Books and Resources on Self Control

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alexanderjames

Puritan Board Freshman
Hello, I am new to the board after having spent a long time perusing from a distance, and I’m thankful to the Lord for you all!

My question: do you have any book recommendations for growing in the fruit of self control?
Other resources are also very welcome and I really enjoy Puritan literature so that would be a preference.

I’m 24 and have been a believer for a little over three years, and have found that as a younger and more immature Christian, this is something I, and those around me, need to focus on a great deal, in a range of areas of daily life.

Thank you very much in advance!
 

My Pilgrim Way

Puritan Board Freshman
Not necessarily a book specifically for self-control, but every believer would benefit from reading John Owen's Mortification of Sin (Rom 8:13).

Something more specific would be to do an in-depth bible study on passages speaking of self-control which could include many areas such as gluttony, purity, anger, etc.

Welcome to the PB.
 

arapahoepark

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Depending on @BayouHuguenot perhaps Cicero or Aristotle...

I do agree with the Mortification of Sin as well. I know A'Brakel has a chapter on it in his A Christian's Reasonable Service.
 

Stephen L Smith

Moderator
Staff member
Some time ago I mentioned three classic books by the Puritan Jeremiah Burroughs that might be of help. The two books Moses Self Denial and Moses Choice deal with self denial.

Puritan readers might be interested to know that according to the official biography of Burroughs, he preached three sermon series together. Now, all these are in print.
  • Moses Self Denial (Soli Deo Gloria)
  • Moses Choice (Northampton Press)
  • The Excellency of Holy Courage in Evil Times (Puritan Publications)
 

alexanderjames

Puritan Board Freshman
Thank you for the comments so far. I loved Owen on mortification when I read it last year and his following work on temptation was really helpful for me.

I’m also intrigued about the Dante recommendation which I’ll hopefully get into.
And Jeremiah Burroughs has already been a blessing from his work on contentment so no doubt the ones you mention should be of great benefit too.

One of my biggest struggles has been with free time. I know what I want to be doing that is God honouring and profitable, but I find myself giving way to other things instead like entertainment for far too long, only to regret all the wasted time and not infrequently, worldliness. I hope this gives a bit more background for recommendations.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Instead of reading about self-control I recommend making "self-control goals" for 2021. Like boxing or wrestling moves, reading about them in a book is less useful than drilling and practicing them in real life. Maintaining self-control in food and sleep and time and exercise helps one's spiritual self-control as well. A friend who suffered from internet temptations kept falling because he stayed by the computer to read Puritans when tempted. It was only when he went outside and ran or exercised that he broke free. Same with overeating as well. Practice more.
 

Stephen L Smith

Moderator
Staff member
And Jeremiah Burroughs has already been a blessing from his work on contentment so no doubt the ones you mention should be of great benefit too.
Yes, I think you will find it helpful to read these books by Burroughs on self denial and link it to his book on contentment. As I have personally thought of true contentment in my own life, it has helped me address other areas of weakness.
 

Pilgrim

Puritanboard Commissioner
Some time ago I mentioned three classic books by the Puritan Jeremiah Burroughs that might be of help. The two books Moses Self Denial and Moses Choice deal with self denial.
Was The Evil of Evils the other one? It applies if what you're denying yourself can be said to be sinful in any way. Several of his other books would probably have applicability as well. If you are content, it seems to me that you're less likely to have to deny yourself.

It looks like a bunch of his books are currently out of print as they are unavailable on the RHB site. I've noticed that they've been reprinting some of those SDG books in paperback, so maybe that's what is planned for these as well. Several of the ones they do have are on sale.
 

JimmyH

Puritan Board Senior
Go to mljtrust.org and listen to Martyn Lloyd-Jones Ephesians sermons. Particularly chapter 6, putting on the full armor of God.

Start off with Volume 5 — #4129 — Ephesians 4:22-24 'put off the old man with his deeds'

 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
Joseph Addison's essays in The Spectator are enjoyable and profitable in this area. Part of it is that they promote the critical distance needed for self-awareness, which is no small ingredient in self-control. Another beneficial factor is that they are not antagonistic in their approach. And it doesn't hurt that because they're very enjoyable, you're not fighting yourself to read one or two a day.
 

Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Junior
I’m 24 and have been a believer for a little over three years, and have found that as a younger and more immature Christian, this is something I, and those around me, need to focus on a great deal, in a range of areas of daily life.

