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Exploring the importance of self-control

Joseph, one of my favorite biblical characters from our Old Testament, demonstrated remarkable self-control. His story is found in (Genesis 37-50). He was the favored son of Jacob and faced numerous trials throughout his life. You recall that Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers and taken to Egypt. While in Egypt, Joseph was falsely accused by Potiphar's wife, who tried to seduce him. Despite being tempted and facing potential consequences, Joseph maintained his integrity and exercised self-control by refusing her advances. He replied, "How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?" (Genesis 39:9). Joseph's commitment to honoring God demonstrates his remarkable self-control.

In our series, we are exploring a text from (2 Peter 1:5-9). Where the apostle Peter mentions several things we are to "add to our faith."

2 Peter 1:5–9

"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. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins."

In this lesson, we will consider self-control and its importance to our faith as we seek to grow in Christ.

Importance of self-control

Self-control is a crucial virtue in our growth. It enables us to resist temptation and make wise decisions. It plays a significant role in developing our character, integrity, and maturity. Additionally, self-control is essential for maintaining healthy relationships, achieving long-term goals, and living in a way that honors God.


In 2 Peter 1:6, the Greek word for self-control has the meaning of restraining one's passions, desires, and impulses. It involves controlling oneself and exhibiting discipline in various aspects of life. This term conveys the idea of having inner strength and the ability to govern one's behavior as we follow our Lord and seek to add to our faith. Understanding the meaning, as used by Peter, helps us grasp the depth and significance of self-control.

Unpacking Self-Control

Exercising self-control requires discipline and being intentional.

Proverbs 25:28

"Whoever has no rule over his own spirit Is like a city broken down, without walls."

Without self-control, we are like a city without walls. In the ancient world, an unfortified city was left open to attack. In many ways, it was defenseless. When we lack self-control, we are left open and vulnerable. We are tossed back and forth by every desire or lust. Like a city without walls, we leave ourselves open.

James 1:14–15

"But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death."

Jame teaches us about the harmful effects of sin and that we need to be discerning of the things that tempt us.

Let's explore some key areas where self-control plays a crucial role:

Desires and Temptations

Often we are tempted by immediate gratification. Things that please us or fill our needs. Are these aligned with God's purposes? Self-control allows us to say "no" to destructive habits, unhealthy indulgences, and temptations that can hinder our growth in the Lord. By exercising self-control, we can make decisions that honor the Lord and prioritize what truly matters.

In speech

Our words, as James teaches, are powerful.

James 3:7–10

"For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so."

Our words and actions can build, destroy, uplift, or tear down. Self-control in speech means refraining from harmful gossip, slander, or deceptive comments. It involves speaking truthfully, with kindness and respect.

Self-control should be exercised in our words. With our language, we should honor God.

Emotions and Reactions

Emotions can be intense and unpredictable, often leading us astray if left unchecked. Self-control involves regulating our emotions and choosing healthy responses rather than reacting impulsively. It means not allowing anger, jealousy, or fear to dictate our actions but responding with patience, understanding, and grace.

Exercising self-control enables us to align our choices and behaviors with the Spirit. It allows us to be led by the Spirit as we add to our faith.

Cultivating Self-Control

Fruit of the Spirit

Self-control is not solely a product of our efforts but also a fruit of the Spirit's work within us. In Galatians 5:22-23, the apostle Paul lists self-control as one of the characteristics that the Spirit produces in the lives of believers.

Galatians 5:22–23

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law." (emp. added)

Paul highlights the importance of relying on the Lord to develop and strengthen our self-control. As we yield to the Spirit's guidance in our lives, He equips us with self-discipline to resist temptations and make godly choices.

Intentional Effort

While self-control is a gift from the Lord, it also requires our active participation. Developing self-control involves intentional effort and discipline. It calls for a commitment to align our thoughts, desires, and actions with God's Purposes. It requires a willingness to make sacrifices, delay gratification, and persevere through challenging circumstances. We can develop and strengthen our self-control through consistent practice and reliance on God's grace.

Faith and Dependence on God

Cultivating self-control is intimately tied to our faith in the Lord and dependence on Him. Recognizing our limitations, we acknowledge that true self-control comes from surrendering our will to God's will. As we deepen our relationship with Him through prayer, studying His Word, and seeking His guidance, we invite His transformative power to work within our lives.

Practical Steps

A few practical steps we can take to develop self-control may include:

Develop Awareness

Identify areas of weakness and temptation and be discerning.

Set Goals

Are there areas of our lives where we need to develop self-control? Set manageable goals and seek the Lord's guidance and strength through prayer as we work towards self-control.

Healthy Habits

Are there things you know that trigger your temper or emotions? Form healthy habits around these, so you are not left open like a city without walls. Seek God's help through prayer and relying on His strength

Bridging The Context

In the book of 2 Peter, self-control is mentioned as one of the qualities believers should add to their faith, emphasizing its role in our growth and maturity. Self-control allows us to resist the temptations that surround us and make choices aligned with God's purposes. Self-control encompasses resisting temptations, managing speech and actions, and regulating emotions and reactions. It is a gift of the Spirit and requires intentional effort and discipline. Recognizing self-control as a fruit of the Spirit, believers understand the need to rely on God's strength. Developing self-control requires deliberate effort and discipline, but it's not a journey we embark on alone. By depending on God's strength and guidance, we can cultivate self-control.

Questions & Response

  1. Reflecting on the aspects of self-control, identify one area in your life where you struggle the most with self-control. How does this area impact your overall well-being and spiritual growth? What practical steps can you take to achieve greater self-control in that area?

  2. Consider the role of faith and dependence on God in developing self-control. How does recognizing self-control as a fruit of the Spirit impact your approach to cultivating it?

  3. Based on the practical steps, evaluate your current strategies for developing self-control. Which approaches have been effective for you? Which ones have you found challenging to implement?

Social Media Quotes to Share

"Self-control allows us to resist the temptations surrounding us and make choices aligned with God's purposes." #Increase #SelfControl #SpriritualGrowth

"Developing self-control requires intentional effort and discipline, but it's not a journey we embark on alone. We can cultivate self-control by relying on God's strength and guidance." #Increase #SelfControl #SpriritualGrowth

"Self-control is not a mere human endeavor but a divine partnership. God's grace empowers us to live disciplined and purposeful lives for His glory." #Increase #SelfControl #SpriritualGrowth

works cited:

Unless otherwise noted: Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


article: Self-Control

handout: Self-Control

slides (PDF): Self-Control

series image: Increase


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