The Fruit Of The Spirit Is Temperance


Before one can understand ‘the fruit of the Spirit,’ one must understand the context of Galatians 5 where ‘the fruit of the Spirit’ is revealed. In this chapter, Paul exhorts Christians not to allow their liberty to degenerate into a ‘yoke of bondage.’

Some individuals in the Galatian church had ‘fallen from grace’ because they sought to be ‘justified by the law.’ The Judaizing teachers were binding the old law upon the church and, by such, had hindered some in obeying the truth, Galatians 5:7. These false teachers of Judaism were troubling the church, Galatians 5:12.

However, as Christians, we have been called to liberty, liberty from the old law, from sin, and from the bondage of sin. Thus, Paul exhorts, ‘do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh,’ Galatians 5:13.

One reason we ought not to use our liberty as a license to sin is because ‘we walk in the Spirit,’ Galatians 5:16. To ‘walk in the Spirit’ means to walk according to the Spirit’s teaching through His sword ‘which is the word of God,’ Ephesians 6:17.

This is the same as being ‘led by the Spirit,’ Galatians 5:18, and it is the opposite of walking after the flesh. The Spirit and the flesh are at odds, Galatians 5:17. They are in constant conflict. They are opposed to one another.

To further illustrate this conflict, Paul contrasts ‘the works of the flesh,’ Galatians 5:19-21 with ‘the fruit of the Spirit,’ Galatians 5:22-23. In verse 16 of Galatians 5, Paul commands, ‘Walk in the Spirit.’ Let’s be sure, that there are certain results of walking in the Spirit. There is the benefit of not fulfilling the lust of the flesh, Galatians 5:16.

The same thought is declared by David in Psalm 119:11, ‘I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.’

When we engraft God’s Word upon our hearts, it will protect us against the fiery darts of Satan. Jesus knew this lesson when He was tempted by the devil, Matthew 4. Jesus guarded Himself against each temptation by the Word of God. He answered the tempter’s temptation with ‘it is written,’ Matthew 4:4 / Matthew 4:7 / Matthew 4:10

Also, if we ‘walk in the Spirit’, we are ‘not under the law,’ Galatians 5:18. ‘The law’ in this verse is the Mosaic Law. Earlier in this chapter, we are told Christ becomes of no effect unto those who justify themselves by ‘the law,’ Galatians 5:4. To return to the Mosaic law is to abandon the law of Christ and to fall from grace. Some believe this means we are not under any law.

However, we are under ‘the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus’ which frees us from ‘the law of sin and death,’ Romans 8:2. We are to ‘fulfil the law of Christ’ by bearing one another’s burdens, Galatians 6:2. And, we are to look into ‘the perfect law of liberty.’ James 1:25.

Also, consider this, since ‘sin is the transgression of the law,’ 1 John 3:4 to say we aren’t under law is to say we haven’t nor cannot sin. Clearly, we are under law, the law of Christ, but we are not under ‘the law’, the Law of Moses. Further, ‘the fruit of the Spirit’ results from walking in the Spirit.

Again, when we engraft God’s Word upon our hearts, ‘the fruit of the Spirit’ will be seen within us. The qualities of ‘love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance’ will characterise us. The Spirit will produce these qualities within us by the Word He has inspired.

‘The fruit of the Spirit’ is the produce of the Spirit

In other words, it is the product that is produced by the Spirit’s influence. ‘The fruit of the Spirit’ isn’t a Christian nor the fruit of a Christian which some have mistakenly taught. In fact, the fruit of a Christian is more than just a Christian.

It is true that in the natural world, mankind, animals, and plants produce after their kind. Christians should also produce after their kind, and in this sense, the fruit of a Christian is another Christian.

However, Christians produce other fruit besides Christians. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught, ‘Thus, by their fruit, you will recognize them.’ Matthew 7:20

Within the context, Jesus is speaking concerning false teachers who come ‘in sheep’s clothing’ but inwardly are ‘ravening wolves,’ Matthew 7:15.

To illustrate how we can know a false teacher, He taught a good tree produces good fruit, whereas an evil tree produces evil fruit.

Is the only fruit of a false teacher, other false teachers? Of course not! False teachers cause division, false hope, and disillusionment to only name a few. So, it is with Christians. Christians should evangelise, but there are other fruits which they should bear, and one such fruit is the fruit of the Spirit.

