This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may earn a small commission from purchased products at no additional cost to you.

Do you struggle with willpower and self-discipline in your eating (or any area of your life)? Use these 15 Bible verses on self-control to grow in this Fruit of the Spirit.

Food cravings are no joke. They are strong and convincing and usually lead you to eat way more junk food than you need.

God created food to sustain us, fuel us, bring people together, and bring us enjoyment, but food was never meant to control us.

Just like other pleasures in life.

If you are growing in self-control for your weight loss journey or just to draw nearer to Christ, memorizing Scripture is a fantastic way to improve your self-discipline.

I like to write these verses on note cards and keep them in areas where I tend to experience temptation – on the fridge, in my car, on my nightstand, etc.

It helps me to turn to God in those moments of temptation and listen for God’s voice (like in the midst of emotional eating).

Here are my favorite Scriptures to use.

Graphic saying 15 Bible Verses on Self-Control with a picture of a woman holding up a donut and apple.

Scripture on Self-Control

Galatians 5:22-23

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.

Self-control is listed in the Bible as one of the Fruits of the Spirit – a sign that Christ is in us.

If we let our desires lead our decisions, our lives (and our bodies) can quickly spin out of control.

Self-control is a discipline that God grows in us when we continually choose to die to our flesh and live in Him.

Fulfilling those cravings feels so good at the time, but Christ offers us a freedom that is only found in honoring those healthy boundaries.

Romans 7:18

For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.

It is SO frustrating to know what is right and still not be able to manage to do it.

So what is the missing piece between our knowledge and action?

Jesus.

Sin runs deeps insides of us, but as Christians, we have the One in us who can give us the strength to stand up and say no to temptation.

We don’t have the strength on our own to be able to choose what is right, especially when it doesn’t feel good.

Fortunately, we serve a very good, ever-faithful God who works wonders in our weakness as we seek Him.

Proverbs 25:27-28

It is not good to eat too much honey, nor is it honorable to search out matters that are too deep. Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.

Honey itself is not a bad thing. It tastes so sweet and wonderful. Food is such a blessing when you eat it for the right reasons!

But it seems as humans, when we get a taste of something good, our appetite becomes insatiable and we crave more and more and more.

Have you ever thought to yourself, “Well, I’ve already had 3 cookies…what’s 1 more?”

That’s how the enemy works.

He convinces you that just a little bit more is okay. And then a little bit more after that.

Don’t be like a city whose walls are broken. Stand firm, knowing when enough is enough.

1 Corinthians 7:5

Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

This verse is referring to sex, but the concept of self-control here is the same.

As I mentioned about, small lapses in our judgement, giving in to just a little bit of temptation doesn’t always feel sinful.

It doesn’t always feel like we need to fight it.

When we give in to temptation once, even just a little bit, it’s like Satan sticking his foot in the door, giving him more power to tempt you even more.

That’s the lie of temptation. It tells you that when you give in, it’s going to feel so good and you’ll feel so satisfied…

But that satisfaction never comes and all you’re left with is that feeling that you want more.

1 Timothy 3:2-3

Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,  not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.

In this verse, Timothy was explaining what they should look for in a person before appointing them as an overseer.

In their list of character traits, self-control is a biggie and applicable to just about everything else on the list.

It takes self-control to accomplish all of those things – staying faithful to your wife, keeping your cool in frustrating situations, not drinking too much, not losing your temper, not arguing (even when you think you’re right), and not becoming too focused on money.

2 Timothy 3:1-5

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.  People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,  without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good,  treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.

I included 5 verses here because they are all so powerful.

This is a strong warning to avoid people lacking self-control.

It uses strong wording, saying that people without self-control love pleasure more than God.

Yikes! I never want that to be something that defines me!

And the end of the verse instructs them to, “Have nothing to do with such people.”

Don’t be such people. Be an example of Christ that others can look up to.

Titus 2:11-12

For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 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 is full of encouragement to be self-controlled. It mentions that elders need to be self-controlled (Titus 1:8), older men should be taught to be self-controlled (Titus 2:2), older women need to be self-controlled (Titus 2:5), and younger men should be encouraged to be self-controlled, as well (Titus 2:6).

