It’s a word we’ve been talking about a lot in our home lately, and not just because summer means ice cream season.
It’s because self-control (and the lack of self-control) affects every part of us: from our food choices to our word choices, to our media choices, to our relational choices, and everything in between.
For some of us, controlling ourselves and our impulses may come more easily in some areas than others. Or we might struggle all around.
Regardless of where you stand in this area, I want you to know that we don’t have to struggle alone! We have help!
Last summer, I memorized these verses from Titus 2:11-13: “For the grace of God […] teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self–controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.”
Did you catch that? God’s grace teaches us to say “no” to sin and “yes” to self-controlled lives.
Can it be that simple?
Yes, it is. Because the fruit of the Spirit is… self-control.
Without God’s divine intervention, we’re stuck in an endless cycle of temptation, sin, and despair.
But when the Spirit who raised Jesus abides in us and bears fruit in us, His mark will be evidenced in our lives. And His fruit includes self-control. Spirit-control.
In fact, Paul makes this contrast clear when he says, “Do not get drunk on wine. …Instead, be filled with the Spirit.” (Ephesians 5:18 NIV, emphasis mine).
This verse has less to do with the perils of alcohol and more to do with the reality of living controlled by the Spirit or by something else. Anything else.
Will you live controlled by the Spirit or by chocolate? The Spirit or Instagram? The Spirit or anger? The Spirit or Netflix? The Spirit or chardonnay?
The choice is ours, and Jesus invites us to REST in Him and experience the fruit of His tender Spirit-control in our lives.
When temptation seems to overpower us, we can hide in God, abiding in the Vine that is Jesus, being filled with God’s Spirit in us. As we fix our eyes on Jesus, we can endure any trial, turning from the allure of sin as we delight in our Savior.
What does that look like? It starts with prayer—not just the desperate prayer in the moment of need (though God listens to those pleas too), but our prayer of abiding in Him before temptation strikes.
That’s why I recorded this week’s episode of the Prayers of REST podcast: to pray with you this truth, that the Fruit of the Spirit is Self-Control.
From the podcast…
“For the grace of God […] teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self–controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ .” Titus 2:11–12 NIV
Let’s begin by Reciting God’s Goodness, praising Him for who He is and what He has done in our lives…
My Great and High Priest, You know what it’s like to refuse sin. Even when You were weakened by fasting and wilderness wanderings, You still did not give in to temptation, no matter how strong. So You, Jesus, were tempted and tried in every way, so You can empathize with our weaknesses. I praise You, Jesus, for being fully man and fully God, and fully holy. You never sinned, and so You now extend Your grace to us in our moment of desperate need. How good You are, Lord!
- “In the next few moments, praise God for how He has shown His goodness in your life recently.”
We continue by Expressing Our Neediness, confessing our need for Him and His forgiveness.
Lord, I submit my body to You as instruments of righteousness. Take my hands, my feet, my eyes, my mouth, my ears, my mind, my fingertips, my everything. All I am is Yours! When I face temptation, help me look for Your way of escape instead of just fighting desire in my own power.
- “In the next few moments, confess to God how you have failed to [love Him and love others], and express your desire to abide in Him, so that His Spirit may bear much fruit in your life.”
Now we move into a time of Seeking His Stillness, becoming aware of God’s loving presence surrounding us and filling us this very moment.
Reflect on the moment of your greatest temptation in the past 24 hours: how was God’s grace opening an escape toward a life of self–control? Talk to God about that experience, and then rest in His loving presence.
Finally, let’s Trust God’s Faithfulness. I invite you to declare your confidence in God’s faithfulness to produce fruit in your life, to preach to your own heart and soul that He is trustworthy and He will take care of what you entrust to Him.
Lord, my own willpower cannot change me; only You can. So I surrender to Your Spirit. It’s not by might or power that I’ll gain victory over my flesh but by Your Spirit at work in me. I am Yours.
- “In the next few moments, say it out loud: “God, I trust that You will be faithful.”
For Further Prayer and Study:
Proverbs 16:32 and 25:28
1 Corinthians 9:27 and 10:13
2 Timothy 1:7