"Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaints? Who has needless bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes? Those who linger over wine, who go to sample bowls of mixed wine. Do not gaze at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly! In the end it bites like a snake and poisons like a viper. Your eyes will see strange sights, and your mind will imagine confusing things. You will be like one sleeping on the high seas, lying on top of the rigging. 'They hit me,' you will say, 'but I'm not hurt! They beat me, but I don't feel it! When will I wake up so I can find another drink?'" Proverbs 23:29-35
One of the most debated topics in and out of the church is the consumption of alcohol. Many people have many different opinions on the subject. Many people like to take Scripture out of context to fit their opinion. I hope today that I do neither. I don't want to just give you my opinion, and I don't want to take any Scripture out of context. Most Biblical scholars agree, that modern alcohol, such as beer and wine and whiskey, are much higher in alcoholic content than those that were used in Biblical times. And though the Bible doesn't say that taking a drink is wrong, the Bible does say that drunkenness is wrong. Proverbs is a good place to start in the Bible. Proverbs 23:29-35 clearly shows the dangerous impact that drunkenness can have on a person. We are warned not to look at it. We are warned that is poisonous like a snake. We are warned that it will lead to a loss of senses and control of our bodies. Proverbs 20:1 says, "Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise." In the New Testament, wine is mentioned and used quite often. The wine that is mentioned many times in the New Testament had beneficial uses as an antiseptic and as medicine. However, this is where many people take its mention and use out of context. In Luke 10, a Samaritan man poured "oil and wine" on the man's wounds. In this case, the wine was used as an antiseptic against infection. In 1 Timothy 5, Paul tells Timothy to "use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses." I don't think it is a coincidence that Paul used the word "use" rather than the word "drink" here. I also don't think it was a coincidence that Paul used the phrase "a little" rather than "a lot." Again, in this case the purpose of the wine was medicinal. When Jesus was dying on the cross for our sins, Mark 15:23 says, "Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it." Jesus died on the cross with a clear mind and full control of his own body. Drunkenness is listed in both the Old and New Testaments as sin, along with many other sins. Passages in Romans 13, 1 Corinthians 6, Galatians 5, and 1 Peter 4 attest to that truth. The Bible tells us over and over again the importance of self-control. The Bible tells us over and over again to be filled with the Spirit. See passages like Proverbs 25:28, 1 Corinthians 9:27, Galatians 5, Ephesians 5:15-20, Titus 2:12, 1 Peter 4 and 5, and 2 Peter 1:5-7. For me, Romans 12:1-2 is powerful: "Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer you bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God - this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will." The only source in my body that I want to submit to is the Holy Spirit. I don't want anyone or anything else controlling my thoughts or actions. Alcohol is a controlling substance. Our bodies become sacrificial to its command. I want my mind and my body to be sacrificial to God and to God alone. That is why abstain from drinking alcohol at all. It is important to understand that we all struggle with sin because we are all sinners. And just as drunkenness is a problem for one, gossip is a problem for another, and immorality is a problem for another. We are not to judge one another, but rather, we are to love one another and pray for one another. We are to follow God's commands and teach them to one another in humility. If you or someone you know is struggling with the sin of drunkenness, pray for them and love them to the truth of God's Word. Jesus said John 8:31-32, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."