesus' holy love and just anger drove the money changers from the Temple.

The gentle or meek man never exercises excessive anger or excessive anger lessness. In my early understanding of the Spirit-controlled life, I thought that a mark of the spiritual man was an absence of all anger. My deeper understanding of the Scriptures revealed to me that anger is a basic, God-created emotion which must not be denied or suppressed or carnally expressed, but which must be cleansed, controlled, and rechanneled towards God-honoring purposes. Angry, but not because of personal injuries. Angry not at sinners, but angry at sinful practices. "Be angry, but do not sin. Do not let the sin go down on your anger." (Ephesians 4:26)

There is a righteous anger and there is a carnal anger. "We shall call anger 'righteous indignation' when pure concern for the suffering of others leads a man to bold and costly action, and we shall call it something else (however natural it may be!) when their blazing indignation has been provoked by some setback to themselves." (The Secret of Radiant Life, p. 121; Sangster)

The Greek word 'praus' which is translated meek or gentle is the "regular word for an animal which has been domesticated, which has been trained to obey the word of command, which has learned to answer to the reins. It is the word for an animal which has learned to accept control." (Daily Study Bible, Matthew, vol. I, p. 91; Barclay)

The gentle man is the man who has learned self-control in every instinct, every impulse, and every passion because he has learned to submit to God's control! But, as we shall see, the man of gentleness has learned not only to submit to God's control, but he has also learned to submit to man's wise instructions. He is both God-controlled and teachable. He gives place to Christ's lordship and to his fellow Christian's instructions.

"Father, control my spirit in its expression of anger. Give me moral discernment to know those evil actions of sinful men against others which should incite my anger to defend the defenseless, and those vindictive actions of sinful men against me which should incite my compassion to return good for evil. In Jesus' name. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: The Holy Spirit will make me calm in His calmness in the face of unjust evil against me, and angry in His anger in the face of unjust evil against others.

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2 Timothy 2:14-19

Teachable In All Good Things

The Spirit-controlled man is a gentle man. A gentle man is submissive to God, and also teachable in all good things.

The man of meekness or gentleness is the man who constantly is seeking to learn. He has an inquiring mind. As a student of life, he is always asking questions. He has learned to discern truth and to reject error. He has an habitual vision of God's greatness, and with this vision of the Holy One, he is motivated to seek truth and to evaluate all ideas against the standard of revealed truth.

Julia Arnold Shelhammer was long known as a humble and loving servant of God. She lived to be well over one hundred years. On her 100th birthday, she celebrated her birthday by preaching at Asbury Theological Seminary! Near the end of her talk she said, "I don't know how much longer I'm going to live but I want every moment to be crowded with successful efforts to win souls for Christ." At 100 years old, she was still on the growing edge of life! Still growing! Still learning! Still sharing! Humble and teachable!

What are the marks of a truly educated man? The truly educated man is the man of gentleness and meekness. That is, he is humble enough to learn! James 1:21 describes the teachable person as one who "in gentleness receives the inborn word which is able to save your souls." (Barclay's translation) "The teachable spirit is docile and tractable, and therefore humble enough to learn. The teachable spirit is without resentment and without anger, and is, therefore, able to face the truth, even when the truth hurts and condemns. The teachable spirit is not blinded by his own evermastering prejudices, but is clear-eyed to the truth. The teachable spirit is not seduced by laziness, but is so self-controlled that it can willingly and faithfully accept the discipline of learning. Prautes describes the perfect conquest and control of everything in a man's nature which would be a hindrance to his seeing, learning, and obeying the truth." (Daily Study Bible, James, p. 68; Barclay)

E. Stanley Jones was not a man who was highly educated formally, and yet, under the control of the Holy Spirit, he became the missionary and teacher to the highly educated persons in India and around the world. He wrote nearly 30 books in his lifetime, and was constantly learning. He gives an illustration of a mountain climber who died while climbing a mountain during a snow blizzard. To mark the place where the mountain climber died, a small marker was placed which said, "He died climbing". Stanley Jones noted that he wanted to die 'climbing'–climbing for new knowledge and understanding and wisdom from God!

