I want to start this blog out by saying that Pastoring today is a very tough assignment! The hour in which we live is a society following their own paths, determining what is wrong/right in their own eyes, and the Holy Bible is viewed as just an opinion and not God’s Absolute Truth. Although the assignment may be tough at times and some folk have little desire to hear what the Word declares, there is a people hungry for Truth and Answers! I do believe there is a people looking for the “straight and narrow” path that Jesus talked about. A people that want to be as far from this world and as close to God as they can be. A people that desire to live holy and that desire to be transformed into the image of Jesus!
I write this blog because this topic is asked of me quite often. Actually, it’s probably the #1 Question I’m asked, “Should a Christian drink alcohol?”
If you are a church family member of Destiny Pointe Church, you know my heart and everything I preach and speak comes from a place of LOVE and from SCRIPTURE! I have no desire to shoot condemnation to anyone. Jesus came not to condemn but to save. Yet, He tackled tough topics and preached truth. He desired to show people the correct path and flow of life. As a minister of this Gospel message, I am responsible to share what God prompts in my spirit and to bring Christians (especially new believers) into the Light! I’m RESPONSIBLE to answer and address the tough topics.
DPC Family and all my friends reading this; thank you for knowing my heart as you read these words. Thank you for taking the time to carefully read and study the scriptures listed. Thank you for opening your heart and allowing me to share my thoughts and scriptures on this sensative subject.
Ok, here we go! To answer the question…
My opinion here, I don’t think it’s God’s heart for His children to drink an intoxicating substance that has the potential to dull and affect the mind. I’m not saying if a Christian does that they are sinning and going to Hell. I’m not saying that it is a salvation issue (although it may be for some). I truly don’t think that it is wise for anyone to drink alcohol because of the potential danger it can cause (that is my opinion). I will say this again later in the blog; we are the temple of the Holy Spirit and we are responsible for and will be held accountable for what we put into our bodies. Alcohol has the potential to dull the senses and cause one to lose awareness of reality. My heart here is to bring out scripture and facts to lead us to a place of wisdom. Again, I’m not making this a salvation issue or preaching a “grey area” as an absolute. If you know me, you know my heart.
SHOULD A CHRISTIAN DRINK ALCOHOL?
Often people ask this because there is three scripture references that cause debate or question. First, Jesus turned water into “wine.” Secondly, Apostle Paul told Timothy to drink a little wine for his belly’s sake (Timothy must have been ill and it was a form of medicine). Thirdly, the Communion element of wine. These three references cause much debate over this topic (however many ignore the SEVERAL HUNDRED warnings in scripture about it).
Here are my answers to these three references:
- I don’t believe that Jesus turned the water into an intoxicating beverage! If Jesus turned the water into an intoxicating substance, it would have been in direct opposition of what a Priest was allowed to do according to God’s Word ((Leviticus 10:8-11). Jesus is our High Priest (Hebrews 4:14). Jesus, the Son of God Himself would have disqualified Himself from Priesthood by doing so. I don’t believe that it lines up with the whole canon of scripture that Christ would hand out intoxicating drinks to his friends and new acquaintances. (Below you will discover the type of wine that was created. It was more of a grape juice often referred to as the “best wine” than an alcoholic intoxicating beverage).
The scripture declares, “Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink, that puttest thy bottle to him…” Habakkuk 2:15). Jesus turning water into an intoxicating drink would cause a curse to fall upon Him according to scripture.
- The Communion Element – basically the same answer for this. In Holy Communion the “wine” represents his blood. Wine, the intoxicating type often represents drunkenness. I don’t believe Christ would choose an element that represents drunkenness to represent His precious blood shed for sin. So again, the wine used for communion is a more of a grape juice and not an alcoholic beverage.
