The Fruit of the Spirit – Self-control

Photo by Marcin Jozwiak

As we conclude the series on the Fruit of the spirit, we reflect on the last fruit – Self-control.

In Acts 24:25, Paul talks about self-control while speaking about faith in Jesus. We know it as a fruit of the spirit (Gal 5:22-23) and read it as a quality that is desired in leaders of the church (1 Timothy 3:2 and Titus 1:8).

Self- control is the ability to regulate one’s actions and emotions in the face of temptations or impulses.

As a Christ follower, self-control goes deeper than controlled expressions of behaviour, it extends to what lies within our hearts and minds. Why? Because Jesus talks in Mathew 5:28 about sinning within our hearts.

We read in Mark 7:20-23, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”

To the world we might look composed and good, but is our thought life pleasing to God?

In Titus 2:11-12 we read that it is God’s plan for us to lead lives that are not driven by our own flesh or emotions “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.”

This verse shows us that living self-controlled lives are aligned with righteousness and godly living. They are attributes that we as Christ followers want our lives to be characterised by. To be able to do so, we first have to say ‘No’ to a certain way of living – succumbing to ungodliness and being led by worldly passions.

We often box self-control as trying hard to do or not do something. If that was all it was, we would perfect it, in our own strength. We have to understand that self-control does not entirely come from ourselves. As a fruit of the spirit, its source is Christ and our involvement is the choice, surrender and perseverance to allow this fruit to grow and develop.

“True self-control is not about bringing ourselves under our own control, but under the power of Christ.” – David Mathis

With Christ within us, our desires realign and so does our actions. Self-control begins from HIM and is therefore learnt from Him. Learning, starts with a willingness to submit to the one we learn from. Can we learn if we do not sit at the Lord’s feet often enough or if our time with Him does not involve listening to Him? Learning also requires intention and perseverance.

1 Peter 5:8 says “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” How does being alert closely tie in with being self-controlled?

Being alert involves an awareness that Satan and his legion of demons are at every turn, looking to lead us into sin. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood but against the spiritual forces of evil (Ephesians 6:12). Being alert also includes being aware of areas of personal weakness and learning from past situations where we stumbled before? The enemy is waiting for an opportunity to take us down the slippery slope of sin.

2 Peter 1:6 teaches us “Make every effort to add to your knowledge self-control and to self-control perseverance.” To the knowledge that we have of what it takes to walk the righteous path, what use is it if our efforts do not match to stay on said path. That is where self-control comes into play, in the choices that we constantly have to make of turning away from ungodliness.

And to self-control, we then add perseverance, to not give up when we make a mistake but turn back to God, repent and restore our fellowship with the Lord. We don’t always get it right but we have to also be cautious of whether we are getting it more wrong than right because if we are, then we are using our weakness to excuse our failure to change our ways.

The value of self-control – it aids us to better walk a righteous path but understanding its precise role expands our realisation to the depth of its importance.

Proverbs 25:28 gives us insight into what it means to lack self-control. “Like a city whose walls are broken through, is a person who lacks self-control.”

Pertaining to the time, a city’s defence depended heavily on strong walls surrounding it. If the walls were broken down, it left the city completely vulnerable to the incursions of any enemy that wished to plunder, conquer or capture. Similarly, without self-control, one’s spirit is vulnerable to slip into sin with little temptation. And without that defence, one’s spirit is at the mercy of Satan’s attack. Self-control serves as a fortified wall to protect us.

A heart that is devoted to God lives not to satisfy the flesh but to store up treasures in heaven. Self-control is an outpouring of a heart that is devoted to God. The account of Jesus’s temptation in Mathew 4, is a wonderful example of self-control. Jesus fasted forty days and forty nights and yet when presented with an easy route and comfort in the now, He chose God and the truth. Jesus used scripture to stand strong against Satan’s schemes.

Like the other fruit of the Spirit, we can grow in self-control too. Here are three practical aspects that can help us do so

Reflecting and monitoring – Be honest with yourself, including your thoughts and recognise areas that need work. Take them to God and submit to His pruning as He refines you.

Benchmark – of the desired emotional/physical response that you steer yourself towards. What is your guiding principle? Would your response grieve God, would it reflect the presence of the spirit within you to others?

