bible verses about self control

13 Powerful Bible Verses about Self Control + Developing Biblical Self-Control

It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the day-to-day tasks of life and forget about our own well-being. We put ourselves last on our list of priorities and often don’t make time for self-care. This is especially true for Christian women, who tend to wear many hats and often feel responsible for everyone else’s happiness. But it’s vitally important that we take care of ourselves first and foremost, both physically and emotionally. One way to do this is by developing biblical self-control.

This can be a challenge, but with God’s help, we can do it! My hope is this post is an encouragement to you! Be inspired to grow your faith and seek God to help you with self-control with these encouraging bible verses about self control.

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What is Biblical Self-Control

By definition, self-control is the ability to control yourself– your emotions, desires or behavior- especially in difficult situations.

Even though we were made new when we accepted Christ, our sinful nature remains. What is so encouraging about Biblical self-control is that when we accept we cannot do it on our own, the Holy Spirit steps in to help.

Paul tells us that God’s grace teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives.” Titus 2:12. He is actively teaching and encouraging us to have self control in our lives! 

And my new personal favorite verse about how He helps me live out self-control:

“Being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience.” Colossians 1:11.

Accept this power as the gift that it is- from God and living within us. Self-control is within our grasp. We can take hold of this gift and use it.

Related: 4 Simple Tips for Finding Peace of Mind

What Does the Bible Say about Self Control?

The most well-known bible verse about self-control is probably Galatians 5:22-23. It is a list of character traits that Jesus modeled so beautifully for us. Last (but not least) on the list is self-control. All of them are impossible for us to imitate on our own, BUT- we have help in the presence of the Holy Spirit within us. So, when everyone is crying (including you?), the house is a mess, the washing machine quit working, and you have no idea what to make for dinner- you can model self-control. (I promise.) 

Bible verses about self control

Read through these bible verses about self control and choose one that speaks encouragement to you. Put it on a sticky note, white board, phone note- wherever you can see it, and hide it in your heart.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23.

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:7 ESV

“I can do all things through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13 ESV.

“Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” James 1:19.

Make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.” 2 Peter 1:5-7

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.” 1Corinthains 16:13

Looking for more topical bible study plans? Check out FREE library of topical reading plans and free bible study printables!

Proverbs on Self Control

Here are a few wise verses on self-control from Proverbs. These verses will help you understand that controlling your emotions and reactions is not only something God wants for you, but it’s also the best way to live.

A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.” Proverb 15:1 NLT.

A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but the one who is patient calms a quarrel.” Proverbs 15:18.

“Fools show their annoyance at once, but the prudent overlook an insult.” Proverbs 12:16.

Examples of Lack of Self Control in the Bible

We don’t lack for examples of Biblical characters who lacked self-control. We can start in the beginning with Adam and Eve. They listened to Satan and disobeyed God’s specific commands. Joseph’s brothers let jealousy get the better of them and sold Joseph off to traders. Moses let anger lead him to commit murder. David let lust overtake his better judgment when he begins an adulterous affair with Bathsheba.

Goodness, we aren’t even out of the Old Testament…. All these stories are to show us what a lack of self-control can lead to.

scriptures to pray

Self Control as a Fruit of the Spirit

We can try as hard as we like but showing the fruit of self control on our own is impossible. We need Jesus and His Holy Spirit working within us to develop a consistent practice of self control. The first few words of Galatians 5:22 give us encouragement:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”

Notice Paul doesn’t say “fruits.” Every trait he mentions is THE fruit of the Spirit. The good news? We get them all! Bad news- we will fail in our execution of them. 

We all have varying degrees of mastery. What is a struggle for some comes easier to others. 

What does self control look like to you? It may mean sticking to a diet, a workout regime, a quiet time, or less Netflix. It might mean refusing to spread gossip or lose our temper. 

Developing Biblical Self-control

Before we start learning how to develop biblical self-control, it’s important for you to remember you are under God’s grace. “For from his fullness we have all received grace upon grace.” John 1:16 ESV. Just as His mercies are new every day, so is His grace. He showers it down upon us; one blessing after another. It’s not an excuse to continue to lose self-control, but a way to recognize it, repent, and learn better ways to cope.

We’re never going to be “Super-Christians.” We will slip up and lose control. But there are ways to improve self-control. Remember, this is a lifetime of increasing progress and growth! 

1. Identify your triggers. Pray that God would show you what emotions or circumstances bring on a loss of self-control. Knowing what brings it on helps you make necessary changes.

For me, I know that when I don’t feel well physically or I get a poor night’s sleep; I have less patience. It’s harder to let “little things slide.” Molehills become mountains. Knowing what weakens your self-control gives you the ability to “be on guard” for temptations.

2. Rely on His strength. It doesn’t always show up in monumental ways, but it may be the ability to take a breath, walk away, turn aside your anger, or suddenly remember an encouraging Bible verse. Simply pray, “Lord, give me your strength to show self control” at the moment of your weakness and watch what He gives you.

3. Resist temptation. One of the best stories of self control in the Bible is when Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness for 40 days and nights. He was hungry and exhausted. (Triggers for you?) He could have lashed out at Satan, banished him from the desert, turned some stones into bread and taken a nap.

But He didn’t.

He allowed Himself to be tempted, starved, and exhausted so that we would know that He understands exactly how we feel when those things happen to us. Run to Him!

Jesus used the truth, the word of God, to resist the devil and make him flee. Get into His word and find verses that help you build up self-control.

Looking to grow your faith and be more intentional about prayer and bible study? Check out all of our spiritual growth resources!

Looking to grow your faith and be more intentional about prayer and bible study? Check out all of our spiritual growth resources!

Prayer for Self-Control

Let’s close with a simple prayer for self-control to remind us that in God, we have the power to overcome every temptation, struggle, and stronghold.

Heavenly Father, I come before you to confess that I give in to my emotions and circumstances and lose control. Thank you for your example, Lord, of self-control in the wilderness. Give me the strength, endurance, and patience to resist temptation as you did. I praise you and thank you for the gift of self-control and that I don’t have to rely on my willpower. Help me fan the flame of the Holy Spirit to live out the fruit of the Spirit to your glory. I trust in your abounding grace and the wisdom of your Word to comfort and guide me into better decisions. Help me stay focused on you! 

In Jesus’ name, Amen



AnnMarie provides hope and encouragement through God’s Word. Be sure to visit her over at Busy Blessed Women!

All Scripture is taken from the NIV unless otherwise specified.

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