scriptures about self-control

17 Scriptures About Self-Control to Grow Your Faith and Character

Why scriptures about self-control? I began studying this topic mostly because my 8 year old has absolutely no self-control and “flies off the handle” far too often.

Self-control is way more than simply not losing your temper. As I studied these scriptures about self-control, I realized that I was also lacking in this fruit of the spirit and how very important it is.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)

What Does the Bible Say About Self-Control?

Let’s begin this round up of scriptures about self-control with words from wise King Solomon.

Whoever has no rule over his own spirit
Is like a city broken down, without walls. (Proverbs 25:28)

The term self-control means something different to each of us, but I think this proverb sums it up well: “rule over his own spirit”.

According to google, the definition of self-control is:

the ability to control oneself, in particular one’s emotions and desires or the expression of them in one’s behavior, especially in difficult situations.

What does self-control mean in the Bible? It has a much broader definition:

to behave in an orderly manner, to be sober, discreet, sound-minded, serious, moderate, prudent, and self-disciplined.

scriptures about self-control

What is Self-Control in the Bible?

Taking this last list (compiled from the verses below) into consideration, let’s answer the question “what is self-control in the Bible?”

  • To behave in an orderly manner– this may bring up an image of women adorned in long dresses, sipping tea, and politely chatting about the weather.  Or perhaps a group of students lined up neatly in the hallway walking silently to their next activity.  If we are talking about behaving in an orderly manner in a spiritual sense then we must think of it as behaving according to scripture.  Verses such as “do not bear false witness”, “do not covet” and “honor your father and mother” all teach us how to behave in an orderly manner.  They teach us what is expected of us and self-control is what we use to control our behavior to act according to scripture.
  • To be sober– our minds may first jump to “not being intoxicated” in order to understand this word, and it can definitely apply here.  Other words associated with sober are “temperance, moderation, and seriousness”.  Maybe a boring person?  I don’t think so.  Those who are sober take God’s laws and instructions seriously.  They respect them and try to obey them.  If you are sober, you are reverent to things of a spiritual manner.  This does not mean that you do not have fun, it simply means you are reverent and respectful to God’s word, putting the wild uncontrolled actions aside.
  • Discreet– Is anyone discreet anymore?  When one is discreet they show good judgment and a controlled character.  They are able to live without being noticed for negative behavior and their modest attitude puts people at ease.  One who is discreet will share the love of Jesus to all they meet and make a show of nothing.  People will see their light and be drawn to it because the sins of the flesh are not obstructing God’s truth.
  • Sound-minded– this should probably read “sound in faith”.  When we are sound-minded, we are rational.  When we are sound in faith, we are obedient to the word of God.  In my mind they are the same.  Those who are not obedient to scripture have trouble making good decisions because they do not have a guide.  Those controlled in their thoughts and actions are lining them up with God’s word. They are obedient to these scriptures about self-control.
  • Moderate– The Merriam-Webster definition says it perfectly “avoiding extremes of behavior or expression: observing reasonable limits”.  This is exactly what my son needs to learn!  When we apply this spiritually it means we are not given over to the sins of the flesh.  We control our actions, thoughts, and speech.  Are we perfect?  No, that would be impossible.  Are we trying to be obedient to the word of God?  Yes!
  • Prudent– I’m laughing to myself over here because all these words are so “stuffy”.  Know what I mean?  I don’t want to be an old prune, but I also don’t want to be given over to the sins of the flesh.  One definition of prudent is “marked by wisdom” and I think it fits these scriptures about self-control.  When we act in wisdom then we are most likely not going to give into sinful behavior.
  • Self-disciplined– This is one of the most direct synonyms we have here and our goal for not only ourselves but our children.  When we are self-disciplined we are living in obedience to the word of God.  We have brought our bodies, minds, and tongue under control.
learning to pursue peace

Scriptures about Self-Control

Ok, let’s go over these scriptures about self-control. I’m leaving their interpretation up to you since I’ve already said a lot!

2 Peter 1:5-7

But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.  (2 Peter 1:5-7)

1 Corinthians 9:24-27

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified. (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)

1 Peter 4:7

But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers. (1 Peter 4:7)

Titus 2:11-12

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men,  teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age. (Titus 2:11-12)

1 Peter 5:8

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.  (1 Peter 5:8)

1 Corinthians 13:4

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up. (1 Corinthians 13:4)

James 1:19-20

So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God. (Psalm 1:19-20)

Proverbs 29:11

A fool vents all his feelings,
But a wise man holds them back. (Proverbs 29:11)

Titus 2:1-2

But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine: that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience;  (Titus 2:1-2)

Titus 2:11-12

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age. (Titus 2:11-12)

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?  For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

Proverbs 13:3

He who guards his mouth preserves his life,
But he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction. (Proverbs 13:3)

Ecclesiastes 7:9

Do not hasten in your spirit to be angry,
For anger rests in the bosom of fools. (Ecclesiastes 7:9)

Romans 6:12-13

Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. (Romans 6:12-13)

Proverbs 21:23

Whoever guards his mouth and tongue
Keeps his soul from troubles. (Proverbs 21:23)

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One Last Word on Scriptures About Self-Control

I have one last thought on these scriptures about self-control.  The key to obeying them is drawing closer to God.  The more you study God and who He is, the more you pray, and the more you focus on Him, the easier these things become.  

The stronger you are spiritually, the weaker your flesh.  

For deeper study, check out these posts!

Do Not Be Conformed to this World: 5 Strongholds We Need to Let Go Of

Stories of Obedience in the Bible: Why is Obedience Important?

5 Steps to Repentance: David as Our Example

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Hi, I am Heather! I am a mom of five, homeschooler, homesteader, and lover of all things chocolate. I am excited to share your faith and parenting journeys with you. Whether you are here looking to grow your faith, heal from loss, find homeschool resources, or hope to find inspiration in raising godly children, you are in the right place. So, grab your favorite hot beverage, curl up in your comfy chair, and stay awhile.

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