|Posted by Cheryl Weaver, Rev. on January 25, 2008 at 3:19 AM|
The Believer and Alcohol
Written by: Brown, David L. Posted on: 03/18/2003
Category: Christian Living
THE BELIEVER AND ALCOHOL
by Pastor David L. Brown
FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH
10550 SOUTH HOWELL AVE. OAK CREEK, WI. 53154
My heart skipped a beat as I was watching the news one evening in late February of this year (89). A large section in the side of an airplane had torn loose and 10 or 11 people had been sucked out. A thought raced through my mind... my song leader and his wife were headed for Hawaii and that's where this plane was going. Then I realized they were not leaving for several weeks yet.
Now just suppose you went to the ticket counter to book a flight. You buy the ticket and the attendant hands it to you with these words. "You should know, sir, that on this plane, seating one hundred passengers, ten seats, sometime during the flight, will suddenly give way and drop their occupants out of the plane." You reply, "Don't put me in one of those seats." The attendant replies, "But that is impossible; we don't know the seats that will give way. Have a good flight, sir."
You'd say, "Forget it!" No way am I going to ride on that plane! I'm not going to take the chance."
I adapted the ticket illustration from an article that appeared in the April 24, 1965 issue of Christianity Today. The article, on page 25, continues, "People must be informed that the use of alcohol is not unlike Russian roulette: every tenth person becomes automatically hooked. The only solution is total abstinence."
Alcohol spells TROUBLE for us all. It is the most dangerous drug in general use today. In this study we are going to take a look at what the Bible has to say about alcohol use.
I. A LOOK AT THE WORDS
There are 637 references to drink and drinking in the KJV of the Bible. In those references thirteen different words are translated "wine." To understand what the Bible has to say about drinking, we need to look at some of these words.
"yayin" (3196) [pronounced yah-yin] -- This word occurs 140 times. It is a general term for grape beverages and includes all classes of wine, non-alcoholic or alcoholic; unfermented, in the process of fermentation and fermented. It was always diluted with water.
"shekar" (7941) [shay-kawr] -- This Hebrew word occurs 23 times. It is the word for strong drink, unmixed wine. The 1901 edition of THE JEWISH ENCYCLOPEDIA says "Yayin, wine, is to be distinguished from shekar, or strong drink. The former is diluted with water; the later is undiluted."
"tirosh" (8492) [tee-roshe'] -- This word is used about 38 times. It refers to fresh grape juice. It is referred to often as new wine or sweet wine.
There are some New Testament counterparts to these words.
"oinos" (3631) [oy'-nos] is the counterpart of the Old Testament word yayin. It is used 33 times. It is a general term for grape beverages and includes all classes of wine, non-alcoholic or alcoholic - unfermented, in the process of fermentation and fermented. It was always diluted with water. Often the context has to be used to determine whether the drink was intoxicating or not.
"sikera" (4608) [sik'-er-ah] is the counterpart to the Old Testament word shekar. It is the word for strong drink, unmixed wine.
"gleukos" (1098) [glue-kos] is the counterpart to the Old Testament word tirosh. "It refers to a fresh wine, a new wine" Dr. Paul Dixon says.
II. THE POSITION OF THE BIBLE ON DRUNKENNESS
DRUNKENNESS IS COMDEMNED IN THE BIBLE
Isa. 5:11 - "Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink (7941); that continue until night, till wine (3196) inflame them."
Prov. 23:20 - "Be not among winebibbers (5433); The word means to drink so much that you become tipsy or drunk.
Rom. 13:13 - "Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting (2970 - drunken partying) and drunkenness (3178 - general drunkenness)..."
Gal. 5:19a & 21 "Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these...drunkenness (3178)..."
Eph. 5:18 - "And be not drunk (3182 form of 3178) with wine (3631) wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.
DRUNKARDS ARE AMONG THE LIST OF THOSE WHO WILL NOT INHERIT THE KINGDOM OF GOD.
I Cor. 6:9-11 (key 10)
You can't get around it and in fact all godly men agree that the Bible condemns drunkenness. Drunkenness is a serious matter.
III. THE BIBLE CONDEMNS STRONG DRINK ALSO
Prov. 20:1 "Wine (3196) is a mocker (3887 - causes one to act crazy), strong drink (7941) is raging (1993 - causes one to rage): and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise."
NOTE again, Isa. 5:11 - "Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink (7941); that continue until night, till wine (3196) inflame them."
