Gal 5:22-- But the fruit of the spirit
is...TEMPERANCE. Webster defines temperance as "self restraint
in conduct, expression, indulgence of the appetites,
moderation". In other words it is the control of self.
can consider our time to be the most dangerous period of all
human history. It is because before, nature controlled man,
but now man has learned to control nature's elemental forces
before he has learned to control himself. The recent cloning
issue is one of the clear evidence of it. An automobile out of
control endangers those on the highway. A fire out of control
destroys everything in its path. A person out of control is
even worse...our world is destroyed, relationship are broken,
and everything noble, right, and true is destroyed.
James Denny pointed out one of the striking things of
life is that the beautiful and most helpful traits, when
restrained and in their proper place and question, become also
the worst corruptible and destructive when uncontrolled. Just
like a fire which carries swift destruction in its course, but
when restricted within certain bounds, warms our rooms, cooks
our food, illuminates our towns and drives our locomotives.
The same thing with water as in a flood, but when confined to
its banks drives the wheels, floats the barge, etc. so the
very qualities which, when unregulated, waste and brutalize
life may, when subjected to the control of temperance, be its
Look at the current divorce statistics, crime reports,
the collapse of sex morals, drug abuse, alcohol and tobacco
consumption.....These are proofs and constant reminder of
modern man's inability to cope with himself or his
environment,...HIS INABILITY TO CONTROL HIMSELF.
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
Temperance or self control means at least 3
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
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
cannot tell him what he carries is sin. But we know he will
never win the race. Why? Because he is loaded with weights.
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
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.
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
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