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If we don’t control our desires, we will always be controlled by our urges to indulge in those pleasures. The more we deny ourselves worldly pleasures, the more we cultivate the Virtue of Temperance and build up mastery over ourselves, taking back control over our desires.


The Victory in Virtue Series

Intro

Part 1: Faith

Part 2: Hope

Part 3: Charity

Part 4: Piety

Part 5: Prudence

Part 6: Justice

Part 7: Fortitude


Hello Readers, hope all’s well. Today I present another entry in the Victory in Virtue series. Today’s post is on the Virtue of Temperance.

This world is full of tempting pleasures. Enjoyable pleasures that stimulate our senses or provide entertainment. These things give us some short-term enjoyment, they can make us happy for the moment. Most of these pleasures aren’t evil in and of themselves, but our desire for them can become sinful. We can have too much of a good thing.

And if we do indulge in too much of a good thing, it leads us away from God and away from a Spiritual life. So moderating or even abstaining from worldly pleasures is very important. That’s where the Virtue of Temperance comes in.

So that’s what today’s post is about. It’s a long post, so let’s get straight into it.

What Is the Virtue of Temperance?

Good food and drinks. Sweets, desserts. Sex. Video games and entertainment. Sleeping in late in a nice, soft bed. Recreation.

All these things sound good right? And God either created them, or His creation the human race created them … so they’re good, right? Right?

Well no, not really. All these things stimulate the senses, and so they’re pleasures of the flesh. The pleasures of the flesh aren’t Spiritual, they belong to this world. These pleasures aren’t permanent and they don’t last. And chasing after these pleasures distracts us not only from Spiritual pleasures, but from making any progress or growth on our Spiritual path. The more we indulge the flesh, the less Spiritual we are.

The pleasures of this world are immensely enjoyable and tempting. We can enjoy them, but we must enjoy them with gratitude and in moderation. And the pleasures of this world are like a trap. If we indulge in them too much we become driven by our desire for pleasure instead of God. In other words, we can become addicted to this world and the pleasures we enjoy here that stimulate our senses. If that happens we’ll stay in this lower world that’s passing away instead of ascending to Heaven. This is the situation 1 John 2:15-16 warns about, on top of other passages in the New Testament.

(15) Don’t love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in them. (16) Everything that is in the world—the craving for whatever the body feels, the craving for whatever the eyes see and the arrogant pride in one’s possessions—is not of the Father but is of the world. (17) And the world and its cravings are passing away, but the person who does the will of God remains forever.

1 John 2:15-17 (CEB)

The world and it’s cravings are passing away! So we must not get addicted to something that won’t last. We should only be focused on God and desiring reunion with Him. We should love the things of Heaven and think about them instead of anything here on earth, no matter how much we enjoy it (Colossians 3:2). None of the pleasures here on earth can compare to those in Heaven.

We’re chasing after the wrong things here on earth. We’re enjoying the wrong things. It’s our flesh nature that leads us to indulge in food, sweets, sex, drinks, and so on. Even other temptations like video games and TV too. Our flesh nature blinds us to the Spiritual pleasures we should love instead. This is because the flesh is opposed to the Spirit (see Galatians 5). So the more we indulge in the pleasures of the flesh, from sex to chocolate cake, the more we weaken the Spirit. We become less Spiritual by doing this.

Now if you’re thinking, “Wait 99:9, are you telling me a piece of cake is Spiritually dangerous to me?” And the answer is yes, I am telling you that. The Bible tells us why.

Don’t love the things of the world! (1 John 2:15) Enjoy them, but don’t love them. All those things are passing away, they don’t last. The flesh and the spirit are opposed (Galatians 5); the more we indulge in pleasures of the flesh (worldly pleasures), the less Spiritual we are. We must stay focused on the Spiritual things above and crave those pleasures instead (Colossians 3:2).

But having said that, I’ll be the first to admit that yes, of course I indulge in pleasures of the flesh too! Although I’ve repented of my old ways and now choose to abstain from sex until marriage, I indulge in other worldly pleasures. I enjoy ice cream, cake, burgers, pizza. I’d say I don’t love these things. I can go without them. But do I enjoy them? Yes! I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t.

But I don’t enjoy them every day, I can tell you that. I enjoy them sometimes. I enjoy them in moderation. Sometimes I do better with this than at other times. Sometimes I slip up and backslide. But most of the time I do a pretty decent job moderating my enjoyment of worldly pleasures.

