What Does the Bible Teach About Drinking Alcohol? (3)

Now that we’ve taken the Bible and established that it does allow for some drinking of wine (see post 1 of this series) and other alcoholic drinks (see post 2), we really need to hit the sin of drunkenness head on. Of course, we certainly won’t have any trouble finding scriptures to do so. God’s written word is chocked full of such texts. Here is a small sampling (all from the N.K.J.V.):

1. Wine is a mocker, strong drink is a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise. (Proverbs 20:1)

2. And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit. (Ephesians 5:18)

3. Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

4. Awake, you drunkards, and weep; and wail, all you drinkers of wine, because of the new wine, for it is cut off from your mouth. (Joel 1:5)

5. Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbor, pressing him to your bottle, even to make him drunk, that you may look on his nakedness! (Habakkuk 2:15)

6. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts. (Romans 13:13-14)

7. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. (1 Thessalonians 5:7-8)

As you can see, the Bible comes down like thunder on the sin of drunkenness. So even though the drinking of alcoholic beverages is allowable, the allowance is limited. It’s not a “get out of jail free” card. It’s not a sanctioning to drink yourself into a stupor. There is a line that shouldn’t be crossed, and it’s a line that comes into play pretty quickly.

Actually, the Bible even describes some situations in which drinking alcoholic beverages was forbidden altogether. They were as follows:

1. Israel’s priests weren’t allowed to drink either wine or strong drink when they entered the tabernacle (temple). (Leviticus 10:8-11; Ezekiel 44:21; Isaiah 28:7)

2. It wasn’t good for rulers (kings and princes) to drink wine or strong drink because it might impair their judgment. (Proverbs 31:4-5)

3. Any Jew who volunteered to take the “vow of a Nazarite” had to completely separate himself or herself from all wine, strong drink, vinegar, and grape juice. (Numbers 6:1-3; Judges 13:1-5; Luke 1:13-15)

But to get back to the point, even with a certain amount of alcoholic consumption being allowed among the Jews, the problem began when a Jew abused the privilege and got drunk. This explains the various passages which differentiate between acceptable drinking and crossing the line. Here are some of them (again, all from the N.K.J.V.). The words I’ve put in boldface mark the line between drunkenness and acceptable drinking:

1. Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaints? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who linger long at the wine, those who go in search of mixed wine. (Proverbs 23:29-30)

2. Woe to men mighty at drinking wine, woe to men valiant for mixing intoxicating drink. (Isaiah 5:22)

3. No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for your stomach’s sake and your frequent infirmities. (1 Timothy 5:23)

4. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; not given to (addicted to) wine… (1 Timothy 3:2-3)

5. Likewise deacons must be reverent, not double-tongued, not given to (addicted to) much wine… (1 Timothy 3:8)

And so we see that it doesn’t take much to drink yourself right into sin. This is why I felt such trepidation as I wrote those first two posts of this series. Frankly, it would be a whole lot easier for me, as a preacher, if God just outlawed wine and strong drink altogether. But He doesn’t do that. What He does do, though, is load the Bible with very clear warnings about the danger of drunkenness and expect us to heed them.

This entry was posted in Addiction, Alcohol, Balance, Christian Liberty, Series: "What Does the Bible Teach About Drinking Alcohol?", Sin, Temptation and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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