It has been somewhat shocking to me how much drinking alcohol has become socially acceptable in our day. Even among my own peers (many of whom I attended Bible college alongside), I have been astounded by the general acceptance of alcohol. It seems that, since culture has dictated that the consumption of alcohol is acceptable on a social scale, all of the sudden Christians feel justified to take part in this practice.
Believe it or not, there was a time within the last 100 years in America where the consumption of alcohol was prohibited. That prohibition of alcohol came in a large part because of the sound Bible preaching taking place in that period of time led by men like Billy Sunday. But, that prohibition was reversed and since that time Americans have slowly become more and more accepting of it. Yet, what is even more devastating, is that Christians have progressively become more and more accepting of it.
This weekend in our city of Cortez, a group is putting on a Harvest Beer Festival (using beer as a means to raise money). As I drive around town and see all the ads promoting this event, it fills my heart with grief. Yet, while I grieve that the world is so consumed with this destructive substance, God has convicted me even more with the thought that God’s people have ceased to take a stand against such things and have rather began to condone them.
The Bible tells us how society devolves when righteous men do not stand for the truth.
“Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.” (Proverbs 14:34)
“When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.” (Proverbs 29:2)
I have heard all the arguments. “Well, God doesn’t say you cannot drink alcohol; He just says you cannot get drunk.” “Jesus Himself turned the water into wine.” And many like these. The problem with these arguments is that they neither prove nor disprove God’s approval of alcohol consumption. All they provide is a license in the mind of those who want to be culturally relevant and to those who want to appease the desires of their flesh.
It is a horrifying reality that those who claim to be believers in God’s truth are denying it for the sake of convenience when it comes to issues of liberty they want to partake in. Well did God foretell of such a spirit being demonstrated in the last days.
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” (II Timothy 4:3-4)
As a Pastor and as a preacher of God’s truth, I can no longer remain silent on my position on this subject. Daily, I am dealing with people whose lives have been negatively and, in many cases devastatingly, impacted by alcohol. We need to understand what God says about this subject — not what someone else “says” that God says or what we “think” God says.
Therefore, please sincerely consider these principles from Scripture that disclose why I don’t drink alcohol (and why I believe you shouldn’t either).
- The Influence Principle
“It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.” (Romans 14:21)
“But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.” (I Corinthians 8:9)
Even if you think you can drink alcohol and control your consumption of it, you neglect to consider the people whom you influence, who may not be able to control it. Your “liberty” then becomes a major stumbling block to others. (And, friend, you are accountable for such influence!)
- The Control Principle
“And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;” (Ephesians 5:18)
Many justify their drinking because, as they say, “I can control it. I can do it in moderation.” The problem with that mindset is that, in our flesh, we don’t have control. (See Romans 7:18.) When we drink alcohol, we are putting ourselves under the control of that substance — and the result is never good or godly. God commands us rather to be under the influence of the Spirit. You cannot do both simultaneously. We are commanded of God not to put ourselves under the influence of anything other than God’s Spirit.
- The Wisdom Principle
“Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.” (Proverbs 20:1)
“Fools make a mock at sin: but among the righteous there is favour.” (Proverbs 14:9)
God states it frankly: someone who is deceived to drink alcohol is not wise. To make light of this subject is to be foolish. It isn’t a jovial thing; it is sin. Wise men stay away from alcohol.
- The Provision Principle
“But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.” (Romans 13:14)
Does drinking alcohol encourage the control of the Spirit or the control of the flesh? The answer is obvious — you are making a way for the flesh to take control. Drinking alcohol is a direct way to take back the control that Christ alone is supposed to have in your life and give it to Satan. (See Galatians 2:20 and II Corinthians 2:11.)
- The Indulgence Principle
“Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright.” (Proverbs 23:29-31)
“Neither give place to the devil.” (Ephesians 4:27)
The pathway to being an alcoholic starts with the first drink — a choice to indulge in something that God said not to even look at. If you never choose to indulge then you will never give Satan a place to destroy your life with it. Let God’s Spirit control your choices and your appetites. (See I Corinthians 9:25-27.)
- The Addiction Principle
“All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.” (I Corinthians 6:12)
Alcohol is an addictive substance. When you put yourself under its power in any degree, you are playing with a consuming fire that could very well destroy your life. Ask the dozens of people whom I have known who have struggled with it and continue to struggle with it. Don’t play with fire! (Read Proverbs 23:29-35 and take notice of the addictive power alcohol has in the end.)
