The Fruit Of The Spirit Is Temperance

Posted by on Apr 15, 2007

First Baptist Church of Ranson, WV

April 15, 2007

Sunday Morning

“The Fruit Of The Spirit Is Temperance”

Scripture Reading: Galatians 5:22-23

Scripture Text: Galatians 5:23

Introduction:

 

A.   We now come to the final “fruit” (manifestation) “of the Spirit” in Paul’s list here in Gal. 5:22-23, but before we look at this final manifestation, I want to give you a pop-quiz to see how much you have learned up to this point.

1. What’s I’m going to do is this: I’m going to define one of the manifestations of the Spirit, and I want you to tell me which one it is.

2. Are you ready?

3. Okay, first definition, “the ability to endure or to put up with someone for a long period of time.” (longsuffering)

4. Second definition, “an unselfish concern that freely accepts another and diligently seeks his good.” (love)

5. Third definition, “the quality or state of being soft, delicate, kind, considerate, sensitive and tender.” (gentleness)

6. Fourth definition, “humility, non-assertiveness, a non-demanding spirit.” (meekness)

7. Fifth definition, “a state of tranquility or harmony between two parties.” (peace)

8. Sixth definition, “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (faith)

9. Seventh definition, “cheerfulness or calm delight.” (joy)

10.   Eighth definition, “the quality of virtue.” (goodness)

11.   How did you do?

12.   Did you get all eight?

 

B.   This morning, we come to the ninth and final “fruit” (manifestation) “of the Spirit” listed here in Gal. 5:22-23, which is “temperance.”

 

C.   As we have with just about every one of these manifestations, I want us to begin by…

 

I.       Defining Temperance.

 

A.   What is temperance?

1. Here’s how the dictionary defines temperance, “moderation in action, thought or feeling; restraint; habitual moderation in the indulgence of the appetites or passions.”

2. The key word here is clearly the word “moderation.”

3. Temperance is “moderation.”

4. It is the ability to avoid excesses.

5. It is the ability to stay within acceptable limits.

 

B.   I think one of the best definitions for temperance is “self-control.”

1. (Illus.- Have you ever felt like your life was out of control? By out of control, I mean out of “your” control. Have you ever felt like you were on a run-away freight train, that your life was headed down a path of destruction, and that it was only a matter of time before a major collision [catastrophe] would take place?”)

2. I don’t know about you, but that pretty well describes the lives of many people today.

3. Well, temperance is just the opposite of that.

4. A person who is temperate has his life in control.

5. Rather than his life controlling him, with the help of the Holy Spirit, he is controlling his life.

6. He is…

-in charge,

-at the controls,

-calling the shots.

C.   Now that we understand the meaning of temperance, notice that there are at least…

 

II.      Three Areas Of Our Lives Where Temperance Is Needed.

 

A.   First of all, temperance is needed when it comes to our physical bodies.

1. You see, our physical bodies have many different appetites (urges).

2. For example, there are sexual appetites.

3. As far as our physical bodies are concerned, our sexual appetites are probably the strongest appetites that we have.

4. Now let me stop here and make something very clear.

5. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having strong sexual appetites.

6. Why not?

7. Because God created us with these appetites.

8. However, having said that, it is very important that we keep our sexual appetites under control.

9. In other words, it is very important that when we are gratifying these appetites, that we avoid accesses and keep them within acceptable limits.

10.   “What are acceptable limits?” someone asks.

11.   That’s an easy question to answer, because God’s Word defines the acceptable limits in Heb. 13:4, which says, “Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.”

12.   And so, as long as we satisfy our sexual appetites within the boundaries of the marriage relationship, that is acceptable. (God said, “Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed [marriage] undefiled.”)

13.   However, when we get outside of these boundaries, that is totally unacceptable to God. (God also said, “…but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.”)

14.   In our society today, it is quite evident that lots of people do not exercise self control when it comes to their sexual appetites.

15.   (Illus.- I get calls on a regular basis from couples who are looking for a preacher to marry them. I usually begin the telephone interview with two questions. The first question that I ask is, “Have either of you been married before?” The second question that I ask is, “Are you currently living together?” I would say that at least half of the couples who call are living together.)

 

B.   Not only do our physical bodies have sexual appetites, they also have what I will call nutritional appetites.

1. What are nutritional appetites?

2. I’m talking about an appetite for food!

3. We all have nutritional appetites. (Amen?)

4. Now, again, let me say that there is nothing wrong or sinful about having an appetite for food, the reason being God created us with these appetites.

5. However, just like our sexual appetites, it is very important that we keep our appetites for food under control.

6. In other words, it is very important that when we are satisfying these appetites, that we avoid excesses and keep them within acceptable limits.

7. What are acceptable limits, when it comes to eating?

8. Well, some would say that we should eat only enough to sustain us physically (keep us alive and healthy).

9. As someone who enjoys good food, I wouldn’t go quite that far.

10.   However, I would go this far, I would say that when we eat so much that it literally becomes harmful to our health, then we have definitely exceeded acceptable limits.

11.   This is what the Bible refers to as gluttony.

12.   For example, the Bible says in Prov. 23:21, “For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty:”

13.   And so, temperance is needed when it comes to our physical bodies.

 

C.   Temperance is also needed when it comes to our minds.

1. Not only do we need to exercise self-control over our bodies, but we should also exercise self-control over our minds and our thoughts.

2. This is actually more difficult than controlling our bodies, however, with God’s help, we must do it.

3. Someone asks, “Does the Bible actually admonish us to control our thoughts?”

4. It most certainly does.

5. Listen as I read Phil. 4:8, “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.”

 

D.   Now some would have us to believe that it really doesn’t matter what we think, as long as we keep our actions in check.

