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110 The Fruits of God’s Spirit: Temperance

The presence of the Holy Spirit will manifest itself in certain ways often called the fruits [or indicators] of the presence of the Holy Spirit, which will develop more and more over time, as we overcome more and more and grow in godliness.  

The scriptures contain a list of the Fruits of God’s Spirit and also a list of the Gifts of God’s Spirit.  Fruits means the evidence of God’s Spirit and nature in a person.  The Gifts of love, wisdom, knowledge and faith  are the same as the fruits, but the gifts of healing, prophecy and tongues are additional special gifts for the edifying of the whole assembly.  This series will present identical Fruits and Gifts together in the same articles, and will place those specific Gifts [healing, tongues and prophecy] not included in the list of Fruits in their own articles. 

We call the end results of anything; its consequences or fruits;  the Holy Spirit in us produces these fruits in us.  

The Holy Spirit is the essence and nature of God, therefore GOD IS:  Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love [agape], joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 523 Meekness, temperance: and we are to grow to become like God.

The fruits of God’s Spirit are the evidences or proofs of God’s Spirit and nature dwelling in us.  When we plant a seed that seed will germinate and grow to become a plant.  When God plants his Holy Spirit in us, it will grow [if nurtured by much study,  putting away sin and internalizing godliness, and obedience to every Word of God] and fill us with the nature of God [the nature of God being the nature of God’s Spirit [the fruits of the Spirit].  

The nature of God and the nature of the Spirit of God in us, grows in us through the unresisted presence and growth of God’s Spirit in us.   If we are diligent to learn and to live by every Word of God, to diligently seek all truth – for God is truth, and to reject every false thing; the very nature of God will grow in us, which nature is:  Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 5:23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

Temperance Means Moderation and Self-control

Moderation means doing things decently and in a controlled manner; it fights against drunkenness, gluttony and over indulgence and it brings control over anger and impulses.

Temperance means thinking before acting, and then acting appropriately in a controlled godly manner.

Are we given to rage, drunkenness, gluttony, drug dependence  unlawful lusts, being dominated by sinful passions and extremes, or losing self control instead of controlling these things in our lives?

We need to cry out to our God for His help and as we zealously seek to keep His Word, the gift of God’s Spirit in us will also increase and empower us to a Sound Mind of Power, to control our sinful lusts of natural spirit and flesh.

2 Timothy 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear [of evil]; but of power [to overcome evil], and of love, and of a sound mind [self control]. 

Now no sinful habit is easy to overcome; and we are engaged in a titanic struggle against spiritual powers which entice us and lead us into sin by teaching us to tolerate such sin: while the Holy Spirit of God leads us to loathe all sin and turn away from and despise and reject all sin in utter disgust. 

By this we know the true nature of the spirits, for God’s Spirit teaches us to despise, rebuke and reject all sin, even the very appearance of sin, and to remove it as far from us as the east is from the west!  God’s Spirit teaches us to be repelled by sin as if we were being tempted to dive into a tank of raw sewage and drink it up!

Satan’s spirit teaches us to tolerate the things that God hates, the sins that bring suffering and death to the children that He loves!

Seek the whole nature of God which is defined by the fruits and gifts of God’s Spirit; and reject the nature of Satan which is defined by thoughts and deeds, contrary to the Spirit and the Word of God.

Galatians 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 5:20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 5:21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

When your church organization teaches you to tolerate sin for the sake of corporate unity; they are rebelling against the Holy Spirit, the very nature of God Himself!

 
Temperance

Temperance, or self-control,  is the ninth and last of the fruits of the Spirit as listed in Galatians 5:22-23. Though it is listed last of all the fruits, this virtue is as important a manifestation  of the Holy Spirit as the previous eight fruits of God’s Spirit.

In our previous articles on the “Fruits of the Spirit” we have been calling the individual items: love, joy, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness – fruits; but actually the “Fruit” of the Spirit is singular and it is comprised of all of these spiritual attributes together, because the nature of God includes ALL of these things.

The nine fruits of God’s Holy Spirit are all interconnected; every one of them works in conjunction with all the others, like the different parts of our bodies work together and the body would be compromised if even one of its organs were missing or damaged.