"Father, give me courage to face newly revealed truth, humility to receive it into my thinking, and strength to apply it in my daily relationships. Give me an open mind, a teachable spirit, and a determined will to do your will. Help me to walk in the light as you are in the light! Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I will allow the Holy Spirit to take away the scales of prejudice from my spiritual eyes in order that I may clearly see reality!

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Romans 8:1-17

Christ-Conrtol Leads To Self-Control

Notes E. Stanley Jones, "The Christian Way produces through Christ- control the self-controlled man. But note that self-control is not so much a means as an end. You do not gain Christ through self-control; you gain self- control through Christ. . If you begin with self-control, then you are the center, you are controlling yourself. And you will be anxious lest yourself slip out from beneath your control. But if you begin, as Paul does, with love, then the spring of action is love for a Person, someone outside yourself. You are released from yourself and from self-preoccupation … When you begin with love, you end in self-control. . The emphasis of the New Testament is Christ-control through love for Christ. 'Love Christ and do as you like', for you'll like what He likes." (Growing Spiritually, p. 197)

The word 'self-control' in the Greek language speaks of self-restraint, self-discipline, purity and chastity. It is the word that speaks of victory over evil desire. "It describes that strength of soul by which a man takes a hold of himself, so that he can restrain himself from every evil desire." (Flesh and Spirit, p. 123; William Barclay) A man who is self-controlled is a man "who prevents desire from being the dictator of his actions and his life." (Ibid, p. 126) The self-controlled man may have "strong desires which seek to lure and force him from the way of reason, but he has them under control". (Ibid, p. 127)

Mastery over internal instincts and mastery over external allurements is greatly needed in our society. We are living in an hedonistic age. A hedonist is one who lives by his passions and who equates happiness with pleasure. The hedonist makes no attempt to curb the desires of his flesh.

Paul warned the early Christians against pleasure-obsessed people. "For there are many, of whom I have told you before and tell you again now, even with tears, whose lives make them the enemies of the cross of Christ. These men are heading for utter destruction–their god is their own appetite, they glory in their shame, and this world is the limit of their horizon." (Philippians 3:18-19, Phillips)

Too many today live by their appetites and desires–totally undisciplined, unrestrained, unchaste. "These men mock and curse at anything they do not understand, and, like animals, they do whatever they feel like, thereby ruining their souls." (Jude 10, Living Bible)

God's call is the call to self-control, resulting from Christ-control!

"Heavenly Father, you have created me with strong desires. Help me to control these desires, channeling them for creative and redemptive purposes. Master, I want you to master my desires and bring them into conformity to the will and ways of Christ!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: A mastered man is a masterful man–if his Master is Christ!

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Matthew 5:27-30, Ephesians 4:17-24

Secret Thoughts Give Birth To Outward Actions!

What is the secret of self-control in one's life? Cultivating the mind of Christ! Learning to think Christ's thoughts! Submitting to Christ's lordship!

Remember, whatever gets your attention, gets you! "Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny!" It all starts with the way a person thinks!

As a man thinks, so is he! You are the product of your thoughts! What you imagine, you will become! "What you hold in the mind passes automatically into act, if you hold it there along enough … Your secret meditations become you, for good or ill." (Growing Spiritually, p. 201; Stanley Jones)

A moral landslide is preceded by a mental landslide. What you focus your thoughts upon, you eventually become! "If therefore you dally with sex thoughts and imaginations, that dallying will become a doing. And that doing will become you." (Ibid, p. 201)

"Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely, and dwell on the fine, good things in others. Think about all you can praise God for and be glad about." (Philippians 4:8, Living Bible) Meditate on God's laws day and night! If you do, you will be like a tree that is planted by the rivers of water which bringeth forth its fruit in its season. Its leaves also shall not wither and die! (See Psalms 1.) Why do people wither and die morally? Because they wither and die mentally! Ignoble thoughts lead to ignoble lives. Lustful thinking leads to lustful living! Dr. George A. Buttrick says, "We dramatize temptation in our secret thought, thus gathering gasoline for the devil's spark." Should we then wonder why we blow up?

