Self control bible reading plan

Steps To Self-Control

Self-Control When I Have None

I’ve always thought it ironic that self-control was the last Fruit of the Spirit.

Did Paul write it that way on purpose?

In my life,  by the time I repeat Galatians 5:22-23 (the Fruit of the Spirit verse), I usually have some self-control. I repeated this verse often as a stay-at-home-mommy with little kids. It saved me. It saved them.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”  (Gal. 5:22-23)

By the time I finally reached “self-control” I finally had some. “Thank you, Jesus!”

But self-control encompasses more than disciplining children. It ranges from resisting temptations, to doing our jobs with excellence, to taking care of our bodies and souls.

I experienced this battle just last week. Despite my resolve not to eat from the golden arches, I needed comfort food, so I drove to the nearest drive-thru.

I lost all self-control and will power.

I ate the whole quarter-pounder meal, and then I took a nap.

A two hour nap. I didn’t have time to take a nap, but I did.

You’ve been there too haven’t you? We all have triggers that lead us to the things we don’t want to do. (Romans 7: 14-25)

The majority of us struggle with self control and willpower; therefore, we all could use some help in the self-control department. Here’s some tools I’m trying to implement in my life:

Steps to Self-Control

1. Re-train your brain.

2. Re-word your reason.

3. Pray for Holy Spirit Grace

It’s in Our Heads

  • Re-train your brain.

Both the Bible and science tell us the battle is in our heads.

The willpower response is a reaction to an internal conflict. You want to do one thing, such as smoke a cigarette or supersize your lunch, but know you shouldn’t. Or you know you should do something, like file your taxes or go to the gym, but you’d rather do nothing. The prefrontal cortex (that section of the brain right behind your forehead) is the part that helps us with things like decision-making and regulating our behavior. Self-control, or willpower, falls under this heading, and thus is taken care of in this part of the brain. (6 Ways to Develop Greater Willpower)

When I read this paragraph, I was amazed. The Bible and science agree on this one. In order to attain healthy self-control and will power, we must change the way we think. 

We must replace our thoughts with God’s. I know it is easier said than done. But we can retrain our thoughts by memorizing promises of God.

What we listen to and watch affect our thoughts. Listen to Christian radio stations. The music gets into you. Attend a worship service weekly if possible, and listen to biblical teacher’s podcasts or YouTube videos. (I know a really encouraging YouTube channel!)

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Romans 12:2

This week our Bite of Bead Bible Reading Plan is filled with Scriptures that will help us focus on Truth to help us with self-control and will-power.

Bible reading plan self control

Scriptures and Printable

Monday: Philippians 4:8-9: Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

  • When we are tempted, there is always a false thought that we are harboring causing our lack of control. Ask the Lord to lead you to the truth. Take a deep breath. Pray. And write down what you hear from Holy Spirit.

Tuesday: 1 Corinthians 10:13: No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted,[c] he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

Wednesday: 2 Timothy 1:7 For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power,love and self-discipline.

  • Write down what you fear, and then write down how God could work in that situation.

A Tool for Your Quiet Time

Thursday: Philippians 4:13: I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

  • Give up one favorite thing today and quote this verse all day.

Friday: Romans 12:1-2: Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

  • How does believing God loves us change our actions?

Saturday: Proverbs 16:32: Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city.

  • Why is this true?

Sunday: 1 Corinthians 9:25:  Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.

  • Sit with the Lord in a quiet place and close your eyes. Imagine receiving the crown as you reach the finish line.

Grab the printable before you continue reading!

women laughing

It’s all about our language

  • Reword Your Reason

Because our mind plays such a powerful role in our behavior, what we say affects our actions too.

When my kids were little, we used reverse psychology to get them to do something they weren’t doing for us. “You can’t do that!” we would tease. It worked 95% of the time! They would often perform the desired task to prove us wrong.

Could it be the lure of the “I can’t” that makes us want to do the things we shouldn’t do?

…it appears that self-affirmation can help you have more self-control when you’re running out, according to a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. A good example of this is the difference between telling yourself “I can’t” and “I don’t.” Taking back control of the situation using the phrase “I don’t” has been shown to be more effective at helping you to stick to your plan and break bad habits.”  6 Ways to Develop Greater Willpower

I’m going to try this! The next time I’m tempted, I’m going to declare out loud,  “I don’t eat unhealthy fast-food. This will sabotage my health. I don’t need it. I need something better!”

Because the truth is, what I really need at that moment is the power of God and the Presence of His Spirit.

Most importantly, I need His grace to choose life over death. I need Him to help me persevere. We all do.

We need the Fruit of the Spirit of Self-Control.

Yield to Holy Spirit

  • Pray for grace and the Holy Spirit Fruit

A few years ago I spent nine weeks writing on each Fruit of the Spirit. You can go back and read the articles on love, joy, peace, patience , kindness,  and goodness , faithfulness, and gentleness. Have you noticed that each fruit of the Spirit helps us in our relationships with others?

The gentleness Paul wrote about in the Greek actually means “strength under control.” It is closely related to self-control. You really can’t have one without the other.

Jesus demonstrated gentleness (prautese) and self-control like no one else. He is our example and goal. I love Holley Gerth’s words about how we have self-control in this world where there is hate and violence and pain.

Instead Jesus fought with love. Not the fluffy, cotton-candy kind. No, the sort that is willing to be laid wide open, to sacrifice, to reach out to even our enemies. Love is still the most powerful weapon in the world. He also fought with gentleness, which we so often misunderstand. It’s not weakness or fear; it’s strength under control. “A gentle tongue can break a bone” (Proverbs 25:15). “Always be gentle toward everyone” (Titus 3:2). Don’t be fooled: Gentle is tough as nails.

 (Holley Gerth from her blog post, Love is the Most Powerful Weapon in the World.)

Saved by Grace

Finally, I want to remind you that it is only by grace that we are saved.

Our self-control or lack of it does not erase our names from the book of Life. But the lack of self-control brings more harm than good. It doesn’t usher in the Kingdom of God.

The lack of self-control brings guilt, shame, anger, and frustration. It divides marriages and families, destroys health and dreams. The lack of willpower to do the right thing never nourishes abundant life.

God is not mad at you when you fail. He offers His grace and His Spirit, so we can be victorious next time. And He redeems. Ask Him to redeem your failures. Fail forward my friends into His open arms.

I love how a friend of mine always ends her e-mails.

You Are So Loved.

Thanks Bonnie! (Check out her blog, More than Just Coffee.)

We are loved. Self-Control or not.

Leave a comment, which scripture bite above encourages you the most in this journey toward Holy Spirit Self-Control?

Digging Deep in Self-Control,


PS. If this was encouraging, and you don’t want to miss any Bite of Bread reading plans and posts, subscribe today! You’ll receive a 22-Day Devotion on Psalm 119 called Finding the Beauty {Full} in God’s Word.Just click here to dig deep to live fully. 🙂 


  1. […] food. I know I’m not alone. A few years ago I wrote an article on steps to take when you need food control. These were the […]

  2. This is such good stuff, Andy! Thank you.

    1. Thank you Kirsten! Words we all need!

  3. […] come true, but destiny isn’t always like that. When my kids were small, and I struggled as a stay-at-home mom, I applied for a job that I didn’t get. The prior year loneliness had filled my days along […]

  4. Venus Schrader

    This is a good word Sis. Love the re words. Thank You for helping me cultivate my garden of faith. May God continue to use you to pour out His love on His children. That we may grow in the Truth in Jesus name. Love and Blessings.

    1. Thank you Venus! We’re doing this together, girl!

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