Without temperance, or self-control; without this very necessary spiritual quality helping us to use moderation and self-control in our lives, our lives would quickly spin out of God’s will and into sin and wickedness.  

Temperance is a attribute of God’s Holy Spirit and is given to us as part of the whole package and without it we will not be in God’s Kingdom. Only those who have learned to exercise control over the whole spectrum of their own emotions and desires will be fit to be a part of God’s family. To exercise self-control in our thinking, words, and actions, is to round out and make possible a life full of the other attributes [Fruit] of the Holy Spirit which enables us to walk in righteousness, holiness and sound-mindedness.  

Just think, would God give a person prone to fits of rage and uncontrolled temper, great power and control of others?  No, of course not, we must first learn to control ourselves before we can be trusted by God to lead others!

Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 5:23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 5:24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

We Must destroy our old wicked natures and turn to Live in the Righteousness of God’s nature

The apostle Paul speaks of this very subject in the whole chapter of Romans 6, showing that we must crucify the flesh (demolish our carnal nature and become dead to the desire to sin) to make way for God’s Holy Spirit to do its work of changing our nature into the nature of God within us.

Romans 6:6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.

Temperance enables us to set our minds and our affections on the spiritual things above, the things of God, through the power of Jesus Christ dwelling in us through the agency of God’s Spirit, and not on gratifying our desires for the pleasures of this world.

By crucifying the flesh (our unlawful lusts), we become alive to the Spiritual things of God and we then hunger and thirst for His righteousness. 

Romans 6:11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. 6:12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. 6:13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.

When we discipline ourselves to keep ourselves under control, we develop the habits of virtuous living and ways of thinking and practice what Paul describes here.

Romans 6:18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. 6:19 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. 6:20 For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. 6:21 What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. 6:22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

As God’s children we are to follow after the example of Jesus Christ by living the kind of life that He lived while here on earth as a man. Also, the apostles and many of the servants of God whose lives are recorded for us in the Bible, are models of lives controlled under the guiding hand of God and by the power of His Holy Spirit; but at the same time, they did not relinquish their free moral agency. By utilizing this marvelous gift of temperance that God has made available to those who are committed to obeying and following Him, they said no to excess and sin. They were set FREE from bondage to Satan and sin, to follow Him and fill themselves with holiness, righteousness, balance and wholesomeness, and living a wonderful, exciting life living for God, and not being a slave to inordinate passions.

Romans 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. 8:3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 8:4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 8:5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. 8:6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 8:7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8:8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. 8:9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. 8:10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.

If we loose the bonds of sin by choosing to exercise godly self-control, we have so much more to look forward to than merely the temporary things that this world tries to seduce us with.  If we go after the temporary things that this life has to offer, we stay temporary persons ourselves. But if we chase after the eternal things of God, God will raise us up, not only on the day of the resurrection of the saints, but we begin to live a new revitalized life in the here and now as His sons and daughters; and then later in all its fullness as spiritual beings when we become glorified sons of God at the resurrection.

Romans 8:11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. 12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. 13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. 14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

Definition of Temperance and Sober-Mindedness

The Greek word for temperance is egkrateia (Strong’s #1466) and means: self-control (continence) – temperance. (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance)

Continence means: self-restraint or abstinence,  especially in regard to unlawful sexual activity;  chastity,  temperance;  moderation in alcohol consumption.

HELPS Word-Studies 1466 egkráteia (from 1722 /en, “in the sphere of” and 2904 /krátos, “dominion, mastery”) – properly, dominion within, i.e. “self-control” – proceeding out from within oneself, but not by oneself. Possessing power, strong, having mastery or possession of, continent, self-controlled.”

For a child of God, egkrateia  (“self-control, spirit-control”) can only be accomplished by the power of the God.  Accordingly it is “true mastery from within” and is explicitly called a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:23).

Self-control means to have the mastery of one’s desires and impulses, but does not in itself refer to the control of any specific desire, appetite, or impulse. When describing self-control, a particular desire or impulse will be indicated in the Bible by the context in which it is being used.