When lust hath conceived it eventually bringeth forth death! (James 1:15) How is lust conceived? By failing to control the thought life! You cannot help it if birds fly above your head, but you are responsible if you allow birds to make nests in your hair! You cannot help it if Satan suggests evil thoughts to you, but you are responsible if you entertain evil thoughts, resulting in developing patterns of evil thinking! You are not responsible for having temptations, but you are responsible for yielding to temptations. You may not be responsible for the first look, but you. are responsible for the second look! If you can go around temptation, you cannot expect God to take you through temptation. If you put yourself in the very trap of temptation, don't be surprised if you are trapped in sin!

"Father, I acknowledge that I cannot 'play with fire' and not expect to be burned. I cannot engage in lustful thinking and not expect to become lustful in action. Help me to guard my affections, for my affections guide my life. Make me pure in thy purity, and holy in thy holiness. In the holy name of Jesus. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I will focus my attention on the Holy One in order that I might become a man of holiness!

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Proverbs 4:23-27, Proverbs 7:24-27, 1 Corinthians 6:12-20

Mastery Over Lust

Control your thoughts if you wan t a pure mind. Control your glances, lest you begin to gaze at sin. Learn to separate yourself from sinful places and things (see 2 Corinthians 6:17).

How do you win the sex battle in a world that is saturated with licentiousness? The victory is won in the mind. The secret to sex-control is mind-control, and the secret of mind-control is focusing one's mind on Christ! We are to "take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." (2 Corinthians 10:5, NIV) We are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. (See Romans 12:1)

Do you make your thoughts obedient to Christ? If you struggle with evil or lustful thoughts, don't try to fight these thoughts! To fight such thoughts is to give more attention to these thoughts. Rather than fighting evil thoughts, replace evil thoughts with pure thoughts! Fill your mind with the Scriptures! (Remember, an idle mind is the devil's workshop!) Fill your eyes with the beauty of nature! Fill your time with love projects! Seek and find good companions! (Remember "evil company corrupts good manners".) Turn your back on evil companions!

Wrote Paul to young Timothy, "Flee youthful lusts". Keep away from lustful thoughts! Run from evil companions! "Run from anything that gives you the evil thoughts that young men often have, but stay close to anything that makes you want to do right." (2 Timothy 2:22, Living Bible)

Christian young people (and adults, for that matter) have no business watching TV programs or movies which lead to lustful thinking! Christian young people have no business flirting with sin! Discipline of desires is the price of moral freedom!

Says William Graham Cole in one of his books, "Stolen goods can be returned, or compensated for, lies can be retracted and corrected, covetousness can be overcome. Even idolatry can be undone and forgiven. But the sex act once committed with another person cannot be undone. The inter- personal relationship has undergone a radical change, and the couple concerned can never return to where they were before. Something indelible has stamped them both." (See 1 Corinthians 6:18-20)

Mastery over lust–what is the secret? "You can expel one desire only by a higher desire. Let the love of Christ be the fire that eats up these lesser loves. All the prohibitions against the wrong use of the sex urge will not save you unless the love of Christ be at the center–then the sex urge becomes marginal and right." (Abundant Living, p. 133; Jones)

"Father, let me never despise the sex urge, for this powerful creative urge is your beautiful gift to me. My beautiful Creator, I ask you to master this urge within me, lest it end up mastering me. Help me never to abuse this sacred gift but to use if for your glory and for my good. In Jesus' precious name. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I will enjoy sex intensely because I will use it at the right time, at the right place, with the right person–all in the context of my marriage.