- Paul and Timothy – below you will read that wine was used for medical purposes as well. Paul wasn’t telling Timothy to go have a “cold one” and kick back for the weekend. No, Timothy was more than likely ill especially traveling like he did from country to country preaching and encountering foreign foods. Paul instructs him to take a “little wine” to settle his sick stomach. Many have argued their stance for going to the bars by saying, “Paul told Timothy to have some wine for his stomach.” I think we can agree that this isn’t even the same thing.
Again, if you know my heart, you will realize the sincerity of the words that I write on this matter. At Destiny Pointe Church, we have a Leadership Code for ministry. It’s a covenant to uphold the standard for leadership and to be a light in all areas of our lives. We ask all our Coordinators of ministries (Nursery Coordinators, Praise & Worship Leaders, Guest Services Coordinator, Usher Coordinator, Media Coordinator, etc) to count the cost for leadership and sign the Leadership Code Covenant. In our Leadership Code Covenant we covenant with our leaders and other team members (amongst other items) that we will refrain from consuming alcoholic beverages.
Here’s another reason why? Many in our congregation don’t know the individuals that I am personally helping overcome alcohol addiction right now. In the past I have seen alcoholism destroy marriages, relationships, careers, etc. It doesn’t seem right to me to help many overcome this substance that has the potential to destroy and then partake in it at the same time. To me that is oxymoron! We have a standard for our Ministry Coordinators and those that minister on the platform. I want our church to know that our leaders don’t partake in this and we are here to help anyone dealing with this addiction. This is our heart and our standard. I don’t want my life or my actions to cause question or cause someone else to stumble. Leadership isn’t for everyone but the rewards are going to be out of this world.
Do you still love me? 🙂
The Next Portion of this Blog was mostly copied from Pastor David L. Brown, Ph.D and Pastor of First Baptist Church of OC.
Pastor David writes…
“My heart aches for the family that lost their only two children in an auto accident recently. A drunk driver crossed the median and plowed into their car. The five month old and their four year old were killed. Their children wiped out. But, there is more. This tragic scene is repeated every 33 minutes. That’s right. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration a person dies every 33 minutes in an alcohol related accident. And that’s not all. An estimated 310,000 persons were injured in crashes each year where police reported that alcohol was present. That’s an average of one person injured approximately every 2 minutes.”
Consider these additional statistics from the United States Justice Department: Nearly 4 in 10 violent victimizations involve use of alcohol. Also, victim reports show, on average each year about 183,000 rapes and sexual assaults involve alcohol use by the offender, as do just over 197,000 robberies, about 661,000 aggravated assaults, and nearly 1.7 million simple assaults. Another staggering statistic; every 10th person that drinks any form of alcohol becomes an addict.
The Scripture is true! “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.” Proverbs 20:1. It is at the root of all kinds of problems in our country today and it has been for hundreds of years. Proverbs 23:31-32 is a powerful injunction against drinking alcoholic beverages. It says, . 31 Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. 32 At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.
There is clear evidence in the Scriptures that believers should not drink alcoholic beverages. In this blog we list 6 Good Reasons Why Christians Should Not Drink Alcoholic Beverages. However, before we do that, we are going to look at the words translated wine, strong drink or drinking.
A LOOK AT WORDS:
There are 637 references to wine, drink and drinking in the King James Version of the Bible. Most people think in today’s terms, believing that when wine is mentioned it refers to alcoholic wine. Actually, that is not necessarily true. Thirteen different words are translated “wine” in the King James Version of the Bible. The word wine has a wide range of meaning in the Bible, covering everything from grape juice, to concentrated grape syrup to alcoholic wine. To understand what the Bible has to say about drinking, we need to look at several of these words. Understand that the original writings were in Hebrew and Greek and translated later into English. Words had different meanings than our current culture and time period in which we live.
OLD TESTAMENT HEBREW WORDS: “yayin” — 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. (Proverbs 31:4) The context will show whether it is alcoholic wine or not. Yayin, when used properly was always diluted with water.