We are to apply godly self-control in all aspects of our lives; whether its in our relationships, our finances, our health, work habits, eating or drinking, caring for our families, personal desires, etc; this will help us to learn wise stewardship as well as mastery over all kinds of desires. By using self-control in these areas we bring peace, orderliness, and balance to our lives.

The Bible does not specifically use the word temperance or self-control in every verse where it is talking about self mastery, but does imply the meaning of this word when exhorting us to be obedient, submissive, and to live a blameless life. The only way we can be and do these things is to be self-controlled.

Temperance begins in our very heart and in controlling our mind first. If we have self-control in our very inner being, it will the manifest itself in our emotions, words, and actions. There is a Greek word that has a similar meaning to egkrateia (self-control) and covers a more specific area of our lives and means to keep our minds sober and circumspect, free from intoxicants and also life-dominating influences.

The Greek word is nephalios, (Strong’s #3524) and means: sober, not intoxicated (with wine), temperate, vigilant, free from negative influences (intoxicants); (figuratively) clear-minded; circumspect (“sober”), free from life-dominating influences. The root Greek word of nephaleos is nepho (Strong’s #3525) and means: free from the intoxicating influences of sin (like the impact of selfish passion, greed, etc.). Refers to having presence of mind (clear judgment), enabling someone to be temperate (self-controlled), to have”one’s wits (faculties) about them,” which is the opposite of being irrational or mentally unstable.

Both of these Greek words give us an even more in-depth meaning as to what the Bible means when it talks about self-control and being temperate.  We must use self-control in restraining inordinate desires and impulses; but we are also exhorted “to be sober” in many Scriptures; which means to avoid drunkenness. But the meaning goes even further than just drunkenness and describes how a Christian ought to exemplify self-control by keeping his mind free from any kind of intoxicants: both tangible [real, concrete, touchable, physical] and intangible [abstract, immaterial, nonphysical].

The significance behind these two Greek words helps us to understand that we must strive to keep our wits, or mental faculties, about us at all times and not let anything other than God and His Holy Spirit control our minds. Anything can be alcohol or drugs; OR irrational thinking, false doctrines, out-of-control thoughts, emotions, myths and fables, superstitions, fears, phobias, obsessions, anything that tries to control our minds and keeps us from thinking soberly and rationally and having a sound mind, as Paul admonished Timothy. And this includes letting other men, no matter who they are or what title they may have, have the control of what we think, or what we believe or how we should be living our lives: if it is in the least bit contrary to what the Word of God teaches.

2 Timothy 1:6 Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands. 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power [self control], and of love, and of a sound mind.

We are not to let anyone sway us from God’s truth with cunning reasoning or double-speak, we are to expose them and reprove them with God’s truth and the Holy Scriptures, resisting them, just like Jesus did to Satan when tempted in the wilderness.

Colossians 2:8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of  men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

Ephesians 4:14 that we henceforth be no longer children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine by the sleight of men and their cunning and craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 4:15 but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into Him in all things, who is the Head, even Christ.

God is calling us to come out from Satan’s deception and embrace the TRUTH and believe Him and do what he says trough the power of Christ living IN us through the agency of the Holy Spirit, we are never to follow those who are being used by Satan to deceive and mislead us away from God and His sound doctrine.

2 Timothy 3:13 But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing from whom thou hast learned them, 15 and that from childhood thou hast known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly equipped for all good works.

The Bible assures us that God’s Holy Spirit is powerful in helping us to do warfare against the things that would corrupt and destroy us by enticing us to sin and taking us captive to their deception and evilness. He will keep a hedge of protection around us and protect us if we are obeying the whole Word of God and diligently seeking Him with all our hearts.

Galatians 5:17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.

But we can have supernatural help if we have God’s Spirit and are walking in it, and being faithful to all of His commandments.

2 Corinthians 10:3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

Despite the obvious importance of having self-control in controlling our desires, appetites and impulses; this powerful component of the Fruit of the Spirit also includes the idea of having good sense, sober wisdom, moderation and soundness of mind, as contrasted to mental instability and even insanity of a carnal mind that knows no control over their conduct or behavorial boundaries and does not think like God thinks

We see a good example of how self-control works by guarding what comes into our minds in the allegoric inferences in Proverbs.

