Temperance: Winning the Prize

(8th article in the Discipleship Series)

In this article I’ll be discussing the fruit of the Spirit— Temperance.

What is temperance?  Temperance is self-control.  It’s having control over your physical self as well as your spiritual self.

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?  For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your BODY, and in your SPIRIT, which are God's.1 Corinthians 6:19-20

We’ve only been given one life (Hebrews 9:27).  We are to make the most of it for God’s Kingdom (Matthew 6:33).

To the extent that we are able, barring any physical disabilities beyond our control, we are to:

1.  Take care of our bodies.
2.  Attend to our spiritual growth.

Physical Disciplines

If you don’t feel good or you tire quickly, it’s difficult to advance the Kingdom of Heaven.  That’s why every Christian needs to have a daily regimen for training.

The Apostle Paul said:

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize?  Run in such a way that you may obtain it.  And everyone who competes for the prize is TEMPERATE in all things.  Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.  Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty.  Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air.  But I DISCIPLINE MY BODY and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.1 Corinthians 9:24-27

We help ourselves in 3 areas:

1.  Physical exercise.
2.  Eating properly.
3.  Healthy Living.

Physical exercise:

You have to decide what type of exercise is right for you, but within the exercises you choose, you should be exercising your HEART and your MUSCLES.

You help your heart (cardio) when you walk or run.  Cardio exercises include:

• Taking your dogs for a walk
• Hiking
• Running on a treadmill
• Walking or running outside
• Swimming
• Cycling
• Skip roping
• Dancing
• Basketball

Do a cardio exercise every day if you can.  If not, do it at least 3 times a week.

You help your muscles when you stretch or lift weights.  Here are some of the muscles groups you could exercise.

Click on image to enlarge.

Work muscles groups 3 times a week, alternating them throughout the week.

Eating properly:

The body is an engine, it needs fuel.  To operate efficiently it needs 5 to 6 meals a day in measured amounts.  This is the breakdown:

Breakfast, lunch and dinner should contain the following:

1.  Carbohydrate
2.  Protein
3.  Fruit or Vegetable

Here are examples of each:


Note: Substitute Fruit for Peanut Butter


Note: Add potato or rice

Here are examples of healthy light snacks:

Healthy Living:

While all things are lawful, a Christian needs to consider whether it is expedient.

All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not EXPEDIENT: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.1 Corinthians 6:12

Is it expedient to get plenty of sleep and to keep your body clean and teeth brushed?  Of course!

Is it expedient to drink alcohol (Ephesians 5:18)?

Is it expedient to use mind altering drugs for pleasure (Ephesians 5:18)?

Is it expedient to smoke cigarettes?

Healthy living is about making the kinds of choices that helps us advance the Kingdom of God— physically.  If our body is tired, fat and sickly we won’t be able to advance the Kingdom of God and glorify God in our bodies (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

Spiritual Disciplines

Spiritual disciplines include:

1.  Reading the Bible.
2.  Praying.

Reading the Bible

Reading, studying, meditating and memorizing the Bible is to the soul what eating food is to the body.  You can’t live and grow without it.

Although I have devoted a variety of articles on the subject of the Bible and how to study it,

often the most effective way to study the Bible is TOPICALLY.  For instance, in what areas of your life are you struggling in?  What questions would you like the Bible to answer?  These make great jumping off points into the Bible.

Here are some example concerns the Bible provides answers for:

• What to do when you are faced with a difficult decision (Psalm 32:8, Proverbs 12:15, Psalm 73:24, Psalm 33:11)?

• You need confidence (Proverbs 14:26, Hebrews 4:16, Proverbs 3:26).

• You’re faced with a crisis (Psalm 55:16, Psalm 145:18, Psalm 86:7, Psalm 34:6, Psalm 91:15, Psalm 34:4).

To find the portion of scripture that addresses your topic, go to BibleGateway.com.  Use the tab bar to do a Keyword search or a Topical Index search.  From there use the scripture references to study what the Bible has to say about your topic.


As God speaks to us through His Word (Logos and Rhema) we speak to Him through prayer.  What do we pray?  Jesus tells us how to pray in the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:6-13):

1.  We praise Him for who He is.

After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, HALLOWED be thy name.Matthew 6:9

Take time each day to praise God for who he is.  THANK HIM that His eyes are on the righteous and that He hears your prayers (1 Peter 3:12).  THANK HIM that He is with you and you don’t have to fear evil (Psalm 23:4).  THANK HIM that He works all things to the good of those that love Him (Romans 8:28).  THANK HIM that He paid for your sins so that you could have eternal life (John 3:16).  Take time to HALLOW His name.

2.  We pray prayers of sanctification.

Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.Matthew 6:10

Sanctification is bringing who we are in heaven (a justified spirit) to who we are on earth (a fallen soul i.e. mind, will and emotions).  Isn’t that what Jesus is telling us to pray?  In heaven we exemplify the fruit of God’s Spirit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance.  Through the confession of sin (1 John 1:9) we bring those same qualities into our mind, will and emotions on earth (see my article, How To Live the Christian Life).  God uses prayer to bring heaven to earth— IN YOU.

3.  We pray for our daily keep.

Give us this day our daily bread.Matthew 6:11

God wants you to ask Him for the things you need.  Not that He doesn’t already know, because He does (Matthew 6:11).  He wants you to understand that your daily keep, your food and clothes, come from Him (Matthew 6:26).  When we ask Him, it shows our faith.  It shows that we trust Him (Matthew 6:33).

4.  We forgive others as we have been forgiven.

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.Matthew 6:12

You are driving down the road and someone cuts you off.  This guy has offended you.  He is in YOUR debt.  But Jesus tells us He will forgive our debts as we forgive our debtors.

As Christians we are able to do so because we operate in the Spirit of Gentleness.  As discussed in my article, Gentleness: The Power of Kindness and Mercy, gentleness is showing kindness and mercy to people even when we are upset with them.

As we operate in the Spirit of God, it’s no problem to give grace to the unworthy, because that’s what Christ did for us.

5.  We pray for the purity of our faith and lives so that God will not have to test us.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.Matthew 6:13a

God is never going to tempt us (James 1:13), but He will allow temptation to test our faith (James 1:12).  Temptation comes when we are led away by our own lusts (James 1:14-15).  God is asking us to deal with this.  He does not want us to be led away by evil.

6.  We remember why we are here— to bring glory to His Kingdom.

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.Matthew 6:13b

Why are you on earth?  What is your purpose for being here?  Isn’t it that we are here to bring forth the Kingdom of God— in our own lives?  God’s Kingdom is brought forth when we allow His Spirit to change our mind, will and emotions to exemplify the fruit of His Spirit.  When that happens, the external world changes as well.

What could be more powerful than someone who forgives those who offend him?  What could be more powerful than someone who does good works expecting nothing in return?  What could be more powerful than someone who considers the needs of others above his own?  These are the kinds of qualities that will change the world!

May God, through the prayers of His people bring power, glory and honor to the Kingdom of our God forever.  Amen!


God wants us to portray excellence.  Temperance helps us to get there.  Through temperance we gain control over body and spirit.  If you haven’t establish times and methods for bringing yourself under the submission of the kingdom, consider doing so.  The Apostle Paul said that he keeps his body under subjection so that he might gain the prize.  Not just any prize, but one that will last FOREVER (1 Corinthians 9:25).

In our next session we’ll be discussing the fruit of the Spirit— Joy!

Fruit of the Spirit Card