Summary: This sermon is on self-control and the Spirit’s role in enabling us to achieve the goals we have to gain control over our selves.

February 15, 2004 Galatians 5:22-23

“The Spirit-filled Life”


In Scotland, during the early days of aviation, a stunt pilot was selling rides in his single engine airplane. One day he got into an argument with an old farmer who insisted upon taking his wife along on the ride -- at no extra charge. "Look," said the pilot finally, "I’ll take you both up for the price of one if you promise not to utter a sound throughout the entire trip. If you make a sound, the price is doubled." The deal was made and they all clambered aboard. The pilot then proceeded to put the aircraft through maneuvers designed to make the bravest tremble. But not a sound came from the back, where his passengers sat. Exhausted, he set the plane down. As the farmer climbed out, the pilot said, "I made moves up there that frightened even me, and yet you never said a word. You’re a fearless man." "I thank ye," replied the Scotsman. "But I must admit that there was one time when ya almost had me." "And when was that?" asked the pilot. The farmer replied, "That was about the time my wife fell out!" That man might very well be the ultimate human example of what it means to have self-control.

Today we come to the last of the 9 characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit – those traits and attitudes that are in evidence in the life of the person who is full of the Spirit. Depending on what translation of the Bible you use, this last characteristic is either known as self-control or temperance. Though its meaning has broadened over the years, temperance used to refer solely to the refusal to drink alcohol. Preachers of the past, especially in the early 1900’s, loved to preach about the need for temperance. One preacher was winding up his sermon with great excitement and passion: "If I had all the beer in the world, I’d take it and throw it into the river." The congregation cried, "Amen!" "And if I had all the wine in the world, I’d take it and throw it in the river." The congregation cried, "Amen!" "And if I had all the whiskey and the rum in the world, I’d take it all and throw it in the river." And the people cried, "Amen!" After the sermon the preacher sat down, and the deacon stood up. "For our closing hymn," he announced, "let us turn to page 126 and sing, ’We Shall Gather at the River.’" - Mike Atkinson (

Regardless of whether you refer to it as temperance or self-control, it means the same thing. It is the power and practice of refusing to give in to the desires that seek to control our actions and get us into trouble. It is ruling our desires, our spirits and our bodies rather than allowing them to rule us. It is the ability to say “NO” to yourself. Temperance is the regulator of the Spirit-filled life. You have a device on your wall at home that you use to regulate the temperature in your house. It’s called a thermostat. In the winter, the natural tendency is for your house to get cold. So you use that thermostat to activate the furnace and cause the temperature in your house to go against the natural tendency and stay warm. In the summer, you do just the opposite, all the time fighting against the direction that the house wants to go and will go if left to itself. Think of temperance as the thermostat of the Spirit-filled life. It constantly regulates your life and prevents extreme variations in your temperament and in your actions. You can even hear the word “temperature” in temperance. It says “NO” to those natural desires that you and every other warm-blooded human being has.

Let’s talk about some of those areas of desire that have the greatest potential for causing us to lose control.

1. There are areas of your life that are out of control right now.

Would you be willing to admit that? If you would, let’s say that together right now. “There are areas of my life that are out of control right now.” You don’t need to tell me what those areas are, because I believe I already know.


A pastor visited a lady in a retirement home. As she lay in her hospital style bed he spoke with her. Beside her bed was a dish full of peanuts. He ate one and then another and before he knew it he looked down and the dish was empty. ’I am so sorry he confessed, I ate all the peanuts you had beside your bed’. ’Peanuts, I can’t eat peanuts anymore, I just suck the chocolate off of them’.

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