«Now as he reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and answered: ‘Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you’
One of the most important rules that affects human nature and influences a person’s overall health is temperance. The word temperance comes from the Latin temperantia which means «sobriety» or «moderation». One of the most specific definitions of this concept says that temperance consists of completely refraining from everything that is harmful and of using judiciously what is healthful (patriarchs and Prophets, ch. 54, p. 562). In a certain way, temperance can be compared to self-control, and this concept is relevant to all aspects of life: eating, drinking, sleep, appearance, work, etc. In each one of these areas, the greatest risk is not scarcity but abundance since temperance—the lack of moderation and self-control—is closely linked to the moral decadence of the human race.
Marcus Antonius Felix, Roman procurator of Judea and Samaria between 52 and 60 AD, had been raised in an environment marked by overindulgence and corruption. In fact, ancient Rome was famous for its debauchery in eating, drinking and sexuality. The Roman historian Tacitus relates that Felix, under the influence of this environment, practiced all kinds of lust and evil. In Acts 24, Paul is found before Felix’s court giving a speech on self-control. It is not strange that, confronted with this type of message, the Roman official got frightened; and even if he did not find any guilt in the accused, he still hoped to receive some bribery before setting him free. Consequently, we can see how difficult it is for a person with weakened self-control to make good decisions in each situation.
Like Felix, many people in our society are constantly exposed to intemperance. We are all given a message of exhortation, admonition and hope. Our Redeemer, who knows the power of temptations, pities our weaknesses and is ready to grant us the self-control we all need as the Scriptures says, «For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind» (2 Tim. 1:7).
When Felix heard Paul talk about self-control, he got scared. Dear reader, we encourage you to practice self-control and claim this promise, «but God is faithful, who will not allow [us] to be tempted beyond what [we] are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that [we] may be able to bear it» (I Cor. 10:13).