And this is where the Virtue of Temperance comes in: Moderation. Temperance means moderation and self-restraint. It means either moderating or completely abstaining from something. We can have too much of a good thing, and if we indulge ourselves like that, we aren’t mastering ourselves. We aren’t conquering our flesh nature like the New Testament instructs us to. We’re being led by our flesh nature instead of by Christ.

We all have strong desires for various worldly pleasures. But we must be in control of our own desires and not the other way around.

If we don’t control our desires, we will always be controlled by our urges to indulge in those. The more we deny ourselves worldly pleasures, the more we cultivate the Virtue of Temperance and build up mastery over ourselves, taking back control over our desires.

But we must exercise the Virtue of Prudence too—some desires can’t be controlled! Some things must be avoided entirely, like gambling (its costly and addictive) or addictive drugs like heroin.

We often indulge in worldly pleasures due to temptation. So it’s important to avoid leading ourselves into temptation when we don’t need to. We must change up our routines if needed so we can avoid tempting circumstances that often trip us up. For example, the people, places, and things connected with an old addiction. We know the world will always be there tempting us, so if we are disciplined about keeping ourselves away from temptation, we will resist it much better.

God is with us as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23:4). God is with us in those difficult times. But sometimes in life He will make us go down into that valley of the shadow of death. So we must avoid going down there when we don’t need to. If we flirt with temptation when we don’t need to, we’re needlessly using up our resistance power. Then we will fall to temptation when times are hard and we’re looking for any comfort we can get. So a part of the Virtue of Temperance is staying away from temptation, and learning the best ways to do that.

The Virtue of Temperance goes hand-in-hand with the Virtues before and after it: Fortitude and Self-Discipline. The more we have Fortitude and stick to our Temperance, and the more we exert Self-Discipline and stay away from temptation, the easier our mastery of ourselves becomes.

But if we can master ourselves, and conquer our flesh nature and its desires, we will make great progress down our Spiritual path. So the benefits of the Virtue of Temperance are great. Like the Virtue of Prudence, Temperance is a Virtue that will help us live better. The impacts of Temperance, both short and long-term, are very beneficial to us. And the Spiritual progress we can make is the greatest benefit of all.

***And now for a special note on addiction, recovery, and sobriety. The Virtue of Temperance is connected to recovery and sobriety. It shows great Temperance to live sober, and choosing to live sober is a great way to build the Virtue of Temperance. In an old post, End Times Part 27, I explained that drugs are one of Satan’s traps. A hook he uses to catch us, to put us in slavery to a drug and the sins that result from its use.

One sense of the word Temperance means total abstinence from something. So sobriety fits the description of Temperance. It’s Virtuous to be sober, because sobriety is Temperance, which is a Virtue. And it’s best for us to be sober in these evil final days. The devil is working overtime to trick us, misleading us into sin and away from God. Drugs are one way he can do this. We need to stay alert and be on guard against his tricks, every one of them. These End Times are not the time to party and let our guard down. We need to be more alert than ever, which means we should stay sober.

Most translations of 1 Peter 5:8 tell us to be sober. Some translations differ from that word, but the meaning is always along those lines.

(8) Be clearheaded [sober]. Keep alert. Your accuser, the devil, is on the prowl like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

1 Peter 5:8 (CEB)

So the Virtue of Temperance is connected with sobriety and recovery. We need this Virtue if we hope to recover from any addiction, it doesn’t matter what it is. So when we seek to kick some addiction, pray to the LORD for the Virtue of Temperance. He will help us with that, and we’re going to need it to succeed.

So speaking of prayer, let’s move on to some prayers for gaining this Virtue.

Prayers for the Virtue of Temperance

There are many prayers we could pray to receive the Virtue of Temperance. The best ones of course will be the ones that we create ourselves—the ones that come straight from the heart. Remember: When we pray we aren’t trying to say the right combination of words to unlock something in Heaven. No, that would be magic, which is an abomination to the LORD. Prayer is much simpler. Simply tell the LORD what you want, what you need, what’s on your mind, what’s bothering you, and so on.

Praying for a Virtue is a great way to build it up. It’s one of the best ways, actually. So here are a few short, simple prayers for the Virtue of Temperance you can try adding to your prayer routine.

Guide and Direct Us

Here’s another Catholic prayer I have “De-Catholicized” so that it’s safe to pray. Meaning, I took out all content about the saint this prayer was addressed to. Because saints (or Mary) are not moderators between God and mankind. There is only one moderator between God and man, and that’s the human being, Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 2:5). There is nothing in the Bible that says we should pray to anything besides Jesus Christ, the LORD.