Prov. 23:29-31 -- "Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without a cause? who hath redness of eyes? (30) They that tarry long at the wine (3196); they that go to seek mixed wine (4469 - a mixture of wine and spices). (31) Look not thou upon the wine (3196) when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright."-- Reference is to drinking fermented wine & strong drink. The strong drink was the "mixed wine" which was a potent mixture of wine and spices.
WHAT WAS "STRONG DRINK" IN BIBLE TIMES?
Distillation was not discovered until about 1500 A.D. Strong drink and unmixed wine in Bible times was from 3% to 11% alcohol. Dr. John MacArthur says "...since anybody in biblical times who drank unmixed wine (9-11% alcohol) was definitely considered a barbarian, then we don't even need to discuss whether a Christian should drink hard liquor -- that is apparent!
CHRISTIANS SHOULD NOT DRINK STRONG DRINK!
Since wine has 9 to 11% alcohol and one brand 20% alcohol, you should not drink that. Brandy contains 15- 20% alcohol, so that's out! Hard liquor has 40 to 50% alcohol (80 to 100 proof), and that is obviously excluded!
Someone will say, "since beer is only 4% alcohol, IT'S OK FOR A BELIEVER TO DRINK BEER, RIGHT?" The answer is NO! Here's why...
IV. IN BIBLE TIMES, WHAT CHRISTIANS DRANK WAS SUB-ALCOHOLIC, BASICALLY PURIFIED WATER
Remember the Hebrew word "yayin" and the Greek word "oinos" that we looked at earlier? These were the companion words for wine whether fermented for unfermented. Remember, the key emphasis was on the fact that whether fermented or not, it was MIXED WITH WATER.
Let's look at what John MacArthur has to say about this... (see article titled - How do the alcoholic drinks of today compare to those of biblical times)
Norman Geisler, Dean of the Liberty Center for Christian Scholarship, Liberty University,has written: "Many wine-drinking Christians today mistakenly assume that what the New Testament meant by wine is identical to wine used today. This, however, is false. In fact, today's wine is by Biblical definition strong drink, and hence is forbidden by the Bible. What the Bible frequently meant by wine was basically purified water. Therefore, Christians ought not to drink wine, beer or other alcoholic beverages for they are actually strong drink and forbidden in Scripture. Even ancient pagans did not drink what some Christians drink today."
All alcoholic beverages used in our culture fall under the biblical classification of STRONG DRINK and therefore forbidden. The least ratio of water to wine mixture in the was 3 parts water to 1 wine. That produced a sub-alcoholic drink that was 2.5% to 2.75% alcohol. Normally, the ratio was even higher, up to 20 to 1. Their is NO BIBLICAL SUPPORT FOR CHRISTIANS DRINKING THE ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES OF OUR DAY! What believers drank was sub-alcoholic by todays standards. Pastor's and deacons were cautioned to steer around even the sub-alcoholic stuff (I Tim. 3:3 & 8).
The right choice is to abstain! What is your choice?
Does the Bible give any instances were alcohol can be used? Let's move in to our next study and see.
SAY NO TO ALCOHOL by Pastor David L. Brown
I. WHO IS ALCOHOL FOR?
A. Someone who is near death and in great pain. B. Someone who is experiencing great anguish was given alcohol as a sedative.
II. WHY SHOULDN'T BELIEVERS DRINK ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES?
A. DRINKING LEADS TO DRUNKENNESS B. THE BIBLE CONDEMNS THE DRINKING OF STRONG DRINK C. DRINKING CAUSES OTHERS TO STUMBLE D. DRINKING HARMS OUR BODIES WHICH ARE THE LORD'S E. BELIEVERS ARE KINGS & PRIESTS, SEPARATED UNTO GOD F. ALCOHOL IS ADDICTIVE
Richard Quebedeaux, neo-evangelical author wrote in his book The Worldly Evangelicals, "In the course of establishing their respectability in the eyes of the wider society, the evangelicals have become harder and harder to distinguish from other people. Upward mobility has made the old revivalistic taboos dysfunctional." He goes on to say that evangelical business people have "changed their minds" about such things as drinking and smoking and found it necessary and pleasant to do those things.
That's a sad commentary on the state of Bible believing Christians in light of the fact that we are neither to be conformed to the world (Rom. 12:2) nor love the world(I John I John 2:15). We ARE to be SEPARATE FROM world (2 Cor. 6:17) and LIGHT TO the world (Eph. 5:8; Phil. 2:15).
