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The Bible Speaks Much about Temperance

Duane Pirness | The Voice of Zion January 2024 - What Does the Bible Say Article --

The Voice of Zion theme for this month is temperance. Temperance in our lives means moderation or restraint in our actions, thoughts or feelings. It can also mean abstinence from alcohol or drugs. God’s children have always been characterized as being temperate. This is evident in our lives led by living faith, through the power of the Holy Spirit. People outside of God’s kingdom with whom believers are in contact often notice this characteristic of temperance in God’s children as well. 

God’s children must always live in the time and in the society in which they have been placed. We live in the world, but not of the world, as Jesus prayed for His own (John 17). We have been placed as believers into what often seems to be an increasingly intemperate and, in many ways, a polarized society. We have been asked to be “a light onto the world” today, as we are reminded in Matthew 5.

The Bible text for this theme of temperance is taken from 1 Kings 2:3: “Keep the charge of the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, that thou mayest prosper in all that thou doest, and whithersoever thou turnest thyself.” King David was soon to die, and he spoke these words to his son, Solomon, who would succeed him to the throne. King David had remained faithful to God during his reign, and the land had prospered. When he had fallen into sin, he had been obedient when rebuked and he repented of his sin, and ruled the land in a way that pleased God. He encouraged his son to continue to walk in obedience to God and to remain as His child and to rule as God gives him wisdom.

The Bible speaks of living a temperate life. In Galatians 5, we are told that if we walk in the Spirit, we will not fulfil the lust of the flesh and are not under the law. In verse 23, we are reminded that one of the fruits of the Spirit is temperance. Those who belong to Christ in faith have crucified the flesh with its affections and lusts. However, if we live in the Spirit, we must also walk in the Spirit.

In 1 Corinthians 3:16–18, we are reminded that our bodies are God’s holy temples and we have the Holy Spirit through faith. We must live in such a way that we do not defile this temple and suffer destruction, losing this gift of faith.

In 1 Corinthians 9, Paul says that everyone who runs a race is temperate in all things, so that he can win a crown, but that crown is corruptible. We, however, strive to run our race of faith in temperance to win an incorruptible crown. Paul says that he keeps his flesh under the subjection of the Spirit, so that having preached to others he would not lose his gift of faith.

In Titus 2, we are reminded that God’s grace which brings us salvation teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts and to live soberly, righteously and godly in the world we are in. We look for that hope which comes from God and our Lord Jesus Christ.

In 2 Peter 1, we read that when we have been given the gift of living faith and are spared the corruption of this world, we should add virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness and charity to our faith. If we live in this way, we will be fruitful in the knowledge of Christ. However, if we don’t, we are blind and have fallen away from that faith we had owned.

Ephesians 5:18 teaches that we should abstain from wine, which is contrary to the Holy Spirit which we own by faith. This also includes any alcoholic beverage or drugs. Rather we should be filled with the Spirit and be always thankful to God for everything.

Philippians 4:4,5 reminds us to always rejoice and be thankful to God for our gift of faith, and that our moderation, or temperance, should be known to all people. This includes not only our brothers and sisters in faith, but also other people who know us.

We can see that the Bible speaks so much to us about temperance and moderation. I have chosen a few examples, but we could find many more. In Galatians 6:7–8, we read “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” We are encouraged to continue believing our sins forgiven in Jesus’ name and blood, putting sin away as it attaches itself to us. We are so fortunate to be called from the midst of this world to live in God’s kingdom, with the hope of eternal life in heaven.  

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