The resulting prayer is quite short. But this prayer asks for God’s guidance in the quest to overcome temptation and have Temperance. God’s guidance is what we need to be most effective at Temperance, so this is the right thing to pray for. Take a look:

O God, we beseech You that You would deign to guide and direct us so that overcoming temptation we may come to a happy end in the good counsels You have given through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

A Prayer for Anyone Battling Addiction

I’m sorry to confess I don’t remember who wrote this prayer. I saw it on Facebook at the beginning of the COVID-19 lockdowns, when all that was only starting up.

The Virtue of Temperance is connected with sobriety and recovery from addiction. So this prayer is a good one to pray if you’re in recovery, or know someone who is. Even if you don’t consider yourself an addict, maybe you should pray this for yourself anyway. We’re all tempted, and we all have our weak points. We all overindulge in at least one of the pleasures of this world. So we may be more addicted to something than we realize.

If you want to pray this prayer for yourself, say we/us/our instead of they/them/their. I’ve put the we/us/our in [brackets] here.

A Prayer for Anyone Battling Addiction

Father God, thank You that nothing we struggle with is impossible for You to overcome. You are above all things, and in You, all things are held together.

This season is hard for all of us, but especially for [those of us] our brothers and sisters battling addiction. Help [us] them realize that [our] their struggles do not define [our] their identity or worth.

[We] They are Your children, called by Your name, and set apart for Your purposes. Show [us] them that [our] their chains have been broken.

Help [us] them to resist temptation so that [we] they can embrace Your fullness of life. Give [us] them Your strength to fight back when [we] they feel overwhelmed, and place people in [our] their lives who will support [us] them.

Protect [our] their bodies, hearts, and minds. Shield [us] them from temptation, and deliver [us] them from evil.

In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

A Prayer to Remove the Unhealthy People, Places, and Things

A great part of the Virtue of Temperance is learning the best ways to stay away from temptation entirely. To not put ourselves in tempting situations when we don’t need to. To cut out the people, places, and things that tempt us (or are connected with an addiction). This is part skill, part Wisdom, and all Temperance.

So this quick prayer simply asks for the Wisdom to see what tempts us and what’s bad for us. It also asks for the Fortitude to cut these things out of our life and follow through with that.

LORD, thank You that You give Wisdom freely and generously to those who ask. I seek to overcome the temptations of this world and draw closer to You. Please show me all the areas in my life where I’m being tempted, leading me closer to the world and farther from You. Please show me areas I’m aware of as well as ones I don’t realize. Please show me the best ways for me to avoid these entirely, cutting them out of my life. And please grant me the Fortitude to follow through on removing these unhealthy people, places, and things from my life. Amen.

Show me Satan’s Traps

This last prayer is one asking for the Wisdom to recognize Satan’s tempting traps. From drugs to sex to gourmet food, the devil will use anything he can to make us love worldly pleasure more than God. What he does is use these hooks to catch us, and then reel us in to his world, which is passing away. We get further away from God as Satan reels us in, until we come to love sensual pleasure (any pleasure that stimulates the senses) more than the LORD. When we’re driven by the pursuit of pleasure and have no fear of God, it leads to a life of sin. And the devil has caught one more soul.

So to avoid these traps, we need the Virtue of Temperance. We need to be alert and on-guard against the devil. Now in the End Times, we need to be alert more than ever before. So this is a prayer asking the LORD to help us with this task. This prayer asks the LORD to reveal each of Satan’s hooks to us, so we don’t get caught unaware. Check it out:

LORD, this world is full of delicious and enticing temptations. Though some pleasures were created by You and are good, some are nothing but traps laid out for us by Satan. And I also know Satan can trap us through overindulgence in the good pleasures created by You. So please, LORD, help me to stay alert against the devil and all his traps. Show me what’s OK to enjoy and what’s not. Alert me to the traps of the devil, and point these things out. And please show me what good pleasures are being used against me by Satan. Show me what pleasures I need to moderate, so Satan can’t use them as an angle of attack against me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


Again, there are so many options for praying for any Virtue. I could go on and on and on. Everyone is always welcome to leave a comment with prayers of their own.

But once we’re done praying, it’s time to take action (in the physical world). Let’s move on to that now.

Living the Virtue

To cultivate a Virtue, we must also practice it, and do that consistently. Don’t just do it a few times and stop there—stay consistent. That consistency is how we build up a habit. It’s also how we cultivate and strengthen a virtue.