Perhaps social drinking has enhanced the acceptability of Christians in society but it has not advanced the cause of Christ and it does not glorify God! Social drinking is simply a means which the devil uses to blunt our testimony for Christ and squeeze us into his mold. There are at least SIX GOOD REASONS A BELIEVER SHOULD NOT DRINK. We will take a close look at each of those reasons as soon as we answer the question -- Does the Bible say there are any legitimate reasons to drink alcoholic beverages in the Bible?
I. WHO IS ALCOHOL FOR?
"Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and to those that be of heavy hearts. Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more." Prov. 31:6-7
This verse lists two categories where strong drink could be used...
A. SOMEONE WHO IS NEAR DEATH
"Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish..."
The phrase "ready to perish" is but one Hebrew word that is generally used of a person who is near death. In reality alcohol was used as a anesthetic to ease the pain.
Our Lord Jesus Christ is an illustration of the medicinal use of wine in this way. In Matthew 27:33-34 we see Christ was offered vinegar mixed with gall to drink just prior to his crucifixion. The word vinegar is the Greek word for "sour or bitter wine." It was mixed with gall to become a powerful medicine that would take the edge off pain. After just a taste, Christ refused it. Again, we see "sour wine" being used as a pain killer in John 19:28-30. Just before Christ dies, he requests a drink. Even this request was to fulfill prophecy. They give him a sponge soaked in "sour wine."
The believer does not need to drink alcohol as a pain reliever today. We have much more sophisticated and power pain killers available.
There is a second category where it was allowable to use strong drink in the Bible.
B. SOMEONE WHO IS EXPERIENCING GREAT ANGUISH
"Give strong drink to those that be of heavy hearts..."
Emotionally speaking, the term "heavy heart"(4751) is used to describe a heart crushing experience. Strong drink was used in these cases as a sedative to calm the person. Today, we have much more effective sedatives.
Prov.31:7 describes the results that are hoped for. First, that they forget their "poverty" (7389), that is their desperate circumstance. Second that they forget their "misery" (5999) or pain.
II. WHY SHOULDN'T BELIEVERS DRINK ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES?
A. DRINKING LEADS TO DRUNKENNESS
1 out of every ten drinkers becomes an alcoholic according to American Medical Association. Rather than play Russian roulette with the bottle, it is better not to drink at all.
The Bible is clearly against drunkenness. It says "Let us walk honestly...not in...drunkenness" Romans 13:13
It says, "And be not drunk with wine..." Ephesians 5:18. That means wine or any other alcoholic beverage.
An individual who is habitually drunk will not be in Heaven according to I Corinthians 6:9-10. We see from verse 11 that drunkenness, along with the other sins is spoken of as being in the past..."and such WERE some of you." There is another reason believers should not drink...
B. THE BIBLE CONDEMNS THE DRINKING OF STRONG DRINK
Prov. 20:1 says "Wine is a mocker, strong drink is a raging and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise."
Wine and strong drink are used as synonymous in this verse. Anyone who drinks them are deceived.
Prov. 23:31 says "Look not upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright."
The reference is to fermented wine or alcoholic wine (remember, in the Bible, the word wine covered anything from freshly squeezed grape juice to alcoholic wine). The phrase "look not" means don't give any thought to or refuse to pay any attention to. The focus it alcoholic wine. So you come out with the idea -- DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT DRINKING ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES. DON'T EVEN CONSIDER DRINKING!
All the alcoholic beverages that are produced today would fall into the category of strong drink and are subject to the Biblical injunction against strong drink.
Another reason believers should not drink...
C. IT WILL CAUSE OTHERS TO STUMBLE
Romans 14:21 says " It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor anything whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak."
Innumerable Christians claim their "Christian Liberty" when it comes to social drinking. In order to do that they must turn their backs on this passage of scripture. "Sipping Saints" have given multitudes of people an excuse to drink. More than once I have heard a believer say "there is nothing wrong with drinking in moderation. Pastor so and so even says it is OK." I had one of my members say something like that to be in justification of his drinking. I discovered his drinking problem one Saturday when a frantic teenager called me saying one of the church members was pounding on the church door and carrying on like a mad man. It scared her witless. As it turned out "sipping saints" had given this man a justification to drink. He had both stumbled and was made weak.
The problem is, drinking often sets off a chain of influences like tipping over the first domino. He had a wife and kids at home and his actions set off a chain of events that caused some to stumble, others to be offended and some were weakened, using dads rationalization to do the same.
According to a survey done by the Daily Journal newspaper, October 26 of 1988 one of the top five reasons teenagers drink is because their parents drink. This has proven true time and time again.
Let me take it one step further. Parents, you must remember that whatever you do in moderation your children will likely do in excess.
The Bible clearly defines drinking as an activity that is to be foregone because it causes others to stumble and makes them weak (fall into sin).
