Posted by: Apostolic Oneness Pentecostals | July 7, 2009

Fruit Of The Spirit: Temperance

 

Temperance or self control is the last in the list of the fruit of the spirit, not because it is least, but because it binds all the rest. Temperance is a word which covers the whole field of emotion and passions, control of spirit, body, and mind. It has to do with enemies within, the lust and passions which war against the soul. A whole army storming on the outside is less than a single enemy within the walls which gives over the key to attacking forces.

Temperance or self control is not merely getting a hold of ourselves, shaping ourselves by our own strength. Self control, for our own good and for the glory of God comes only as we surrender ourselves first to God and commit ourselves to His way. Then His spirit puts within us both the desire and power to control our appetites, impulses, imaginations, and desires. Peter says a person is a slave to whatever controls him…2Pet 2:19

Temperance or self control means at least 3 things.

1.it means to refrain from all known wrong—There is no area of life excluded from the will of God for us. We are told to be “temperate in all things”. This means we are to discover and apply the will of God to the whole scope of life.

Temperance does not mean that all things are good if one is temperate in using them. To experiment cautiously with sin is wrong. To be temperate or practice self control means to control our lives so that what we do or do not do is in line with the divine will. We are to avoid all experiences, relationship, and attitudes contrary to the way of Christ. It is moderation in the things which are good and total abstinence from the things which are foul.

2.Temperance or self control does more than police wrong desires and hungers. It means we are to weigh what is best and abstain from the rest. It helps us know how to sacrifice the lesser for the higher good, how to discern between the good and the best. That is the sign of spiritual maturity.

The writer to the Hebrew Christians told them to “LAY ASIDE EVERY WEIGHT” (HEBREW 12:1) What is a weight?—It is anything in life which keeps us from being our best for God. So a weight maybe something easily justified as right and good in the sense that it is not outright sin. But it may keep us from winning the Christian race.

Suppose some morning we go to a race. Runners are all lined up. All is ready for the race when suddenly, we see another fellow coming to the starting line. But, strange as it seems, he is fully dressed. He has on a full suit, a heavy overcoat, boots and woolen cap. In his hands he carries his lunch bucket, an umbrella and his pockets are filled with bottled drinks.

We cannot tell him what he carries is sin. But we know he will never win the race. Why? Because he is loaded with weights.

So self control requires us not only to avoid sin but also demands the discipline to give up good things that will keep us from being and doing our best for God. Self-control means moderation and restraint in the things which are legitimate and the elimination of those things which tear down or destroy spiritual life.

3.Self-control involves discipline—The Apostle Paul compares the moral struggle to the games so renowned in ancient Greece. He says that everyone taking part in these games was temperate in all things.(1Cor 9:24-27) Ten months of hard training was required. Discipline in everything was most severe. It could not be relaxed a single day. Otherwise a rival would get to the front.

But the candidates did not go around each day, complaining how hard their lot was. They chose to enter the game. They talked of the prize they expected to win. They spoke of the special privileges which were theirs should they win. Temperance becomes easy and exciting when we see not a corruptible but an incorruptible crown.

Finally self-control is possible when we realize that we are humans and the Holy Spirit is the power to help us overcome. Caesar of Rome had a slave as his constant companion. The slave’s duty was to whisper in his monarch’s ear, “You are human.” We all need this reminder.

But we also need the reminder that the Holy Spirit lives in us.

We gain self-control when we have the glory of God as our goal, not merely for the good of others. Most people who live evil lives do not want evil to destroy them. But they are overcome because they do not have a higher goal than self-enjoyment and self-gratification.

We can also seek to keep from sin simply because of what sin does to us personally and to others. That maybe of some worth. But the strength to exercise self-control over the second best will not be possible until we see that our calling is to the very best in Christ. “If you would learn self-mastery, begin by yielding yourself to the One Great Master.”


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