Monthly Studies

Study for the Month of March 2010: Temperance

Study for the Month of March 2010


(The Physical and Natural Laws, Part II)

By Nathaniel Fajardo

Temperance is the last but far from being the least important in the list drawn up by Apostle Paul of the eight “fruits of the Spirit” in Galatians 5: 22, 23. If these fruits actually being manifested in the life of the person, it is the unmistakable proof the Holy Spirit is being allowed to do its appointed work in the plan of salvation.

The popular idea of temperance is “a little of everything won’t hurt” or the abstinence from alcohol and tobacco, and now, drugs. Webster has long defined temperance as “habitual moderation in the indulgence of the appetite or passions; moderation, specifically moderation in, or narrowly, abstinence from, the use of intoxicants.” Temperate is “moderate; not excessive; as a moderate in the indulgence of appetite or passions; abstemiousness in the use of intoxicating liquors.”-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 1942 (emphasis mine).

Two words stand out in these definitions, namely, moderation and intoxicating liquors.” Moderate, according to the same source means “kept within due bounds; observing reasonable limits; not excessive; restrained; sparing; temperate; abstemiousness; reasonable; calm; tempered.” As to what and who determines what “due bounds” and “reasonable limits” means are as varied in degrees and range as there as many sets of values in all dimensions of the human society but always tending towards permissiveness, a few on the fanatical but narrow interpretation.

The politically-active Temperance Societies during the 1800s in America were up in arms against alcoholism and the liquor industry. And that was good. But many of them also eventually got involved in actively pushing for the enactment, and enforcement of “Sabbath,” actually Sunday Laws in America in 1888 and several years later. And that was bad because it was striking the very bedrock of the Constitution—the First Amendment—religious liberty, the freedom to worship God according to the dictates of conscience. Had not God intervened because God’s people were not quite prepared (as E.G. White says), Revelation 13 would have been fulfilled shortly after the “four winds of strife” of Revelation 7 would have been “let loose.” Their concept of temperance was too narrow indeed, as the Dictionary definition of it clearly says—only against intoxicating liquors—missing wide of the mark of what Biblical temperance comprehends.

Wikipedia says: “As the American Revolution approached, economic change and urbanization were accompanied by increasing poverty, ordinances were relaxed. And alcohol problems increased dramatically. Apparently influenced by Dr. Benjamin Rush’s widely discussed belief that excessive use of alcohol was injurious to physical and psychological health, about 2oo farmers in a Connecticut community formed a temperance association in 1789. Similar associations were formed in Virginia in 1800 and New York State in 1808.

Within the next decade, other temperance associations were formed in 8 states, some being state-wide organizations. The future looked bright for the young movement, which advocated temperance or levelness rather than abstinence. But many of their leaders overestimated their strength; they expanded their activities and took positions on observance of the Sabbath [Sunday], and other moral issues. They became involved in political in-fighting and by the early 1820s their movement stalled. . . .”

Remember Manoah’s Wife

Yes, we are told to “Remember Lot’s wife” (Luke 17:32) for our own good, particularly for husbands who have married wives not of their own faith specifically the faith of the remnant church of prophecy. It was Lot’s vacillating attitude manifested in his effort to bargain with the angel to flee to a place not too far from Sodom that cost him his wife. She overheard the conversation which destroyed whatever little conviction there was left, and thus completely set her heart in her home in Sodom because they had acquired so much properties and friends already. Even while was physically departing from the burning wicked city, she yearningly looked back against orders to do so by the angels. “For where your treasure is there will your heart be also.” God caused her form to turn into a pillar of salt, a grim, ghostly reminder and warning down through the ages of those who are entrapped in the same web of “loving the world and the perishable things of the world.” 1 John 2: 15-17.

But by the facts of the case where angel Gabriel himself is specifically sent of God to give definite instructions regarding the birth of Samson, which he also did to Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist, and to Mary, mother of Jesus, we are to remember Manoah’s wife! Whenever Samson’s name is brought up, Delilah is mentioned in the same breath—but never Mrs. Manoah, his mother. This is to be expected. Hollywood would never spend a dime producing a film on the life of Mrs. Manoah and the special circumstances leading up to the birth of Samson, following the strict account of the Bible.

It would never turn a profit for its theme was on raising a son in righteousness and godliness and complete abstemiousness from intoxicating liquors and from eating any unclean thing! Unclean animals are identified in detail in Leviticus 11 and Deut. 11: 1-20. Sorry! There is absolutely no room for mistakes or speculation here There was no drama, intrigue, sensuality, and infidelity connected with Mrs. Manoah’s role as a mother—terribly boring and fanatical by the world’s standard. Yes, it is still true that behind the success or failure of a man is a woman, beginning with, who else but Eve, the mother of mankind! Samson was the thirteenth of the line of fifteen judges of Israel who ruled for about 20 years. His success, as a judge, was attributable to his mother; his failure, later, to the Philistine woman from the valley of Sorek who lured him, by his consent, to his ruin. Delilah means “delicate; wasted with longing or desire.”

Samson was a Promised Child
(See Judges chapter 13 and Patriarchs & Prophets, chapter “Samson.”)