Since the fruit of the Spirit is the produce of the Spirit, then how does the Spirit produce the qualities of ‘love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance’ in Christians today? The Spirit influences Christians today through the Spirit-inspired Word.

Peter wrote, ‘For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.’ 2 Peter 1:21

It is this Word that will make us ‘wise for salvation,’ 2 Timothy 3:15 and ‘it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes,’ Romans 1:16. It provides us with ‘everything we need for a godly life,’ 2 Peter 1:3.

Thus, nothing else is needed for it is all-sufficient and will produce the right fruit.

In the parable of the sower, Jesus taught that a sower sowed seed by the wayside, upon a rock, among thorns, and on good ground, Luke 8:5-8. Later, Jesus told us what the seed represents. He said, ‘The seed is the word of God,’ Luke 8:11

So, the Word was sown in the hearts of men, but sadly the hearts of some men were like the soil of the wayside, the rock, and the thorny ground.

Thankfully, when the Word of God is sown in other men whose hearts are like the soil of the good ground, it ‘brings forth fruit with patience,’ that is with constant perseverance, Luke 8:15.

What is the fruit of the Spirit?

It is what the Word provides and produces in the good soil of a person’s heart.

Contrasted to the Spirit produced fruit, ‘the works of the flesh’ are ‘the unfruitful works of darkness,’ Ephesians 5:9+11. In other words, ‘the works of the flesh’ don’t yield a valuable or desirable fruit. The works of the flesh are the evil fruit of the evil tree. They bring forth no blessings and no real benefits.

Please take careful note that unlike the plural ‘acts of the flesh,’ ‘the fruit of the Spirit’ is singular. ‘Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance’ aren’t separate fruits but are characteristics or attributes of the singular ‘fruit of the Spirit.’

Besides these nine characteristics, Paul adds ‘all goodness and righteousness and truth’ in Ephesians 5:9. Thus, giving us a total of eleven attributes of the fruit of the Spirit all of which are virtues of the highest moral and spiritual qualities.

These qualities or characteristics will be manifested in the lives of those ‘who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit’, Romans 8:1 / Romans 8:4 / Galatians 5:16

Like the ‘graces’ of 2 Peter 1, if ‘the fruit of the Spirit’ ‘be in you, and abound, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ 2 Peter 1:8

In contrast, if they aren’t manifested in our lives, then we aren’t being ‘led of (or ‘by’) the Spirit,’ Galatians 5:18 / Romans 8:14. And again, like the ‘graces’ of 2 Peter 1:5-7, if they are lacking, then we are ‘near-sighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins. 2 Peter 1:9. Thus, the proof of the tree is in the fruit.

Jesus said, ‘the tree is known by his fruit’, Matthew 12:33. And, ‘Thus, by their fruit, you will recognize them.’ Matthew 7:20. So, let us determine to always ‘walk after the Spirit’ by following His Word in order that we may manifest these marvellous traits, the fruit of the Spirit.


Remember the fruit of the Spirit is the singular fruit produced by living according to the Spirit’s inspired instructions, the Bible. This singular fruit is characterised by ‘love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance’.

These aren’t separate or different fruits but are varying qualities of the same fruit. The ninth and final quality of the fruit of the Spirit found in Galatians 5 is ‘temperance.’

‘Temperance’ is self-control. In the original language, it literally means ‘in strength,’ that is, in the realm or in the sphere of strength. It describes the virtue of a person who masters his or her desires and passions. In writing to the Corinthians, Paul describes the temperance a person must have in order to win a race.

Listen to the words of Paul. In 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, he writes, ‘Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore, I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.’

Truly Christians are in a race, and God intends for us to be winners. In order to win, we must have temperance.

Notice some lessons on temperance from this text

1. Christians must ‘run to win’. Paul wrote, ‘Run in such a way as to get the prize.’

This is a winning attitude or disposition of mind. Attitude often determines the difference between winning and losing. An ‘I can’t’ attitude never could. Here is the point, Christians need to be in control of their thoughts in order to obtain an incorruptible crown.

Wise Solomon wrote, ‘For as he thinks in his heart, so is he’, Proverbs 23:7

Everything a person does goes back to a heart action, Matthew 15:17-19. If a person controls his heart, and the way he thinks, then he will also be in control of his body.

