In the first two lessons of the Who Am I Bible Study series we covered the topics of self-denial and self-affirmation.  This third lesson addresses the topic of self-control.

This Bible study is designed to be done over a five day period.  We provide the daily study questions here for you.  There's a link at the bottom of this page where you can compare your answers.

Day One

Proverbs 4:23

From our last lesson, Christians understand themselves as first created in the image of God, subsequently marred by sin, and then gracefully redeemed for the glory of God. 

Further, Christians understand that they have both an old self and new self, and both compete to dominate their lives.  It's only with this understanding that Christians can approach the idea of self-control and see it as the absolute best tool we have to sanctify ourselves. 

To start this Self-Control Bible study, we should first ask "What is self-control?"  Or perhaps we should simply ask, "What about ourselves is it that we can control?"

Every sane and civilized man must have some set of principles by which he chooses to reject some of his desires and to permit others.

C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity

First, what we cannot control might be easy to define.  For instance, if we don't sleep we'll eventually fall asleep.  We don't control when the sun rises or whether an insect will bite us.  

Here's a list of other things we can't control

  • who our parents, brothers, and sisters etc. are, in essence - our families
  • the circumstances we face, yes we can control some but not all
  • the forces and impacts of weather such as storms, rain, sunshine, and drought  
  • what other people do, even if we have authority over them
  • for some people, they have absolutely no control of any kind over their governments 
  • the length of our lives - we can choose to live healthy lives but we can't choose their lengths

Question:  What are the five most important things in your life that you can control?

Day Two

Psalm 19:14

In the Christian Standard Bible there are basically three Greek words that are translated seventeen times to the English word self-control in the New Testament.  

Here are the three Greek words in root form:

  • ἐγκράτεια - enkrateia - 8 of 17 occurrences
  • σώφρων - sophron - 5 of 17 occurrences
  • νηφάλιος - nephalios - 4 of 17 occurences

ἐγκράτεια - enkrateia means restraint of one's emotions, impulses and desires.   

σώφρων - sophron means to be in control of oneself, prudent, thoughtful, and self-controlled. 

νηφάλιος - nephalios means either being very moderate in the drinking of alcoholic beverages, to being restrained in conduct, self-controlled, or level-headed.1 

Question:  What are the different contexts for the calls for self-control in the following passages?  Also, who is it that should have control over themselves? 

  • I Corinthians 7:5 and 9  (in some versions translated as incontinency) 
  • Titus 1:8  (in some versions translated as temperate or disciplined)
  • Titus 2:1-6  (in some versions translated as temperate or sober-minded)
  • II Peter 1:1-9  (in some versions translated as temperance)

Day Three

Psalm 53:2

The Hebrews writer tells us we should pursue holiness, that is sanctification (Hebrews 12:14).  Self-control is essentially a tool or method Christians use to sanctify themselves.  Or said another way - a means to progressively become less like sin and more like Christ.

Question: From the following Scriptures, what are five other methods or tools Christ followers can use to sanctify themselves?2

  • Psalm 1:2, Matthew 4:4, and John 17:17
  • Matthew 28:19:20
  • Ephesians 5:18-20
  • Ephesians 6:18 and Philippians 4:6
  • Hebrews 10:24-25

Day Four

Question: What is your motivation to obey God, to control or sanctify yourself?  You might remember that Jesus said "If you love me, you will keep my commands" (John 14:15).  This may be the only reason anyone ever needs.

However, there are ten other reasons we can find in Scripture.3  List the ten reasons to obey God from the passages below. 

  • Matt 5:8
  • Matt 6:19-21
  • Acts 5:11
  • Romans 13:5
  • Philippians 4:8-9
  • II Timothy 2:20
  • Hebrews 12:1-2
  • I Peter 1:12
  • I Peter 3:1-2
  • I Peter 3:9-12

Day Five

 As we close this Self-Control Bible Study we consider an important question.  

Question: What's the greatest resource a Christian has to help control him or herself, to deny our old selves, and affirm our new selves from a reading of Galatians 5, verses 16-25?

Click here to compare your answers.

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1 Arndt, William, Frederick W. Danker, Walter Bauer & F. Wilbur Gingrich. 2000. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.  Enkrateia is found seven times translated as self-control: Acts 24:25; Galatians 5:23; I Corinthians 7:5-9, 9:25; II Peter 1:6.  Sophron is found five times translated as self-control: I Timothy 3:2, and Titus 1:8, 2:2, 2:5, and 2:6.  Nephalios is found four times translated as self-control: I Timothy 3:11, I Thessalonians 5:6 & 8, and II Timothy 4:5.    

2 Grudem, Wayne. 1999. Bible Doctrine. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. p. 332.

3  Ibid, p. 333.

We pray this Bible study on self-control has blessed you.

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