Proverbs 25:28 He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.

In this verse there is no specific Hebrew word that means “self-control,” but to rule ones own spirit or mind definitely implies that one is to keep control over them constantly and not let other dominating influences come in and take control.

The picture in Solomon’s proverb is that of a city whose walls have not been kept intact and have been neglected; allowed to deteriorate to the point of having no walls at all to protect the city. The city has no defense against an enemy, or even many enemies; just like a person who has no restraint over his spirit. He allows all kinds of negative things to come into his spirit [mind] and lets anger, lust, and all the other unbridled emotions to reign freely without control; destroying his reputation, his character, his relationships and eventually his life.

Paul too, talks about putting up restraints (comparing them to armor); in this case to put up a barrier to the onslaughts of Satan and his demons.

Ephesians 6:12 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

One way to be “strong in the Lord” is to be a person who controls his anger. This person is a very strong individual; and Solomon tells us that the ability to control our anger or temper is better than being a physically strong man.  The proverb teaches that a person who is self-controlled is actually stronger than one who is physically strong enough to take over a city, but who cannot control his anger or his temper.

Proverbs 16:32 He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.

Instruction from the Book of Titus Regarding Self-Control

The Book of Titus is an excellent guide for all persons who make up the Ekklesia, for it especially instructs us in the area of having self-control, to behave soberly and that we are teach these concepts to others.

Paul’s letter to Titus is a series of instructions on how all elders are to behave and what they are to teach. This is a series of instructions for ALL elders and responsible persons for all ages in the Assembly of the Faithful. This is also applicable to ALL brethren, since we are ALL called to become priests forever after the order of Jesus Christ.

Paul’s instruction to Titus starts with a list of qualifications for elders which includes many qualities that consist of having self-control and sobriety in order to be leaders and examples in their congregations.

Titus 1:5 For this cause left I thee at Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee.  1:6 If any be blameless being the husband of one wife, having faithful children and is not to be accused of riot or being unruly. 1:7 For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God, not self-willed, not self-involved, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker or fighter, and not given to filthy lucre [or lusting after material gain.] 1:8 But be a lover of hospitality, a lover of good [righteous godly] men, sober, just, holy, and temperate. 1:9  Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught,t that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.

Both men and women are to be good examples in godliness; consisting of self-control.

Titus 2:1 But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine: 2:1 That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience.

Paul then tells Titus to give admonition to the older women to be good models of temperance and soberness and that they should teach the younger women by their words and their exemplary behavior.

Titus 2:3 The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; 4 That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.

Paul exhorts Titus to exhort the young men and servants to have the power of self-control and to be sound-minded.

Titus 2:6 Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded. 2:7 In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, 2:8 Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you. 2:9 Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again; 2:10 Not purloining, but shewing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.

In summary, all who would want to be followers of Jesus Christ are to have this mark of a Christian;  self-control and temperate living, which leads to righteousness and being a godly person.

Titus 2:11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,  2:12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;

Paul describes the time when men will be lovers of themselves and will behave in such a way that exemplifies a total lack of self-control. We are living in those times, in a culture where self-control is becoming more and more a rare commodity. We have the opportunity to shine as beacons to the world to show them what it is like to live the opposite of how carnal men live.

2 Timothy 3:1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 3:2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3:3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, [without self-control]fierce despisers of those that are good, 3:4 Traitors [to godliness], heady [intoxicated with self importance], highminded [know it alls], lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God:

 

Self-Control is Essential

When viewed from carnal people’s perspective; self-control, especially when associated with self-sacrifice and self-denial, seems to them to be self-defeating and is the opposite of what the world teaches them. The world teaches that we should enjoy life now and live it to its fullest by seeking pleasure in the moment and obtaining self-gratification by any way we can.

But when those who are being called now come to a full and a true understanding of what carnal human nature brings forth, we can see that the fruits of being moderate and self-controlled are entirely positive.

Living a self-controlled life is the only way that brings true fulfillment, not only in our lives now, but ultimately the rewards of doing so will usher in the joy of achieving true happiness and contentment that can only come by obeying God and living His way.

