Temperance is more than moderation. It is the power of God to do what you know you should do. Learn how to get it here.
We live in an interesting day. We have many more conveniences and comforts than any generation in the history of the world, yet people are more unhappy and unfulfilled than they have ever been.
We have come to expect instant gratification in every area of life. Need a meal? Fast food or a microwave oven will have it for you in a flash. Need a friend? Create an account and start collecting them. Have a thought? Post it online and watch the likes and comments roll in. Someone make you angry? Give them a piece of your mind. Then tell anyone who will listen what they did to you. Want something you can’t afford? Swipe the credit card. The problem is that any joy from instant gratification is short-lived usually followed by lingering guilt and hardship.
Modern comforts have given us an insatiable craving for pleasure. No need to wait, to work, to hope, to save, to dream, to strive. Many believe happiness and comfort are a birthright. Pleasure at any cost is the cry of the masses. “If it feels good, do it; if it’s not fun, don’t” is the motto of this generation.
We are blessed to live in this era of time with its conveniences and comforts. We should thank the Lord for all the tools and opportunities that are available. However, if we are to serve God and follow Christ, we must be able to sort through the noise cutting out what will hinder our divine relationships and service. Not every opportunity is a good one. Every road does not lead to happiness and significance. Countless people, products, places, and toys are calling for your attention with skilled marketing and satanic subtlety. We must learn to say “no” to many things in order to have the time and ability to say “yes” to things that really matter.
There are two Bible words that every Christian should know.
These definitions are from Webster’s 1828 dictionary.
1. Moderation; particularly, habitual moderation in regard to the indulgence of the natural appetites and passions; restrained or moderate indulgence; as temperance in eating and drinking; temperance in the indulgence of joy or mirth. Temperance in eating and drinking is opposed to gluttony and drunkenness, and in other indulgences, to excess.
2. Patience; calmness; sedateness; moderation of passion.
He calm’d his wrath with goodly temperance. [Unusual.]
Temperance is commonly thought of as simple moderation. However, the Bible concept is much deeper. Temperance is the ability to moderate, or control, appetites, emotions, and attitudes. It is the capacity to resist sin. Furthermore, it is the ability to turn down opportunities for the excess of good things.
1 Corinthians 9:25–27
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. 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.
1. Want of restraint of the passions or appetites; free or uncontrolled indulgence of the passions or appetites, as of anger. Gullies’ Aristotle.
2. Want of restraint of the sexual appetite; free or illegal indulgence of lust; lewdness; used of either sex, but appropriately of the male sex. Incontinence in men is the same as unchastity in women.
3. Among physicians, the inability of any of the animal organs to restrain discharges of their contents, so that the discharges are involuntary; also, the involuntary discharge itself; as an incontinence of urine in diabetes.
Incontinence is the inability to control appetites, emotions, and attitudes. It is commonly used in our culture to politely describe those that have lost the ability to hold their bladder. Incontinence in any area of life is messy, embarrassing, and inconvenient.
2 Timothy 3:3
Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
The Bible teaches the last days will be characterized by many sins including incontinence. Christ’s disciples living during these days must rise above this sin through the power of temperance. We must be able to say “no” to sin and self in order to serve God faithfully in the midst of countless opportunities to join the sinful crowd. Unfortunately, it seems that many Christians are joining the hedonistic masses just when they need our Lord the most.
Some modern believers even promote sinful practices and lack of restraint in the name of the gospel and an unbiblical definition of grace. God has strong words for such foolishness.
2 Peter 2:13–19
And shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time. Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you; Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children: Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; But was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man’s voice forbad the madness of the prophet. These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever. For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.
The Priority of Temperance
Necessary for Leadership
But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate;
You must lead yourself before you can lead others.
Necessary for Christian Growth
2 Peter 1:6
And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
To grow a healthy garden, you must pull the weeds!
Necessary for Following Jesus
Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
Your flesh will lead you far away from the Saviour’s teaching and example. You must deny your sinful appetites to follow Christ.
