pt. 9 - I Will Be Self-disciplined
Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
Introduction: I want to welcome you this morning to part 9 of a new sermon series based on the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5. This series is all about life change and what God wants to do in our lives if we will let Him. Make no mistake my friends; the goal of God in salvation is Christlikeness. God wants to change us into the image (icon -- exact replica) of His Son in character, conduct and personality.
Let me also remind you that we can translate the first few words of verse 22, "The fruit of the Spirit..." to read "...the fruit that the Spirit produces..." This morning I want to you to ask yourself this question as we begin; "If I was a better person and displayed more goodness in my life and testimony would it make a difference in my life?" Would it make a difference in my family life? Would it make a difference in my Christian testimony? The answer to all of these is yes it would!
When I started this series I had no idea of the significant effect these messages would have on my own life.
What does the word temperance mean in our text?
To start this message I would like us to look at:
I. Defining Temperance
ILL - The poorest education that teaches self-control is better than the best that neglects it.
Christians in particular need to be educated in the area of self-control.
a. What it means historically
The common usage of the word temperance in our country is from the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries and it was connected to the fight to restrict the use and abuse of alcohol in this country that resulted in the 18th and 21st amendments to the US constitution which historians refer to as Prohibition and the repeal of the prohibition. The folks who were involved in this fight against the trafficking of alcohol were called temperance societies. I thank God for every blow that they struck and wish that they were active today. The nearest things we have today is MADD and SADD an I applaud everything they are doing. The only problem with many of these efforts is that in their attempt to teach people to drink responsibly, they are doing the equivalent of playing Russian roulette and saying, "Now you'll be careful; you hear!" The liquor lobby is the most powerful lobby in America today. They exercise great influence in our nation's capital and in every legislature and city council in this country. The encroachment of alcohol sales is steady and relentless, even in dry counties the booze crowd has found friendly judges and now almost any hamlet, town or city within a county can vote itself wet over the objections of the majority in that county. I thank God that FWB's have always been teetotalers historically. Our church covenant states that: "We promise by His grace to love and obey Him in all things, to avoid all appearance of evil, to abstain from all sinful amusements and unholy conformity to the world, from all sanction of the use and sale of intoxicating beverages, and to provide things honest in the sight of all men." Now, let me tell you where your pastor stands on this subject because you have the right to know. There is no good reason for any Christian to use any alcohol at all with the exception of a medical reason. Just a few years ago this didn't need to be said but things have changed dramatically. Back years ago everyone from the oldest grandpa to the tiniest tot knew that Christian's should not have anything to do with alcoholic beverages but that is not the case today. Many evangelicals have compromised and gotten soft on this issue and just recently I read of a church that had a fellowship dinner with the announcement to BYOB! There are several Biblical principles that provide more than enough justification for teetotalism. Christians ought to be total abstainers and here's why: The first is the principle of example. 1 Corinthians 8:13. As a Christian I should be concerned about others, especially those who are weaker in the faith. If it causes a weaker brother to stumble I should abstain. The second principle is the principle of glorification. 1 Corinthians 10:13. There is no way you can chug-a-lug booze to the glory of God. You can rationalize it to yourself but you can never make it right. Third, there is the principle of expediency. 1 Corinthians 10:23. This simply means it is not in my best interest. The consequences of alcohol use and abuse remind us over and over again that it is not in our best interest, it is not what is best for us. I thank God for and support our law enforcement officers who try to keep our roads and highways safe from drunk drivers. I lost an 18 year old cousin in a one-car drunken driving accident and my aunt and uncle asked me to preach his funeral. There was nothing I could to them that would ease the pain that they were feeling. We have even tried to soften the moral aspect of alcohol by using the word "alcoholic" instead of the word the Bible uses. I'm reminded of a story Dr. R. G. Lee told about a man who came to see him and announced that he had a problem with alcohol to which the preacher replied, "Oh, you're and alcoholic!" The man replied, "No. I'm a drunkard, alcoholics have to go to all them meetings." The fourth principle is the principle of enslavement. 1 Corinthians 6:12. Paul says that he resisted those things in life that he found to be addictive. If anything has a tendency to addictive, certainly alcohol would be that substance.
b. What it means hermeneutically
What does the word "temperance" mean? It is best translated self-control, self-discipline or self-restraint. Paul alone uses this in the NT and it is translated "temperate" also. Listen to his words from the ESV:
1 Corinthians 9:25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.
26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air.
