(Video included below article)
Possibly the most underrated fruit of the Spirit is the one we should pursue most fervently. “Temperance” is included in Galatians 5:23 as a fruit of the Spirit.
Let’s consider the “what,” the “so what,” and the “now what” of temperance.
First, what is temperance? The basic idea is self-control. It’s interesting that to be Spirit-filled in Galatians 5, also means that you are self-controlled. It’s interesting because many people think that to be Spirit-filled or controlled by the Spirit implies that you have no control or there’s no responsibility on your part, yet the Bible plainly indicates that to be Spirit-filled involves self-responsibility.
The best definition that I’ve found for the Bible’s idea of self-control is “the Spirit-enabled, Word-guided ability to avoid excesses and stay within God-given boundaries.”
Every level of that definition is important and essential to understanding biblical self-control.
Did you notice the idea of “God-given boundaries“? Some people think, “boundaries? I’m free in Christ, right?” Biblical freedom is not a license to do as we please, but it is the liberty to please God!
It’s the freedom to live within the boundaries that God establishes.
Now that we know “what” biblical temperance is, consider the “so what?” When a Christian is filled with the Spirit and manifesting the fruit of temperance (self control), his life stands in glaring contrast to the self-indulgent culture all around him. The world’s theme puts little to no control on self. They say, “live for yourself, enjoy yourself, please yourself.” Unfortunately, Christians get caught up in the world’s promotion of self-satisfaction, and sometimes even we become self-centered, self-important, and self-deceived, while at times we wallow in self-pity.
All of that is seen in our lack of self-control. Christians, just like the world, indulge in numerous temporarily satisfying vices. Christians are addicted to social media, or sometimes even pornography. Some have no self-control when it comes to over-indulging in unhealthy food choices, while others may exercise no control when it comes to how much they sleep, and they’re lazy. Or, maybe their mouth is out of control with bad language or destructive gossip.
Instead of worshipping Christ, many professing Christians are worshipping at the shrine of their own appetites, desires, and pleasures. Yet, it doesn’t have to be that way! When we’re filled with this fruit of the Spirit, we can be different from our self-indulgent culture.
Now that we’ve considered the “what” and the “so what” of self control, consider the “now what.”
Now, the choice is yours. In Hebrews, we find Moses, “Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.” In that verse, Moses’ self-control is seen in his choice to abstain from the pleasures of sin.
Now, start taking captives! 2 Corinthians 10:5 says, “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.“
Solomon says it this way, “Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.“ And don’t forget, he learned that lesson the hard way!
In conclusion, don’t confuse the idea of biblical self-control with some type of asceticism, but instead remember the original definition. Biblical self control is “the Spirit-enabled, Word-guided ability to avoid excesses and stay within God-given boundaries.”
To accomplish this, we must be pursuing the filling of the Spirit, and we must be guided by knowing and applying the Word of God. So Christian, let us pursue those things and enjoy the benefits of the freedom we have to live a Spirit-filled life that’s, therefore, pleasing to God.
This devotion was written by Pastor James C. Johnson. These devotionals are being published throughout this pandemic in an effort to further strengthen the faith of our NorthStone church family. Feel free to comment below to offer your feedback about today's devotion.
"Out of Control Christians" - a study in biblical temperance