Covid-19 Devotionals

What Does the Bible Say About Alcohol?

As I said yesterday, it is amazing what you see when you walk. Driving a vehicle requires serious concentration, but walking permits spying out the scenery. So, I saw this queue outside a bottle store. It was rather surprising that the customers were elderly men and young women. Level 3 lockdown permits the sale and purchase of alcohol. The owner of the bottle store (he was an elderly, smart groomed man, so I assume he is the owner), stood at the door with his sanitizer spray can and a thermal temperature thermometer. One by one, hands were sanitized and temperatures taken and were “found to be far below 97°F (36.1°C)” (That’s a joke).

Today, I saw garbage bins on street corners loaded with empty beer bottles. Some were still shaped in their 6 bottle carry pack. There were empty beer bottles thrown onto grass pavements. I even saw brown beer bottles shattered on paved pavements. Was this celebration because the bottle stores are open or is this what things will look like in the future?

So let’s talk alcohol. Is it okay for a believer to consume alcohol or is it a sin? Maybe I ought to start out saying that nowhere in the Bible does it ban or prohibit a Christian from making use of alcohol (generally called ‘wine’, though there are other words used for various types of alcoholic beverages, especially in the Old Covenant).

One of the famous arguments used to authenticate the acceptance of alcohol’s usage is John chapter 2, where Jesus changed water into wine. The Bible informs us that this is Jesus’ first miracle. The wedding celebrations ran out of wine and Jesus’ mother involved him in sorting out the problem. The wine he made was better than could be produced or bought. But … the miracle shows Jesus’ authority and command over natural elements. Surely His divinity is the object of the story, not the wine!

Another person might argue that Paul told young Timothy to use wine. Yes, he did:

1Ti 5:23 Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.

The water in those areas was not nearly as pure as ours today. Drinking “straight” water would result in severe diarrhea. Generally, depending on the area, water was mixed with either 1/3 wine or 1/4 wine for purification purposes. Paul is telling Timothy to either add wine to the water or have a little wine to stop or cure the stomach problem. That is, the use was medicinal!

The real issue for Christians is to prevent drunkenness.

Pr 20:1 Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.

No excessive drinker can say there is no harm to him or herself, the family, the finances, the career, the neighbours or the friends. Christians need to consider Proverbs 21:17:

Pr 21:17 He who loves pleasure will become poor; whoever loves wine and oil will never be rich.

Overindulgencing in alcohol is seen by Scripture as wrong or unwise living compared to being united to God and knowing His will.

Eph 5:15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. 19 Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Drunkenness is foolishness. Drunkards do not know what the Lord says! Surely Paul is saying that the Christian’s pleasure and “excitement” and joy must come through the Spirit of God filling him or her with spiritual joy leading to worship and thanksgiving … compared to drunkenness leading to debauchery leading to stupid living. How can you be filled with the Spirit of God and the evil spirit at the same time? You cannot! The one leads to worship and the other to evil.

Again … the Bible never says a believer cannot partake in wine. It cautions against the use of strong drink and excessive drinking. David Wilkinson wrote a book called “Sipping Saints”. It’s a good read, though he advocates being a teetotaler, which I don’t agree with. Yet what he does well is analyse all the words used in the Bible when it refers to wine, beer, strong drink, etc.

I used alcohol before becoming a Christian. No one persuaded me to stop. I just did because I realized it was a waste of money. Then, I became a Christian, and after prayer and consideration, I took Paul’s words to heart:

Ro 14:21 It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.

For my Christian witness as a pastor, I chose to not drink wine … lest a brother or sister sees me and I cause them to fall!

Dear God, help me to be cautious in the way I use alcohol. May my focus rather be being filled and going on being filled with Your Spirit so that I might worship You wisely, for Your glory and my growth in spiritual things. Amen.

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