Last time, we looked at how we can add knowledge to our pursuit of virtue. We discovered that God desires for us to understand His plan for us. He wants to reveal Himself and develop us into His intended purpose for our lives. By taking up the call to live a virtuous live reliant on God, we find ourselves exposed to knowledge that would otherwise be hidden to us. The virtue we take on when we submit to God's plan drops the scales from our eyes and we discover a fountain of knowledge we never knew existed. It's this commitment that led Paul to become the most prolific writer of the Bible, having gained knowledge enough to write 13 of the Bible's 66 books. It's the same commitment that led David to be a great king and his son, Solomon, to become the wisest man in the history of the world. It's this same commitment that leads us to gain the knowledge we need to become our best and most fulfilled selves.
Today we learn the next step in our transformation process. Having all the knowledge in the world is futile, if you don't know how to use it. God has a method by which we should wield the knowledge that He provides us. Not surprisingly, that method comes from commitment and submission to Him.
2 Peter 1:6
And to knowledge temperance…
Temperance - self-control through submission of our will to God
Temperance, or self-control, is something everyone desires, whether they believe in God or not. The ability to master one’s own domain is preached about in self-help books and seminars as much as it is from pulpits and the Bible. People will pay huge sums of money and devote days and sometimes weeks to seminars and retreats just to get control of themselves. Only through God, though, can we overcome our flesh and master the way in which we respond to situations, others and even God.
Titus 1:8 includes temperance as a requirement for being used by God as a leader of others. If we want to advance our walk with God to where we can help others, we must have temperance. Samson was a great man who did great things. He was even tasked with leading Israel as it's judge. However, his lack of temperance through godly submission saw him undone. Samson believed in his abilities more than he believed in submitting to God's plan for him. His ability was outmatched by his inability to control his flesh.
The Key To Christlike Temperance
John, the closest of Christ's followers, teaches us exactly how we should approach ourselves in terms of sin and self-control:
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (1 John 1:8-10)
This statement reveals temperance from a Christlike perspective perfectly. We all our flawed individuals and need God to help us. God is there for us and willing to help us right ourselves in our walk with Him every time. Every time. God is a faithful God. When He sees someone earnestly seeking Him, Christ will come to our aid. If we refuse that opportunity, though, we lose His Word and thus that access to knowledge He so richly desires us to attain.
Had Samson consistently lived his life according to 1 John 1:8-10, he would have maintained his connection to God and been prepared when the enemy swooped in on him. Instead, he regularly found himself in compromising situations and eventually lost all of the power God provided him. Still, when he repented, God forgave and strengthened him once more. Mercy is always available, even in the last moments of a person's life. However, God wants us to be fulfilled daily. Temperance opens us up to daily fulfillment.
When we come to God each day and acknowledge that we need him, He will be there for us. When we make a mistake, going to God immediately will remedy our failing faster and get us back on the right track. This daily submission to God will lead us to making fewer errors because we will be less reliant on ourselves and more reliant on Him. We will make decisions based on what the Spirit says and not the flesh.
So gaining temperance means
When we submit to God, we give control of our lives to God. Having God-control in our lives rather than self-control, we gain the ability to properly put the knowledge we attain from God into practice. David had great ability on the battlefield, but he trusted God to guide him on who, when and where to attack (2 Samuel 5:19). Phillip was a great evangelist, but he listened when God told him to go to one person instead of staying with a multitude (Acts 8:2-27). If we will submit our will to God and acknowledge that we can't get it done without God, Christ will show us what to do with all that knowledge and virtue we've added to our faith. Moreover, we will have overcome the very thing that has so often enslaved us: our flesh. Overcoming that will set us up for even greater things down the line.
Chris Farris is the author of The Way, a manual detailing how to implement the Beatitudes into your life. He review events and other media and offers other insights into writing and working for the Kingdom of God.