27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
There is a passage in Proverbs 16:32 that sheds some light on this principle as well. "He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city." The writer is saying that whoever has control over himself, his own spirit, is better than someone who can conquer a city but cannot conquer themselves. Saul was head and shoulders above other men and was a mighty warrior but could not discipline himself to obey the simplest commands; David could conquer many cities but could not master his own lusts. Alexander the Great killed his best and most beloved friend in a fit of anger and reproached himself for the remainder of his life. History is filled with examples of great men and women who achieved greatness but their inability to master themselves led to their downfall.
II. Developing Temperance
a. It is Spirit produced
Why can't we seem to control our impulses, our urges, our inclinations, and our tendencies? The answer is because we can never do it in the flesh. It is not self-induced, it is Spirit-produced! It is a work of the Holy spirit, not natural but supernatural. There is a theological concept involved here that must be understood. When we become Christians we do receive a new nature but make no mistake the old nature is not dead, it has just be pushed from the throne of our lives. There is a struggle going on in your life and the old nature keeps trying to dominate you. James describes this conflict in chapter 1:12-14 and tells us the source of our trouble: "Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:
14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.
The person who has been born again has a new nature and the old is in conflict with the new and will be until we draw our last breath. This is why only the Holy Spirit can produce this virtue in us.
b. It is progressive
"One of the basic characteristics of infancy is a lack of self-control. Not only do babies need diapers, they must be carried because they lack the necessary control and muscle coordination to sit up much less walk or run. If babies are healthy and normal, in time they will develop more and more self-control--a sure sign of growth and maturity."
Keathley III, J. Hampton. "Marks of Maturity: Biblical Characteristics of a Christian Leader: Mark #10: Self-Control. bible.org. Date unknown
This would also be true spiritually speaking. We need to grow and develop in the area of self-control and the more you exercise self-control the more self-control you can exercise! It's like a muscle that is exercised, it develops and you gain strength and endurance. This is true with the exercise of self-control. The more you do it the more you can do it!
2 Peter 1:5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge,
6 and knowledge with self-control (temperance), and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness,
c. It is pervasive
Self-control is a fruit that has the potential to affect every area of life. I can't think of a single area of life that would not be enhanced or bettered by the development of self-control. It is a virtue that has life changing potential!
III. Demonstrating Temperance
I want to share several areas in your life where the spiritual fruit of self-control will change you radically.
a. In the area of finances
Two things need to be said in this area. First, there is the area of greed vs generosity. If we are not careful greed will control us instead of controlling greed. We must control our possessions or they will control us. The flesh says, "Get all you can, can all you can get, and set on the can!" But the Bible says that God loves a cheerful giver and that we are to give willingly not grudgingly. This takes self-control. Second, we need to control our finances in terms of spending and saving. Proverbs 22:7 The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender. So many of us spend money we don't have for things that we don't need that we prevent ourselves from being generous! There are a lot of Christians who say that they cannot afford to tithe but the real truth of the matter is they will not discipline themselves to tithe. It takes discipline and self-control to live on 90% of your income my friend but the blessings and benefits far out way the burdens! Can I get an amen from all you tithers?
b. In the area of forgiveness
You might ask what has self-control got to do with forgiveness but it takes self-control not to indulge in self-pity, bitterness and grudge bearing. We cannot control the troubles of life but we can control how we respond to those troubles. We cannot control the actions of others, people are going to hurt us but we can control how we react and respond to that hurt.
Matthew 5:10 "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 "Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. ESV
Ephesians 4:31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.
32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. ESV
c. In the area of food
Now I'm about to touch upon and area that put me in a position of some saying, "That's the pot calling the kettle black..." preacher, but let me say something about this subject and this is not intended as a pun; this is an area where we all have room to grow!" What does the Bible have to say about out consumption of food? Gluttony seems to be a sin that Christians like to ignore. We are often quick to label smoking and drinking as sins, but for some reason gluttony is accepted or at least tolerated. Many of the arguments used against smoking and drinking, such as health and addiction, apply equally to overeating. Many believers would not even consider having a glass of wine or smoking a cigarette but have no qualms about gorging themselves at the dinner table. This should not be! Answers.org
Read more: http://www.gotquestions.org/gluttony-sin.html#ixzz3UOckirDg
Proverbs 23:20 Be not among drunkards or among gluttonous eaters of meat,
21 for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and slumber will clothe them with rags. ESV
Proverbs 23:2 And put a knife to thy throat, if thou be a man given to appetite.