“shekar” — It is the word for strong drink, unmixed wine. The 1901 edition of THE JEWISH ENCYCLOPEDIA says, “Yakin, wine, is to be distinguished from Shekar, or strong drink. The former is diluted with water; the latter is undiluted.” Shekar was not diluted with water.” (see Numbers 28:7)
“Tirosh” — This word refers to fresh grape juice. It is referred to often as new wine or sweet wine. (see Proverbs 3:10; Deuteronomy 7:13)
NEW TESTAMENT GREEK WORDS: “oinos” is the counterpart to the Old Testament word yayin. It is a general term for grape beverages and includes all classes of wine, non-alcoholic or alcoholic; fermented or unfermented. The context has to be used to determine whether the drink was intoxicating or not. (Luke 10:34; Ephesians 5:18). Oinos, when used properly was always diluted with water.
“sikera” is the counterpart to the Old Testament word shekar. It is the word for strong drink, unmixed wine. (Luke 1:15)
“gleukos” is the counterpart to the Old Testament word tirosh. “It refers to fresh wine, a new wine” or freshly squeezed grape juice.
Pastor David continues to write…
“WHY I BELIEVE CHRISTIANS SHOULD STEER CLEAR OF ALCOHOl”
1 – DRINKING CAN LEAD TO DRUNKENNESS
DRUNKENNESS IS CONDEMNED IN THE BIBLE
Isaiah 5:11— “Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, till wine inflame them!”
Proverbs 23:20— “Be not among winebibbers;” The word means to drink so much that you become tipsy or drunk.
Romans 13:13 — “Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting (drunken partying) and drunkenness (general drunken-ness)…”
Galatians 5:19a & 21 — “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these…drunkenness…”
Ephesians 5:18 — “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;”
DRUNKARDS ARE AMONG THE LIST OF THOSE WHO WILL NOT INHERIT THE KINGDOM OF GOD…1 Corinthians 6:9-10 “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, 10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.”
You can’t get around it, and in fact, all godly men agree that the Bible condemns drunkenness. Drunkenness is a serious matter.
2 – THE BIBLE CONDEMNS THE STRONG DRINK
Proverbs 20:1 “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.”
NOTE again, Isaiah 5:11 — “Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, till wine inflame them!”
Woe means to be “cursed, judgment, misfortune”
Proverbs 23:29-31 — “Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? (30) They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. (31) Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright.”
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 to 20% alcohol. Hard liquor has 40 to 50% alcohol (80 to 100 proof) and would be obviously condemned by scripture under the “strong drink” standard.
Remember the Hebrew word “yayin” and the Greek word “oinos” that we looked at earlier? These were the companion words for wine whether fermented or unfermented. In fact, whether fermented or not, it was MIXED WITH WATER.
Norman Geisler, former Dean of 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 forbidden by the Bible. What the Bible frequently meant by wine was basically purified water,” purified by adding some wine. The Holman Bible dictionary says, wine was also used as a medicine and disinfectant.
Geisler goes on to say, “Therefore, Christians ought not to drink wine, beer, or other alcoholic beverages for they are actually strong drink 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 would be condemned to partake as a Christian. The least ratio of water to wine mixture used in Bible times was 3 parts water to 1 wine. That produced a sub-alcoholic drink that was 2.5% to 2.75% alcohol at most. Normally, the ratio was even higher, up to 20 to 1. There is NO BIBLICAL SUPPORT FOR CHRISTIANS DRINKING THE ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES OF OUR DAY! What early believers drank was sub-alcoholic by today’s standards.
Pastors and deacons (deacon is often translated to LEADER) were cautioned to steer around even the sub-alcoholic stuff (I Timothy 3:3 & 8).
