So far we have seen that if we have been “born again,” if our dead, lifeless spirit was quickened by the Holy Spirit—which happens when the Holy Spirit baptizes us into the body of Christ, and He leads us to confess Christ as our Savior and Lord—that our lives will be marked by 9 distinct qualities. While we are walking around in these bodies of flesh that we get when we are born, we want one thing and one thing only—we want what we want and we want it now. We don’t know the things of God—they are foolishness to us. We don’t want the things of God. So in order for us to know and understand and even to seek the things of God—it is the Holy Spirit that begins the work. The Holy Spirit who breathes Christ’s life into our dead flesh.
And if we have been raised up. If we are no longer walking according to the ways of the world. If we are no longer slaves to the prince of the power of the air. If He has indeed made us alive together with Christ—then our insides will be changed, and this change will show itself in outward manifestations. Galatians 5:22-23—22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. We’ve studied these qualities of the fruit of the Spirit. Today we are looking at temperance.
Faithfulness, meekness and temperance are all built on the same foundation. If we are faithful to God, then we will serve Him in humility and meekness. If we are faithful to Him, and if we serve Him in meekness, we will serve Him not only in the things we do, but in the things we don’t do. If we are a humble and faithful servant, we will consider the things our Master forbids us to do, and we will consider it an honor to put to death out own desires and do only those things that please Him. Every time we get an urge to do something that would bring shame to our Master’s name, we would take that thought and crush it. 2nd Corinthians 10:4—the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but are mighty through God for pulling down strongholds and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God…bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. Faithfulness— “I have promised my life to God, and I’m going to go where He leads me.” Meekness—“I would be well within my rights to do this. I could do it if I wanted to. But I’m going to put that other person’s needs ahead of my own.” Temperance—“I shouldn’t do this. I would be sinning against God if I did this.”
The word temperance is really an umbrella for all kinds of fleshly things. Paul wrote in 1st Thessalonians 4:4—That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour. When our flesh rises up and says, “Hey, what’s this about a new picture of Jessica Alba on the internet? Just check it out!” I think we all know our flesh pretty well. Will our flesh be happy with just a peek? But you see, that’s how Satan works. He knows that if you belong to Christ, and you are truly living for Him—if you are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ—it’ll be pretty hard to get you to sin. So he doesn’t lead you in through the front door. In fact, before he tries to tempt you, he comes up with a plan.
In Ephesians 6:11, when Paul is talking about the armor of God, he says, Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. That word “wiles.” What was the name of the coyote on Road Runner? How did he always try and catch the Road Runner? He always had some plan that involved a rocket, roller skates, and some kind of snare. He came up with a plan to trick and trap his enemy. Sound familiar? Who is it that sets up traps and snares for the Christian? Proverbs 22:24-25—24 Make no friendship with an angry man, and do not go with a furious man, 25 lest you learn his ways and set a snare for your soul. 1st Corinthians 15:33—Evil company corrupts good habits. If we are not exercising temperance—if we are not keeping ourselves as far away from sin as possible, we are giving Satan all kinds of opportunities to reel us in. Speaking of fishing…
When someone goes fishing, do they jump into the water and start grabbing for fish? They tie a hook to a line and attach something to the hook. What do they call it? They throw it into the water. The fish sees it and says, “Hmm. That looks good! I think I'll chase that!!” Next thing you know Big Mouth Billy Bass is hanging on Bubba’s wall. The same thing happens with Christians. But unlike the fish, we know better. Or we should. Think about fishing lures. What do most of them look like? Shiny; got bright colors. We’re sounding more and more like fish every minute, aren't we? And too many times, we chase after those lures. And we wind up being a trophy on Satan's wall. Don’t believe me? Ask Ted Haggard.