So, basically, the Bible says every age group of people really need to work on this character quality!

And this passage explains that it’s the grace of God that teaches us to say no to sin (because, I’m certainly not strong enough to resist without His help!).

2 Peter 1:5-8

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.

For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

There is a growth process listed in this verse to help us live powerfully and purposefully.

Becoming a Christian is not the end of the road!

After you have faith, strive to add goodness, knowledge, self-control, and so on.

I want people to know how Jesus has transformed my life and developing self-control is an important way to prevent myself from being “ineffective and unproductive.”

2 Timothy 1:7

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

It’s crazy how often we let fear guide our decisions.

With money, food, and all kinds of other pleasures in life, there is this fear that there isn’t enough to go around.

Instead of gathering up as much of those things for ourselves as we possibly can, God calls us to live a different way.

He calls us to be content with what we have, knowing that He is our provider.

We don’t need to live in fear or timidity because the Hold Spirit is our source of all the power, love, self-discipline we need.

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, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

This is my go-to verse when it comes to food cravings (and other temptations!).

It is a powerful reminder of a few different things.

#1 – I am not alone. Temptation can be so isolating if we believe we are the only one struggling.

#2 – I can do this. God is faithful and knows my limits. He won’t tempt me more than I can bear, which means He knows I have the strength to overcome it.

#3 – There is always another way. It makes sense in the moment to think that the only way to satisfy my (crazy) strong desire for Oreos is to give in and eat them, but there is always another way to respond to that urge.

I’m not saying it’s easy, but this verse reminds me to stop, think, and look for the way out of temptation.

Romans 12:1

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.

There is no denying that developing self-control requires sacrifice.

Often, we view sacrifice as just giving up something we really want. It’s about deprivation and missing out on happiness.

My pastor explains sacrifice differently.

He says sacrifice is giving up something you love for something you love more.

That really resonated with me. It’s helped me learn to offer my body as a living sacrifice in a way that honors God in my eating and worships Him in my exercise.

James 1:19-20

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.

Self-control is a character trait that affects so many aspects of your life – your weight loss journey, the words you speak, the way you express frustration and anger.

The incredible thing about self-control is that when you improve it in one area (like making healthier food choices when you really want to eat a whole chocolate cake), it spreads to other areas.

You learn not to respond to your emotions and urges right away, so you become more patient and temperate in all things.

1 Corinthians 9:24-25

Run in such a way as to get the prize. 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.

We were all created for a unique purpose. It’s an incredible honor that God would create you and I to do good works to serve Him and others.

But all purposes in our lives require strict training – losing weight, learning to read, running a marathon, earning your PhD, and so much more.

Doing great things requires great self-control.

1 Corinthians 6:12

“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything.

Human freedom tells us, “Do whatever makes you happy. You deserve it.”

God knows that is not the best way to live and will never bring us true happiness anyways. He gives us healthy boundaries to enjoy the good things in life, but not to the point of excess.

You have the choice to live however you’d like. You can go eat a family size bag of Cheetos right now if you want to.

But just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

Food cravings have a way of starting small (“a cookie sounds good right now”) and growing into a monstrous problem that dictates our decisions (“you need to go through a drive-thru on your way home and toss the evidence before your husband can see”).

Be watchful that you aren’t being mastered by those things.

2 Corinthians 12:9

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

As humans, we love to be independence. We can’t wait to get our driver’s licenses, move out of the house, and earn our way in the world with promotions, certifications, and achievements.

We want to prove that we can do it all – balance family, run our schedules, find success.

We desperately try to hide any sign of weakness because that would show others that we are failing.

But God isn’t limited by our human standards.

If you are struggling with lapses in self-control due to temptation, cravings, and mistakes, know that God’s grace is still enough.

And when we admit our struggles and seek Him to fill in our gaps, it’s only then that we can be complete.

What an amazing God we serve who can work even more powerfully in our shortcomings!

More Bible Verse Collections

Pin This Post For Later!

Long graphic saying 15 Bible Verses on Self-Control with a picture of a woman holding up a doughnut and apple.