FRIDAY MORNING MANNA
May 23, 2014
Are We Preparing for the Latter Rain?– Part XXXI
A Temperate People
TEMPERANCE or self-control which invariably includes self-denial and self-sacrifice, is one of the nine “fruit,” that is, evidence or manifestation that the third Person of the Godhead is indeed dwelling in us and that we are submitting to the divine government, management, and control with our informed consent and willing cooperation.
These nine fruit(s) of the Holy Spirit are the very graces and virtues that proud yet suffering humanity have pining for. Yes, the words, their definitions and concepts are subjects constantly expounded on, perhaps sermonized too often in the pulpits of Christendom; but few actually possess them. It is the counterfeits, crafted by Satan, the master deceiver that mankind has been so strangely obsessed with in spite of their multiplying consequences of suffering, disease, pain, and moral wretchedness.
The leaves can “deceive” but the fruits can’t. The fruits of the Spirit, as all know, are: “Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” And why so? “They that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections [“passions,” margin] and lusts.” Galatians 5: 22-24, K.J.V.
Ever wondered why temperance is listed last though it certainly isn’t the least important? I’ve come to the conclusion that it wasn’t randomly selected. Here’s why: One may appear, as in pretend to have all the first eight but are secretly intemperate in their diet, for: “There are few who realize as they should how much their habits of diet have to do with their health, their character, and their usefulness in this world, and their eternal destiny. The appetite should ever be in subjection to the moral and intellectual powers. The body should be servant to the mind, and not the mind to the body.”- Ellen G. White, Patriarchs & Prophets, p. 562.
And so from the same author and book I’ve found the core principle and definitive definition of temperance, according to its Biblical principles, in the following words that just have to be inspired: “True temperance teaches us to dispense entirely with everything hurtful, and to use judiciously that which is healthful.”-Ibid.
Paul continues: “But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.” verse 18. The reason there is no law against these fruits is because each and all of them are, in fact, the fruit of faith in Christ demonstrated in deeds or works. The Bible defines it as loving, willing, and intelligent obedience to all of God’s law—both moral and physical—which is His will for us. Righteousness, in its simplest terms, is right-doing.
On the other hand, every man-made, tampered law of God that is palmed-off as His law by wolves in sheep’s clothing and those they have deceived and mislead others in turn, will likewise manifest the unmistakable “works of the flesh.” Apostle Paul described them with adultery and fornication, both physical and spiritual, heading the list:
“Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, , and such like: of the which it tell you before, and I have told you in the time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” Galatians 5: 19-21.
What is the divine antidote to doing the works of the flesh?
“This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lusts [desires] of the flesh. For the flesh lustethagainst the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things ye would. But if you are led of the Spirit, ye are not under the [condemnation] of the law [which defines sin, 1 John 3: 4].” Gal. 5: 16-18. Walk, and its different forms, are mentioned at leas 413 times in the Authorized Version. It is the favorite word of the Bible writers to describe a wide range of activities surrounding the idea of “to live, deport oneself, follow as a companion or votary; be occupied with; to select.” Individual choice and will are definitely in the center of it.
So we Christians are either (1) choosing to walk in, as in yield to, the clamors of the flesh—the lower nature, indulging and pleasing the carnal desires, lusts and weaknesses, or are (2) choosing to walk in the Spirit as truly converted Christians experiencing sanctification. But it is not piece of cake, nor a walk in the park; it is a daily battle and a march moving forward against all odds. And the greater the obstacle overcome by the enabling grace of God the sweeter the victory and the easier to overcome the next one and the other temptations and weaknesses still trying to assert themselves. The works of the flesh are antagonistic towards the works of the Spirit. Yet we “cannot serve two masters at the same time.” Matt. 6: 24; Luke 16:13. In the kingdom of God there are no gray areas neither fence-sitters nor compromises.