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Luke 12:13-21, 1 Timothy 6:3-10

Mastery Over Money

Surrendering to the control of Christ, you find freedom in self-control. Accepting Christ's inner restraints, you enjoy outer freedom–glorious freedom! Self-control relates not only to mastery over lust but also mastery over money.

Self-control in the use of money is one of the greatest needs in America today! Millions of dollars are spent in advertising which has one primary purpose–to motivate more people to buy more things.

The use of money determines the value of money. The Rich Man in the Gospel parable was not condemned because he had much money, but because he loved money and worshipped what money can buy. This parable teaches the folly of trusting in riches. He was called a fool because he allowed money to master him, instead of exercising mastery over his money. He did not exercise self-control in matters of his money, because he was not a God-controlled man in matters of his soul.

The Bible calls us to a simple life-style. We must pattern our lives after the King, rather than try to live like a king! "We are right to think of the kingdom of God coming on earth, as well as in heaven, but we have been wrong to associate the kingdom of God with material prosperity. Unlimited spiritual development is possible because God is infinite and we live in a vast, spiritual world. But unlimited economic expansion and exploitation in a finite, material world is finally impossible and can lead only to a giant blowout. Simple living means learning to conserve and preserve–which means living, eating, traveling as good and careful stewards of the good earth." (Light and Life Magazine, October 1979, p. 40)

In a world of shrinking resources and growing hunger, Christians must learn to discipline their acquisitive urges. The more godlike one is, the more generous he is. Someone said, "When a man begins to prosper, either the Lord gets a steward or the Devil gets a soul." "There are two ways to be wealthy–one is in the abundance of your possessions, and the other is in the fewness of your wants. Put in a stop where your needs end. After that all you make belongs to other people's needs. Keep your needs down to needs, not luxuries disguised as needs." (Abundant Living, p. 300-301; Jones)

After a long day of sight-seeing, one Christian returned to his motel and prayed, "Father, I thank you for the enjoyable day. I thank you that, of all the things which I have seen today, there is not one thing which I want!" Financial freedom! He had mastered the material world because he was mastered by spiritual priorities!

"Father, I surrender my acquisitive urge to you. Help me to learn the secret of enjoying without coveting material things. Help me to develop the 'Art of Using'–using things for God's glory and for man's good without exploiting the resources of your world."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Wastefulness or extravagance have no place in the Christian practices of stewardship.

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Galatians 2:20, Galatians 5:22-26

Mastery Over Self

There can be no mastery in life unless one has surrendered his self to the Lordship of Christ. Says E. Stanley Jones, "The self as a servant to the Kingdom of God is rhythmical and harmonious and adequate; the self as a servant to itself is halting and inharmonious and incompetent–its own slave. . . The self then must be disciplined to die. It must die as first, in order to live as second. That is why at the center of the Kingdom is a cross. You must go through spiritually what Jesus went through physically–you must die and be buried in order to experience a resurrection into freedom and fullness of life." (Abundant Living, p. 124; Jones)

Self at the center is a self that is off-center! When man makes himself his own god, then he comes to hate that god! To control the self, one must surrender the self. Surrender the self to the Creator God in order that the self may become creative. "Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified their lower nature with all that it loved and lusted for." (Galatians 5:24, Phillips)

What is the great secret of self-control? It is Christ-control, made possible through death to self-will and surrender to Christ's will. It was George Muller of Bristol who testified: "There was a day when I died–died to George Muller, his opinions, preferences, tastes, and will; died to the world, its approval or censure; died to the approval or blame of my brethren and friends; and since then I have studied only to show myself approved to God."