- The Separation Principle
“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;” (Titus 2:11-12)
God’s grace in our lives does not lead us to take advantage of worldly liberties. (See Romans 6:1-2.) Rather, when we truly understand God’s grace it will lead us to deny such things and to live in a way that is pleasing to and reflective of God in this world.
Alcohol is the world’s drink. It is the drink of choice at every secular party. It dominates every athletic event. It is the social drink of the world. When we partake of it, we are guilty by association with this world. (See II Corinthians 6:14-18.)
- The Sanctification Principle
In the Old Testament, part of the sanctification of the Levite priests that enabled them to administer the worship of the Lord was a total abstinence from alcohol consumption.
“Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations: And that ye may put difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean; And that ye may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the Lord hath spoken unto them by the hand of Moses.” (Leviticus 10:9-11)
Believers today are priests to the Lord. We no longer need another man to offer up our spiritual sacrifices to the Lord. Jesus Christ has given us the access to do so personally (Hebrews 4:16). Like the priests of old, we ought to come before God in a way that is pleasing to Him (not ourselves). Sanctification means to be “set apart unto the Lord.” And that is precisely what we ought to be!
“Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” (I Peter 2:5)
- The Transformation Principle
“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards…shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” (I Corinthians 6:9-11)
The Bible identifies drinking as an action of the unbeliever (an attribute of the old sinful nature). When we get saved our nature changes. (See II Corinthians 5:17.) That being the case, we ought not live according to our old nature, but according to our new nature in Christ. The way we live ought to be different after we come to faith in Christ!
- The Health Principle
“For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags.” (Proverbs 23:21)
There are those who attempt to justify the drinking of alcohol for the sake of their health, whether mental or physical. It is a universally understood fact that alcohol does nothing to benefit our health. In fact, regular use of it will lead to fatal disease. On the mental scale, alcohol will do nothing to actually make you feel better; it will only help you to forget your problems for a while. So far from actually helping you, it gives you an avenue to avoid your problems and drown out your sorrows. It is a bandage, not a cure. The Bible goes to great lengths to describe how alcohol is the drink of the dying man. (See Proverbs 31:6-7.)
- The Association Principle.
“Be not among winebibbers; among riotous eaters of flesh:” (Proverbs 23:20)
Don’t associate with those who drink alcohol. If the people you like to associate with ignore God’s truth, you should consider where that puts you. Also, as was stated before, you will be guilty by association by joining in with such a crowd.
- The Leadership Principle
“It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink: Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted.” (Proverbs 31:4-5)
“A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;” (I Timothy 3:2-3)
“Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;” (I Timothy 3:8)
All throughout the Scriptures, God commands those in leadership to refrain from alcohol. He expects those in spiritual leadership in His Church to be men of such character that they will not consume alcohol. If you want to be used of God to lead others, God is clear on the type of person He is going to use.
We cannot blame the lost world for the acceptance of alcohol. The truth is, it pervades our society because we as believers have accepted it. The reason it has become so prominent is because we as God’s people have excused it instead of excluding it.
It is my prayer and hope that we will have a generation of people rise up who will once again hold to God’s truth on this matter. I truly believe God will use our position on this matter (if held with the right disposition) to preserve many lives from the sin of alcohol.
“That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.” (Ephesians 4:14-16)
As a final word, let me say, if you struggle with alcohol God does not hate you nor should His people (Christians). I personally am not angry with those who drink, only burdened for them because I know from God’s Word that it is not right and that it will not have a good effect on their lives. If you live in our area of Montezuma County, I want to extend to you the love, support, and help of the Lighthouse Baptist Church. Please feel free to come talk with us. We aren’t perfect nor do we have all the answers, but we can love you where you are, support you through your struggles, and help you find the pathway to victory beyond alcohol.
Many of these thoughts I have shared I learned from a local church ministry called Reformers Unanimous (RU) based out of the North Love Baptist Church in Rockford, Illinois. If you struggle with alcohol, I cannot recommend highly enough that you seek out a local church branch of RU wherever you are. You can find more information about this ministry at rurecovery.com.