Thought: For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. Rom 8:14

The Process of Temperance
Sabbath 11th January, 2014

This morning we are concentrating on the final spiritual discipline or character trait every Christian must have that the apostle Paul addressed in his letter to the church in Galatia. I am referring to the discipline of temperance recorded in Galatians 5:22 - 23.

The Greek word enkrateia used by Paul and translated temperance in the KJV means literally “self-control” (Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Vol. 6, pg.982). The same meaning of “self-control” is found in Strong’s Hebrew/Greek Lexicon. In the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (TDNT), 339-340, the word means “self- control” “dominion which one has over oneself or something.” J. H. Thayer wrote that temperance means, “the virtue of one who masters his desires and passions, especially his sensual appetites” (New Greek-English Lexicon, p. 166-167). Jarrod Jacobs summarizes the meaning well when he wrote, “temperance has to do with the self-control of the mind, or will, and that all words and actions are also kept under control.”

We have been given tremendous insight into the human challenge to control self by the following words: “The warfare against self is the greatest battle that was ever fought. The yielding of self, surrendering all to the will of God, requires a struggle” (Steps to Christ, p. 43).

Mankind has a constant struggle with self, with the fleshly nature and this is impacted today by the post modern ways of thinking of this age. Intemperance stares us in many areas: eating, drinking, sleeping, seeing, dress, labour, study, and the list can go on and on.

The wise man Solomon stated in the book of Proverbs that “Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.” (Proverbs 25:28, NIV). An individual without temperance or self-control can be led to suffer various kinds of problems, difficulties and indulgences. Failure to control self which includes our feelings, our appetites and our drives will result in their controlling us with adverse effects. The bad news is we do not naturally possess temperance or self-control.

The good news is that we can all be in possession of temperance or self-control but I must hasten to add that it can only be received from the Holy Spirit. It is a gift of grace.

First there must be a total surrender of our lives to God without reservation. The path to true temperance or self - control begins with a change life. Conversion is the first key step to success in this matter. “Men will never be truly temperate until the grace of Christ is an abiding principle in the heart.” (Counsels On Diet and Foods, pg. 35) Only a life changed and controlled by the Holy Spirit can be in possession of the fruit of the Spirit. In view of the above we all must make a conscious decision not to retain self but instead begin to develop self-control through a relationship with Christ.

In Romans 7: 15-18, the apostle Paul outlined his battle with self-control. Constantly he struggled with self, with the flesh, and with the sinful ways of the world. He cried out for help in verse twenty-four, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” Thank God Paul found the answer. Only in total surrender to Jesus Christ is it possible. A relieved Paul joyously declared in verse twenty-five “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

God’s inspired servant wrote the following two statements, “When self is submerged in Christ, true love springs forth spontaneously. It is not an emotion or an impulse but a decision of a sanctified will. It consists not in feeling but in the transformation of the whole heart, soul, and character, which is dead to self and alive unto God. Our Lord and Saviour asks us to give ourselves to Him. Surrendering self to God is all He requires, giving ourselves to Him to be employed as He sees fit. Until we come to this point of surrender, we shall not work happily, usefully, or successfully anywhere (Mind, Character, and Personality, p. 206)”

“The preciousness and importance of truth must appear, and will appear, when self is hid with Christ in God; then Jesus will be revealed in our lives. Our characters will be moulded after the divine similitude. Then the Holy Spirit will control the human agent. Men will possess the attributes of Christ” (Manuscript Releases, p. 50).

Have you come to that point of surrendering self, allowing self to be hid or submerged in Christ which our heavenly Father requires? Are you experiencing that transformation of the whole heart, soul and character that one who is dead to self and alive to Christ enjoys? It is very important to note that in harmony with scripture God’s servant says self is hid, self is submerged, not illuminated or removed. This is accomplished by the Holy Spirit controlling the human agent. This leads to the next point.

Secondly, we must decide to walk in the Spirit in other to develop temperance. In Romans 8:1, 4 the apostle Paul wrote, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”

Following our surrender is our walking in the Spirit. That walk according to Romans 8:4 literally means “‘walk about’ ‘implying habitual conduct” (Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Vol. 6, pg.562). To walk after the spirit therefore means to habitually regulate our conduct according to the dictates and guidance of the Spirit. (Ibid, 562)

It is no accident that in Revelation 3:18 Jesus calls to anoint our eyes with eyesalve. We must ensure that there is oil in our lamps at all times like the five wise virgins in the parable of Matthew 25: 1- 12. There can be no revival and reformation without the Holy Spirit in our lives. There can be no temperance or development of any fruit of the Spirit without the Holy Spirit controlling our lives. The Author of the great change when self is hid or submerged in Christ, must remain in us accomplishing the work of sanctification .The apostle Paul in Romans 8:1, 4 calls it walking in the Spirit. Herein lay the victory of Jesus over every temptation and our victory:

“He did not consent to sin. Not even by a thought did He yield to temptation. So it may be with us. Christ’s humanity was united with divinity; He was fitted for the conflict by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. And He came to make us partakers of the divine nature” (DA, 123).

Thirdly, since self is not removed, victory over self is a life long struggle that requires a day by day surrender. The apostle Paul relates his experience in 1 Corinthians 15:31, “I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.” This daily death to self has to be our experience also. So that each day our experience will be what the apostle Paul states in Colossians 3: 10, “... you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.”

The pen of inspiration states it this way: “The struggle for conquest over self, for holiness and heaven, is a lifelong struggle. (Ministry of Healing, p. 452).

“You need not be thinking that there is a special time coming when you are to be crucified. The time to be crucified is just now. Every day, every hour, self is to die; self is to be crucified;” ( The Upward Look, p. 283).

“Every day they will gain self control, until that which is unlovely and unlike Jesus is conquered.”(The Sanctified Life, p. 15 )

Our unreserved surrender to God every day will lead us to experience incremental growth in Christ-likeness. We can call it sanctification or reformation but once we daily surrender to God it will happen in us. Each of us has much more land in our lives for the Holy Spirit to conquer. The secret to that lifelong, daily growth experience is well stated in the book Steps to Christ:

“Consecrate yourself to God in the morning; make this your very first work. Let your prayer be, “Take me, O Lord, as wholly Thine. I lay all my plans at Thy feet. Use me today in Thy service. Abide with me, and let all my work be wrought in Thee.” This is a daily matter. Each morning consecrate yourself to God for that day. Surrender all your plans to Him, to be carried out or given up as His providence shall indicate. Thus day by day you may be giving your life into the hands of God, and thus your life will be moulded more and more after the life of Christ.” --- Ellen G. White, Steps to Christ, p. 70

“The law of temperance must control the life of every Christian. God is to be in all our thoughts; His glory is ever to be kept in view. We must break away from every influence that would captivate our thoughts and lead us from God. We are under sacred obligations to God so to govern our bodies and rule our appetites and passions that they will not lead us away from purity and holiness, or take our minds from the work God requires us to do.” CH, p. 42.

As we conclude this week of Spiritual emphasis let us remember that God wants us to be Holy temples. He wants us to fulfil the high and noble purpose for which we were created. A victorious life is ours in Christ. He has made every provision for the accomplishment of this in us.

It is imperative that we daily surrender our all to Jesus that everything in us that is unlovely and unlike Jesus be conquered. May we keep our lamps trimmed, burning always and filled with oil. Lets us daily ensure we are accepting heaven’s free offer of “eyesalve” (Revelation 3:18). I humbly pray that the beauty of Jesus will be seen in all of us every day.

Dr. Clinton Lewis
President, Grenada Conference