Being able to abstain from those things upon which God frowns. Temperance is the ninth and final fruit of the spirit.
Temperance is mentioned only three times in the entire bible under that word, seems old fashioned, and yet it is so important to both the Christian and society at large.
Strong’s concordance G1466 explains it thus wise, “self-control (the virtue of one who masters his desires and passions, esp. his sensual appetites)”
When we think of the word ’Temperance’ we instinctively imagine women in long-dresses walking the streets in the prohibition era with signs banning alcohol and singing “Just a Closer Walk with Thee”. Although, all they ever wanted were their husbands back.
The media would have us believe that temperance runs counter-culture to a progressive society. I would suggest that a lack of temperance runs counter-culture to the stability of a progressive society.
It is that lack of temperance that creates instability in a nation. Progress is important and cannot be stopped, but not at the expense of societal fundamentals. The fundamental things must apply as time goes by.
One of those fundamentals is the self-control, or temperance, of a nation to keep itself free, safe, and clean. When nations remove temperance, they immediately commence the slow slide into depravity. Using successive governments, they modify laws until right become wrong, as we are seeing today, and those who wish to remain clean are marginalised.
Much of today’s life is sensual, meaning it gratifies the senses, particularly sexual. The only sense that is not gratified is common sense, which is now not too common. It defies temperance, as do those who follow it.
Publicly, today, as in some wretched era’s past, we can speak of everything else but curbing lusts.
Even progressive Christians today don’t seem to want their lusts curbed, except on Sunday morning, after which they seem free to indulge in the same things they were doing the previous night. It is a very Roman Catholic way of following Christ. When did God turn a blind eye to believers going to nightclubs on a Saturday night, then turning up to church for communion on Sunday morning with a hangover?
Even some churches are painted black inside and have smoke machines, like nightclubs, designed specifically to engage our natural senses. Further down the slide are other churches which, when founded, stood firmly to Godly principles, but now hold gay services to appease wickedness and a lack of temperance. As in the letters to the 7 churches, they will suffer for that.
Deep Bible reading is almost a thing of the past, but is so critical in highlighting the warnings of exactly these types of spiritual breaches; breaches which Satan has designed and we follow.
Personal biblical temperance is simply about using God given self-control to remove desires from our lives which have a strong tendency to divert us from following the holiness to which we are called.
Passion is fine, but not passion for what is clearly wrong.
The lord is gracious and calls us upward, to a place that is far beyond our most heavenly ideas, up to the vine trellis wire, where the fruit is rich, full and aplenty; fruit from us!
It is hard to believe that the Lord would work so hard and desire so much richness from us. Presently it is unimaginable; but he said it would be hard to imagine. He said It has not entered into our hearts the degree of beauty that can emanate from us, if we only follow the path of our saviour.
To help in that calling, we need to keep our feet from the massive tide that is flowing away from him.
Remember that Jesus said, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
At the time of their departure from this earth, these people will think the next stop for them is heaven, into the arms of their saviour; only to find he isn’t their saviour after all. They will not think they are workers of iniquity.
Yes, this scripture is present tense as well as past, and we must keep ensuring we never get our feet close enough to the raging torrent of spiritual mediocrity so widespread now.
God will hold us as much as he can, but if the Pharaoh within us (natural man / senses) wants to continually try to wrest control from the Joseph within (Holy Ghost), instead of the other way around, this is where we will end up.
Our life will become low by degrees, until it doesn’t even blip on God’s spiritual-life pulse meter; no spiritual life left in us. This is what will happen to those people in Romans 1. They will simply keep walking away one foot at a time. Some of them will still think they are bound for heaven, but they will earn the title, ‘Worker of Iniquity’.
God wants our minds to think higher and upward, and focus the those things which bring beauty and flourishing, as in Phil 4.
Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.
Let your moderation (Temperance) be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.
Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true,
whatsoever things are honest,
whatsoever things are just,
whatsoever things are pure,
whatsoever things are lovely,
whatsoever things are of good report;
if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
To provide an idea of spiritual mediocrity, most TV sitcoms border on being filthy and thrive on promiscuity, and yet many Christians watch them. That cannot be us.
If we lose our inbuilt censorship, we are losing the battle. We have reversed our direction and ceased from following our Saviour. Our personal censorship, above many things, must remain sharp and intact. Yes, we might be called self-righteous, but without it we slide into a state of controversy with God.
It is precisely where many nations are today and, sadly, many individual Christians and many churches. From that position, we only have two avenues: we either repent and return to walking God’s ordained pathway or we continue sliding downhill until the only salvation we have is in our minds.
Jeremiah 24 sets out some interesting terms for the righteous and unrighteous, and the chasm between the two.
Jer 24 1-3
“The Lord shewed me, and, behold, two baskets of figs were set before the temple of the Lord, after that Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon had carried away captive Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah, and the princes of Judah, with the carpenters and smiths, from Jerusalem, and had brought them to Babylon.
One basket had very good figs, even like the figs that are first ripe: and the other basket had very naughty figs, which could not be eaten, they were so bad.
Then said the Lord unto me, What seest thou, Jeremiah? And I said, Figs; the good figs, very good; and the evil, very evil, that cannot be eaten, they are so evil.
The good figs were obedient, even under duress. On the other hand, the naughty figs were identical to those persons found in Romans 1, who walked away so far, they were nonredeemable, and God had to cut ties with them.
Let us who desire God and his ways, face the right direction and keep walking onward and upward, denying the pop-up suggestions to do wrong or the direct intention to sin, and let Temperance take us on a journey of putting righteousness into action. We can see it is a serious player in the nine fruit of the spirit.