3 – IT CAN CAUSE OTHERS TO STUMBLE
Romans 14:21 says “It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to “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. Drinking by Christians has 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.” The problem is, drinking often sets off a chain reaction of influences that are like tipping over the first domino. Drinking causes some to stumble, others to be offended, and many to be weakened. Again, the scripture is clear that we are not to partake in questionable things that can cause another Christian (especially a brand new Christian) to stumble or struggle themselves. The last thing that I would want is for someone to be disappointed in me knowing I’m a Christian and Christian Leader but partaking in something that is questionable.
According to a survey done by the Daily Journal newspaper, one of the top five reasons teenagers drink is because their parents drink. This has proven true time and time again.
Dr. David says, “Parents, you must remember that whatever you do in moderation your child 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 I believe Christians should not drink…
4 – IT HARMS OUR BODIES WHICH IS THE TEMPLE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
I Corinthians 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 Corinthians 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 of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.”
The first effect of alcohol on the brain is to dull the capacity for self-criticism and the sense of caution. A lessening of care and anxiety follows this. The checks on irresponsibility and unreasonable behavior are also curtailed. Actions follow the impulses, which is dangerous. Reaction time becomes slower; coordination is disturbed; drowsiness follows.
Proverbs 23:29-33 gives clear testimony to the above description of alcohol on the brain. “Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? 30 They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. 31 Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. 32 At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. 33 Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things.”
(Pastor Josh)… “Alcohol has the ability to numb the brain. I don’t believe that God would want us to take in a substance that has the ability to cause us to lose control of our minds. Many have been involved in behaviors that they didn’t even know they were participating in because of the consumption of alcohol. Christians are responsible and stewards of their bodies and minds because they “house the Holy Spirit”. Again you are the Temple of the Holy Spirit! You and I will be held accountable for what we put into the Temple.”
Pastor David continues..
Alcohol has adverse affects on your esophagus, stomach & intestines, bloodstream, pancreas, liver, heart, bladder, kidneys, glands and your brain.
“The most drastic and noticed effect of alcohol is the brain. It depresses brain centers, progressively produces uncoordination, confusion, disorientation, stupor, anesthesia, coma, and even death.
Another reason why Christian should stay clear of this substance. You are to be controlled by the Holy Spirit!
5 – ALCOHOL IS ADDICTIVE
I Corinthians 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. (Ephesians 5:18)
Alcohol is clearly a powerful substance (Proverbs 23:35). Because alcohol is addictive, we should choose not to drink alcoholic beverages.
6 – BELIEVERS ARE KINGS AND 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 is correct. Kings and public officials were not to drink (Proverbs 31:4-5). Further Dr. 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 (Leviticus 10:9)
The application: Believers are a “royal” or kingly priesthood (I Peter 2:9). We are the temple of God (I Peter 2:5). We are Gods 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. Clearly, Christians should not drink alcoholic beverages. Drinking socially is often considered and related to worldly activity and in light of the fact that believers are neither to be conformed to the world (Romans 12:2) nor love the world (I John 2:15) our choice should be clear. We ARE to be SEPARATE FROM the world (II Corinthians 6:17) and LIGHT TO the world (Ephesians 5:8; Phillipians 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 has actually accomplished the opposite more times than not of blunting our testimony for Christ. There are at least SIX GOOD REASONS A BELIEVER SHOULD NOT DRINK.
Pastor Josh here…
As you see, I am very serious about this topic! Again, I have seen alcohol DESTROY lives, marriages, families, careers, etc. As a Christian and especially as a Christian Leader, I believe it is important for me to stay away from this substance. Not only to not hinder my own relationship with Christ but I don’t want to be a stumbling block to another (especially a new convert or someone struggling with alcohol addiction).
Thank you for taking the time and reading this article and studying the scriptures listed on this topic. Let’s all be led of the Holy Spirit. Again I say often, “I want to be more like Jesus and less like this world.”
If you battle with alcohol addiction, we are here for you. I know God will help you overcome. If you have any questions about this, please contact me. I want to be clear and for the reader to understand my heart. I have no desire to push people away but draw them closer to the heart of Jesus.