Fruit of the Spirit: Self-Control Looks like Christlikeness

Chelsea Mosher   -  

In the weakest moments of his life, Jesus demonstrated self-control. Though he was spit on, rejected, beaten, and hung on a tree to die, he did not invoke his divine power or privilege, though he could have done so easily. Jesus didn’t call on angels to come down. He did not enact powerful judgment on his executioners. He didn’t even defend himself against false accusations.Instead, Jesus endured death on the cross for the ultimate purpose of salvation for all who believe in him.

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control are all wrapped up in the person of Jesus Christ. Paul’s list of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23 comes directly after a list of the results of sin:

“When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these.” — Galatians 5:19-21

While the fruit of the Spirit is a list of Christlike qualities that should be evident in our lives, self-control is a clear call back to Paul’s warning against the results of unbridled sin in our lives.

When we give in to everything our human nature desires, we’re left in bondage to invasive, dangerous sin.

It’s not just about saying no to sin; it’s about redirecting our eyes to the only One who can grow the fruit of self-control in our lives. Withholding ourselves from things that feel good — outbursts, sexual sin, unchecked pleasure, drunkenness, etc. — can only last for so long before we start feeling the pull to fill our lives with things that seemingly satisfy. The key to self-control is being filled with the Holy Spirit, the never-ending supply of true satisfaction.

The Spirit’s work to bring about self-control in our lives allows us to replace sin with the fruit of the Spirit. We trade out sexual immorality for real love, lust and pleasure for true joy, division for peace, selfish ambition for patience, quarreling for kindness, dissension for goodness, jealousy and envy for faithfulness, and hostility for gentleness.


We ask the Holy Spirit to weed out sin in our lives on a daily basis and fill us up with Christlikeness instead. We look to Jesus as our ultimate example of self-control — the God of the universe had every right to exert his power, but he chose not to. That same power that rose him up from the grave lives in us today so that the fruit of the Spirit overflows, drawing us and others close to him.