Jackson – 26 June - Gal 5:1,13-25
like us to think for a few moments this morning about those familiar
verses we read from Paul’s letter to the Galatians listing the fruit
of the spirit. As we mature in our Christian lives, and learn
to live more and more in step with God’s Holy Spirit, more and more
of the fruit of the sprit should be seen in our lives – love, joy,
peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and
It’s not too difficult to show these qualities some of the time, but
to maintain them with any sort of consistency – well, I certainly
struggle. And that last one, self control, or temperance, as the
King James version has it, may well be the most difficult to show
with any consistency in our lives.
At times most of us are the epitome of control and at other times
we’re like erupting volcanoes. Listen to what the prophet Isaiah has
to say to us about being fruitful .
My well beloved has a vineyard on a very fruitful hill. He built a
tower in its midst, And also made a winepress in it; So He expected
it to bring forth good grapes, but it brought forth wild grapes. God
has planted his vineyard with the choicest vine.
If we are to bear “much fruit” for him then as Jesus told his
disciples we need to abide constantly in Him.
When we do that, then the love, joy, peace, gentleness, goodness and
faithfulness will show in our lives, but what about this thing
that’s translated self control or temperance.” The dictionary
definition of temperance is:
moderation or self-restraint in action or statement, etc.;
habitual moderation in the indulgence of a natural appetite or
passion, esp. in the use of alcoholic liquors.
3. total abstinence from alcoholic liquors.
I’m not sure that either the word temperance or the word self
control really gives us s true sense of what this part of the fruit
of the spirit is all about. I’m not going to suggest that we all
sign the pledge today, especially here in France where they make
such good wines, but in the nineteenth century the word temperance
was used to mean that last definition - abstaining from alcohol.
During those days it was quite common for preachers to preach
strongly against drinking alcohol .
sure some of you have heard about the preacher was winding up his
temperance sermon with great fervour: "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 congregation cried, "Amen!" After
the sermon the preacher sat down. The deacon stood up: "For our
closing hymn," he announced, "let us turn to hymn number 126 and
sing, ’Shall we Gather at the River.’" Maybe the congregation all
shouted Amen again – I don’t know.
So if it’s not temperance in the sense of not drinking alcohol, is
this all about self control then. I think this can be just as
misleading. Self control is something that we can so by ourselves.
It might lead us to think that all we need to do is steel our will.
Be stronger. More determined. It’s self control, so we can do it.
But if that were true it wouldn’t be the fruit of the Spirit rather
the fruit of our selves.
So maybe temperance is a better word. "Temperance has been defined
as the abstinence from all that is evil, and the moderate use of all
that is good."
It’s much more than self discipline. Ephesians chapter 5:18 tells us
“ And do not be drunk with wine, but be filled with the Spirit, It
is not just about exercising self discipline to control our lives,
it’s about submitting our will to the will of the Holy Spirit within
us, born out of “Love” for God.
Discipline and temperance can often look very much alike but they’re
not the same thing. For instance two people may both be facing
similar temptations. The first person says to him or herself, I
shouldn’t read that, or I shouldn’t go there, or I shouldn’t do
that, it’s wrong. So he steels himself and walks away.
The second person feels the same temptation but his heart responds
with, ‘I don’t want to go there, I love the Lord and not only is
this not good for me, but it will break God’s heart.’ The first
person and the second person both walk away and by appearances they
have the same result. But were their responses the same? The first
person is just using his will, but the second person is using not
only his will but his “love for God.
Philip Keller wrote a book entitled “A Gardener Looks At The Fruit
of the Spirit” and he suggests that self control in the biblical
sense “means my ‘self’ my whole person, my whole being, my body soul
and spirit come under the control of Christ. It means that I am an
individual governed by God. My entire life, every aspect of it –
whether spiritual, moral or physical – has become subject to the
sovereignty of God’s Spirit. ‘I am a man or woman under authority.’
The running of my affairs, my attitudes, my actions is a right that
has been relinquished and turned over to God’s Gracious Spirit”
This self control, this allowing ourselves to be governed by God,
comes with Christian maturity.
