Saturday, March 7, 2015

The Fourth Part


Temperance. In America the word brings to mind the Temperance Movement of the 19th century, culminating in the Prohibition constitutional amendment – which didn’t last. Yet Peter makes it the fourth part of things for a follower of Christ to add with due diligence:

and to temperance patience; (2 Peter 1:6b KJV)

Peter used ἐγκράτεια (Strong’s G1466), defined as self-mastery, self-restraint, self-control, continence. How are you doing at this? Me? Not so well. I keep thinking of yesterday’s blog on Knowledge – maybe if I learn just a little more … maybe there’s an answer just beyond what I’ve read … I can’t possibly know it all.

But, if I stick with biblical doctrine, I don’t have to look further than:

Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (Matthew 7:13-14 KJV)

Both the gate and the way are narrow, so it is not an insult to call me narrow minded, is it? Not taking the broad way that offers so many options. Why do I need an option other than the eternal life offered through belief in Jesus Christ as Lord? Oh – I’ll miss out on so much, won’t I?

Remember those winds from yesterday’s blog? The choice of accepting a doctrine-of-the-month, or sticking with the Bible – which is preferable? Regrettably for the highly news-worthy mega-churches or the bitterly divisive one-man’s-doctrine type churches, or even the discovery-of-the-day main-stream-media, there are written words inspired by God.

Since Moses began writing them down, there have been groups swinging in the wind from the left to the right, back and forth, picking here, poking there – while the narrow way points to the strait gate, and that’s my goal. The one Peter used earlier in this chapter:

Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. (2 Peter 1:4 KJV)

Following Christ, and only Christ, takes considerable self-control. I must understand why I’m following Him, and not be swayed by the mirror-images displayed by those who look elsewhere. Is it for personal gain?  His example keeps us from looking for fame, fortune, power. He had all of those fleetingly upon this earth. He chose the ordinary, corruptible people to travel with Him and changed them into orators and authors as they moved along the same narrow way He teaches us.

Is this steadfastness of purpose – swinging neither to the left or right, high nor low, but remaining temperate - impossible?

And they that heard it said, Who then can be saved? And he said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God. (Luke 18:26-27 KJV)

Temperance? Three steps beyond faith, two beyond virtue and it follows obtaining knowledge. Yet – it does not complete Christian growth.

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