Even in the early years of the oppression of ancient Israel by the Philistines, God already had a child in mind through whom He was to humble the evil and mighty foes of Israel. This man was Samson. But in order to accomplish this great task, greater preparation was needed to be done with his parents, his mother in particular. ‘To the childless wife of Manoah of the tribe of Dan, ‘the Angel of Jehovah’ appeared, with the message that she should have a son, through whom God would begin to deliver Israel. In view of this, the Angel gave her instruction concerning her own habits, and also for the treatment of her child. She was instructed: “Do not drink wine nor strong drink and do not eat any unclean thing.”

The vital preparation for a great to be done for God and His people was to be accomplished on the two basic human needs after air: food and drink! The very same prohibition was to be imposed, from the very beginning, upon this promised child, with the addition that his hair should not be cut. He was to be consecrated to God as a Nazarite from his birth.

Mrs. Manoah related this revelation of the angel to her husband. Fearful that they should make some mistake in the important work committed to them, Manoah prayed, “Let the man of God which You sent come again to us, and teach us what we shall do to the child that shall be born.” When the Angel appeared again, Manoah’s anxious inquiry was, “How shall we order the child, and how shall we do with him?” The previous instruction was repeated—“Of all that I said to the woman, let her beware. She may not eat of anything that comes from the vine [grapes], neither let her drink wine or strong drink nor eat any unclean thing. All that I commanded her let her observe.”

“God had an important work for the promised child of Manoah to do, and it was to secure for him the qualifications necessary for this work, that the habits of both the mother and child were to be carefully regulated. . . The child will be affected for good or for evil by the habits of the mother. She must herself be controlled by principle, and must practice temperance and self-denial, is she would seek the welfare of her child. Unwise advisers [including relatives and friends] will urge upon the mother the necessity of gratifying every wish and impulse; but such teaching is false and mischievous. The mother is by the command of God himself placed under the most solemn obligation to exercise self-control.”

Bible temperance therefore includes self-denial and self-control. Any temperance effort that excludes the latter is a counterfeit. These strict requirements of God flies in the face of the traditional special indulgences allowed a woman during her pregnancy, allowing her to eat whatever she craves, regardless of what it is and without limits, believing in the misconception that it is a gesture of love for the mother-to-be. Filipino language calls it as “naglilihi.” Nothing can be worse both for the mother-to-be but more so for the child forming in her womb for nine months!

“Well may the mother inquire with deep anxiety, as she looks upon the children given to her care, What is the great aim and object of their education? Is it to fit them for life and its duties, to qualify them to take an honorable position in the world, to do good, to benefit their fellow-beings, to gain eventually the reward of the righteous? If so, then the first lesson to be taught them is self-control; for no undisciplined, headstrong person can hope for success in this world or reward in the next.” – Child Guidance, p. 91.

Temperance and Intemperance Start with the Parents

It is both parents, the mother in particular, who endow their child with more than just a “jumpstart” in life; they set him off either in the right or wrong direction. They establish the foundation on which its moral character will be built upon. The Biblical concept and standard of temperance, quite different from the popular prevailing idea of this word, is defined as follows:

‘True temperance teaches us to dispense entirely with everything hurtful,
and to use judiciously that which is healthful.”

If genuine temperance comprehends everything that is either hurtful or healthful, then the partial, if not counterfeit temperance itself is one that focuses only on certain problems—such as alcoholism, tobacco use, or drug addiction—but overlooks the other areas such as diet, exercise, fashion, entertainment, work, even religious activities, etc.,

“The angel’s prohibition included ‘every unclean thing.’ The distinction between articles of food as clean and unclean was not merely a ceremonial and arbitrary regulation, but was based upon sanitary principles. To the observance of this distinction may be traced, in a great degree, the marvelous vitality which for thousands of years has distinguished the Jewish people.”

“[But] the principles of temperance must be carried further than the mere use of spirituous liquors. The use of stimulating and indigestible food is often equally injurious to health, and in many cases sows the seeds of drunkenness. . There a few who realize as they should how their habits of diet have to do with their health, their character, their usefulness in this world, and their eternal destiny. The appetite should ever be in subjection to the moral and intellectual powers. The body should be servant to the mind, and not the mind to the body.”

Indeed! How many Christians who are zealous in their efforts to “spread the good news of salvation to others” are themselves yet slaves to appetite, not realizing that their bad habits of diet have everything to do not only with their health but with their character development, their usefulness in this world, and their eternal destiny! Watching too many Food Shows on TV that promote indulging on food and flesh meats that God classed as unclean and an abomination to His sight has even made things much more difficult for those who desperately need to overcome intemperance on food. One such show host constantly says before and after each episode, “Remember, if it looks good, eat it.” And he eats just about anything which is the title of the show: “Bizarre Foods.”

A vital lesson is here taught to all parents who expect good things from their children—it starts with them. Many Christian parents who express surprise, frustration, and even resentment and anger towards their children’s weaknesses and bad habits may, in fact, trace its earliest origins to themselves and their earlier failure to adequately prepare themselves to become knowledgeable, responsible, and healthy parents. They transmitted tendencies and weaknesses to their children by heredity and exacerbated such by a wrong example. (to be continued)

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