One of the basic characteristics of infancy is a lack of
self-control. Not only do babies need nappies, they have to 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.”
If we are to mature in Christ, then we have to become more
“Self-controlled.” By self- control I mean the controlling of
“self” by submission to the Spirit of God. So how can we develop
this in our lives. First of all we need to disbelieve the lie that
giving things up will be too painful. " Scott Peck writes in his
book "The Road Less Travelled: "I spent much of my ninth summer on a
bicycle. About a mile from our house the road went down a steep hill
and turned sharply at the bottom. Coasting down the hill one
morning, I felt my gathering speed to be ecstatic. To give up this
ecstasy by applying brakes seemed an absurd self-punishment. So I
resolved to simultaneously retain my speed and negotiate the corner.
My ecstasy ended seconds later when I was propelled a dozen feet off
the road into the woods. I was badly scratched and bleeding, and the
front wheel of my new bike was twisted beyond use from its impact
against a tree. I had been unwilling to suffer the pain of giving up
my ecstatic speed in the interest of maintaining my balance around
the corner. I learned, however, that the loss of balance is
ultimately more painful than the giving up required to maintain
are we slaves to?• Food? Lust? Power? You fill in the blanks.
you or I have to say “no” to right now?
• In order to be free there are some things we need to say no to
• Some things need to be removed from our lives
• The abstinence from all that is evil.
• Paul says all things are lawful, but not all things are expedient
or good for us
• Sometimes we need to say no to things that aren’t necessarily evil
in themselves so that we can say yes to the things that are best
C. What do you or I have to say “yes” to right now?
Attending church or bible study more regularly
o Daily Bible reading
You fill in the blanks again… what do I need to say yes to…
Then we need to confess our sins to the Lord and ask him for
forgiveness and help.
Let’s read vs. 24 again. “And they that are Christ’s have crucified
the sinful nature with its passions and desires.”
If we want this control of the spirit in our lives then we have to
be prepared to “die to self.” We have to surrender our rights to him
who died for us. We have to recognise in our daily lives “we are not
our own we have been bought with a price.” Only then can this
balanced life of the spirit be seen in us.
Could you imagine what would happen if each of us allowed the Holy
Spirit to produce the entire Garden of the Fruit of the Spirit in
Edgar Guest was born in Birmingham, at the end of the 19th
century. He went to live in the United States, and eventually
received the title “Poet Laureate of Michigan.” His poem “Sermons We
See,” drives home the point of how we need to be Christ-like role
models for others to follow, and presents a challenge to those of us
who preach. it goes like this:
I’d rather see a sermon
than hear one any day;
I’d rather one should walk with me
than merely tell the way.
The eye’s a better pupil
and more willing than the ear,
Fine counsel is confusing,
but example’s always clear;
And the best of all the preachers
are the men who live their creeds,
For to see good put in action
is what everybody needs.
I soon can learn to do it
if you’ll let me see it done;
I can watch your hands in action,
but your tongue too fast may run.
And the lecture you deliver
may be very wise and true,
But I’d rather get my lessons
by observing what you do;
For I might misunderstand you
and the high advice you give,
But there’s no misunderstanding
how you act and how you live.
When I see a deed of kindness,
I am eager to be kind.
weaker brother stumbles
and a strong man stays behind
Just to see if he can help him,
then the wish grows strong in me
To become as big and thoughtful
as I know that friend to be.
And all travellers can witness
that the best of guides today
Is not the one who tells them,
but the one who shows the way.
One good man teaches many,
men believe what they behold;
One deed of kindness noticed
is worth forty that are told.
Who stands with men of honour
learns to hold his honour dear,
For right living speaks a language
which to everyone is clear.
an able speaker charms me
with his eloquence, I say,
I’d rather see a sermon
than to hear one, any day.
You and I can only imitate Jesus as the power of the Holy Spirit
enables us. May his indwelling presence produce in each of us the
Fruit of the Spirit. As He leads us, may we be that sermon others
will see and come to follow Jesus as His disciples too.