Growth & Self-Esteem

Self-Control In The Bible: How To Achieve It

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5
min
Date Published:
August 6, 2021

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Summary

So often in life, we can be tempted to walk down unsavory paths. 

In these moments, it’s easy to forget the sacrifice Jesus made so that we could be free from sin and eternal damnation. 

We must remember to turn to the scriptures to remind ourselves of why we’re here and how best we can serve our partners, families, and God. 

There are plenty of warm words in the Bible that can invigorate your sense of self-control and your decision-making skills in service of His plan. 

Join us as we break down what self-control truly means according to the Bible and how you can practice self-control to bring you closer to God. 

Why is self-control important?

Self-control is the foundation of our obedience to God’s will. 

The world is not free from sin — far from it. As you continue onward through life’s journey, you will inevitably be tempted by the allure of sin in whatever form it arises. 

We have the ability to exert control over our actions. It is whether or not we exercise this ability that will determine our position when it comes to the Final Judgment. 

And our self-control strength has vast implications in our personal lives — from earning better grades in our academic performance to reaching our short-term and long-term goals to changing our general life outcomes. 

We can also see from Genesis that resisting sin is no easy task. Despite having all her needs met, Eve’s impulsivity still led her to eat the forbidden fruit, betraying God’s instructions. 

close-up picture of  the Old Testament


How then can we avoid sin, even when the temptations may be strong and persistent?

Many Christians who have overcome troubling behavioral patterns like addiction will tell you that the answer lies in developing a keen sense of self-regulation and devotion to God. 

You will find many comforting words of encouragement on self-control in the Bible. But first, it’s useful to understand the particularities of self-control and exactly why we have such a hard time when it comes to enacting it. 

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Challenge of self-control

Why is controlling ourselves, even after acknowledging the grave consequences of our potential sins, so hard?

A lack of self-control or low self-control is apparent in our society, and you can witness the effects in the collective downfall of our mental health. 

Matthew provides insight into this in his gospel: “Watch and pray that you don't enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41).

From this, we understand that there are elements of our being that deny even our most sincerely held intentions. 

Physical impulses can so often disrupt a pure mind. This can include sexual temptation, the impulse to lie, and the desire for revenge when someone has wronged us. 

We must acknowledge that there are forces that try to persuade us to sin. Only when we understand this truth can we learn to recognize the signs and apply a more positive mindset — allowing us to gain high self-control and self-discipline.

Let’s turn to the Bible for more answers.

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Self-control in the Bible

Let’s take a look at some specific scriptures and what they say about self-control.

"But the end of all things is near. Therefore be of sound mind, self-controlled, and sober in prayer" (Peter 4:7).

It’s easy to forget the reasons behind our undying devotion to God. 

As Peter reminds us, the end of all things is indeed near, on both the personal and cosmic scale. The Day of Judgement will come, and to be truly ready means gaining greater self-control so you can appear before God without fear.

“Walk by the Spirit, and you won't fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16).

This scripture is particularly informative. The lust of the flesh echoes the earlier words of Matthew, signifying the ever-present nature of sin. 

An antidote to the lust of the flesh is to ‘walk by the Spirit.’ We understand this to mean improving our connection to God and the courageous Spirit, which He has gifted to us all. 

Jesus on the cross resting on an open Bible


We possess the power of impulse control and the delay of gratification through Him. Reminding ourselves of that simple fact as often as we can is a lifeline of self-control in times of temptation.

This idea is reminiscent of the eternally invigorating words in Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” 

“God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted above what you are able, but He will with the temptation also make the way of escape”  (The Corinthians 10:13). 

These are powerful words. The notion of God’s faith may strike you as surprising when so often as Christians we are directed toward considering our own faith. 

Understanding that God has faith in us as much as we have faith in Him can be incredibly confidence-boosting. Remember when you are led astray that God gave you all the tools you need to stay on the righteous path. 

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All things through Christ who strengthens us

In a way, the use of self-control is the very thing that defines us as Christians and provides the central challenge of our existence as God’s children.

On occasions as serious as denying the impulse to cheat, or occasions as small as resisting junk food, our self-control abilities can allow us to access a state of true physical and spiritual well-being.

God gave us the incredible gift of life. 

Honoring that gift means living in accordance with the rules laid out in the gospel — it means developing self-control. He gave us the power to do so, so remember this and practice mindfulness when you are confronted by sin. 

Remember, God's love for us is not a limited resource. We can always turn to Him for help when we struggle.

To always stay connected to God’s word and the power of the Holy Spirit, download the pray.com app in the iOS App Store or on Google Play.

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