Christianity & Self Control

Opening in Proverbs 25, the author makes several comparisons through this chapter, like in verses 11, 14, and 28. It is this last comparison we are going to be examining in this lesson, in which the author brings up the subject of self control – comparing such an individual to an ancient city lacking its defensive walls. Without self control, our defense against temptation and sin is what is at stake. We are vulnerable, unrestrained, and volatile if our lives lack this quality.

In Galatians 5, as Paul has encouraged his readers to walk by the spirit, he contrasts this walk with the works of the flesh. In verses 22-23, he qualifies self-control as a fruit of the spirit. In Titus 1:8, self control is listed as a quality found in spiritual leaders. I Peter 1:5-9 lists this quality as something we should develop in our spiritual maturation. FInally, Acts 24:25, Paul discusses self-control in the context of talking about Christ-worship.

Why Should I Be Working On Self Control?

Matthew 16 contains the context of Peter’s confession and Jesus’ preaching that He will be crucified as part of His ministry. What it took for Christ to endure the cross was self control. In Matthew 16:24, Jesus says that anyone who would follow Him should deny self for the cause. This verse speaks clearly to the concept of self control. To be a Christian, one must crucify self, with the demands and desires our selves might make that are contrary to the life a Christian should lead.

Romans 12:1-2 calls us a living sacrifice (linking to Matthew 16:24), warning us to avoid conformation to worldly standards. Living by these standards requires control over self. In the same chapter, verses 17-18 warn us against doing harm to people who wrong us in some way, and we are encouraged to try to live peaceably with all we come in contact with. In Philippians 4:8 simply instructs us to focus our minds on wholesome things, again requiring a level of self control that takes effort and focus.

How Do I Develop Control?

  • Apply God’s word. Psalm 119:9 makes it plain that study and application is the key starting point to getting our lives under control. We pore over information regarding our interests. We make time for which we want to make time, and it help us develop self control to set aside time to study our Bibles. Psalm 119:11 equates Biblical knowledge with avoiding sin.
  • Weigh the consequences. Mark 8:36 asks what good it is to gain all things but lose that which matters most. We weigh consequences in so many areas of our lives (major purchases, new jobs, a major move, etc.), and this applies to sin and temptation as well. What do I gain versus what I lose? Is the short-term gain worth the long-term loss?
  • Pray. I Peter 5:6-7 tells us God cares about us and allows us to bring our cares to Him. If it causes me anxiety, God cares. If I want self control in my life, I can pray for my areas of weakness.
  • Draw strength from God. Our struggle with sin is not a fair fight. Philippians 4:13, Paul states that he can do all things in “Him who strengthens me.” We can gain the self control we need through God’s strength and guidance.


Self control is not going to just happen to us. We have to put effort into developing this control. In I Corinthians 6:12-13 illustrates a lack of self control among the Christians in Corinth, and verse 12 wars us against letting anything have control over our selves. If we are going to live as Christians, we cannot allow external influences to tear us away from the path we have chosen. We need to control ourselves and follow the example Christ set for us – denying self and pressing forward.

lesson by Tim Smelser