In our introduction to Fast Forward 2018, we looked at how “Jesus Judo” can be used to turn the devil’s attacks against him. In part 1, we discussed the seven Christian Virtues and seven Deadly Sins that evolved between the fourth and sixth centuries and has been widely recognized in the church ever-since. We began with the first virtue – Chastity – and its opposing sin – Lust. This time we move down the list to number two.
Coming in at number two on the all-time top Christian virtues is Temperance. For many, this may stir up memories of black-and-white film footage of women in long-sleeved, floor-length dresses holding up signs calling for the prohibition of alcohol. It’s true that that those women were very influential in the Temperance Movement in Americas early twentieth-century, but they derived their name from a much larger context in scripture.
The Bible does not limit the concept of temperance to alcohol. Rather, it calls for moderation in all areas of life. Here are some examples:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23 (NKJV)
But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified. 1 Corinthians 9:27 (NKJV)
But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts. Romans 13:14 (NKJV)
But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine: that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience; Titus 2:1-2 (NKJV)
As God’s manager, an elder must not be guilty of doing wrong, being selfish, or becoming angry quickly. He must not drink too much wine, like to fight, or try to get rich by cheating others. Titus 1:7 (NCV)
And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, Ephesians 5:18 (NKJV)
Have you found honey? Eat only as much as you need, Lest you be filled with it and vomit. Proverbs 25:16 (NKJV)
When you sit down to eat with a ruler, Consider carefully what is before you; 2 And put a knife to your throat If you are a man given to appetite. 3 Do not desire his delicacies, For they are deceptive food. Proverbs 23:1-3 (NKJV)
For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame–who set their mind on earthly things. Philippians 3:18-19 (NKJV)
Don’t drink too much wine or eat too much food. Those who drink and eat too much become poor. They sleep too much and end up wearing rags. Proverbs 23:20-21 (NCV)
Mental Focus – Alertness
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 1 Peter 5:8 (NKJV)
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 1 John 4:1 (NKJV)
And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Romans 5:3-4 (NKJV)
It doesn’t take very long to see a pattern emerge. God wants us to be in control of our lives, yet we live in a time when everyone is screaming for our attention. Marketing companies sell clients on the idea that they know how to “cut through the noise.” Former social media executives have openly confessed that their companies are using psychological techniques to manipulate people and keep focus where they want it to be. Even mobile games work to create addictions in their – what are they called, oh yeah – “users.”
Add to all-of-the-above the overprescribing and overuse of pharmaceuticals, Caffeine, sexual addiction, sports overkill, etc., it is easy to guess what the corresponding sin is – Gluttony. While the Bible doesn’t condemn mobile apps or set a limit on the number of texts you should send in a day and for what purposes, His principles are clear. He did not set us free from one master just to watch us become enslaved to another. And, like any good parent, He didn’t bless us to see those blessings take us away from Him.
This week as you Fast Forward for 2018, I encourage you to consider those areas that are coopting too much of your time, energy and focus. You know what they are. Prayerfully lay them aside as a sacrifice to God and a commitment to spend more time in His presence. You will be amazed at how this one little act will bring your life more clarity and reduce the stress and pressure you have been experiencing.
In our generation the Lord is reminding us that our time, energy and focus must be on God and His Kingdom. Perhaps if we aren’t hearing it, we should try pushing aside the pizza, sitting down the latest phone app, turn down the television, pull out our earbuds, set messenger to mute, and give God some of the time that He craves – and that we desperately need.
Selah! (Think on these things)