Study 48: Gal.5:22-23
The fruit of the Spirit (9)
No longer Thy will The hour Not my will Against such
We now come to the final quality of the fruit of the Spirit - temperance. This word in the NT has a far wider application than the present day meaning of sobriety. The word itself means self-control, and in the context of the epistle we can conclude that this is to do with the self control of the fleshly desires.
If we reconsider the fruit of the spirit, in juxtaposition with the works of the flesh, we see that each quality of the fruit is in opposition to the listed works. In verse 21 Paul says " and such like.." implying that this is only a selection of the works of the flesh, but this list does give us the basic framework with which to meditate.
The above is a simplistic comparison of the fruit of the Spirit and the works of the flesh, for there is obvious overlap with the qualities, but it does give an idea of the opposition of the outworking of flesh to the manifestation of life in the Spirit.
We see temperance is in opposition to those natural desires of the flesh, which are necessary for natural life, which when taken to excess are sin. By walking in the Spirit the Christian will be in control of those natural desires.
This passage gives us the key to our understanding of this quality. It is that our lives should now be submitted to the Will of God, and not to the desires of our own flesh. Whether it be the indulgence of the natural, but necessary desires, or the personal ambition for self glory. And as we have seen previously so now we can see this quality one perfectly outworked in the life of the Lord Jesus.
This section in the Hebrews epistle states plainly that when Jesus came into the world it was specifically to do the will of His Father. Now it goes without saying that His work, of being the ONE eternal sacrifice for sin, was unique; it can not be repeated let alone bettered. But none the less Jesus' life of submission to the will of God is an example for us to follow.
During the days of His flesh Jesus often referred to doing His Father's will rather than His own. Here are some quotes from John's Gospel.
In the first quote we are reminded of the statement of Jesus when He was tempted of the Devil: '..man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God' Mtt.4:4. For Jesus His food, His very life, was to do His Father's will, whatever His flesh may have been saying; not once did Jesus allow His fleshly desires to dictate His actions; His life was guided by His Father's will. It was not just to do God's will, but also to finish His work, He had the determination to see God's will through to the end, whatever the cost. Jesus was in perfect self control at all times.
It would seems strange that Jesus said that He can do nothing of Himself, surely He as the second person of the Godhead is all powerful? But we talking here that He is in subjection to His Father's will and that He does not work independently from Him. Here we can learn that life in the Spirit is not a life of independence from God, doing what we want to do, but one of a life that means total dependence on God.
Thus we see that to live in the Spirit, as Jesus did, is to reject one's fleshly desires, and to be in complete subjection to God's will. Our lives should be in subjection to the Spirit of God rather than the lusts of the flesh. We too should be able to say that our food is to do His will.
There is an outstanding example of this in the life of Jesus and that is the agonies of Gethsemane
Throughout his life Jesus talked about 'the hour', as we see from this selection of scripture.
Time and time again during His earthly ministry many sought to lay hands on Jesus and destroy Him, but we are told that no on could, because Jesus' hour had not come. As we get closer to Calvary the tone changes. and we are told that the hour had come. Clearly the scriptures are telling use that the hour is the crucifixion, and all that was to happen.
Turning to Mark's gospel we read something interesting.
We are looking at the agonies of Gethsemane, it is not the intention here to consider every detail of this incident. We shall be just picking out one important aspect that is relevant to our meditation on temperance.
Jesus facing the hour of His passion, being 'sore amazed' asked if the hour might pass from Him. After submitting to His Father's will He returns to the disciples and states the hour is come. Referring to the start of His redemptive work at Calvary. Later at one of His trials Jesus replied thus.
Whilst going about His ministry during those three and a half years no one could lay there hands on Him, Jesus ' hour had not come, but now it had, and on top of all that Jesus says it was the hour of the power of darkness. This gives us some insight as to what happened in Gethsemane.
We have here a rare, but precious insight into the private communion that Jesus had with His Father. Unlike the other instances, recorded in the Gospels, where He prays, we have some of the very words that He spoke. Facing the agonies of the cross Jesus prays that, if it be at all possible, He should not drink of it. We are told that three times He spoke these words, but every time Jesus submitted to His Father's will by saying ' not as I will but as Thou wilt'. In Luke's account we read that he was in such agony that sweats of blood fell from Him to the ground, and here in Matthew He states that His soul was exceedingly sorrowful unto death ( see also Lk. 22:42 )
There has been much speculation as to what caused Jesus to pray in such a manner. Was it the prospect of the physical sufferings? That crucifixion was the most horrible and barbaric method of execution there can be no doubt. There is no question that during His earthly life Jesus would have come across it, for the Romans did these things openly as a warning to others, so Jesus knew the horrors of this inhumane method of execution.
Or was it the prospect of Jesus being cut off from His Father's presence for a period of time whilst bearing the sins of the world? There on the cross, on top of all the physical agonies, He was to be made sin for us, and the Father would withdraw Himself from His Son; there and then Jesus would be taking the punishment for our sin and such was the torment that Jesus would cry out 'My God, My God why hast Thou forsaken me?' Mtt. 26:46. This would have been untold horror to the Lord, and the prospect of being separated from the Father would no doubt has caused great agony .
However there may have been other reasons, if so we are not told. The scriptures do not tell us the full story as to why Jesus asked for this cup to pass by. Where scripture is silent it is wise not to speculate. All we know is that Jesus was God incarnate, He was made like to His brethren, and tempted in all points as we are, Heb.2:16-18. And on this occasion, for some reason, and it doesn't matter what it was, He asked His Father that if it were possible that the cup should pass from Him. But He didn't insist on His own way, it is one thing to make a request, but quite another to demand it. He did not allow His fleshly desire of self preservation to interfere with the Will of His Father. He was in perfect self-control, all of His earthly life He had walked in the Spirit doing only His Father's will, and now under extreme circumstances He remained submissive to that will, whatever the personal cost.
What an example for us! We may have personal preferences and desires, but are we willing to lay them down in order for God's will to be fulfilled in us? Jesus suffered much more than we will ever know; any sacrifice on our behalf is nothing compared to what He sacrificed in fulfilling his Father's will. Jesus was always, during His earthly ministry, walking in the Spirit, obeying His Father so when it came to the extreme trial of Gethsemane He could submit once more to that will.
For us to be in self-control of our desires we too must know what it is to walk in the Spirit. If we walk in the flesh then it will be our own desires that will take precedence and not God's will. The person that walks in the Spirit will show the fruit of self-control. If we are to be submitted to God's will in extreme circumstances, then we need to know that submission to Him in the normal circumstances.
Being in self-control means that God, and not our fleshly desires, is master. As with the other qualities of the Spirit's fruit, temperance can only be manifested as we walk in the Spirit. It can not be manufactured nor forced, it is a natural consequent of walking in the Spirit.
In these past studies we have seen how, to a small measure, how the fruit of the Spirit manifested itself in the live of Jesus.
At the end of His ministry no one could convict Him of sin. His worst enemies whether Pharisee, or demon could lay a single charge of sin to His account. His life was perfect from start to finish, He ever walked in the Spirit pleasing His Father, and giving us the example to follow.
There is no law against the fruit of the Spirit. The law was given to show the sinfulness of sin Gal.3:19, but to those who exhibit the fruit of the Spirit there is nothing in the law to condemn them. Is this not the life that God wants His people to manifest in their lives? And it is this that we will now see as Paul moves to the conclusion of this most valuable epistle