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Bible Guidelines to Help You Achieve Self-Control

MsDora, a former teacher and Christian counselor, presents practical Scriptural principles for joyful everyday living.

“We must have something to say ‘yes’ to, and something to say ‘no’ to.

“We must have something to say ‘yes’ to, and something to say ‘no’ to.

“In order for us to practice self-control, we must have a goal,” writes Danny Silk in Keep Your Love On. “We must have something we are saying ‘yes’ to, which necessarily comes with things that we must say ‘no’ to. We use self-control to maneuver ourselves toward this ‘yes.’"

Silk’s proposal is practical, and worth a try for those who need practice in self-control. Begin by identifying your personal goals. Find appropriate principles to which you can say “yes.” For example, if positive thinking is one of your goals, the Bible guideline in Philippians 4:8 (NLT) is helpful. “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable.” Say “yes” to thoughts which match the guideline, and say “no” to thoughts which are contrary. With practice, you will manage control over your thoughts.

The following quotes present Bible guidelines for vital areas of your life where self-control is critical. Select from these guidelines (and there are many more distributed throughout the Bible), which you can adopt as your goal. Say ‘yes’ and begin to apply them in your daily living. They will help you advance to your goal of self-control over thought, tongue, temper, temple, task and time.


1. "Therefore, practice self-control, and keep your minds clear so that you can pray." —1 Peter 4:7 NOG (Say “yes” to mindfulness and sobriety, and “no” to distraction and confusion.)

2. "Do not think of yourself more highly than you should. Instead, be modest in your thinking, and judge yourself according to the amount of faith that God has given you." —Romans 12:3 GNT

3. “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs." —Matthew 6: 31,32 NLT

4. “‘Let none of you think evil in your heart against your neighbor; and do not love a false oath. 'For all these are things that I hate,’ says the Lord.” —Zechariah 8:17 (NKJV)

5. "Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise." —Philippians 4:8 NLT

Say "yes" to words that build up. Say "no" to words that destroy.

Say "yes" to words that build up. Say "no" to words that destroy.


6. "Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from telling lies." —Psalm 34:13 NIV

7. "Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose." —Proverbs 18:21 MSG

8. "People who are careful about what they say will save themselves from trouble." —Proverbs 21:23 ERV

9. "Sin is not ended by using many words. But those who are wise control their tongues." —Proverbs 10:19 NIRV

10. "Listen before you answer. If you don't, you are being stupid and insulting." —Proverbs 18:13 GNT


11. "Whoever controls his temper is better than a warrior, and anyone who has control of his spirit is better than someone who captures a city." —Proverbs 16:32 ISV

12. "Don’t sin by letting anger control you. Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry." —Ephesians 4:26 NLT

13. "My dear brothers and sisters, always be more willing to listen than to speak. Keep control of your anger." —James 1:19 ERV

14. "Church officials are in charge of God’s work, and so they must also have a good reputation. They must not be bossy, quick-tempered, heavy drinkers, bullies, or dishonest in business." —Titus 1:7 CEV

15. "Let go of anger, and leave rage behind. Do not be preoccupied. It only leads to evil." —Psalm 37:8 NOG

Say "yes" to self-discipline. Say "no" to self-neglect.

Say "yes" to self-discipline. Say "no" to self-neglect.

Temple (Body)

"Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you?" —1 Corinthians 6:19 NLT

16. "I [Paul] discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified." —1 Corinthians 9:27 ESV

17. "Wine and beer make people lose control; they get loud and stumble around. And that is foolish." —Proverbs 20:1 ERV

18. "Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body… So you must honor God with your body." —1 Corinthians 6:18,20 NLT

19. "A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones." —Proverbs 14:30 NIV

20. "You [God] created every part of me; you put me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because … all you do is … wonderful." —Psalm 139: 13, 14 GNT


21. "In all the work you are given, do the best you can. Work as though you are working for the Lord, not any earthly master." —Colossians 3:23 ERV

22. “‘Whoever refuses to work is not allowed to eat.’ We say this because we hear that there are some people among you who live lazy lives and who do nothing except meddle in other people's business.” —2 Thessalonians 3:10,11 GNT

23. "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom." —Ecclesiastes 9:10 NIV

24. "Lazy people should learn a lesson from the way ants live. They have no leader, chief, or ruler, but they store up their food during the summer, getting ready for winter."—Proverbs 6:6,8 GNT

25. "Work for six days, but on the seventh day, rest." —Exodus 23:12 ERV

Say yes to "diligence. Say "no" to laziness.

Say yes to "diligence. Say "no" to laziness.


26. "Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil." —Ephesians 5:15

27. "We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us. The night is coming, and then no one can work." —John 9: 4 NLT

28. "How long is the lazy man going to lie around? When is he ever going to get up? I'll just take a short nap,’ he says; ‘I'll fold my hands and rest a while.’ But while he sleeps, poverty will attack him like an armed robber." —Proverbs 6: 9-11 GNT

29. "Put it [the vision from God] in writing, because it is not yet time for it to come true. But the time is coming quickly, and what I show you will come true. It may seem slow in coming, but wait for it; it will certainly take place, and it will not be delayed." —Habakkuk 2:3 GNT

30. "He [God] has set the right time for everything… So I realized that all we can do is be happy and do the best we can while we are still alive." —Ecclesiastes 3: 11,12 GNT

And Remember . . .

When you say “yes” to the principles you selected as your goal, be consistent in your practice of self-control. It takes time for self-control to become a habit, but without practice you will never improve. Say "yes" to commit to the habit of self-control.

© 2022 Dora Weithers