The Fruit of the Spirit Series-Temperance (Self Control)
As I mentioned in each message of this series: to develop the Fruit of the Spirit - love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance (Galatians 5 verse 22, 23)) is to develop the character of Jesus. In Romans 8 verse 19 the word says ‘for the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.” The whole world is waiting for people to develop the character of Jesus. The Greek word for “sons” in the above verse is “huios” which means “the expression of the character of the parent.” It means that the offspring is starting to act like the parent. To have the same character as Jesus one has to develop the same fruit that was easily recognizable in Jesus. Our number one prayer should be that the Father would conform us into the image of Jesus (Romans 8 verse 29). God’s fruit must be cultivated while His gifts are bestowed by His grace. In Mark 4 verse 28, the word says the fruit grows; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear. Fruit is cultivated over a period of time. As a matter of fact, the purpose of His gifts is to produce fruit in us, as the power of His gifts should humble us. Also, the ones who develop all the fruit will be the ones that most manifest His power. The gifts of the Spirit and the fruit of the Spirit go together.
Only God can develop the fruit of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 3 verse 5, 6). One way to cultivate His fruit is to read the epistles (Romans to Revelation) and speak the scriptures into our lives, as God directs, that help us spiritually.
The Last fruit of the Spirit that I want to talk about is the fruit of Temperance or Self-Control. The word “Temperance” in Galatians 5 verse 23 is from the Greek word “egkrateia” which comes fro “kratos” which means “strength” or “power.” The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead is available to us as “self control” to enable us to crucify the flesh. Paul says in 1 Cor. 9 verse 24-27 that for him to have mastery in what God has asked him to do he must be “temperate” in all things which entails bringing the body into all subjection. “Subjection” comes from the Greek word “doulgugeo” which means to “enslave.” Paul was saying that his flesh must become a slave to his spirit. The word “castaway” comes from the Greek word “adokimos” which means “rejected” or “worthless.” This is what could happen if the flesh is not “enslaved.” In 1 Cor. 10 verse 1-13 the children of Israel had seen God’s power but had no self control and yielded to murmuring and complaining and for most of them, they missed entering the promise land. They were overcome in four areas: idolatry, fornication, tempting Christ and murmuring. Four functions of self-control help in these areas:
1.) Idolatry- The word says in Ex. 20 verse 4-5 that God instructs His people to not enter into worshiping or coveting idols. Covetousness is same as idolatry. The degree of idolatry that one has entered into is measured by how much time one spends in the pursuit of things other than the things of God. Also, idolatry is measured by how much time one spends enjoying the blessings that God has already provided. They can possibly worship the provision and not the “Provider.” Some of the things that one can covet are food, sleep and money. In the area of food God says to pray for our daily bread not for a bakery. In Prov. 6 verse 9 the word says that a sluggard will never have money. In Luke 21 verse 34, 35 the word “surfeiting” means to indulge to excess or covet.
2.) To overcome fornication – to be a friend to the world is an enemy to Christ (1 John 2 verse 15-17). Paul says in Titus 2 verse 11, 12 that we need to be holy in the world. The fruit of self-control is needed to walk in holiness.
3.) To prevent tempting Jesus- in Numbers 21 verse 5, 6, the people spoke against God and Moses and the LORD sent fiery serpents among them. In Galatians 5 verse 19-21 the word “seditions” means to incite to insurrection against lawful authority. So, self-control aids in preventing one from tempting Christ by coming against God-given authority, especially in families (Eph. 5 verse 22-24).
4.) Self control helps one to not murmur or “grumble.” The tongue can corrupt the whole body of Christ (James 3 verse 2-4).
The ways to develop self control:
1.) By learning to control one’s mouth- James 3 verse 2-4. One who keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps his soul from trouble (Prov. 21 verse 23).
2.) By strengthening the inner man- Gal. 5 verse 16, 17-By yielding to the Spirit one can develop strength to exercise control over the flesh.
3.) By receiving His grace-Rom. 5 verse 1, 2- His grace can help us to stand against temptation and strengthen our self control.
As we finish these series of messages on the fruit of the Spirit we can see that the fruit needs to be developed in our lives in order to conform to the image of Jesus. The fruit of the Spirit is the character of Jesus.