Psalm 16:11 Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

Every Man that Striveth for the Mastery is Temperate in All Things, Just Like an Athlete

The apostle Paul strongly exhorts us to live self-controlled and disciplined lives just as the runners he observed in the Grecian games in his day. He held them up as examples of how we are to live as the spiritual people of God running in a spiritual race. He compares their devotion to living disciplined lives, avoiding the hindrances caused by over-indulgence and anything that would distract them from their goal of running effectively in their race to win.

Paul says to run with all we’ve got, if we want to attain our full potential as sons of God. This requires lives of moderation, focused on the goal that is set before us, not letting anything distract us from getting off-course.

In every area of life we must be diligent to avoid anything that would have a detrimental impact on our performance as runners. An athlete takes care of his body and eats, sleeps, exercises and trains to become as physically fit and as skillful as he possible can.

He avoids even those things that might be completely legitimate but would keep him from devoting his full attention to his program of training. As spiritual athletes who are serious about excelling in our walk as Christians and to win the race, we too must spiritually train in the same way.

1 Corinthians 9:24 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. 9:25 And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown crown; but we an incorruptible. 9:26 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: 9:27 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.

And in Romans 7, Paul describes the struggle that he had, just as we all struggle with bringing the flesh under control.  It is through Jesus Christ that we are delivered from this body of death and it is though His life living in us that helps us to gain the mastery.

Romans 7:18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. 7:19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. 7:20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. 7:21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.

7:22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: 7:23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 7:24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? 7:25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

It is God’s Spirit within us that enables us to fight against the pulls of the flesh. It takes strong spiritual warriors to resist our own carnal lusts and desires and also the temptations that Satan constantly throws at us. But we can have the victory if we seek it, ask for it and utilize this most valuable and necessary fruit of God’s Spirit called Temperance.

It’s worth it, to give it everything we’ve got to resist the pulls that attempt to defeat us in all areas of our lives with the help of ALL NINE of the attributes of the FRUIT of the SPIRIT, including this one. They are our powerful spiritual weapons of mass destruction in our fight against our own carnal nature, the temptations of Satan, and the lure of all that is in the world.

1 Corinthians 15:56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the [the penalty of the law {death} for our sins] law. 15:57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  15:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

Lets strive for self-mastery in all things and with the help of God’s Holy Spirit within us;  we can receive the victory through Him.

 

Godly temperance and self control abhors all selfishness, arrogance, sin  and indolence; and means controlling one’s predisposition towards laziness in learning and living by every Word of God.

Godly temperance and self control encourages productive work and spiritual diligence.

 
Proverbs 24:30-34

 

 We must work hard to internalize the whole nature of God to enter into eternal life

Proverbs 24:30 I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding; 24:31 And, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down.

24:32 Then I saw, and considered it well: I looked upon it, and received instruction. 24:33 Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: 24:34 So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth; and thy want as an armed man.

 

Proverbs 24:30-34  Commentary

In Proverbs 1:1 Solomon writes: The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel; 2 To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding;

We know that the purpose of Proverbs is so we can know wisdom and receive instruction as to how we can live our lives wisely, walking in the fear of God .

In Proverbs 24:30-34 Solomon learns a lesson from what he sees as he is out walking and then teaches us about the effects of slothfulness.

One aspect of lack of self control, is laziness, what the King James Bible calls slothfulness. Proverbs give us many analogies for diligence or the lack of diligence, (slothfulness) and has a lot to say about the consequences of each side of the coin.

We too can see the effects of lack of diligence all around us in our modern world. We, like Solomon, can learn a good lesson on how important it is to be good stewards and to take care of our responsibilities in whatever sphere we find ourselves, not only in the physical things of life but in our spiritual obligations as well. We can learn from the graphic picture he presents from the physical world of husbandry, and compare the image in our minds of an unkempt and ruined vineyard with what spiritual laziness will do in our spiritual vineyards.

A physically industrious person gains temporary physical wealth and a spiritually industrious person gains wealth in godliness which will last for eternity.

In the following verses in Proverbs 24 Solomon comments on what he saw as he happened by the field of a lazy man one day and used the situation as an illustration to write a proverb about it.

