Would you raise an eyebrow if someone who attends your church told you about their wild weekend partying and drinking? How about if your sweet and humble neighbor that doesn’t attend church at all invited you over for a Bloody Mary? Whether or not drinking alcohol is sinful, as well as the physical and spiritual effects of alcohol, have long been debated among scholars and churches. While some claim “Thou shalt not drink” is the eleventh commandment, still others allow that drinking alone is not sinful.
We will discuss four questions regarding alcohol in this article: Why is drunkenness wrong? What situations can excessive habitual drinking cause? How does it affect your relationships? And how can you be delivered?
Why Is Drinking And Drunkenness Wrong?
What does the word of God say on this matter of drinking wine and other strong drink? From the Old Testament to the New Testament the use and abuse of alcohol is a steady thread within the Bible. Let us begin in Leviticus where we ﬁ nd that drinking brings death and muddles the mind. Leviticus 10:9,10—“Do not drink wine nor strong drink…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.”
Despite these strong words to refrain from drinking alcohol, some people try to justify the drinking of alcohol by saying that Jesus made wine as His ﬁrst miracle in John 2:1–11. But was the wine that Jesus made in the Bible alcoholic? Oinos is a generic Greek word for anything made from grapes, including alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Only the context allows us to distinguish between the types of beverage being discussed.
We can ﬁ nd the word wine used for unfermented (non-alcoholic) grape juice in several places in the Bible, one example is Isaiah 65:8 “Thus says the Lord, ‘As the new wine is found in the cluster, and one says not to destroy it,’” and also Isaiah 16:10, “No treaders will tread out wine in the presses.”
What is the alcoholic content of the new wine in a cluster of grapes or in wine being treaded out of grapes? There is none, but the same word is used here that is used throughout the bible for both alcoholic and non-alcoholic wine. In order for wine to have an alcoholic content, it must be fermented.
Fermenting happens when yeast makes its way into the juice of the grapes and begins to feed on the sugar. Wild yeast spores occur naturally everywhere. Given enough time and the proper ratio of sugar and liquid, these spores will begin to break down anything in their path, including grains, which is where we get leavened (raised) bread, as well as beer. Historically, leavening is connected with sin and false teaching in the word of God.
With the world around us constantly bombarding Christians with choices that can lead us astray from the word of God, we must be aware and on guard against “wild yeast spores,” which equate to seeds tossed out by the enemy, Satan. 1 Peter 5:8—“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
If we do not remain alert and sober, we can easily become prey for the devil because we cannot tell the difference between holy and unholy or clean and unclean things in this world. Once we are inﬁltrated with the leavening of the world, the devil’s greatest tool, we become useless for the Kingdom of God.
The process of fermentation in grape juice and leavening in bread is actually a result of rotting and death. It is an acceptance of the unholy and unclean of this world. It is tolerance of false teaching and sin that will lead to the spiritual death of an individual that, once accepted, will lead to the death of the church if that sin is not cast out.
Paul explains this in 1 Corinthians when the church is glorying in the sin of fornication within their body (the church members). 1 Corinthians 5:6, 7—“Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacriﬁced for us.”
Though the emphasis is on leavened bread in this passage, the point remains the same. The yeast spores associated with leavening the bread are, in the same way, responsible for the fermentation that makes any kind of alcoholic drink.
According to the word of God, drunkenness is a sin that will not only keep you out of the Kingdom of Heaven, but will also lead to a life full of strife. Galatians 5:17–21 tells us that those who do such works of the ﬂ esh, as adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred…drunkenness, and such like these shall not inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. This is such an important fact, that the Apostle Paul mentions it again in 1 Corinthians 6:10—“Do not be deceived, neither thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.”
Not only will the use of alcohol keep us out of Heaven, but it also makes life on this earth full of strife, for it is misery to them that pursue strong drinks. Isaiah 5:11, 12—“Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, [that] they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, [till] wine inﬂame them! And the harp, and the viol, the tabret, and pipe, and wine, are in their feasts: but they regard not the work of the LORD, neither consider the operation of his hands.”
In Isaiah we ﬁnd that drunkenness keeps us from doing the work of the Lord. Could it be that drunkenness is its own kind of blindness? As you read the word of God it should become more and more evident that we should remain sober and alert in order to keep our minds and our hearts clear and clean for the day of the Lord’s arrival.
*Taken from our Fall 2013 Issue of Faith Filled Family. Part two of this article will appear on Sunday.