There is yet another reason that believers should not drink...
D. IT HARMS OUR BODIES WHICH ARE THE LORD'S
I Cor. 6:19-20 "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit which are God's."
I Cor. 3:16-17 "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are."
How many of you had high school or college biology? I did and it was great. I especially enjoyed the fit the girls had when we had to dissect first the large grass hoppers and then the frogs. But what was really rank was the day we had to walk up to the big barrel fill with formaldehyde and reach in and get a cat. That day some of the babes lost it and I think even one of the guys. I will never forget the aroma of the formaldehyde.
That brings me to what Dr. Robert Haas has to say. He is the president of the American College of Sports Nutrition. He said, " Beer, wine and hard liquor form toxic substances called aldehydes that can destroy the liver, kidney, and brain cells. (Most of us who took high school biology probably dissected a frog that was preserved in formaldehyde). Aldehydes serve a useful function in preserving or "pickling" dead animal tissue, but they serve no beneficial purpose in people. "Alcohol dehydrates (robs) your body of its precious water supply, and along with the water go vital nutrients such as B Vitamins, calcium, magnesium, and potassium."
According to the September 81 issue of Good Housekeeping "Even in moderate amounts alcohol has noticeable effects on the body. Because it enters the blood stream it touches almost every organ, and its effects on feelings and behavior are well known."
Alcohol has adverse affects on your esophagus, stomach & intestines, bloodstream, pancreas, liver, heart, bladder, kidneys, glands and your brain. (See appendix for a more complete listing).
"The most drastic and noticed effect of alcohol is on the brain. It depresses brain centers, progressively produces uncoordination, confusion, disorientation, stupor, anesthesia, coma, death. Alcohol kills brain cells and brain damage is permanent." (From - Office of Highway Safety, Madison, Wi)
As believers our body belongs to the Lord. We should not knowingly do anything that would harm it. Alcohol harms the body, therefore we should not drink alcohol.
There is a further reason you should not drink...
E. ALCOHOL IS ADDICTIVE
I Cor. 6:12 tells us that we are not to "be brought under the power" or to be controlled by anything. The only exception is the Holy Spirit (Eph 5:18).
Alcohol is clearly a powerful addictive substance (Prov. 23:35). In the appendix you will find a chart showing the stages of addiction as well as a questionaire that can help a person determine where he/she is at in the addiction process if they are a drinker. Because alcohol is addictive, we should choose not to drink alcoholic beverages.
The final reason we will consider for not drinking alcoholic beverages is...
F. BELIEVERS ARE KINGS & PRIESTS SEPARATED UNTO GOD
"The prophets, the kings, the Nazarites, the leaders -- those who were special in the plan of God were total abstainers" says Dr. Paul Dixon and he's correct.
Kings and public officials were not to drink-Prov. 31:4-5
Dr. Paul Dixon says "the priests of the Old Testament were to abstain totally." The Aaronic priests were not to drink because they ministered in the tabernacle before the Lord (Lev. 10:9).
The application: Believers are a "royal" or kingly priesthood (I Pet. 2:9). We are the temple of God (I Pet. 2:5). We are God's special children and should choose total abstinence.
Drinking, even social drinking, cannot be legitimately supported by the Bible. Every drink that is available today, even Beer, falls into the category of unmixed or strong drink. Drinking unmixed or strong drink is forbidden in the Bible, except in two instances. First, it was given to someone who was near death to relieve pain. Second, it was dispensed as a sedative to those experiencing great anguish. The fact is, there are SIX GOOD REASONS THE BELIEVER SHOULD NOT DRINK... 1) DRINKING LEADS TO DRUNKENNESS 2) THE BIBLE CONDEMNS THE DRINKING OF STRONG DRINK 3) DRINKING CAUSES OTHERS TO STUMBLE 4) DRINKING HARMS OUR BODIES WHICH ARE THE LORD'S 5) BELIEVERS ARE KINGS & PRIESTS, SEPARATED UNTO GOD 6) ALCOHOL IS ADDICTIVE
YOU MUST MAKE A CHOICE...TO DRINK OR NOT TO DRINK, THAT IS THE QUESTION.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE ENSLAVED TO ALCOHOL
What should you do if you find that you are hooked on alcohol?
I. ADMIT THAT YOU ARE POWERLESS OVER ALCOHOL
Before anyone has even the chance of being helped, they must realize that there is a problem. The Bible is clear that drunkenness is a sin. You must be willing to admit that you have sinned and come short of God's standard.