So how can we do that with Temperance? Let’s look at a few practical ideas. And remember: These are only a start! The possibilities are endless. I welcome any comments with good ideas about this.

Here are just a few ideas of how we can live out the Virtue of Temperance in our own lives:

  • Keep a tracker of indulgences in earthly pleasures; cut down on them
  • Change your routes or routines to avoid people, places, or situations that tempt you
  • Replace your old/current cravings with healthier things
  • And other ideas you can think of!

A large part of the Virtue of Temperance lies in moderation and abstinence. Moderating our enjoyment of the worldly pleasures of the flesh (anything that stimulates the senses), or abstaining from one entirely. Well we can’t moderate or abstain from something without keeping track of how much we indulge in it.

So buy a cheap little whiteboard, or make a spreadsheet or something. Whether it’s physical or digital, make sure it’s in a place or device that you see or use frequently. Then use this whiteboard (or whatever) to keep track of your indulgences in the earthly pleasures you enjoy the most. From coffee to chocolate to sex and everything else. You should pick the indulgences that trip you up the most, that are the most tempting to you and you most often crave. These are your stumbling blocks on the Spiritual path. These are the obstacles to your Spiritual growth.

So use the whiteboard (etc.) to keep track of your indulgence in these. Then you’ll be able to see your situation, visually. You’ll see your progress, or lack of it. When was the last time you had something. And so on. This whiteboard (etc.) is about personal accountability on your mission to moderate worldly pleasures, which are spiritual traps. If taken seriously, the whiteboard (etc.) can be a very potent tool and useful in your quest to cultivate the Virtue of Temperance. You can cut down on the things you can now see are a problem for you.

Next, people in recovery from addictions often know this bit of wisdom about avoiding the “people, places, and things” connected with the addiction they’re recovering from. This is because even seeing one of these things can tempt a person into relapsing. If a recovering gambling addict sees a casino, for example, he can be tempted into relapse by that alone.

Successful addicts in recovery go to great lengths to cut these things out of their life. We should do the same, whether we’re recovering from an addiction or not. If we repeatedly fall to some temptation because it’s part of our daily routine and we always encounter it, we should think carefully about what we can do to cut the temptation out of our routine.

Always tempted by a bakery you pass by on the way home from work? Look on the map and see if you can take an alternate route, even if it’s only for a little stretch of your journey. The Spiritual growth you’ll gain from conquering a desire of the flesh will make up for the worldly inconvenience of a longer commute. This inconvenience is nothing in the long-run, the big picture.

Letting other people know that you’re trying to avoid something can help you here. A well-meaning coworker who brings some treats to the office sometimes can avoid bringing them to you, if you let them know that you’re trying to moderate or abstain from the sugar or whatever.

Whether you have help from others or you do it solo, the more you cut out the people, places, and things that tempt you, the stronger your Temperance will be. Remember: A part of the Virtue of Temperance is learning how to avoid temptation. The best way to resist temptation, and build the Virtue of Temperance, is to stay away from temptation entirely. Learning how to stay away will make our mission so much easier. If we can stay away from our favorite temptations we remove a major stumbling block keeping us from Spiritual growth.

Finally, we should see if we can replace some of our current cravings with healthier ones. For example, if we learn how to cook healthy food that still tastes good to us, we can replace our current craving for some unhealthy food (like pizza or something) and replace it with a craving for something better for us. If we have a craving for video games, we should find a new activity, like another hobby, to replace this craving with something more productive and useful. And so on and so on.

Let’s pray to the LORD for Wisdom on how and where we can replace an unhealthy vice with a better, healthier, or more productive one. It’s best for us to replace as many unhealthy vices as we can. And this will help build the Virtue of Temperance too, because we’ll be staying away (abstaining) from the old unhealthy vice. Replacing our current vices with something healthy (so, it can’t be called a vice) is a win-win situation for us. It cuts out something unhealthy while also building our Virtue of Temperance.

A World of Pleasures, Passing Away

It’s not a bad thing that this world is full of sensual pleasures (pleasures that stimulate the senses) we can enjoy. Some of these things were created by God, who saw that they were good.

God created the eggs and the sugar that go into every piece of cake. God created the coffee beans that give us our daily morning coffee. And God created the act of sex, the physical union of ultimate intimacy to be enjoyed by a man and woman in marriage. God created all these things, and He saw they were good. So we don’t need to feel shame or guilt over getting enjoyment from any of these things.

