Self-Control: the Ninth Fruit of the Spirit

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The law is not against such things.

Galatians 5:22-23

Hey howdy hey, guys! Sorry, I’m in a peppy mood at the moment.

Today we will be discussing the ninth (and last) fruit of the Spirit. This article series has been a great experience for me, and I hope all of you who have been reading along have been finding it helpful as well. Here are the links to the previous fruits if you wish to read or review them:

Love | Joy | Peace | Patience | Kindness | Goodness | Faithfulness | Gentleness

So… what is the last fruit? It is the ever-difficult virtue of self-control. Let’s dive in, shall we?

What Does Self-Control Mean?

The KJV actually uses the word temperance instead, which the Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines as “moderation in action, thought, or feeling” or “habitual moderation in the indulgence of the appetites or passions.” 

Basically, temperance–or self-control–is limiting how much you indulge in the things that you enjoy. It’s establishing boundaries and restraining yourself from doing certain things (even seemingly good things). 

It makes sense that a person who is in submission to the Holy Spirit would have control over their thoughts and actions. A Christian’s mind should be dominated by the guidance of the Spirit, not that of the world, because the world (and even our own selves!) will lie to us. Our feelings and desires will lead us astray because we are sinful beings. But if we let the eternal truth of God dwell in us richly, and we are careful to heed the warnings and direction of the Spirit, that is a good place to be.   

Be Sober-Minded

In order to live a godly life, we have to be in control and let the Spirit be in control. We cannot let worldly influences push us toward a worldly way of thinking. We have to be on our guard against the enemy at all times, and we cannot do that to the best of our ability if we are constantly consumed by the wiles of the devil.  

“Be sober-minded, be alert. Your adversary the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. Resist him, firm in the faith, knowing that the same kind of sufferings are being experienced by your fellow believers throughout the world.” (1 Peter 5:8-9).

“And don’t get drunk with wine, which leads to reckless living, but be filled by the Spirit: speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making music with your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of Christ.” (Ephesians 5:18-21). 

We are to be firm in the faith, standing on Christ as our solid foundation. Everything else is like sand and will eventually falter. Everything else will let us down after a time. Everything else will lead us to places we never imagined we would dare go.

“Sin will take you farther than you ever expected to go; it will keep you longer than you ever intended to stay, and it will cost you more than you ever expected to pay.”

Kay Arthur

If you do find yourself in a situation of addiction, please know this: the power of Christ is stronger than any chains that bind you. Jesus died so that sinners may come to repentance, prodigal sons and daughters may come home, and captives may be set free. Nothing is too powerful or dominating for God to handle. And no situation is beyond the hope of Christ.

Remember That Your Body is a Temple

“Don’t you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought at a price. So glorify God with your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

We are called to be self-controlled not only for the physical benefits that can come with it, but also for the glory of God. Everything we do should be for the glory of God.

Trust that God’s Commands Are For Our Good

2 Timothy 1:7 says this in the ESV: “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” 

God does not want us to be afraid. He does not want us to make decisions based on fear or for us to be controlled by our emotions. He has given us a spirit of power, love, and self-control so that we may walk confidently according to His ways. We are to allow the Spirit to guide us, not our passions or our desires. 

We can be confident on God’s path, in God’s will, and within God’s boundaries because He cares for us and wants what is best for us. Having trust in God is vital for the Christian. Knowing that God’s commands are meant for our good will help us to live with self-control. 

The Bible says that He disciplines those He loves. Self-discipline (in a moderate, healthy way) I think is a way we can show God that we love Him.

If we love God, we will obey His command to be holy as He is holy. We will desire to be set apart. We will work to cultivate the fruit of self-control and self-discipline in our lives because we want to walk as Jesus walked.   

The Why Behind It

“Don’t you know that the runners in a stadium all race, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way to win the prize. Now everyone who competes exercises self-control in everything. They do it to receive a perishable crown, but we an imperishable crown. So I do not run like one who runs aimlessly or box like one beating the air. Instead, I discipline my body and bring it under strict control, so that after preaching to others, I myself will not be disqualified.” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).

Why do we discipline ourselves and exercise self-control? Because we are runners in the race of life, and our prize is an imperishable crown. We are running toward Heaven–toward eternal life–toward Christ. We must keep on keeping on with our eyes fixed on Him, and we can do that best when we are free from the sin (or bad habits in general) that so easily ensnares us.

  • Deciding not to eat the third or fourth donut isn’t easy, but we do it because it isn’t healthy for us. We do not live on bread alone.
  • Getting up early to pray isn’t easy (trust me, I know). But Jesus showed us that prayer should be a priority.
  • Staying home while your friends go to a party may not be an easy thing for you, but choosing to honor your parents’ rules or your own morals is a respectable choice.
  •  Daily Bible reading and quiet time may not come easily for you, but setting that routine will prove more profitable than you can imagine. 
  • Choosing to wait until later in life to do something may not be easy, but it will be worth it. Don’t “compromise the ultimate in order to gain the immediate.”

All in all, self-control and self-discipline aren’t fun. Sometimes difficult decisions have to be made, and battles with temptation have to be fought. But remember why we do it: to gain an imperishable crown. To hear “well done, my good and faithful servant.” 

As a writer, I always find it encouraging to remember my “why.” I pray that you will remember your “why” today too. 

And remember this as well: when we are weak, He is strong.

In what areas could you better exercise self-control to live a God-honoring life? What habits do you think God is calling you to change? 

~~~

And that is the last fruit of the Spirit, y’all! I will have a concluding post next week to wrap up the series, but then we are done! I am so excited to see what will come next on the blog, so please stick around to find out with me 😉 I’ll see you next week.

Always His,