By Amos Binney and Daniel Steele
1. SELF-DEFENSE against the destructive forces of nature, ravenous beasts, or malicious men, even to the extent of taking life to save our own. Num. 35:22-24. (152. What is that especially designated? What is said concerning self-defense?)
2. SELF-PRESERVATION. We should refrain from maiming ourselves, except to preserve life, and from self-destruction. Lev. 19:28; Jer. 14:6-7; 47:5. It is our duty to endure all the ills of life as disciplinary and corrective of our spiritual natures. Heb. 12:5-11; Rev. 3:19. We are bound to refrain from self-torture and rigid austerities, and fasts detrimental to health of body or mind. I Tim. 4:1-5.
3. SELF-CONTROL. We are morally bound to restrain our natural and lawful appetites within the limits of reason and conscience. The desire for food and drink is to be indulged only so far as promotive of health. The sexual impulse may be gratified only within lawful marriage; and, even then, not to the detriment of the body, mind, and spiritual nature. I Cor. 6:19; 9:27.
The law of self-control forbids the creation and indulgence of enslaving and debasing artificial appetites, such as those entailed by the use of opium, tobacco, and intoxicating drinks.
The imperious nature of these appetites brings them into direct collision with the law of purity, which demands that the lower parts of our (153. What is said concerning self presevation? What of self-control?) nature be in subjection to the higher. Rom. 6:12-13; 12:1-2; I Cor. 6:9-13; Phil. 3:19; I Pet. 2:5.
No mention is made in the Bible of distilled or alcoholic spirits, for these are a later invention. The strong drink frequently mentioned is the intoxicating cider and beer of modern times. This, together with intoxicating wine, as a beverage is always condemned either positively or by implication: Lev. 10:9; Num. 6:3-4; Deut. 29: 6; 32:33; Judg. 13: 4, 7, 14; I Sam. 1:13-15; 25:36-38; II Sam. 13:28; Esther 1:10; 7:7; Prov. 20:1; 23:29-32; 31: 4-5; Isa. 5:11, 22; 24:9; 28:1, 7; 56:12; Jer. 35:5-6; Ezek. 44:21; Dan. 1:8; 5:1-4; Hosea 3:1; Joel 1:5; 3:2; Micah 2: 11; 6:15; Hab. 2:5, 15-16; Luke 1:15; 29:34; Rom. 13:13; I Cor. 6:10; Gal. 5:21; Eph. 5:18; I Tim. 3:3, 8.
That certain wines were used in Scripture times which were not intoxicating or injurious, but simply cheering and promotive of health, appears, first, from being designated by a different Hebrew word; and secondly, from the favorable reference to such wine, Judg. 9:13; Ps. 104:15; Sol. Song 8:2; Isa. 55:1; and (154. What is said about the use of intoxicating liquors, including wines? Of certain other wines?) particularly from its being commended to the infirm as an occasional tonic or for some sanative purpose, not as a common drink I Tim 5:23.
The use of wine as a beverage is, by some, defended by the act of Jesus in sanctioning the practice by miraculously providing a supply at the marriage in Cana. John 2:1-11. But it does not appear that the wine first used at that feast was intoxicating; much less that which Jesus supplied, called the good wine. It was, far more likely, a sample like that which the God of nature makes in the vine, called the pure juice of the grape. Deut. 32:14.
The duty of total abstinence from all intoxicants is founded, not on the law of absolute morality, but on the requirements of prudential morality. This inhibits acts not in themselves sinful, but becoming sinful when habitually practiced by ourselves, or by others following ourexample. Rom. 14:21; I Cor. 8:9-13; 10:31-33.
The use of tobacco and opium, as a mode of self-indulgence, is condemned by all the Scriptures which require physical as well as spiritual sanctification or purity, and that we (155. How is the use of wine defended by some? How is this refuted? What of other intoxicants?) should eat and drink to the glory of God. Rom. 12:1-2; I Cor. 10:31; II Cor. 7:1; Eph. 5:4; James 1:21.
The duty of self-control requires the suppression of inordinate ambition or lust for honor or power; also the extinction of covetousness, or the desire to amass wealth from selfish motives. Exod. 20:17; Josh. 7:21; Luke 12:15; Col. 3:5.
This duty also requires the perfect mastery of our passions and tempers as derogatory to spiritual excellence. Eph. 4:31; Col. 3:8; James 3:14; II Peter 1:6.
4. SELF-CULTURE. This embraces the proper care and exercise of the body, as the abode of the soul; and by proper attention to diet, dress, cleanliness, and sleep, and to the education of the intellectual faculties, thus enlarging our capacities for usefulness and enjoyment. On moral nature or conscience must be developed, both in its discriminating and impelling power, by right doing, and by the study and imitation of the best examples; while our spiritual nature is to be developed and purified by the abiding of the Holy Spirit within us. I Thess. 5:23; Heb. 5:14. (156. What further is required by the duty of self-control? What is said of self-culture as a duty?)