To restrain is to hold back; to check; to hold from action, proceeding or advancing, either by physical or moral force, or by an interposing obstacle. We restrain men from crimes and trespasses by laws; we restrain young people, when we can, by arguments or counsel; we restrain men and their passions; we attempt to restrain vice, but not always with success.Webster’s American Dictionary
  Restraint is the act of holding back or hindering from motion, in any manner; hinderance of the will, or of any action, physical, moral or mental. The commands of God should be effectual restraints upon our evil passions: The laws are restraints upon injustice.Webster’s American Dictionary

Restraint is simply checking one’s true feelings and impulses when dealing with others.

Synonyms for restraint include constraint, continence, discipline, discretion, reserve, self-command, self-control. Words similar in meaning include command, control, mastery, self-censorship, self-containment, self-denial, self-discipline, self-government, self-mastery, will, willpower; composure, poise, self-possession; modesty.

“Every ‘Thou shalt not’ in the Old Testament prefaces a law of restraint.”

Restraint is an abstract principle under the principle of contraction, a law of being—you must be restrained in your conduct—a law of doing — you must act in a restrained manner—and a soul virtue. You generally practice restraint as a law of doing, called self-control, under the lesser degrees of Neophyte, Disciple and Adept; the Mystic begins to see the need to restrain self, and soul perfects this virtue under the three higher degrees of the Master, Priest and Christos.

Edna Lister on Restraint

Love must overcome hate by agreeing with God that all things are good, even the Mind, Substance, and Power that men misuse as hate. You adjust to the actions of those who are misusing principle by lifting them to a cloud continent of Light for restraint and cleansing. As the waters of the River of Life move through them, declare them cleansed and purified.—Edna Lister, May 16, 1934.

The usual idea of freedom is to have all you want, what you want, where you want it, and naturally you dislike all restraint. However, true freedom comes through definite understanding and obedience to all law, man’s and God’s.—Edna Lister, October 31, 1934.

God knows just how far He may trust His creation with free will, and exactly when He must divinely restrain that creation from misuse of law.—Edna Lister, A Design for Ascension, 1941.

Restrain yourself from talking about your goal, then you will save yourself the annoyance of others’ faultfinding and the effort of lifting their opinions about what you plan.—Edna Lister, October 28, 1951.

We must eventually divinely restrain anyone who does not live by law of love.—Edna Lister, Your Fire Body, July 6, 1954.

It is divine restraint to put an end to evil practices.—Edna Lister, August 15, 1955.

Light restrains evil and frees the good.—Edna Lister, October 21, 1956.

We must maintain the world’s peace, and police it for divine restraint.—Edna Lister, November 17, 1956.

Discretion is a law of restraint. It is watchful prudence over your emotions, thinking, and imagination, the brakes on what you think and feel. Discretion is the ability to distinguish between fine shadings of truth and is the basis of being able to hold to your choices. Further, discretion is the art of tacts and diplomacy. By applying discretion, you never have to eat your idle words, since you speak none. You give no one a verbal club to wield on you, or a net to trip you.—Edna Lister, November 17, 1957.

The law of restraint governs sincerity.—Edna Lister, The 33 Degrees of Soul Conquering, October 20, 1959.

Restraint covers others’ transgressions and is silent when words would destroy a person, property, happiness or a reputation.—Edna Lister, The 33 Degrees of Soul Conquering, October 20, 1959.

Selfish souls avoid action and sacrifice of self and call this restraint.—Edna Lister, The 33 Degrees of Soul Conquering, October 27, 1959.

Noninterference requires restraint.—Edna Lister, What Is Healing? May 17, 1960.

The laws of restraint are, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."—Matthew 25:40. And, "Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven."—Matthew 5:19-20.—Edna Lister, What Is Healing? May 17, 1960.

God cannot restrain Himself from giving us all good things.—Edna Lister, When Prayer Is at Work, June 4, 1961.

The serpent in the Garden of Eden "beguiling" Eve represents the unrestrained emotional and physical desires for pleasure and excess, subtly entwining the appetitive soul.

In learning restraint, the soul moves to the next or mental level of obedience. For example, criminals use their mental life to find ways to circumvent law, to build a "comfortable" place next to the animal kingdom. They finally learn better, but it takes a long time, during which they need restraint.—Edna Lister, October 15, 1961.

The first level of obedience is the physical-emotional level, where civilization learns how to react appropriately. At this stage, people live by warnings and promises, being warned against and restrained from certain acts. At this level, the Ten Commandments are laws of restraint meant to teach us how to act, and are the foundation of our earthly legal system.—Edna Lister, God’s Magna Charta, October 29, 1961.

Those who are foolish must be held in arms of Light to restrain them.—Edna Lister, March 7, 1963.

God shall divinely restrain His Elect from disturbing or contaminating the "little ones" just learning to climb.—Edna Lister, Your Sacred Light, November 10, 1963.

God can restrain a certain element in the world only by a good constructive fear. He does see and hear everything, and takes care of you.—Edna Lister, Love, Your Radar, November 17, 1963.

To maintain appearances is a divine restraint, covering another’s transgressions.—Edna Lister, The Magic Word, Your Magic Wand, April 12, 1964.

Under restraint, you take time to consider your next step.—Edna Lister, Eight Great Powers of Being, October 18, 1966.

God permeates everything within Himself, which is All That Is, and it includes restraint. Every life spark has the mark of obedience within it.—Edna Lister, Religion and the World, November 5, 1967.

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New Testament on Restraint

Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.—Matthew 5:19-20.

Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.—Matthew 25:40.

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Old Testament on Restraint

Every "Thou shalt not" in the Old Testament is a law of restraint.

The Ten Commandments are laws of restraint meant to teach us how to act, and are the foundation of our earthly legal system: And God spake all these words, saying, I AM the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it. Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee. Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.—Exodus 20:1-17.

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Edna Miriam Lister
1884 – 1971
The original Christian Pioneering Mystic,
Platonist philosopher, American Idealist, Founder, Society of the Universal Living Christ, minister, teacher, author, wife, and mother.

Edna Lister

Etymology of restraint: Latin restringere, "to bind back."

Restraint is an abstract principle.
Restraint is a law of being.
Restraint is a law of doing.
Restraint is a soul virtue.


Harper, Douglas. Online Etymology Dictionary, 2024.

The Holy Bible. King James Version (KJV).

Webster, Noah. "Restrain, restraint." Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language. New York: S. Converse, 1828. This work is in the public domain.