The last words in 1st John—Little children, keep yourself from idols. An idol is something we appreciate and respect and revere more than we do God. Not all idols are American. The world is one big, huge, bright shiny object. And we dumb, stupid fish get distracted by bright, shiny objects, don’t we? Listen to what happened to one man who got distracted and lured in by the world. Philemon 1:23-24—salute Epaphras, my fellowprisoner in Christ Jesus; Marcus, Aristarchus, Demas, Lucas, my fellowlabourers. About 5 years later, he wrote 2nd Timothy 4:9-10, Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me: For Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica. A man who walked with and learned from the apostle Paul himself, looked at the Cross and looked at the world and said, “I don’t want your Cross. I want the world.” There are so many people in the church who are like Demas, when they should be like Joseph, who was tempted by Potiphar’s wife and cried out, “How can I do this wickedness and sin against God!” (Genesis 39:8-9). He wasn’t afraid of offending Potiphar. He wasn’t afraid of offending Potiphar’s wife. His one and only concern was sinning against God. And that’s what is missing in so many churches these days.
And this is my biggest beef against people like Joel Osteen who call themselves preachers, but will not preach against sin no matter what. They would rather stand up there and say with that big grin, “God loves you just the way you are and has a wonderful plan for your life!” Excuse me while I go throw up. If a person does do not know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, if they do not repent from and turn their back on their sins, God has a plan for them—but it ain't too wonderful. If a person is a sinner; if they have never been born again and have never confessed Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, that person is in God’s crosshairs. As surely as I stand here, they are the object of God’s wrath.
“God hates the sin but…” Wrong. With the word of God as my witness, every person who is a sinner and who will not repent of their sins is the object of the very hatred of God. Psalm 5:5—You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness, you HATE all workers of iniquity. That ain't just my opinion—that’s the Word of God. And when someone who claims to be a Christian is taking part in the works of the wicked, they may not be under condemnation, but God will make them real uncomfortable. Think your daddy swatting your backside was bad?
I’m not saying we shouldn’t have friends who aren't saved. Just the opposite. We should be an influence on them. But if a person claims to be saved, and they are doing wickedness, listen to 1st Corinthians 5:11—I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person. If someone claims to be saved, claims to belong to Christ, but their life doesn’t match up with that claim, we should avoid that person like the plague. Even more, actually, because the plague is just a physical disease. If we are hanging out with people who claim to be “born again,” yet you look at their whole life and it does not match up with Scripture—their sin will cling to you (Psalm 101:3).
Listen to 1st Peter 2:11-12—11 Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, 12 having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation. In other words, if we conduct ourselves in such a way that our life looks like Christ, then on the day when the Holy Spirit calls that person to salvation, they will know what they need to do by looking at your example. And they will glorify God. Temperance. Self-control. 1st Corinthians 9:27—But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified. If we are going to go out and tell people the gospel, we need to tell them the whole gospel. Especially the bad parts. Like all that Hell and damnation stuff. God’s wrath. And all of that repentance stuff. Now, how can we tell someone that they need to repent in order to be saved when we ourselves are swimming in sins of our own?
When we give our lives to Christ, the world is going to call us backwards. They're going to call us fanatics. They're going to call us losers. But if they knew what we’ve got, they would give away everything they had to get it.
Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in his wonderful face.
Then the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.
Our temperance—self-control—shows the world that we don’t need that stuff anymore. In fact, we now know that we were slaves to that stuff. But we aren't slaves anymore. Because we have been set free by the blood of Jesus Christ. And if the Son sets you free… Can I get a witness? 2nd Corinthians 13:5—Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified. We don’t like to test ourselves. We don’t like to examine our life. We don’t want to think that there is something in our life that God considers sinful. Is there something in our life that we shouldn’t be doing? Sneaking peeks at pornography? Getting drunk—but only on the weekends? Sleeping with someone we're not married to? Sleeping with someone who’s married to someone else? Giving in to our fleshly appetite rather than obeying what the Holy Spirit is trying to tell us? When the Spirit begins telling our flesh to stop doing what we're thinking of doing, do we just stifle that voice that’s trying to lead us into righteousness?