As Arnold Valentin Wallenkampf says (emphasis mine):“God gave Adam and Eve free moral choice at their creation. They used it to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden. Men and women have often since employed their remarkable faculty of free moral choice contrary to God’s will. And God has not removed it. Free moral choice is yours and mine. It is God’s inalienable gift to every human being. Our salvation pivots on our free moral choice. Salvation demands that you and I—and every intelligent being on earth—must personally choose to respond to God’s love in order to be saved.”- Salvation Comes from the Lord, p. 15. Review & Herald Publishing Asso. , Washington , D.C., 1983.
In the very beginning man was tested on self-denial on appetite or desire.
“The first moral lesson given to Adam was that of self-denial. The reins of self-government were placed in his hands. Judgment, reason, and conscience were to bear sway. [Genesis 2: 16, 17 quoted]. Adam and Eve were permitted to partake of every tree of the garden save one. God give man no permission to violate the laws of his being. But man, through yielding to Satan’s temptations to indulge intemperance, brings the higher faculties in subjection to the animal appetites and passions, and when these gain the ascendancy, man, who created a little lower than the angels [Heb.2: 6, 7]—with faculties susceptible of the highest cultivation—surrenders to the control of Satan. And he gains easy access to those who are in bondage to appetite.
“Those who would have clear minds to discern Satan’s devices must have their physical appetites under the control of reason and conscience. The moral and vigorous action of the highest powers of the mind are essential to the perfection of Christian character, and the strength and the weakness of the mind has very much to do with our usefulness in this world and with our final salvation.
“The ignorance that has prevailed in regard to God’s law in our physical nature is deplorable.Intemperance of any kind is a violation of the laws of our being. Imbecility is prevailing to a fearful extent. Sin is made attractive by the covering of light which Satan throws over it, and he is well pleased when he can hold the Christian world in their daily habits under the tyranny of custom, like the heathen, and allow appetite to govern them.
“If men and women of intelligence have their moral powers benumbed through intemperance of any kind, they are in many of their habits elevated but little above the heathen. Satan is constantly drawing the people from saving light, to custom and fashion, irrespective of physical, mental, and moral health. The great enemy knows that if appetite and passion predominate, the health of body and strength of intellect are sacrificed upon the altar of self-gratification, and man is brought to speedy ruin.
“If enlightened intellect holds the reins, controlling the animal propensities and keeping them in subjection to the moral powers, Satan well knows that his power to overcome with his temptations is very small.
“In our day people talk of the dark ages and boast of progress. But with this progress wickedness and crime do not decrease. We deplore the absence of natural simplicity and the increase of artificial display. Health, strength, beauty, and long life, which were common in the so-called ‘dark ages,’ are rare now. Nearly everything desirable is sacrificed to meet the demands of fashionable life.
“A large share of the Christian world have no right to call themselves Christians. Their habits, their extravagance, and general treatment of there bodies are violations of physical law and contrary to the Bible. They are working out for themselves, in their course of life, physical suffering, and mental and moral feebleness. . . .
“Intemperance in eating and in dressing has so engrossed the minds of the Christian world that they do not take time to become intelligent in regard to the laws of their being, that they may obey them. To profess the name of Christ is of but little account if the life does not correspond with the will of God revealed in His word.
“In the wilderness of temptation Christ overcame appetite. His example of self-denial and self-control, when suffering the gnawing pangs of hunger, is a rebuke to the Christian world for their dissipation and gluttony. There is at this time nine times as much money expended for the gratification of appetite and indulgence of foolish and hurtful lusts [desires] as there is given to advance the gospel of Christ.
“Where Peter [alleged by the Roman Catholic Church to be the foundation of their church] he would exhort the professed followers of Christ to ‘abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul.’[1 Pet. 2: 11]. And Paul would call upon the churches in general, ‘to cleanse themselves from all the filthiness of the flesh and the spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God’ [2 Cor. 7: 1].”- Ellen G. White, Confrontation, Christian Temperance chapter, pp. 57-59. Review & Herald Publishing, 1973
(Continued next week on the same topic)