Thursday, March 04, 2010

"The Fruit of the Spirit is Temperance"

"The Fruit of the Spirit is Temperance"

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law” (Galatians 5:22, 23).

The book of Daniel records the life of a man who was fully surrendered to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. His temperate lifestyle made it possible for him to hear and submit to the still small voice of God when other men would have been tempted to advantage themselves at the expense of others. When the king would have destroyed the ungodly and jealous wise men of Babylon, Daniel did not plead merely for his own life, and that of his friends. He pleaded for the lives of even his enemies (See Daniel 2:24 & 2MR 319.5).

The Spirit that possessed Daniel of old we may possess today. We may draw from the same source of strength, possess the same power of self-control, and reveal the same grace in our lives, even under the most trying circumstances. Victory over every harmful indulgence of appetite, or any other gratification that would decrease mental or physical vigor, is required, and provided for by the Spirit of the Living God.

“For all the objects of His creation the condition is the same--a life sustained by receiving the life of God, a life exercised in harmony with the Creator's will. To transgress His law, physical, mental, or moral, is to place one's self out of harmony with the universe, to introduce discord, anarchy, ruin” (Ellen White, Education, page 99). But “in Christ, God has provided means for subduing every sinful trait, and resisting every temptation, however strong” (Ellen White, Desire of Ages, page 429).

For one to be hard and denunciatory, to find fault and accuse, to exhibit harshness of speech and temper, selfishness, anger, and self-will is to give evidence of the absence of the fruit of “temperance,” or “self control” and reveals that the Spirit Himself is not present. Inasmuch as the diet materially affects the mind and disposition of man, it stands to reason that many of the evils that exist today are connected to the indulgence of appetites and inclinations. It was here that the first temptation on earth occurred in Eden. It was here that Jesus was first tempted on the mountain. And it is here that the battle continues today.

Temperance is so significant that Paul, in seeking to reach Felix, “reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come” (Acts 24:25). Paul says of his own experience, “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” (1 Corinthians 9:27). Peter‟s list of the fruit to be seen in the life of the Christian includes temperance (see 2 Peter 1:6). Peter then concludes, “he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall” (2 Peter 1:9 & 10).

The works of the flesh come naturally, but the good fruit is not the product of human nature. It is received by a power from outside ourselves. It is the “fruit of the Spirit.” This fruit has been compared to an orange with its many segments, which are all held together, covered and protected by the peel; yet it is one orange. Love is to the fruit of the Spirit what the peel is to the orange. This element is so essential that Jesus said, “By this shall men know that ye are my disciples, that ye have love one to another” (John 13:35). Christ‟s “agape” love includes everyone, for Jesus showed us how to love even our enemies. “God is love” (1 John 4:8). When the Holy Spirit of God comes into the life of the believer, of necessity, the “love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” (Romans 5:5) . Love comprehends all the other eight segments of the fruit of the Spirit. The others might even be called the fruits of love.

Nothing will so defeat the devices of Satan as will the love of Christ manifested in the lives of His people. This love “beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7). “Abide in me, and I in you,” Jesus said. “As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing” (John 15: 1-5).

By our own natural birth, we inherit the works of the flesh. By the new birth, we inherit all the fullness of God and become “partakers of His divine nature having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Peter 1:4). It is only by personal union with Christ - by daily communion with Him - that we can bear the fruit of the Spirit. As we experience this living connection with the source of all-enduring strength we shall be brought into captivity to Jesus Christ. “Thus the First Commandment is the basis of all true temperance; and the keeping of that commandment and the faith of Jesus, is the only way to true temperance. „I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage….Thou shalt have no other gods before me‟" (A.T. Jones, Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, February 26, 1901).

While we continue abiding and walking in the Spirit, the flesh and its desires have no more power over us than if we were dead and in our graves (see Romans 6:1, 2; Galatians 5:24, 25). “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me. And the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” Galatians 2:20). “The law of God is in the heart of Christ (Ps. 40:8), so that the faith which brings Christ into the heart establishes the law there. And since the law of God is the establishment of his throne, the faith which brings the law into the heart, enthrones God there. And thus it is that God works in men „both to will and to do of his good pleasure‟" (E. J. Waggoner, Signs of the Times, February 6, 1896).

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:1, 2)

Joe W. Gresham


Sabbath School Today