Proverbs 24:30 I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding;

The slothful or lazy person makes this trait obvious on the basis of the shambles or disorder of his property. As Solomon walked by this man’s vineyard, he observed the sorry state of his affairs and could discern some things about the owner’s character. He knew just by viewing this vineyard that it was owned by a slothful person.

After seeing the condition of this field he concluded that the husbandman, or whoever was in charge of it, was void of understanding. Solomon seems to be thinking “doesn’t he know and understand that he should be putting first things first and keeping up the maintenance on something that is as valuable as a vineyard? If this man worked at his field, he could make it beautiful and productive and it would yield good fruit that could bring in some income to provide for his needs.” He concluded that the owner was not only lazy but also “lacked understanding.”

Proverbs 24:31 And, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down.

The field was covered with thorns and weeds that were choking out any possibility for the vines to grow and produce grapes. And the fence that was supposed to be a hedge of protection, had broken down because of lack of maintenance. Any produce that did manage to break through the weeds, would be trodden under or eaten by wild animals. Clearly the vineyard was vulnerable to all kinds of invasion because of lack of proper management. 

Do we leave our spiritual field unattended and broken up, by neglecting the things of the spirit?

Proverbs 24:32 Then I saw, and considered it well: I looked upon it, and received instruction.

Solomon observed and then pondered upon the situation and received a lesson from it about laziness according to the effects that this vineyard clearly illustrated. He used this as an parable to teach a lesson about diligence and how the lack of it will bring us to ruin. We can learn by his example in this verse as to how to gain wisdom by observing and then meditating on the things we see.

We normally read books to teach us things; we try to get good advice from teachers on how to be wise; we learn how to behave properly from the good examples of wise people and be influenced by their lifestyles. But at other times, such was in this case, Solomon teaches us that we can observe (or watch) the evil ways of others and see what the consequences are that come as a result of their bad behavior and then learn wisdom by their example.

He is teaching us about slothfulness by this proverb, but as shown in this verse, he is not only teaching us about laziness, but also that we can learn how to live our lives wisely; not just from being taught by good men, but from seeing the works of evil men and what the effects are that come as a result of their living contrary to God’s ways.

Proverbs 24:33 Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep:

It seems that the only concern the lazy person has is to take what he thinks is the easy way, not willing to put forth the necessary effort to achieve beyond the minimum.

He puts things off, allows distractions and procrastination to take up his time and does not make his responsibilities or proper goals to be the top priorities in his life.  

Jesus called such people who on a spiritual level will do only what they feel is essential for life “unprofitable Servants” who will be sternly reproved and will not enter the Kingdom of God.

Proverbs 24:34 So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth ; and thy want as an armed man.

After not caring enough to put in the time and effort to work at his field, this person will soon find himself in physical poverty; it will travelleth [come in, or come upon] and it will overtake him. It will seem like a robbery; the effects will be as when one has been robbed.

This is what lack of self-control and lack of diligence does to the things that are in our lives; just like being robbed at gunpoint, by an armed highwayman that will strip a person of all that he has. (But instead of an armed man stealing or destroying his possessions, he really did it to himself by not keeping on top of the things he should have been tending to.) 

The same principle applies to our spiritual life; if we neglect diligence in spiritual matters and are not zealous to learn, to keep and to teach the whole Word of God, and meditating [thinking], on the Word of God, seeking understanding from God day and night; our spiritual field [life] will fall into decay. 

We are the managers of our lives, our homes, our families, and our spiritual condition and development; we cannot afford to be lazy and just let things go!  If we do, we risk losing control over our lives and everything will suffer for it and the people in our lives will suffer as well.

This is the lesson that presented itself to Solomon that day as he walked by the deteriorating vineyard and its condition inspired him to write this proverb.

The principle of slothfulness is the theme of many other proverbs that Solomon composed and he has wise things to say about diligent stewardship contrasted to laziness, with principles that fit right in along this same line of reasoning.

Proverbs 27:23 Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds. 27:24 For riches are not for ever: and doth the crown endure to every generation? 27:25 The hay appeareth, and the tender grass sheweth itself, and herbs of the mountains are gathered. 27:26 The lambs are for thy clothing, and the goats are the price of the field. 27:27 And thou shalt have goats’ milk enough for thy food, for the food of thy household, and for the maintenance for thy maidens.