1st Thessalonians 5:19—Do not quench the Holy Spirit. That word “quench.” Literally means “extinguish.” In the Old Testament, they always had a lampstand in the Holy Place, where the priests ministered. This lampstand was symbolic of the Holy Spirit. Every day the priest was to trim the wick and top off the oil for the lamp to make sure it was always burning. Our body is a tabernacle—1st Peter calls it a tabernacle of flesh. The Holy Spirit lives and burns in us. We are not to “quench” the Spirit—we are not to extinguish or put a lid over the Holy Spirit. In the tabernacle, without the lampstand the Holy Place would be completely dark—no light. Without the Holy Spirit living inside of us, our spirit would be completely dark—no light. So when you hear that voice start trying to lead you away from sin—don’t stifle it. Don’t muzzle it. Don’t quench it. When you hear the Holy Spirit talking, listen. Bring your body into subjection to it.
You see, when we turn from our sins, start walking toward Christ the world is going to tell us we’re fools. They're going to wonder why we don’t “want to have fun anymore.” No, we just don’t want to have their kind of fun anymore. Let’s look at 1st Peter 4:1-5 real quick. 1 Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. In other words, if we belong to Christ, it’s as if we were on that cross with Him. If we have been crucified with Christ (Galatians 2:20) we are dead to sin (Romans 6:11).
And if we are dead to sin, then we need to live that way. We need to see the lusts of the flesh for what they really are—traps that Satan has set for us. He’s just standing there, in the shadows, waiting for us to walk into it. Peter should know. And that’s what he’s saying. “You belong to Christ. You are in Christ, you are in the Holy Spirit. Stop being all wrapped up in satisfying your fleshly lusts. Put all that stuff away, stop being a slave to it, and seek the will of God.”
3 For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles—when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. How many of us would love to have back all the years we spent doing these things? But guess what? Even though some of us wasted all those years, God can restore them. He can still use us far more than we could ever imagine. I love Joel 2:25—I will restore to you the years the locust has eaten. Some people who don’t get saved until they're 31, 33, 42 years old, we may think there’s not a whole lot of time for us to do much for the kingdom. Oh, there’s plenty of time.
Look at what he calls the “will of the Gentiles.” lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. These are things the world says, “Hey, if you want to have a good time, you gotta do all these things.” All those beer and liquor commercials—all they ever show is people dancing, having a good time, partying. They don’t show the teenage girl sneaking into a frat party and being gang-raped. They don’t show people with their head hanging over the toilet. They don’t tell you about the people like the one man that lived in that apartment at the corner here who just drank himself into the grave. Peter says, “All that stuff is just a waste of time. It’s junk, It’s worthless. Run away from it!” Paul says in 1st Corinthians 8:18—Flee fornication. Don’t ask to politely excuse yourself. Run yelling and screaming away.
4 In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you. “What do you mean you don’t want to light one up? Come on, I just rolled it.” They’ll ask you, “Hey, I got a cold one for ya. What? Oh, don’t tell me that.” Or you're walking down the sidewalk. Woman comes up to you, you used to be one of her customers, and she starts trying to get you back into the business. And what’s the line Satan loves to use to get you going? “You know you want to!” Same old lie, isn't it? “You know you want to! Come on! Thou shalt not surely die!”
Proverbs 23:27—For a whore is a deep pit, and a seductress is a narrow well.
Proverbs 20:1—Wine is a mocker, strong drink is a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.
Revelation 21:8—But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death. And that’s when you have to make a decision. When you are offered that joint or that bottle or that roll in the back seat. Are you going to follow what the Spirit tells you to do—or are you going to listen to people who want to draw you away from God. Yeah, it might feel kinda good for a little while. Then it’s over with, and then what? You're not stronger than you were before. In fact, if you belong to Him, you're going to feel like crap. Not to mention the hangover, the possibility of being arrested, or getting AIDS. But that’s what the world says is “fun.” And that’s what the world says, “Hey, if you aren't doing these things, you're a loser. You're missing out on all the fun.” 5 They will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.
I got all the joy I need right here in this book. I got promises about eternity, about living with God, about meeting the one who gave His life for me. I got promises that God loves me, that I can find joy in Him, that I can be at peace with Him, that He will get me through the roughest storms, that if I’m kind to people, and if I do the right thing for the right reasons and if I am faithful to God, if I humble myself before Him, and if I bring my body into subjection to Him, I can have every promise in here. The world can keep its beer and its pornography.