For this reason, we can see why David wrote a man is blessed when ‘whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night.’ Psalm 1:2

And why Jesus said, ‘Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God’. Matthew 5:8.

In Philippians 4:8, Paul gave a prescription for good mental health. He wrote, ‘Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.’

In order to think about such things, a person must control his thoughts. We mustn’t allow ourselves to think about falsehoods, dishonourable things, unrighteousness, impurity, things associated with hatred, and wicked reports.

If we will allow such thoughts, they could consume our lives and make us bitter. But if we think about things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report, we will have ‘the peace of God, which passes all understanding.’ Philippians 4:7.

A part of disciplining one’s mind is knowing the mark and staying focused on it. What are our desires in life? Is it material goods or is it heaven? If we desire the incorruptible crown, then heaven must be our goal.

Now that we know the mark, then let’s stay focused on it. Rather than allowing ourselves to be distracted by the material, physical world, let’s stay focused on the heavenly reward.

Rather than being a double-minded man who is unstable in all his ways, James 1:8, let’s fix our eyes upon the crown of life, 2 Corinthians 4:18. Let’s be like Moses who had respect unto the recompense of reward and chose Him who is invisible over the treasures of Egypt, Hebrews 11:23-27. Though men may try, the fact remains

‘You cannot serve both God and money,’ Matthew 6:24. Therefore, discipline your mind and stay focused on the heavenly reward.

2. Christians must discipline their bodies and bring them into subjection in order ‘to obtain an incorruptible crown’, 1 Corinthians 9:27.

Rather than being a slave to the body, we must make our bodies servants to the Master. Our bodies were given to us to serve God, Romans 6:12-13.

In order to accomplish this, we must deny ourselves, take up the cross of Christ, and follow Jesus, Matthew 16:24. Obviously, this isn’t an easy task. In fact, to allow another to have control over us is against man’s natural way of thinking, but if we desire to have life, we must bring our bodies into subjection.

A major part of buffeting our bodies is controlling our tongues. This is a major theme in the third chapter of James. He wrote that if a man is able to control this ‘unruly evil’ James 3:8, the tongue, he ‘is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body’ James 3:2

Solomon wrote, ‘Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity.’ Proverbs 21:23

It almost goes without saying that many of us have brought upon ourselves a wide variety of problems because we did not ‘bite our tongues.’

Not only is ‘temperance’ a quality of the fruit of the Spirit, but it is also listed among the qualities of fruitfulness in 2 Peter 1:6. These qualities are built one upon another. Peter begins with faith. Faith is the most fundamental, and we build upon faith with virtue, upon virtue with knowledge, then with temperance, then patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and upon brotherly kindness with love. 2 Peter 1:5-7.

Since they build one upon another, then we can understand more about any one of these qualities by the preceding and succeeding qualities. Since temperance is built upon knowledge, then something must be learned before a person can be temperate, and temperance is putting into practice what we have already learned. Furthermore, patience, ‘endurance’ results from temperance. Only until we learn temperance, will we learn true patience.

When Paul taught Felix concerning faith in Christ, ‘he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come,’ Acts 24:25

Notice temperance came after righteousness and judgment after temperance. Righteousness is God’s gift to mankind. Through the blood of Christ and our obedience to the Gospel, we are justified and made righteous. Temperance is man’s response to the righteousness of God.

It’s self-control in remaining or abiding in righteous living. Judgment is bringing into accountability righteousness and temperance. How did we respond to the righteousness of God? Did we live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world? Our acceptance of the righteousness of God and our temperate abiding in righteousness will be brought into accountability, judgment.

By controlling our minds and bodies, we will be temperate in all things and will obtain that incorruptible crown. The incorruptible crown is a victory crown that will not decay nor perish. It will last forever!

The fruit of the Spirit is made up of qualities to which all men should aspire. They are qualities that need no law, need no regulation, and need no restraint. They are godly qualities that issue from the foundational principle of love for God and for His creation. If these qualities are applied properly to our lives, they will build a good relationship with God, family, and friends.

Every godly person of the past was characterised by them, and every godly person in the future will be characterised by them. Let us, therefore, strive in earnestness to possess the fruit of the Spirit which is ‘Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance, righteousness, and truth’.