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The Fruit Of The Spirit Is Self-Control

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

Galatians 5:22-23

Humans were created full of mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual energy. But to be most beneficial, these must be properly used and controlled. The fruit of self-control reflects that we are allowing the Holy Spirit to conform us into the image of Jesus.

Self-Control Defined

The Greek word translated “self-control” is enkrateia, is only used three times in the Bible as a noun. The remainder of the time, self-control is used as an adjective, defining the nature of the life of a Christ-follower.

“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age”

Titus 2:11-12

Self-control as the fruit of the Spirit is the self-denial of our fleshly desires or pleasures. Self-control stands in contrast to the self-indulgences we as human beings tend to succumb to.

The richness of the Greek word for self-control incorporates strength, power, or mastery over self. It is the ability to rule ourselves under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Self-control is self-discipline.

The verb form related to self-control is enkrateuomai, which is used in 1 Corinthians 9:25 to describe the strict training and discipline of athletes who are striving to win the prize. Paul encourages the Corinthians to “run in such a way as to get the prize”. He goes on to say, “I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” In this reference, Paul is speaking of keeping his body in subjection, controlling desires that are not pleasing to God.

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The athlete who works hard to train his body only when his coach is watching will never win the prize. The driver who obeys the traffic signal only when a policeman is nearby is not practicing self-control. The worker who slows down on the job when the foreman is absent is not self-disciplined. All of these demonstrate an outward appearance of conforming to the expectations of others without any real change taking place in our hearts.

The verb form enkrateuomai also refers to the Christian’s mastery over sexual desires: “But if they (the unmarried) cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.” Enkrateia refers to our responsibility to control our more sensual passions, which includes both our sexual desires as well as over-indulgence in eating and drinking.

Self-control is mastery over the desires of self

Growing In Self-Control

Lack of self-control leads to excesses, to an emphasis on satisfying the sinful desires of our flesh. The best antidote is to be surrendered to the Holy Spirit. When we yield to the Spirit, we place ourselves under the Spirit’s control, and He then helps us gain mastery over our weakness.

Jesus, in John 3:6 said, “Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit?” Without the help of the Holy Spirit our natural tendencies are to give in to our sinful desires. But when we yield to the Spirit, the new nature within us causes us to want what the Spirit wants for us. E

A Balanced Life

The principle of balance is one of the natural laws of the universe. God desires that Christians live balanced lives. This includes spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional balance. All of the human powers God has given to us, such as the capacity to reason, to feel, and to exercise our will, have the possibility of being abused. That is why we need the Holy Spirit’s help to learn self-control so that there will be a healthy balance among all of the innate power God placed within us. A balanced life is a life of moderation.

  • Self-control of our tongue
  • Self-control of our sexual desire
  • Self-control of our daily habits
  • Self-control in how we use our time
  • Self-control of our mind
  • Self-control of our spiritual life

The Holy Spirit is the power who perfects holiness in us and makes Christ a living reality in our lives. He does this by producing in us the fruit of self-control. Self-control as the fruit of the Spirit counteracts the works of the sinful nature. Once you are saved and the Holy Spirit indwells your life, you are no longer under bondage to the sinful nature.


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