Christian Universe ™
Temperance: Against Such There Is No Law
October 17 , 2010
The apostle Peter wrote that we must add virtue to our basic faith in Jesus Christ. To virtue, we must then add knowledge, and to knowledge, we must add temperance. Temperance refers to moderation, to balance, or even-handedness. It speaks of justice, impartiality, and equity. We must not be fanatical, veering too far to the right or to the left. We can become atheists or self-righteous, depending upon the direction we take, if we carry our religion to one extreme or the other.
Temperance: Against Such There Is No Law
By Bernie Parsons
Presented to Globe church of Christ on 10-17-2010
Presented to Load church of Christ on 10-24-2010
The apostle Peter wrote that we must add to our faith, virtue – strength, and to virtue, knowledge. To knowledge of God’s will, he said to add temperance.
Definition of temperance from the
Merriam-Webster online dictionary:
1: moderation in action, thought, or feeling : restraint
2a : habitual moderation in the indulgence of the appetites or passions
Moderation comes from the word moderate, which means 1a : avoiding extremes of behavior or expression : observing reasonable limits.
As I stated previously, it makes sense to consider these points in the order in which Peter presented them. We add one to the next in our lives, building upon the previous one. Starting with the base of faith, we build upon that base by discovering strength and moral purity. With our new-found strength to stand for truth and righteousness, we next study the life and teachings of Christ and the instructions of God in order to learn that truth and righteousness.
With this knowledge, we are ready to balance our lives, living in temperance and moderation. This means that we are not fanatical, or extreme in our lives. We develop habits of restraint, whether in what we think, say, or do, and we regulate our passions and desires.
Philippians 4:5 "Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand."
Our temperance, or restraint, should be obvious to everyone who sees us. With knowledge of the Lord’s will, and the strength to carry it out, we must do so in an even-handed way. That is, we must be known as just, fair, and equitable. Things that we must avoid as Christians and children of God, are partiality, injustice, and iniquity – which means inequity, or unevenness. Let’s consider these ways of maintaining our balance, or restraint.
1 Timothy 5:21 "I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality."
James 2:1 "My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.
2 For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment;
3 And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool:
4 Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?
5 Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?
6 But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats?
7 Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called?
8 If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well:
9 But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors."
We must treat others even-handedly, not treating one person better than another. As we deal with one, we must deal with all. This falls under loving our neighbors as ourselves. It doesn’t mean that if you reward good people, that you must reward evil people. What it means is that if you would criticize a person for one thing, you would criticize anyone else for that same thing. If you would do something for someone, you would do that same thing for others in the same situation
We are also to be just. The apostle Paul had this to say to Titus about selecting ruling elders.
Titus 1:8 "But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate;"
Treating people fairly is important to the Christian, and the Christian leader must be hospitable, just, and temperate, all characteristics of fairness and even-handedness. Hospitable shows a willingness to share with others, in a cordial and pleasant way. Just is derived from a root word that means right, indicating righteousness. A just person treats people right, which is to say, to treat others as you would like to be treated. We have already considered the word temperate, which indicates an even temper, one who is balanced and not excessive.
Let us also consider iniquity, which I have already mentioned means inequity. It has come to mean, in the minds of many, general wickedness. However, it bears the meaning of not treating people equally, or even-handedly. That is, they are partial toward some, which we know is not acceptable to God, and should not be to us as Christians.
2 Timothy 2:19 "Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity."
I have seen too many who profess Christianity who are partial in their thoughts, speech and actions. They play favorites, and play one person, or clique, against another. The apostle Paul was quick to condemn this favoritism.
1 Corinthians 1:10 "Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
11 For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you.
12 Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.
13 Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?"
1 Corinthians 3:1 "And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.
2 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.
3 For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?
4 For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?
5 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?
6 I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.
7 So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.
8 Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.
9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building."
All who teach and preach the word of God are equal. There is no room for egotism, for runaway fantasies of self-importance. We are not to follow one gospel preacher, and reject another. All are workers for God, and God gives the increase, not the man. As Jesus said:
Matthew 23:8 "But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.
9 And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.
10 Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.
11 But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.
12 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted."
Temperance, or a well-balanced Christian life, is the law of God.
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.
24 And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another."
To faith, we add virtue, or strength. To virtue, we add knowledge. With knowledge, we learn to keep our lives in balance. Remember, those lost in sin are watching us – we are their examples.