The People of Temperance
The word temperance only occurs in the New Testament, but the concept is consistent throughout the Bible. Great people of the Bible exercised control of their appetites, emotions, and attitudes.
Job would not let his eyes wander in lust.
I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?
Esther controlled her desire for self-preservation and risked her life to save others.
Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish.
Saul did not punish those who opposed his coronation.
1 Samuel 10:27
But the children of Belial said, How shall this man save us? And they despised him, and brought him no presents. But he held his peace.
David did not kill King Saul when the opportunity arose.
1 Samuel 24:6
And he said unto his men, The LORD forbid that I should do this thing unto my master, the LORD’s anointed, to stretch forth mine hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the LORD.
The memorable sins of the great men of the Bible, like Moses striking the rock or David’s sin with Bathsheba, were because of moments of intemperance. The worst days of your life will be days of incontinence. Stay on the path of righteousness through temperance!
The Path of Temperance
Temperance begins with a decision.
But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.
You must decide to live a holy life. Choose to be like Jesus in your appetites, emotions, and attitudes. Decide now what is acceptable and unacceptable. You are in control of your mind and body. Think through temptations that will come and decide ahead of time how you will overcome.
Temperance continues with Spirit fullness.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
This is great news! We know that our best intentions and greatest spiritual efforts often fail in the face of adversity and temptation. Your ability to control your appetites, emotions, and attitudes is not based on your strength or will. It is rooted in God’s power! When we surrender to the Holy Ghost, He fills us the power and character of Christ. The power of the Holy Spirit increases our capacity to resist sin and strengthens our resolve. Don’t live in the power of the flesh when God’s power is available and abundant!
The Parts of Temperance
Now that we understand the concept of temperance we can study the Bible to see what areas of our lives we need it. I have chosen some examples below. What other areas of your life need temperance?
Appetites are the desires of life. The cravings of our body and soul.
And put a knife to thy throat, if thou be a man given to appetite.
For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags.
Hunger is a primal urge. Food is necessary for life and health. However, it is one of the most abused appetites. This is a good area to begin practicing temperance.
1 Corinthians 7:5
Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.
The pleasures of the marriage bed are a gift from God to those bound by the covenant of marriage. It is a terrible sin committed outside of marriage. The consequences of fornication and adultery far outweigh its pleasures.
Be not among winebibbers; among riotous eaters of flesh:
They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright.
It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink:
Many people use booze as an escape from reality. It is the cause of so much pain and heartache. The statistics are astounding. Some stats show alcohol and drugs are implicated in an estimated 80% of offenses leading to incarceration in the United States. Control the urge to use substances to cope difficulties. The grace of God is much more effective than drugs and alcohol.
Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest. How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep?
Rest and relaxation are necessary for life; however, if the desire for rest and comfort is not controlled it becomes laziness. God blesses hard work.
Emotions are powerful ways in which we experience the world. Feelings are fleeting and untrustworthy. You must learn to process them in productive ways, or you will live as a slave to them. With God’s help, we can process the destructive emotions and trade them for productive ones.
He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.
And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
1 Timothy 6:4
He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings,
For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.
Attitude is your disposition toward life. How do you see life? Your perspective informs your behavior. How do you interact with others? Are you positive or negative? Hopeful or Cynical? Patient or Angry? Proud or Humble? Encouraging or Demoralizing? Joyful or Bitter? Happy for another’s success or Envious? Cheerful or Depressed?
Attitude is your approach to life. It is your mindset and mood dictated by your beliefs. Your attitude determines your altitude. You cannot control your circumstances, but you can control your spirit.
Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.
Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.
He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.
He that hath no rule over his own spirit
Is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.
Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.
Temperance will change your life!
Temperance is a Bible word that ever Bible Christian should know. Temperance is the Spirit-empowered ability to control, appetites, emotions, and attitudes. It is the capacity to resist sin. It is the ability to turn down opportunities for the excess of good things.
It will help you say “no” to the sins, temptations, and distractions of this life so you can reach your potential for God and fulfill your purpose for life.