The man whose life is a message rather than a mess, is the man whose life is under the Spirit's control. 'I delight to do thy will, O God!' Christ's burden is our blessing! Christ's yoke is our yearning! But is Christ's way always easy? Is there not struggle? Is it always easy to submit to Christ's will? Not always easy, but always right! Christ suffered being tempted, but He never yielded to temptation! Christ learned obedience by the things which He suffered, but He never once disobeyed the Father! He sweat as it were 'great drops of blood' in the Garden of Gethsemane, but His final mastery over life was demonstrated when He prayed, "O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt." (Matthew 26:39)

Mastery in life will mean that we give counsel to reason, not to passion; that we give counsel to faith, not to fear; that we give counsel to discipline, not to indulgence; that we give counsel to God's will, not to man's will!

"Father, I am slowly learning the way of true freedom. Bowing low at the feet of Jesus, I stand tall before everything else! Surrendering to the control of Christ, I find freedom in self-control. Forgive me for trying to whip my will into obeying moral laws when you call me to surrender my will to find your liberating love. Your will is my freedom! Glory!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I am never so much my own as when I am most Christ's.

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Discussion Questions:

Cultivating The Fruit Of Gentleness And Self-Control

  1. What is the world's method of 'surviving' and 'success' and 'strength'?

  2. What are some misconceptions regarding the concept of 'meekness' or 'gentleness' which need to be eliminated from our thinking?

  3. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement: "The strength of gentleness is stronger than the might of violence!"

  4. Define and describe the meaning of 'Gentleness' from the Biblical viewpoint.

  5. Give illustrations from the Scriptures that demonstrate the fact that Jesus was a perfectly God-controlled man (i.e., He was a Gentle man)–One who was angry only for the right reasons and at the right times.

  6. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement: "Only the true Spirit-controlled, love-filled man can exercise outer restraint and remain free from inner resentments!"

  7. Do you agree with the following statement?–"The man of gentleness knows when to be angry and when not to be angry". From a study of the life of Jesus, can one conclude that Jesus never became angry over personal abuse which he unjustly received from others, but that He became justly and intensely angry when others were unjustly abused or when God's name and cause were being defamed? (Note Mark 11:12-18, Mark 3:5-6, Luke 23:32-34)

  8. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement: "Anger is a basic, God-created emotion which must not be denied or suppressed or carnally expressed, but which must be cleansed, controlled, and rechanneled towards God-honoring purposes." What is your interpretation of Ephesians 4:26? How do you tell the difference between 'righteous anger' and 'carnal anger'?

  9. Do you think the following description of a 'gentle man' is both accurate and Biblical ?–"The gentle man is the man who has learned self- control in every instinct, every impulse, and every passion because he has learned to submit to God's control."

  10. What is your personal evaluation of the following description of 'Gentleness'?–"Prautes (Gentleness) describes the perfect conquest and control of everything in a man's nature which would be a hindrance to his seeing, learning, and obeying the truth."

  11. Does the following affirmation express your own determination?–" I will allow the Holy Spirit to take away the scales of prejudice from my spiritual eyes in order that I may clearly see reality!" What are some forms of prejudice from which believers need to be delivered?

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    Discussion Questions:

    Cultivating The Fruit Of Gentleness And Self-Control (Continued)

  12. In a person's attempt to become a truly 'Gentle man', what is the relationship between self-control and Christ-control? Do you agree with the following statements?–" If you begin with self-control, then you are the center, you are controlling yourself. And you will be anxious lest yourself slip out from beneath your control."

  13. What is the secret of self-control in one's life? What is God's part and what is man's part in gaining self-control? (Note Psalms 1:2, Philippians 2:5-8, Philippians 4:8)

  14. Is it true that people 'wither and die morally' because they first 'wither and die mentally'?

  15. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement by Dr. George A. Buttrick: "We dramatize temptation in our secret thought, thus gathering gasoline for the devil's spark." Do you believe, generally speaking, that most Christians should be more careful to avoid putting themselves into the 'trap of temptation' through careless watching of television and movies at theatres, and through indiscriminate listening to 'worldly' music on radio? Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement: "If you can 'go around' temptation, don't expect God to take you 'through' temptation!"

