God’s Opinion of Self-Control

A decent smattering of what the Bible says:

A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls. (Proverbs 25:28)

Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air.  But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. (1 Corinthians 9:25-27)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Galatians 5:22-24)

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

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. (2 Timothy 3:1-5)

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness,  and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.  For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:5-8)


About Danny Slavich

I am a Christian husband, father, pastor, and poet. I lead Pembroke Road Baptist Church a multi-cultural, multi-generational church in urban South Florida.
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7 Responses to God’s Opinion of Self-Control

  1. Ben says:

    Self control seems to be a big problem for most of us these days … me certainly included.

    Sometimes, though, I’ve gotta think … If I can keep my speech clean in front of family and work, but when I’m on my own it just “slips out” (or analogous situations) is it really a lack of self-control? Or do I just really not care? Maybe self-control is a measure of how important something really is to you.

  2. Lee says:

    Great insight, Ben. I think the Bible paints a more stark picture, though, than one of apathy – and I find that it describes me accurately, if unflatteringly: if I choose to sin, it’s because, at least at that moment, I love that sin (or myself, if we’re talking about pride) more than I love God. Or, in simple O.T. terms, I engage in idolatry when I sin.

  3. Ben says:

    Well, I don’t think apathy is what I meant, but rather that it’s not clean speech that I value, but the appearance of clean speech. If I truly valued it as much as I’d like people to think, then it would be trivial to control myself when no one is looking.

    Or, conversely, I might have less of an ability to restrain myself when “being myself” … that is, when others are present I am in a “concealing” mode, and have better tools for controlling myself than when I am alone … but not necessarily in a bad sense (that is, everyone needs to conceal sometimes, and certainly everyone needs times when they are “themselves”).

    Probably a mixture of both, really.

    I think idolatry is probably right in a general sense, as all sin is idolatry in a way. I would tend to place idolatry maybe more at the beginning of the 2 Peter list of sanctification steps (in your faith add moral excellence, in your moral excellence self control etc.). Though idolatry plays a part in lack of self-control, the person who is lacking self-control is in some ways dealing with a different aspect of the problem than the word ‘idolatry’ implies to me … you’re not in open rebellion against God, but you do lack the resolution to follow Him. This is off the top of my head, of course.

  4. Ben says:

    Haha, if I had looked at your post again I would have seen that I missed “knowledge”. I love that passage, it is the Christian life in the clearest way I can think of.

  5. Ripley says:

    I think you’re right Lee. Great verses, Danny. I appreciate that Ben is giving some personal insight and application – it’s easy to read those verses and kind of understand what they are talking about – it’s quite another to pinpoint areas in our life where we can apply self-control. Either they are too numerous or they seem to be too overwhelming.

    In competetive swimming, there is always something to perfect or work on. There are so many drills that you do in order to adjust just one aspect of your race. As a coach, I found it easier to teach my swimmers ONE technique and have them work on it again and again and again before moving on to another. I want to be a good “swimmer” in life, and I think self-control, and the relentless pursuit of it, is a step in the right direction.

  6. Lee says:

    Ben – so do you think there’s a sliding scale that perhaps looks something like this, then?
    apathy – hypocrisy (*) – idolatry
    (Where all of the above would be as opposed to walking in the Spirit.)

    (*) Surely that’s what you are describing with words like “concealing” and “appearance of” vs. the real thing.

    Seems like that’s where you’re headed – but I could be misreading you.

    If I recall correctly, John Douglas says he doesn’t believe in the insanity defense because even pathological serial killers do not kill people in front of the police (see Mind Hunter – a fascinating, if very troubling, book). In other words, even serial killers exhibit self control. And so do we – by not swearing in front of the family, etc. But does that mean we’re simply apathetic or hypocritical? I dunno… I think it boils down to this: you can’t serve two masters.

    But I do agree about the verses in 2 Peter! 🙂

  7. Danny Slavich says:

    Who’da thought that posting a list of Bible verses would generate such discussion!

    (I’m glad it has though).

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