Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit. It’s a fundamental Christian virtue and a major part of our lives. Still, so many of us struggle with it.
None of us are perfect. In fact, most of us have no idea how to control ourselves, but learning how to control ourselves is important if we want to live the life God planned.
The truth is, we can never live the life we were meant to live if we don’t know how to control ourselves, this is because obedience requires self-control.
So how do we improve our ability to exercise self-control? Let’s see what the Bible says.
What Does The Bible Say About Self-Control?
According to Galatians 5, self-control is a gift of the Holy Spirit, which means it’s not possible to have self-control without the Holy Spirit. This is good news because it also means that as long as you do have the Holy Spirit, you can have self-control.
God has given you self-control as a gift, so you can stop trying to figure out how to get it and instead learn how to use it.
Examples of Self Control in the Bible
Let’s start with the best example that ever walked the Earth. In Matthew 4, Jesus was tempted by the devil. The devil tried hard to make Jesus lose control, even to the point of asking Him to prove who He was. Still, Jesus exercised self-control. He did this because His Father’s will was a lot more important than anything the devil could offer Him.
In Nehemiah 4, we see how a wise man begins to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. While doing this important work, armies from nearby came to attack him. Most people at this moment would have fought back but not him. Nehemiah knew that the work at hand was more important than fighting and that God would fight for him. So instead of fighting the armies, he exercised self-control by stationing a guard at the gate and continuing his work.
Bible Characters Who Lacked Self Control
In Genesis 25, this man was hungry enough to give up his birthright for a bowl of stew. He could have exercised self-control. With a little bit of patience, he would have figured out what was more valuable, but he acted on impulse and lost what was rightfully his.
Ever heard of the disciple who cut a guy’s ear off? This is him. Peter, a disciple of Jesus, lacked self-control and did something that didn’t exemplify who he really was. Thankfully, Jesus was there to fix the situation.
This king of Israel did many things right. He even exercised great self-control when he didn’t kill the person who was trying to kill him (Saul). However, like all humans, he had a moment where he lacked self-control and gave into temptation. He took another man’s wife and the chain of sins began.
Still, God’s grace and mercy covered David like it covers us all.
What are the Benefits of Self-Control in the Bible?
We all have our moments of weakness so it’s truly amazing to be covered by God’s grace and mercy. However, even with God’s grace and mercy, we still have to deal with the consequences of our actions.
This is why it’s important to exercise self-control. The benefit of self-control is freedom.
Freedom from bad health that comes from no self-control with food. Freedom from the insecurity that comes from bad stewardship. And freedom for the shame that comes from anger leading to bad actions.
How Do You Gain Self-Control in the Bible?
The world will give you hundreds of tips on how to gain self-control including your self-awareness, but the Bible only has one. Ask the Holy Spirit.
Choose to pray today and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the areas where you need self-control. Then ask Him to help you exercise self-control in those areas.
Every time you feel tempted to lose control, ask Him for help again.
He is with you every minute of every day and He will help you exercise self-control if you’d only make the decision to pause and ask Him.
Scriptures on Self Control
Here are some Bible verses on self-control. These scriptures will help you as you begin to exercise self-control in your daily life.
Scriptures on Self Control and Discipline (KJV)
It may be hard to practice self-control and stay disciplined in the moment. But the peace and righteousness that comes at the end, is always worth it.
Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless, afterward, it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. Hebrews 12:11
The saddest part about lacking self-control is the fact that it gives others a chance to control you instead.
He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls. Proverbs 25:28
God gave you the Spirit of self-control, you already have it, you just need to put it to use.
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7
Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit. Therefore, you will have self-control for as long as you have the Spirit. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23
Bible Verses about Self-Control and Anger
There’s nothing mighty about letting your anger take control. Practice self-control instead, this is the best way to deal with tough situations.
He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city. Proverbs 16:32
Be still, control yourself, God will fight for you.
Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Romans 12:19
Not everything deserves an immediate reaction, pause and ask God what to do next.
Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Proverbs 29:11
Scriptures on Self Control with Food
Have you seen how athletes eat? Most people know that athletes train a lot but few know how healthy they have to eat. This is because what goes into your body usually shows in its output. The race of life is no less than a sport, choose to exercise self-control like an athlete would.
Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible.26 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
The flesh is weak. You will be tempted to eat what you’re not supposed to. When this happens, set your mind on things of the Spirit and exercise self-control.
For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. Romans 8:5
Prayer is the secret sauce to winning the war against self-control.
Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. Matthew 26:41
Scriptures on Self-Control and Temperance
No matter what you do, you are covered by God’s grace. However, this should not be an excuse to sin. Always choose to do what’s right.
For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. Galatians 5:13
You will never be tempted beyond your ability to resist that temptation. Practice self-control when the temptation to sin comes your way.
There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. 1 Corinthians 10:13
You’re human and your flesh is weak, but your Spirit is strong. Therefore control your body to the best of your ability and do not let the cravings take you away from your purpose.
That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour 1 Thessalonians 4:4
When you’re filled with the Spirit, self-control is inevitable.
And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, Ephesians 5:18
I hope this post has given you some insight into the Biblical benefits of exercising self-control in your life.
Remember, the more you avoid sinful behavior, the more you will be able to enjoy a fulfilling life that glorifies God.
Corine Williams, Ph.D. is the founder of www.therapyforchristians.com, a website dedicated to increasing mental health awareness in the Christian community. She is also the author of It is Well: A Guided Christian Journal which contains 70 activities to help you make peace with your past; take control of your emotions, and live a life that honors God. You can find out more about her at www.booksbycorine.com or by visiting her Amazon profile.