Power – Take your feelings, emotions and your actions to God, let Him meet you where you are at, ask for His help and His strength, because only in the power of the spirit can we transform, put off our old self and put on the new in Christ.

Our self-control comes from walking in step with the Holy Spirit. As we walk, we strengthen, we grow and we are changed.

Blessings and a wonderful new year to you all.

28 thoughts on “The Fruit of the Spirit – Self-control

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  1. I must say that I have gleaned a ton of knowledge and insight from this series. Thank you so much for leading us along on this journey.
    I feel like self-control is the root of the rest of the fruit of the spirit. If we don’t have self-control, then it is more difficult to be loving, gentle, patient, etc.
    I really appreciate that you pointed out how we need to be on guard against the enemy. I think so often we are being attacked by him, and don’t realize it. As children of God, we are the enemy’s prey. Day and night. But thought the power of the Holy Spirit, we can overcome.
    And I love what you said about self-control coming from Jesus and His strength, not our own strength. We have to learn to humbly submit to Him, and then He will be able to shine through us.
    This post, and all the posts in this series, were truly inspiring. Thank you again, my friend!
    I pray that you and your family have a Happy New Year and happy and healthy 2022! 🙏✝️🙌♥️🥳🤗

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you so much Bridget. You are so kind.
      I do agree that self control is very much the root of all the other fruit.
      Thank you for your friendship, it truly has been a blessing to me.
      I pray for a very blessed year ahead for you and hubby.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you Manu. You made mention of being honest with ourselves. That is very important. If we are not honest with ourselves, we will not be honest with God and ask for help. Asking Him to reveal our shortcomings gives us chances to improve. We need to walk in self control to obey the Holy Spirit. Thank you for this series. It was enjoyable and helpful. Happy New Year my friend! Continued blessings to you and your family in 2022 🎉❤️

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I find that there is great value in being honest when reflecting because the one who is affected is finally us if we do not do so.
      A very happy new year to you Dawn. Thank you for journeying with me this year, I appreciate it 🤗

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This is an excellent post and one that I am saving to read over and over again in 2022! The lines that stuck out the most to me were: “We often box self-control as trying hard to do or not do something. If that was all it was, we would perfect it, in our own strength. We have to understand that self-control does not entirely come from ourselves…Self-control begins from HIM and is therefore learnt from Him. Learning, starts with a willingness to submit to the one we learn from. Can we learn if we do not sit at the Lord’s feet often enough or if our time with Him does not involve listening to Him? Learning also requires intention and perseverance.” In my reflections over the past year, I admit that I have exercised self-control when it comes to food but NOT at all when it comes to how much time I spend online reading news headlines or other things that have very little value. This is not an excuse, but I learned this year that I am not a person who does well with a Bible plan that reads multiple parts of Scripture each day. I am better with a chronological plan or a book by book plan. The reason I mention this is because I can have legalistic tendencies in and of myself. Instead of being disciplined and fighting through to read the Lord’s Word, I would skim. Instead of changing plans, I continued on. So the part about boxing self-control is totally me. I could also add that I am all too good at checking the box of self-control in my own strength. I need to learn from Christ and model His self-control. I said to my mom yesterday, “the Christian life is a life of self-denial, self-control and self-sacrificing.” Self-control is truly the hinge fruit in my humble opinion. I pray the Holy Spirit’s self-control will be made manifest more in His people (myself included) in 2022!

    Manu, this series has been absolutely excellent! I am so very thankful that the Lord has led me to your blog this year! I am excited to see what God has for you to share in 2022 and I look forward to getting to know you more outside of this platform as well! Happy New Year and lots of love, hugs and blessings!!!!! 🧡🧡😘😘🌷🌷🤗🤗🙏🙏

