Self-control and Shame
If you’re anything like me, you know the things you need to do to stay healthy and passionately pursue God’s unique calling on your life, but you struggle to put those things into practice. It’s human nature to have a big disconnect between what our spirit wants to do, and what our flesh actually does.
Struggling with this lack of self-control and the shame that follows, can feel like a hopeless battle. Especially when it comes to habitual sins that are destroying us. I have been there my friend.
But I want to encourage you that there is hope in the power of the Holy Spirit and renewing our minds with these 30 bible verses about self-control. We don’t have to do it alone. We have God’s help as he continues to grow us into his likeness. We will never be done growing as long as we live, but with every struggle, we will grow stronger in the Lord.
My prayer is for you to be greatly blessed by these 30 bible verses about self-control. As a Professional Christian Counselor, I would also encourage you to get practical support from other believers as you fight this battle. God did not indent for us to go it alone and there is great freedom that can be found in the body of Christ.
One of the areas many Christians struggle in is our habits. That’s why I’ve created a Healthy Habits Bible Study and 90-Day Journal you can do on your own or with a group of women. You can also reach out to me for counseling services. I hope these bible verses about self-control will resonate with you.
30 Bible Verses About Self-Control
“A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls.”
I feel this way often, especially when it comes to snacking at night before bed. I know it’s not what my body needs to stay healthy and sleep well, but I struggle to follow through. Not following through on what I want to do actually increases my stress levels because things feel out of control. A city with broken-down walls is open to attack and is not secure. Developing self-control, can give us that feeling of safety and calm we need.
1 Corinthians 10:13
“The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.”
This is such a beautiful promise when we feel like slaves to our own lack of self-control. We can feel hopeless and defeated in our struggle against temptation. This verse is the truth we need to remind ourselves that God always makes a way out for us.
“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!”
Sometimes instead of just focusing on getting rid of the bad things in our lives, it can be more effective to focus on adding good things and allowing them to crowd out our temptations. The Holy Spirit will produce in us character qualities, like self-control, that we cannot manufacture on our own.
2 Timothy 1:7
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”
When we feel like we are not worthy and can’t do anything right, let’s remember the truth of this verse and the benefits that come with being a child of God.
2 Peter 1:5-7
“In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.”
Notice in this verse that God says “make every effort” to grow in these moral qualities like self-control. God already knows we won’t do it perfectly, but that doesn’t mean we give up trying either. He’s really after our hearts, not our performance.
“Better to be patient than powerful; better to have self-control than to conquer a city.”
I love this bible verse about self-control because it shows us just how much this character quality can change the course of our lives. Many of us when we try to change, want to overhaul everything at once and “conquer that city.” But those strong-armed efforts never last and leave us more defeated than ever. Slow, patient habit development and self-control in the little things will get us further in life than overhauls and boot camps. If you need more help developing habits and self-control, check out our Healthy Habits Bible Study.
1 Corinthians 9:24-27
‘Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.’
Sometimes in our struggles and feeling like we don’t measure up, it can be easy to want to give up trying to please God altogether. This verse flips that idea upside down. Instead of running the race as if we’ve already failed, let’s run like we’re winning because in Jesus we are!
1 Peter 4:7
“The end of the world is coming soon. Therefore, be earnest and disciplined in your prayers.”
There are a lot of areas we can work on being more self-controlled. Our healthy habits, our temptations, our time management, etc. But in light of eternity, and this crazy world coming to an end, prayer is the most important area to be earnest and disciplined in. It doesn’t have to look like hours on our knees, but rather a continual conversation with God in the pockets of our day.
“Rather, he must enjoy having guests in his home, and he must love what is good. He must live wisely and be just. He must live a devout and disciplined life.”
A disciplined life was one of the marks of a man qualified to lead the church. Discipline allows us to move into roles of servant leadership because we have our own stuff (mostly) taken care of. When we live disciplined lives, we have the physical, mental, and emotional space to walk out God’s calling in our lives.
“For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”
There are health goals I have that a lack of self-control is keeping me from reaching. If I’m being honest some days it feels impossible when my actions are the deciding factor. I love this bible verse about self-control and the reminder that when I work for God’s glory, he gives me the strength to do everything he’s called me to do.
“For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds.”
Because of Jesus’ death, we have been set free from sinful pleasures. We may struggle with them at times, but they no longer own us. When we take the long view of eternity instead of getting caught up in our daily worries, it helps us to live with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God. We can ask ourselves “does this matter for eternity?” And we’ll find a greater sense of simplicity and self-control for living.
1 Peter 5:8
“Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.”
The devil knows where we are weak and presses on those weaknesses. Sometimes self-control looks like simply steering clear of temptations rather than relying on willpower. That may mean we need to rid the house of junk food, not hang out with certain people, or avoid situations that will increase our temptation.
“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”
This verse tells us the secret to self-control. Worship God with our bodies and change the way we think. By reading these Bible verses about self-control, and staying regularly in the word of God, he transforms our thinking. When our thinking is renewed, it will influence our feelings and actions into those that are self-controlled and pleasing to God.