II. BELIEVE THAT GOD CAN HELP YOU GET THE VICTORY OVER ALCOHOL
There is no problem too big for God. Jeremiah the prophet prays "Ah Lord God! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee:"(Jeremiah 32:17). The Lord confirms the prophets estimation of Himself in verses 26, 27 of the same chapter as we read, "Then came the word of the LORD unto Jeremiah, saying, Behold I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there anything to hard for me?" This rhetorical question implies a NO! There is nothing to hard for the Lord to accomplish. God WILL help those to go to him and determine to follow his instructions.
III. TRUST THE LORD JESUS CHRIST AS YOUR SAVIOR & TURN YOU WILL AND LIVES OVER TO HIS DIRECTION AND CARE
The Simple Plan Of Salvation --(Read the following verses in the Bible)
1. John 3:16 -- God Loves You 2. Romans 3:23 -- You are a sinner 3. Romans 6:23; Revelation 21:8 -- You need salvation from your sins because unless you are saved you will die and are destined to the Lake Of Fire (Hell) 4. Ephesians 2:8-9 -- Your good works cannot Save you, salvation is a gift that must be personally received. 5. I John 2:2-Christ paid for our sins 6. John 14:6 --He is the only way to Heaven 6. Luke 13:3 -- Repent of your sins & ask the Lord's forgiveness for your sins. 7. Romans 10:13 -- Call upon Christ in prayer and ask Jesus to come into your life and save your soul.
SALVATION is the first decision you must make, but there is a SECOND decision you must make also. It is revealed in Romans 12:1-2 which says, "I beseech (urge) you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, and acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable, and perfect will of God."
In this decision, you tell the Christ, "I am yours. I give you my mind, will and body. I am in your hands. Please give me the desire for victory and the power over alcohol."
IV. TAKE AN HONEST, INDEPTH MORAL INVENTORY OF YOUR LIFE
Note your weaknesses, your character flaws, your sins, your shortcomings, your wrongs. Don't play games. Don't deceive yourself. See yourself for what you really are. Then, move on to the next step...
V. CONFESS TO GOD & ADMIT TO YOURSELF AND ANOTHER INDIVIDUAL THE EXACT NATURE OF YOUR WRONGS. BUILD AN ACCOUNTABILITY BOND WITH A TRUSTED FRIEND AND GIVE HIM THE AUTHORITY TO CHECK UP ON YOU.
I John 1:9 says "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgives us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
James 5:16 says "Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed..."
VI. TELL THE LORD YOU ARE READY TO HAVE HIM CORRECT & REMOVE YOUR CHARACTER DEFECTS Psalm 139:23-24 says "Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."
VII. MAKE A LIST OF ALL PEOPLE YOU HAVE HARMED AND MAKE RESTITUTION WHEREVER POSSIBLE, UNLESS MAKING AMENDS WOULD DO MORE HARM THAN GOOD
Luke 19:8 "And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord...if I have taken anything form any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold."
The principle of restitution is seen in both the Old and New Testament. By way of application, sometimes a simple apology is sufficient. On other occasions a monitary settlement is in order. Each situation is dfferent.
VIII.CONTINUE TO EVALUATE YOUR LIFE AND PROGRESS. IF YOU SIN OR FALL, CONFESS IT TO THE LORD PROMPTLY.
IX. PRAY OFTEN, MEMORIZE & MEDITATE ON SCRIPTURE, ATTEND A BIBLE-BELIEVING CHURCH
Approach God humbly in your prayers. Be specific in your sharing and asking. Thank the Lord for His blessings and help.
Memorizing and meditating on scripture passages acts like cleanser and medicine on our minds. Memorize Psalm 1, 23, 34, 51; Romans 6, 7, 8; Philippians 4 etc.
Start going to a solid Bible-believing church.
X. READ -- GOD IS FOR THE ALCOHOLIC BY JERRY DUNN
This fine book is published by Moody Press. It is broken into three sections -- 1) UNDERSTANDING ALCOHOLISM 2) WAYS TO HELP THE ALCOHOLIC 3) WAYS THE ALCOHOLIC CAN HELP HIMSELF
NOTE: Many of the above suggestions were adapted from material used in ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS but modified to be thoroughly biblical.
If you need spiritual counsel, contact the Pastor of a good fundamental, Bible-believing church. If you do not know where to begin in doing this you can call Pastor David L. Brown at
LOGOS COMMUNICATION, P.O. BOX 173, OAK CREEK, WI. 53154
Copyright 1989 by David L. Brown You are allowed to reproduce this article only in its entirety and without additions or deletions.