God has given us passions to help us enjoy life, but a real man does not let his passions control him. When Adam saw Eve, he was filled with excitement, shouting, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.” Adam was hyped but he also maintained control of his desires. If he had been out of control he may have said something like, “Eve looks great, God. Can you give me five more just like her?” Instead, Adam was able to enjoy himself without going overboard, without losing control. Likewise, Jesus drank wine but always in moderation, never getting drunk. He was able to control his appetites.
In the Bible, men who can’t control their desires fall short of fulfilling God’s plan for their lives. In Genesis 49:3, Jacob admits that his firstborn son, Reuben, is a gifted and powerful man, calling him “mighty…the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity and the excellency of power.” But Reuben was also “unstable as water,” or unable to control himself. As a result, he defiled Jacob’s bed by committing sexual immorality in it and because of that, Jacob told his son “you will not excel.” So despite all of his wonderful talents, Reuben failed to become great because he was controlled by lust.
How many men have failed to reach their potential because they allowed their lust – be it for alcohol, drugs, sex, money or something else – to get the best of them? How many have had their dreams and plans derailed because they had a baby with a woman they didn’t love or marry, or because they acquired a sexually transmitted disease? How many have ruined their families, forever scarring their children, because they cheated on their wives? How many promising and intelligent young men have ended up behind bars because their lust for money, clothes, jewelry, power or prestige led them to sell drugs or commit other crimes? How many public figures have brought great shame and embarrassment upon themselves and their families because their lust ran amuck?
Our role model, Jesus, obviously had control of his sexuality. He was tempted just like we are (Hebrews 4:15) but he never lost control. Jesus himself told us that if we believe in him we’ll do the works he did (John 14:12). See Joseph also. In contrast to Reuben, Joseph became great and fulfilled his purpose because he was able to control himself, fleeing from Potiphar’s wife when she tried to seduce him (Genesis 39:12). Jesus and Joseph were not shy about being men of sexual integrity. They did not secretly envy the macks of their day or feel like the womanizers were the real men. They knew they were real men and they walked with authority and strength. Let us do the same, for Proverbs 28:1 says, "The righteous are as bold as a lion.''
Proverbs 23:7 says, "For as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.'' Therefore, if we change our thinking, we can change our behavior. As men of God, as followers of Christ, we must think and realize that we are the prototype. We are the model. We are the ideal man. We are to be examples in the earth of what God meant for men to be. We are not to be ashamed of the fact that we are not promiscuous, that we are not playas and pimps. We are to stand up boldly as disciples of Jesus Christ, not clothed in self-righteousness but clothed in the righteousness that God by his grace has given us (Ephesians 4:24). We are to let men know that if God can empower us to live this way, he can also empower them to do the same.
This need for self-control also extends to areas we don’t normally associate with vice. For instance, we are called to exercise control in the area of eating as well. In Proverbs 23:20-21, we are told, “Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags.” Habitually eating too much can lead to a waste of money and a waste of time, not to mention poor health. Each of those outcomes can keep us from fulfilling God’s plan for our life and from being as productive as we should be for his kingdom. In fact, any desire or activity (sports, music, video games, sleeping/laziness, etc.) that we cannot control can become an idol and replace God as the head of our life, so let us practice self-control in all areas.
I. We are not to let our passions, good or bad, control us
A. It is perfectly fine to get excited about and to enjoy certain passions, but moderation is a must
II. A man who is controlled by his passions will fail to fulfill God's purpose for his life
A. Reuben (Genesis 49:3)
B. Many men have been shamed and have destroyed their families and reputations for failure to control their passions
III. We must change our thinking to control our passions
A. We must realize that once we have been redeemed by Christ, we become what God created a man to be
1) We are to be examples to other men of what Jesus Christ can do for them, of how he can clean them up
B. We should not, cannot, be ashamed of living clean lives, for we are living as God created men to live. Thus, we are real men!
C. For like Jesus and Joseph, "the righteous (we) are bold as a lion.''
IV. Sex, drugs and alcohol are not the only passions that we need to control
A. Good, or neutral, passions must also be controlled
1) Watching television, playing video games, shopping, sleeping/laziness, etc.
I. What are some modern-day examples of men who have been shamed or damaged by their inability to control their passions?
II. Has your passion for something, good or bad, ever kept you from achieving something or from fulfilling God's plan for you?
III. When families, wives and children are shamed because a man has lost control of his passion, what are some of the consequences for them?
IV. How can we learn to control our passions? What are some things - what is some advice - that might help us do this?
V. Why do many Christian men fail to think of themselves as "model men'' and fail to walk with the boldness of lions? Why do many of us act ashamed about "living right?''
VI. What are some good or neutral passions that we must learn to control in our lives?