Hello Alex,

Others have mentioned some books that I agree may be very helpful--especially works by John Owen. My contribution is my favorite passage on this subject from a book of Titus. Four verses that speak about what God has already done for you and what he will effectively train you to do while you remain in this life. Living the kind of life, you so clearly long for.

Titus 2:11‭-‬14
11. For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,
12. Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;
13. Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;
14. Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

In verse 11 - We have mention of the true grace of God. The grace that actually brings salvation. And we can rejoice that we have a living hope that we too are included among the "all men" intended. We do now have full legal righteousness before God. What we have to do is get our weak flesh more lined up with what we are, in fact.

In verse 12 - I want to mention the first word, "teaching." I don't have my Greek tools in front of me at this time; maybe somebody else can look it up for me and post the word. The word means more than just teaching. It is the word for training an athlete or a racehorse. This grace of God, which has brought us salvation, also comes with a training program that effectively works progressive sanctification in us--the fruit of the Spirit. It gets the job done. It doesn't just give us a little encouragement. The ESV has the better word "training," which brings the meaning out better. So put your shoulder to the work and trust God that your work will be successful by His mighty grace. Sanctification comes as a package deal with the Justification you already have.

Verse 13 - we are encouraged to keep our eye on the prize. This life, which Owen calls "the womb of eternity," is just the beginning. This present life will be a struggle every step of the way, but we will make progress. Some more than others, some less. I have been a Christian for about 47 years, but it is only in the past five or six years that I've noticed some progress in areas of my life I struggled with for 40 years. Remember what the Apostle said, "if in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable."

For verse 14 - I am merely going to repaste the verse itself for you to read over and meditate on the wonders of what God has done and will do for us.
[Our Saviour Jesus Christ]
14. Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

Ed Walsh

Pardon any typos that may have slipped through. I dictated this to my tablet, and you know how that can go. :)
 
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alexanderjames

Puritan Board Freshman
Thanks Ed, I appreciate that. These are some of my favourite verses actually.
I’ve been lazy in my sanctification recently and think the Lord has been showing me once again how serious our walk of faith for holiness really is.
 

Regi Addictissimus

Completely sold out to the King
We recently republished an absolute gem on this topic—Thomas Watson's The Duty of Self-Denial. Watson has such a way with words that often feels like a spiritual punch to the gut but then leads the reader in a sweet manner to the Savior. He really is worth your time as a young Christian.

Here is a snippet:

A Christian must deny his appetite. The sensitive appetite is sick of a bulimia; it cries, "Give, give," Proverbs 30:15. St. Paul beat down his body, 1 Corinthians 9:27. Such a proportion only is to be taken for the recruiting of nature, as may help forward God's service. More are hurt by excess in lawful things than by meddling with unlawful, as more are killed by wine than poison. Many make their belly their god, Philippians 3:19. And to this god, they pour drink offerings. Clemens Alexandrinus writes of a fish whose heart is in its belly-an emblem of epicures whose heart is in their belly; they are devoted to sensualness. Excess in meat or drink clouds the mind, chokes good affections, and provokes lust. The rankest weeds grow out of the fattest soil. Intemperance shortens life as too much oil extinguishes the lamp. Many dig their own graves with their own teeth. Christ cautioned His Apostles, Luke 21:34, "Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness." Seneca could say he was born to higher things than to be a slave to his body. What a shame is it that the soul, that princely thing which sways the scepter of reason and is akin to the angels, should be enslaved to the brutish part! Deny the sinful cravings of the flesh. What has God given conscience for but to be a golden bridle to check the inordinacy of the appetite? - Thomas Watson. The Duty of Self-Denial. Reformation Heritage Books. 2020.

 

Pilgrim

Puritanboard Commissioner
I listed the 3 on post 5.

  • Moses Self Denial (Soli Deo Gloria)
  • Moses Choice (Northampton Press)
  • The Excellency of Holy Courage in Evil Times (Puritan Publications)
Thanks. I had seen that a quote was inserted and didn't even read it, assuming that you were quoting a previous post in this thread.
 

alexanderjames

Puritan Board Freshman
We recently republished an absolute gem on this topic—Thomas Watson's The Duty of Self-Denial. Watson has such a way with words that often feels like a spiritual punch to the gut but then leads the reader in a sweet manner to the Savior. He really is worth your time as a young Christian.

I actually picked up a used copy of the older SDG hardback a few months ago on eBay, just started reading it!
 
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