1 Corinthians 7:5
“Do not deprive each other of sexual relations, unless you both agree to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time so you can give yourselves more completely to prayer. Afterward, you should come together again so that Satan won’t be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”
Most people have sexual desires, it’s the way God created us. It’s also why he instructed us to marry and have sex regularly unless we aren’t driven by those desires and can stay single for the sake of ministry. If you’re struggling with your intimate life, there may be physical or emotional reasons why, and it’s not God’s best for you. Seek help from a counselor or doctor so you can enjoy a fulfilled and protected marriage.
1 Corinthians 13:4-5
“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.”
Love is a tall order and one that most of us will struggle to live up to every day. But it’s worth aiming for. When we struggle with self-control, we can ask ourselves, “Is this loving to myself or others?” Keeping love in mind will help us live with more self-control.
“Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.”
I definitely struggle with self-control in my words at times. Maybe I am too quick to give an irritated reply instead of a gracious one to my family. Or I share a personal detail about someone and then realize too late I shouldn’t have. Or I bombard a friend with everything going on in my life, instead of first asking about her. I need these bible verses about self-control, particularly in my words, on repeat.
“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”
Have you noticed that when someone tells you to stop thinking about something you can’t stop? This verse in Philippians gives us the antidote when we lack self-control—filling up our minds with the good, instead of simply trying to avoid the bad.
“Fools vent their anger, but the wise quietly hold it back.”
I have done this wrong more times than I can count. I’m guessing you have too. Thank the Lord for his mercy and grace! Next time we feel like letting someone have it, we can remember this proverb and the wisdom of holding back.
“For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.”
Let us remember this truth when we struggle with self-control. Yes, we are tempted by our own flesh, but there are also very real evil forces at work against us. When we acknowledge this, we can tap into the power of the cross that conquered sin and death.
“Teach the older men to exercise self-control, to be worthy of respect, and to live wisely. They must have sound faith and be filled with love and patience.”
Self-control leads others to respect us and fills us with sound faith, love, and patience. This character quality brings so much fruit to our lives, it is worth the work and struggle to get there.
“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”
We all get this backward so easily, I know I do! Seeking the Kingdom above all else gives us that eternal perspective and the self-control we need to make long-term decisions. We can trust God that when we put him first, he will take care of all the details.
“Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way. We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth. And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong. In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.”
When the Bible tells us the most powerful force of evil we have in our bodies is our words, we should listen up! There are so many areas we can work on and grow in self-control, but none is more important than this one.
1 Thessalonians 5:6
“So be on your guard, not asleep like the others. Stay alert and be clearheaded.”
Self-control starts with being aware and alert to what is going on around us. When we can lean in and notice the small things that clue us in we are about to lose self-control, we can be better prepared next time to avoid those pitfalls.
“Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit.”
If you choose to drink, do it with self-control. If you eat dessert, do so in moderation. So much of growth in the Christian life is learning to enjoy the things God gave us as a blessing, without being slaves to those things.
1 Timothy 4:7
“Do not waste time arguing over godless ideas and old wives’ tales. Instead, train yourself to be godly.”
In a world so divided, it’s important for us to remember that arguing with people is a waste of time. So instead of trying to prove ourselves right, let us put all our efforts into growing closer to the Lord.
“The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.”
Ouch, this one hits close to home! There are absolutely times when I loved to talk and then feel ashamed later. Next time we are tempted to talk and talk, we can remind ourselves to use our words to bring life to those around us.
1 John 2:16
“For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.”
This verse hits me right between the eyes! Being residents in this world, we have to use self-control or we will find ourselves following after appearances, achievements, and possessions. This verse doesn’t say achievements or possessions are wrong, but rather pride in those things are. Instead with humility, we can recognize that every good thing comes from God. Instead of craving everything we see and every physical pleasure, we can instead steward well the things we already have and give God thanks for the pleasure he gives us.
1 Corinthians 6:19
“Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself.”
When we struggle with self-control in our food choices, exercise, and sleep habits, it can be helpful to recall this verse and remember that our bodies are not our own, but rather they belong to God. This makes all of our healthy habits, an act of worship.
1 Corinthians 6:12
“You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you. And even though “I am allowed to do anything,” I must not become a slave to anything.”
It is astonishing how many Christians have bodies that are physically unhealthy. Of course, we do have freedom in Christ to drink alcohol, eat cake, and watch Netflix. We are allowed these things, and in moderation, they can be beautiful blessings in life. The problem is most of us struggle with moderation and can easily become slaves to these things which leads to a host of health problems that overtake our lives. Instead of serving God, we are just trying to survive. If you need help to stop emotional eating for good, please check out our Grace & Grit Health Coaching.
“We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.”
Even with the most praiseworthy levels of self-control and planning, as believers, we must remember that ultimately it is God who is in control. We don’t exercise self-control just for the sake of it. We develop self-control so that we can give God room in our lives to lead the way. I find great comfort in remembering that even when I give my best efforts and those fail, the Lord is still working everything together for my good and determining my steps.
My prayer is that these 30 bible verses about self-control have encouraged you in your walk with the Lord. This life we live for God is a journey, where we are saved and forgiven, and yet continually grow. That journey will complete itself when we meet the Lord in heaven. So let’s grow in our self-control, not to earn our way to heaven, but to worship the Lord in our gratitude for all he’s done for us.