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for saving it 🤗.
      I always used to think of self control as something I need to muster up mainly with some prayer thrown in but later realised it truly is submission and letting Christ be the one we hand over the control to.
      With your Bible reading plan, you learnt what works for you. Each of us are different and we have to figure out what helps us stay disciplined with it. Even though this year was choppy for you when it came to committing to scripture reading, as long as you learn from it and make a change then it will be ok.
      I agree that self control is the hinge with all the other fruit.
      I am so happy to have made friends with you too Mandy. It is a joy to be able to share and encourage each other from opposite ends of the world.
      Hope you had a wonderful day. It is half past 8 in the night here and I am vegetating on the couch 😁.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I appreciate the reminder that is is the source – self-control is an oxymoron for me. It’s is the Spirit’s power that makes it possible to live a life in God’s will. When I was is the depths of addiction I didn’t even have the power to cry out for help – God gave me that and began the healing. The only choice I have is whether I will daily (and sometimes momentarily) surrender to His will. Have a blessed New Year and thank you for sharing these wonderful lessons with us.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree, it is called self control but from self we cannot do so. It comes from God. Thank you for sharing your experience with how God gave you strength. Praise Him for that, he never gives up on us.
      Have a wonderful new year. And thank you for always reading and sharing your thoughts.

      Like

  5. So good! Self-control seems to be lacking in our society and the opposite is encouraged. Thank you for the encouragement and the reminder of the importance of self-control. Only by the grace of God can we accomplish this. God bless and keep you, Manu!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Praise God our self-control comes from walking in step with the Holy Spirit! There’s no way we can exercise true self-control without God! Truth-filled post! God bless you, Manu and Happy New Year! (It’s already 2022 where you are, right? We have 9.5 hours to go!)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Happy new year to you Deb. It is mid afternoon here and I am currently in a post lunch daze, made some shrimp and had a nice lunch with family. Having a couple of friends join us for afternoon tea, so baked a fruit cake this morning.
      Hope you have a lovely day too.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Manu, thank you for this edifying series and this particular post/gift i.e. self-control. Two themes that you introduced struck me the most. One, the Triune GOD is the source and our role is to surrender to our Lord GOD and Savior JESUS CHRIST as the Master of our life; without Him, we crumble even if we think we are “formidable” Christian from the “prowling lion.” And two, the role of repentance in this gift of the HOLY SPIRIT. You are right, it is a matter of time before the “fortified” walls of our self sense of self-control can be breached but still GOD the FATHER, in His mercy, allows us to repent and rely on Him as the only Formidable Wall. That fortification/absence from sin, He will give us someday, in the form of our glorified body, which He provides in Heaven. And true, while on earth, we repent on the times we failed Him due to the lack of “self” control. A blessed New Year to you and your family! May GOD keep you inspired this year and beyond to edify us; all for GOD’s sole glory!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for your kind words Gersom. I was very blessed as I studied scripture to do this series. It helped me learn so much. As I did each of the fruit of the spirit, it was a humbling process. Realising that our best is truly filthy rags and we have so much to grow in but at the same time being reminded of the Lords work within us is encouraging to remain committed to our pursuit of becoming more Christ like.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Manu, I loved this post! All the insights you made mention of. Self control being a wall of defense was a good one (I’m probably paraphrasing here). Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us! 💜 Happy New Year!🎆

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Manu, this is a great post on self-control as a Christ-follower. It is a conscious choice to surrender to God’s direction and allow Spirit-influenced self-control to direct our actions. Evil surrounds us – waiting for an opening to influence us and redirect our actions. The Spirit and self-control are our fortress and protection from Satan’s attacks. Self-control is a daily, hourly exercise we need to monitor and refine. Thanks for the reminder.
    Happy New Year, to you and your family! 💖💐✨🌺

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Jeanne. True, it is a choice and as you said it is a daily one and sometimes moment to moment choice we need to exercise.
      Happy new year to you and you family 😊🌺

      Liked by 1 person

  10. This was so good Manu! So inspiring! I love that you pointed to Jesus temptation. I was thinking about this recently and realized that sometimes we aren’t able to flee temptation. Sometimes we become a bit stuck between a rock and a hard place. This is when self-control (and knowing Scripture well) can become so important. Jesus not only used self-control, but He also knew what God’s word said. He deflected Satan’s firey darts with the truth! The truth really does set us free when we’re between thar Rock and a hard place. Praise God that He has given us all the tools we need. May we use them well and grow in the fruits of the Spirit in 2022. Blessings Manu. Thanks for continuing to share your gifts to strengthen the family of Christ. 🥰🌺

    Liked by 1 person

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