Proverbs 10:4 He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich.

Proverbs 6:6 Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: 7 Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, 6:8 Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest. 6:9 How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep?

Proverbs 13:4 The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat”.

 

What is the spiritual analogy in this principle that we can learn on a spiritual plain?

At birth, we are each given our “field or vineyard” called our life. God gives us a body first of all to take care of, then we we are placed in a family. As we grow up and take on the care for our own lives, we may seek higher education to prepare for a vocation; we need to have a place to live; we seek a spouse and a family of our own; we need to work and take care of our homes, finances, cars, and all of our possessions.

Self-control and stewardship go hand in hand. We are to be diligent to take care of all that God has given to us, tending to all the details that will keep them from deteriorating, or becoming problematic .

It is the person who is willing to get up early, go to work, who takes his responsibilities seriously and applies himself to making sure that his priorities are in proper order; and in this way he is learning to rule. The person who can rule his own vineyard with diligence and self control, not allowing himself to indulge over much in pleasures, addictions, recreation, hobbies; will be able to rule a city, or maybe a country, and occupy a position of great responsibility, after proving to God that he can rule himself and his household well.

We all are given a physical life and we realize that some are more fortunate than others in this regard. People are given opportunities according to what kind of condition, family, health, or even country they are born into, which in turn provides different degrees of chances to even live a good life. In our modern day societies, many children are deprived of even the opportunity of being born and given a chance to live their lives. But God takes all of that into consideration and will judge each fairly according to what each has been given.

But for those of us who have been privileged in our lifetimes to be called out now to know God’s will and purpose, we have an even greater responsibility to be diligent to take care of this special opportunity of being called by God and to make the most of it. We have been given the mandate to live our lives for God and to live it according to all of His ways. It behooves us to not neglect such a high calling and let it degenerate by becoming lazy in seeking God and neglecting our obligations to Him and by not wholeheartedly keeping His commandments with all our heart, mind, and strength. (Deuteronomy 6:5, Luke 10:27)

Just like the man or the husbandman who was responsible for the vineyard in this Proverb, we can become lazy by not attending to the spiritual work it takes to maintain a close and thriving relationship with God and thereby allowing thorns, nettles, cares of this world to choke out our relationship with Him.

If we let our stone fences go to ruin, thereby allowing the carnal things of the world to come into our lives and trample the gifts that God has provided us with, such as His truth, His laws, His Sabbath, His Holy Spirit, then our spiritual lives will become just like the field that Solomon describes.

Also, Solomon addresses the neglect of keeping up our strong walls of defense against the forces of darkness in another one of his Proverbs. He tells us that if we lack self-control we are as defenseless as a city with broken-down walls.

Consistent self-discipline will build up our spiritual defense system against the forces of evil. What a waste and a tragedy if we should ever let our precious calling slip from us, either from neglect, or from not keeping our hedge of protection strong and maintained in order to keep evil out.

Proverbs 25:28 He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.

We are given seventy to eighty years in this physical life, some less and some more, and that’s it. It’s purpose is to experience life in this present evil world, and to make choices; and if we choose to live God’s way, (if called by Him) we embark on His intense training program to learn as much as we can to prepare us for the time when the world will no longer be evil.

The wise man or woman will use their time that they have here on this earth wisely to acquire and to keep wisdom and to learn all the ways of God. We must strive with all of our might to become more and more like He is, and to have more and more of the mind that He has.

There is no time to be sleepy, or to sleep in, or waste our time pursuing things that don’t really matter, or things that would cause us to drift away from our opportunity to become trained priests and kings for the future Kingdom.

Now is the time to keep examining our lives, checking the fence for holes or weak spots and repairing them, weeding out the thorns and nettles, seeding, cultivating, watering, fertilizing the soil of our lives so that our harvest will be bountiful and pleasing to God so that on that Day, He will be able to say to us “well done”!

Matthew 25:21 His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.

Luke 16:10 He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.

But He will say to those who did not put forth the effort to take care of things given to them:

Luke 16:11 If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?

