The word temperance means self-control. It includes much more than abstinence from addictive substances that harm the body. It signifies moderation in all things and full control over every lust and appetite. Excesses of any kind should be excluded.
Temperance is one of the fruits of the Spirit. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-24). Therefore, temperance should be exercised by those who desire to have clear minds and healthy bodies. The wise man says, “Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control” (Proverbs 25:28).
Our natural appetites were divinely appointed, and when originally given to man, were pure and holy. It was the Lord’s plan that reason should rule the appetites. And when appetites are regulated and controlled by a sanctified reason, they bring strength and joy to the soul because a healthy mind is in a healthy body.
God provides food for man’s use and man has the right to satisfy his appetite for food. However, the Christian is not free to eat whatever his appetite may desire, irrespective of quantity and quality. The wise man says, “If you find some honey, eat only what you need. Take too much, and you’ll vomit” (Proverbs 25:16). Paul teaches, “I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:27).
Christians ought to be thankful for the provision made by God to supply the body’s needs. Hence, they should eat intelligently, in order to serve the Lord efficiently in this world. Peter taught, “giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness” (2 Peter 1:5-6).
Today, with the prevalence of health problems, temperance is part of God’s message to the world (Acts 24:25). And Christians should live self-controlled, healthy lives (Titus 2:12), so much so that they should be known to the world by their “moderation” in all things (Philippians 4:5). They are to remember that they are bought by the blood of Christ, and it is their duty to keep their bodies in the best possible condition (1 Peter 1:18, 19; Revelation 5:9). For their bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
He who knows the pleasure of communion with God will not allow his mental and spiritual faculties to be weakened by indulgence in any activity or thing. Paul wrote, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God” (Romans 12:1-2 also Romans 13:14). The Lord calls for his children to be sober and strong (1 Peter 5:8; 1 Timothy 3:8-9; 1 Thessalonians 5:6-8; Ephesians 5:18; Galatians 5:19-21 Proverbs 31:4-5).
The Lord helps the believer to overcome the appetites of the flesh. Paul declared, “I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13). When God’s commands are faithfully observed, the Lord makes Himself responsible for the triumph of the work done by the believer. Thus, in the Savior there is strength to perform all duties, strength to overcome temptation and power to resist the appetites and lusts of the body (1 Corinthians 15:57).
In His service,