Free To Live in Control of Our Desires

by Christina Patterson August 18, 2022
“'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." 1 Corinthians 6:12 (NIV)

“What do you wish mommy would do less?”

I reluctantly asked my kids this conversation-starter question we found in a children’s magazine.

Without a second of hesitation my son answered, “Be on your phone.”

My heart sank. God had already been gently sending signs that the time I spent on my phone was excessive, and my son's honest answer woke me up to this truth even more.

When I was tired, I reached for my phone. When I was bored, I scrolled through social media. When I was anxious, I looked for a distraction in my email. My phone was my not-so-secret security blanket, and God wasn't the only one who noticed.

As I prayed to break this unfortunate habit, the Lord led me to 1 Corinthians 6:12, which says:

“‘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.”

In this scripture, the Apostle Paul taught the church at Corinth the importance of self-control. As believers, we have a lot of freedom, but we should not use that freedom to make decisions that compromise the lives Christ died for us to have.

You may be thinking, I often use my phone for good things — to send encouraging emails, text a friend “Happy Birthday” or even pay my tithes. Me too! And those things are good — but still, the amount of time I spent on my phone and my reasons for doing so were certainly not always beneficial, fruitful or necessary.

This was a matter of self-control. Would I control my phone, or would it control me? God's call to practice self-control grew increasingly louder.

On one of my anxious social media scrolls, I saw a post from a friend that asked, “If you don't control yourself, who does?” Yes, God was making His message clear in every way He could.

Whether scrolling social media, making excessive trips to the pantry or growing that pile of packages at our door, we lose control when our wants rule us more than our God does. We are called to walk by the Spirit, not to be mastered by our desires.

How do we break the habits that are not beneficial to free living in Christ? Here are a few steps we can take together:

  1. Seek God. (Matthew 6:33) We can pray to God for the strength to help us. Often our lack of self-control is rooted in a deeper need. Ask God for revelation as to what that need may be and for healing in that area.
  2. Set boundaries. (1 John 2:17) Don't give complete control to any desire. Set limits on how much and how often you indulge in any activity that may become excessive. Start small and work your way up to more boundaries as necessary.
  3. Give yourself grace. (2 Corinthians 12:9) God isn't revealing your shortcomings because He wants to condemn you. He's doing it because He wants to free you. Don’t waste time beating yourself up if you get off track. Focus on God's grace and allow His love to motivate you to keep walking toward freedom.

When we make choices out of self-control and not our feelings that come and go, we find the power to live freely for God.

Self-control is a gift the Holy Spirit gives to all believers. It’s not something we need to earn, but it’s something we must make the daily decision to use. And as we do, the Spirit releases us from the lesser things of this world and leads us to free living in Christ.

Dear heavenly Father, please lead me by Your grace and the power of Your Spirit to put down lesser things that distract me from Your purpose. I pray for the strength to resist the urge to find satisfaction from this world — I know only You can offer true satisfaction. Thank You for providing for all my needs. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


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Did you know every Encouragement for Today devotion is translated into Spanish with the help of our Spanish volunteer team? We also offer a selection of our books and Online Bible Studies in Spanish. If you or a friend would benefit from our Spanish resources, please visit and share our Spanish devotions page!


Connect with Christina Patterson on her website and YouTube channel. For help overcoming the distraction of worry, download Christina’s free video Bible study Worry-Free to learn the three lies feeding your worry and learn the truth to set you free.


Galatians 5:1, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” (ESV)

What steps can you take today to set boundaries around habits that threaten your freedom in Christ? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

© 2022 by Christina Patterson. All rights reserved.

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