We all want to be the good and faithful servant who received a commendation from God for being a good steward. The persons who received two, and five talents were diligent in investing them in spiritual growth, overcoming and applying the things they were learning in gaining even more talents.

But the person who was fearful and lazy about overcoming and seeking out the things of God and applying them to his live, lost out and lost even the one talent that he was originally given.

Matthew 25:14 For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. 25:15 And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. 25:16 Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. 25:17 And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. 25:18 But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money. 25:19 After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. 25:20 And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. 25:21 His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. 25:22 He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. 25:23 His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.

Matthew 25:24 Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: 25:25 And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. 25:26 His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: 25:27 Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. 25:28 Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. 22:29 For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.

To be able to keep what we have been given, we must never stop growing and producing from what we have been given by God.

“From him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath;” the idea of taking something away from someone that “hath not” is hard for us to understand and seems contradictory until we understand the natural laws of decay and degeneration in the physical world; just like we see in the Proverb of the unkempt vineyard.

The “talents” or the spiritual gifts that are given to us are also subject to these natural laws in that if we do not tend and keep them properly, we will eventually lose them.

The man who put his talent in a napkin and did nothing with it, forfeited it at the owners return even though he tried to keep it safe by hiding it. He was too afraid to invest it in God’s Kingdom or for growing to be able to be useful for working in the Kingdom. Therefore, God says to take the talent away from him. 

The man’s crime in this parable is simply his neglect and was told “thou wicked and slothful servant”. He wasted his time, he wasted his life and he wasted the talent that had been given to him because he did not put it to use.

As members of the Ekklesia we can be guilty of neglecting the talent that God has given us. A person can sometimes see others who seem to be given so much, so to speak, so much more than his little amount and he can be tempted to think why try, or why put forth much effort, because the interest on the one talent would be so small that he can excuse himself with the idea that it is not worth while to do that much with what he has been given.

God does call the weak and the base so we may see ourselves as plain ordinary men and women sometimes, and it seems that what we may have to contribute is not that much, so why try so hard at working to grow it? Sometimes we are afraid to take the risk of stepping out and trying to put a gift or a skill to work for the benefit of God’s work and in the edifying of the Ekklesia.

Yet this parable of the talents and Solomon’s Proverbs teach us that no matter what we have been given, no matter what “hand we have been dealt in life” we can and must make the most of it and use what God has given to us to glorify Him. We must be always willing to use what God has given to us; our time, prayers, service, resources, and gifts to help in building and edifying His purpose in our lives, in the lives of others, in the Ekklesia and on into the lives of the rest of humanity.

If we have been faithful and good stewards of these things in this life, we will have been proven to be qualified as efficient and effective administrators in God’s Kingdom.

What wonderful promises await us if we do not neglect this wonderful opportunity to live and work with Him forever (so great a salvation) that He extends to those He is calling at this present time.

Hebrews 2:3 How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him;

 

Our Time to Prepare is Getting Shorter

Every day now, we see the end of this present age rapidly approaching (Hebrews 10:25).

Jesus Christ, in His Olivet Prophecy as recorded in Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21, foretold several major trends that would increase and intensify before His return. We are seeing and experiencing an increase in these trends in our lifetime. The trends He emphasized were religious deception, wars, rumors of wars, famines, disease epidemics, earthquakes, betrayals and persecutions.

As stated earlier, the Bible says man has been given an average lifetime of about 70 or 80 years but as we clearly see the events and conditions that are happening in our world, we can sense that we do not have that many years to learn and grow in God’s truth. With all the things that are falling into place, it appears that we may only have a few more years left before God ushers in His Kingdom. With this understanding, we are given even more of a sense of urgency to make the best of the time we do have.

We do need to put forth effort to keep up with our prayer, Bible Study, meditation, occasional fasting, seeking out and always proving all things and learning as much as we can. Our job is to stay as close to our Lord and Savior as we possibly can. Now is not the time to let up or to start getting sleepy.

1 Thessalonians 5:1  But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. 5:2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. 5:3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. 5:4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. 5:5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. 5:6 Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. 5:7 For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. 5:8 But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.

Jesus Christ will change the spiritually diligent to learn and to live by every Word of God at his coming,  the spiritually lazy will lament their loss.  

By Constance Belanger and James Malm

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