  16. Do you understand and agree with the following statement?– "You cannot help it if Satan suggest evil thoughts to you, but you are responsible if you entertain evil thoughts, resulting in developing patterns of evil thinking!"

  17. Does the following affirmation express your own personal determination, as you strive to become a self-controlled Christian?–"I will focus my attention on the Holy One in order that I might become a man of holiness!"

  18. What is your personal interpretation of 2 Corinthians 6:17? What attitudes or practices do you personally consider to be 'worldly' from which you, as a believer, know that you must 'separate' yourself? Is what is 'worldly' for you, necessarily 'worldly' for all other believers, or is it a matter of 'personal conviction'?

  19. How do you win the 'Sex battle' in a world that is saturated with licentiousness? How do you interpret 2 Corinthians 10:4-6, as this Scripture relates to finding victory over 'lustful thoughts'?

  20. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following strong statement: "The sex act once committed with another person cannot be undone. The inner- personal relationship has undergone a radical change, and the couple concerned can never return to where they were before. Something indelible has stamped them both." (Note 1 Corinthians 6:18-20)

  21. In a day in which 'Sex' is treated as a 'toy' to be played with, rather than as a 'gift' to be sacredly cherished and properly used, what can parents and the Church do to help young people to become self-controlled and disciplined in the handling of the God-created, strong sexual urges? How can you tell the difference between wholesome 'sexual attraction' for the opposite sex, and 'sexual lust' for the opposite sex?

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    Discussion Questions:

    Cultivating The Fruit Of Gentleness And Self-Control (Continued)

  22. What difference does 'being filled with the Holy Spirit' make in disciplining and restraining the strong sexual urges which even Christians feel? Do you agree with the following statement?–"All the prohibitions against the wrong use of the sex urge will not save you unless the love of Christ be at the center–then sex urge becomes marginal and right."

  23. Concerning the use of Money, what lessons can be learned from a study of Jesus' Parable of the Rich Man in Luke 12:13-21?

  24. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement: "The Bible calls us to a simple life-style. We must pattern our lives after 'The King' (Jesus), rather than try to live like a king!"

  25. If Christians are called 'children of the King', do the following statements reflect a realistic and Biblical viewpoint of life as it is to be lived as 'children in the Kingdom of God' ?–"We are right to think of the kingdom of God coming on earth, as well as in heaven, but we have been wrong to associate the kingdom of God with material prosperity. . .Unlimited spiritual development is possible because God is infinite and we live in a vast, spiritual world. But unlimited economic expansion and exploitation in a finite, material world is finally impossible and can lead only to a giant blowout."

  26. What is your response or reaction to the popular teaching among some Christians today who teach that believers can expect to be materially prosperous as a result of their strong faith in Christ? Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement: "In a world of shrinking resources and growing hunger, Christians must learn to discipline their acquisitive urges."

  27. In a world where millions are living in poverty, how do you, as a conscientious American believer, determine the material standard of living which best reflects your sense of stewardship and which best represents your commitment to a simple lifestyle? Do you agree with the following statements?- -"Put in a stop where your needs end. After that all you make belongs to other people's needs. Keep your needs down to needs, not luxuries disguised as needs." To what extent can Christians indulge themselves in the enjoyment of 'luxuries'?

  28. In your quest to experience 'Mastery over Self', do you believe the following statement realistically describes the means towards such mastery?– "You must go through spiritually what Jesus went through physically–you must die and be buried in order to experience a resurrection into freedom and fullness of life." (Note Galatians 2:20, Galatians 5:24)

  29. Is the following statement a good summary of the meaning of 'Mastery in life'?–"Mastery in life will mean that we give counsel to reason, not to passion; that we give counsel to faith, not to fear; that we give counsel to discipline, not to indulgence; that we give counsel to God's will, not to man's will!"

  30. Give your interpretation of the following statement: "I am never so much my own as when I am most Christ's."

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