1. (Illus.- I don’t know how many times I have heard people say, “There’s no harm in thinking something bad, as long as you don’t actually do what you are thinking.”)

2. The problem with that logic is that our thoughts, if we dwell on them long enough, will eventually become actions.

3. This is what Solomon was talking about in Prov. 23:7, which says that as a man “thinketh in his heart, so is he.”

4. We are, or at least we will become, what we think!

5. This is why we should exercise temperance (self-control) when it comes to our minds.

 

E.   There is at least one more area of our lives where temperance is vitally important, and that is our emotions.

 

1. Not only must we control what we do, and not only must we control what we think, we must also control what we feel (our emotions).

2. Take anger, for example.

3. Anger is an emotion that we all feel from time to time.

4. However, if we do not control our anger, it will not only destroy us, but it can also do serious harm to others.

5. This is why the Bible says in Jam. 1:19, “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:”

 

F.    Now, again, don’t misunderstand what I am saying.

1. Emotions are not necessarily a bad thing.

2. God created us as emotional beings, with the ability to feel and experience all kinds of emotions.

3. At times, emotions can even be very beneficial to us.

4. However, having said that, we must not let our emotions run wild.

5. With God’s help, we must control them and keep them within acceptable limits.

6.     Turn with me, for just a moment, to Prov. 16:32, “He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.”

7.     Notice the expression, “…he that ruleth his spirit.”

8.     What that means is, “…he who controls his emotions.”

9.     Solomon tells us here that he who controls his emotions is more to be admired than a military general who conquers a city.

 

G.   And so, there are at least three areas of our lives where temperance is needed, our bodies, our minds, and our emotions.

 

H.   Finally, this morning, I want us to answer the question,…

 

III.    Why Is Temperance So Important?

 

A.   Why is it so important that we exhibit this manifestation of the Holy Spirit in our lives? Why is it so important that we exercise self-control over our bodies, our minds, and our emotions?

 

B.   There are at least three reasons.

1. First of all, it is important because, if we don’t, God is not going to be able to use us in His service.

2. (Illus.- Suppose you owned a company or a business and needed to hire an employee to work for you. Would you hire someone, if when you checked his references you found out that he had a work history of being both lazy and undisciplined? I know your answer. You wouldn’t hire him, and you shouldn’t. An employee like that would not help your company, but rather hurt your company.)

3. Well, did you ever stop to think that perhaps God is at least as smart as you are?

4. If you couldn’t use a lazy and undisciplined employee in your company, God cannot use a lazy and undisciplined believer in His service!

5. Turn with me to 1 Cor. 9:25-27, “And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate (disciplined, exercises self-control) in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible….I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:…But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”

6. Did you notice that word “castaway”?

7. The literal meaning of the Greek here is “worthless, rejected.”

 

 

8. In other words, Paul is saying here, “I strive to be temperate in all things, to exercise self-control, to bring my body into subjection to my will, lest I become worthless and rejected from God’s service.”

 

C.   A second reason that we should exercise self-control is because, if we don’t, our lives will end in ruin.

1. A life out of control is a life headed for disaster.

2. (Illus.- Suppose you are on an airline flying at an altitude of 30,000 feet and a speed of 550 mph, and all of the sudden your pilot comes across the intercom and says, “Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking, I am sorry to have to tell you this, but due to a malfunction in our hydraulic system, we have totally lost control of the plane!” Now that would not be good news, would it? Tell me what’s going to happen? I’ll tell you what’s going to happen. There is going to be a disaster, and you are going to be part of it.)

3. The same thing is true of our lives.

4. When we lose control of our lives, disaster is sure to result.

5. It may not come today, or tomorrow, or even the next day, but it will come!

6. Solomon wrote in Prov. 25:28, “He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls (a city in ruins).”

7. And so, temperance is important because if we don’t exercise self-control, our lives will end in ruin.

 

D.   A third reason why temperance is important is because if we fail to exercise self-control, we will miss out on a reward.

1. If you are still in 1 Cor. 9, look again at Vrs. 25, “And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible (crown).”

2. When Paul talks about crowns here, he is talking about rewards, and what he is saying is that those who live disciplined lives will be rewarded one day.

3. Now this is not talking about rewards in this life, even though practicing temperance does yield rewards in this life, but rather it is talking about heavenly rewards (rewards in the life to come).

4. I love Rev. 22:12, where Jesus said, “And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.”

5. While this is a precious promise, indeed, if we do not exhibit the spiritual quality of temperance (self-control) in our lives, there will likely be few, if any, rewards for us!

Conclusion:

 

A.   What have we learned about “temperance,” this morning?

1. First of all, we learned the meaning of temperance (self-control, the ability to keep our lives within acceptable limits).

2. Secondly, we learned that temperance is needed in at least three areas of our lives (our bodies, our minds, and our emotions).

3. Finally, we learned that temperance is important for at least three reasons (so that God can use us, so that our lives will not end in ruin, so that we will be rewarded in heaven, one day).

 

B.   Now, the important question, “Do you exhibit temperance in your life?”

1. “With the help of the Holy Spirit, do you keep your body, your mind, and your emotions under control and within acceptable limits?”

2. If not, I can make three predictions concerning your life,…

-you will be rejected from serving God,

-your life will surely be unprofitable, and will likely end in ruin,

-you will receive few, if any, heavenly rewards when you stand before Christ’s judgment seat.