So what’s the problem then? As I see it, there are at least two ways we can go wrong with worldly pleasures.

First let’s start with the pleasures God didn’t create. Although God created the opium flower, He didn’t create heroin or highly-addictive painkillers. Man created that. God created the chemical elements that go into methamphetamine, but He didn’t create meth. Man created that. God didn’t create gambling, a sin that gambling addicts can’t break free from just like the addictive drugs I mentioned. God didn’t create it; man created that.

So we need to exercise the Virtue of Temperance and completely abstain from these highly-addictive and unhealthy vices. The pleasure they provide is only short-term; the harm they cause the users is chronic and long-term. These unhealthy things destroy lives and lead to enslavement—enslavement to the vice and to sin. It’s not God’s Will that we should be enslaved to anything, He wants for us to be free through Him.

Of course, man also created video games, TV, and other types of entertainment like that. Are these things unhealthy vices? I have my opinions on that, but we can all agree that we can become addicted to these things. So if we’re not going to abstain from something, what we need to do is moderate our use of these things we enjoy. Which leads me to the next point.

The next way we can go wrong is by overindulging in any pleasure of this world. It doesn’t matter if God created these; we aren’t meant to indulge in these pleasures every day. That makes us addicted to them, while also robbing them of their special status. We can have too much of a good thing, and having too much of anything makes it boring and not special anymore.

If we don’t moderate our enjoyment of worldly pleasures, then very soon, much sooner than we realize, we begin craving these pleasures more than God. We love the pleasure more than God. And some say we worship what we love, and love what we worship. So indulging in the world’s tempting pleasures with no moderation leads us into idolatry** by making us pleasure-addicts who worship our own desires and cravings. It also leads us into gluttony, which is a sin.

**Worshiping our own will by doing whatever we want, and indulging in whatever we want, is idolatry—we exalt our own will above God’s. See End Times Part 40 for more.

We become driven by our body, by the flesh, instead of mastering the flesh like we’re supposed to. We become slaves to the desires of our own flesh body, which only wants sensual (physical, the five senses) pleasures and not Spiritual ones. Well, Christians know that we’re not only flesh but also Spirit. The more we indulge the flesh, the more we get drawn into this physical world and our Spiritual nature starts suffocating. We’re no longer pursuing or even thinking about Spiritual pleasures or the things of Heaven. We get to a point where all we can think about is the physical pleasure we’re addicted to, and we don’t care about what God has to offer anymore.

This state of a purely physical life is a Spiritual death, end of story. Those who walk the Spiritual path of Christianity know what I mean. If you don’t know, then start denying your flesh through fasting and abstinence from or moderation of worldly pleasures. Pray hard while you do this, and you’ll begin to see. The pleasures of this world are incredibly tempting and enjoyable, I’ll never deny that. I’d be a liar if I denied it.

But Satan can use these incredibly enjoyable things to trap us. This world and everything in it is passing away. It’s only the Spiritual pleasures, the things of Heaven, that last forever. God is eternal, and the pleasure He has for us after our physical death are everlasting. We need to be focused on those pleasures, remember Colossians 3:2.

(2) Think about the things above and not things on earth.

Colossians 3:2 (CEB)

This world and everything in it is passing away. So of course Satan wants to trap us by getting us addicted to the things of the world. The enjoyable pleasures this world has to offer. Satan wants us to love these things because then we’ll miss out on our reward of eternal pleasure, like he will. So don’t fall for his tricks! The key Scripture for the Virtue of Temperance is 1 John 2:15-17.

(15) Don’t love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in them. (16) Everything that is in the world—the craving for whatever the body feels, the craving for whatever the eyes see and the arrogant pride in one’s possessions—is not of the Father but is of the world. (17) And the world and its cravings are passing away, but the person who does the will of God remains forever.

1 John 2:15-17 (CEB)

Exercise the Virtue of Temperance, and moderate the use of worldly pleasures. Abstaining from specific pleasures is also the Virtue of Temperance. Cultivate the Virtue of Temperance! It will keep us Spiritually healthy, and help us avoid the traps of the devil. It’s a great Virtue to have.

The Virtue for next time is Self-Discipline. Stay tuned for that and Subscribe to my FREE weekly newsletter with the link below so you’ll never miss a post!!


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Until next time, be strong and do good!

Your new best friend in Christ,

99:9

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7 comments on “Victory in Virtue Part 8: Temperance

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