Physical appetites are an analogy of our ability to control ourselves. If we are unable to control our eating habits, we are probably also unable to control other habits, such as those of the mind (lust, covetousness, anger) and unable to keep our mouths from gossip or strife. We are not to let our appetites control us, but we are to have control over our appetites. (See Deuteronomy 21:20, Proverbs 23:2, 2 Peter 1:5-7, 2 Timothy 3:1-9, and 2 Corinthians 10:5.) The ability to say "no" to anything in excess--self-control--is one of the fruits of the Spirit common to all believers (Galatians 5:22).
God has blessed us by filling the earth with foods that are delicious, nutritious, and pleasurable. We should honor God's creation by enjoying these foods and by eating them in appropriate quantities. God calls us to control our appetites, rather than allowing them to control us.
Read more: http://www.gotquestions.org/gluttony-sin.html#ixzz3UOducDKl
d. In the area of the flesh
Our flesh is the greatest single enemy to right living.
ILL - In his book "The Great Divorce," C.S. Lewis gives an allegorical story about a ghost of a man consumed by lust. And in this story lust is depicted as a red lizard that sits on his shoulder and whispers seductively in his ear. When the man is bothered by this lizard on his shoulder, an angel volunteers to destroy it for him. But the man is conflicted because he wants to hold on to his lust but also wants the lizard gone. What he is afraid of is that the death of his lust will be the death of him. He offers all these excuses to the angel because he wants to keep the lizard (even though he doesn't want it).
After much discussion the man finally lets the angel kill the lizard. The angel grabs the lizard, breaks its neck and hurls it to the ground. Now that the spell of lust is broken the man who was once ghostly is wonderfully remade into a real and solid person. And what's so cool is that instead of dying, the lizard is changed into a spectacular stallion. With great tears of joy and appreciation the man gets on the horse and rides off into the heavens.
What was Lewis trying to help us imagine? Lewis is drawing us to the bond between killing our lust and finding life. We who have given into lust so much that it feels like we are going to die without it to die, it feels as if we are going to die right along with it will find that instead of destroying us, we find a new life we never imagined. Instead of giving into desires that are off limits, we begin to experience a pure desire - - a God centered desire, which is birthed in us to experience the greatest joy possible. The joy that comes from knowing that God isn't just saving us from our sin, but that He is up to something far more profound: God is saving us for a life of love and joy and faith and peace and self-control.
Conclusion: In his book, When God Whispers Your Name, Max Lucado writes:
I choose self-control ...I am a spiritual being. After this body is dead, my spirit will soar. I refuse to let what will rot, rule the eternal. I choose self-control. I will be drunk only by joy. I will be impassioned only by my faith. I will be influenced only by God. I will be taught only by Christ. I choose self-control.
Max Lucado found in God's Treasury of Virtues (Tulsa, OK: Honor Books, 1995), 433.
If you want to develop the fruit of self-control, you have to honestly answer these questions,
1. What am I a slave to? Food? Lust? Power? Money? The Past? Drugs? Alcohol? Bitterness? Jealousy? Anger? Fill in the blank?
2. What do I have to say "no" to right now?
3. What do I have to say "yes" to right now?
4. Where/how do I better incorporate the fruits into my life?
B. Then we need to confess what we need to confess to the Lord and ask for forgiveness and help in light of these questions.
C. Then we need to find one other person that we trust to help us begin to make these changes.
D. Finally, we need to ask the Holy Spirit to truly come into our lives and change us the way we need to be changed. Jim Kane
TONY EVANS ON GETTING UN-STUCK
Tony Evans, a popular black preacher from down in Texas, spoke of being on an elevator in a high-rise building. He said he'd never been particularly comfortable on such elevators. There was something about riding up and down in a little box several hundred feet off the ground that has never sat well with him. He worried that something would go wrong.
One day it did. The car he was riding in got stuck in between floors way up in the higher floors. He noted that some of the people in the car became frantic. They began to beat on the door hoping to get someone's attention. Others began to yell in the hopes that their voices would get someone on the surrounding floors to come to the aid. But nobody heard their noise or their cries.
Then Evans quietly made his way to the front of the car, opened a little door in the wall and pulled out a telephone. Immediately he was connected with someone on the outside. He didn't need to beat on the wall to get their attention. He didn't need to speak loudly in the phone to receive their help. He could have whispered and they would have heard him.
Evans said that - in this world, we're going to get "stuck" in places we aren't comfortable with. Some people begin to beat against the walls, others cry out in dismay. But the person who trusts in the power of confident prayer knows there's someone on the other end who hears their call and comes to their aid.
Hebrews 10:19ff tells us that we now can have "boldness" (KJV) to enter into very presence of God because of the blood of Jesus. We can think this way only because Jesus has opened the way for us to approach God's throne and earnestly ask whatever we desire according to His Will.