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BETHANY BAPTIST CHURCH

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Mid-Week Meditation

I searched with my heart how to cheer my body with wine………then I considered all my hands had done, all was vanity and a striving after wind. (Ecclesiastes 2: 2, 11) Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler and whoever is led astray by it is not wise. (Proverbs 20:1)

I am reposting a write-up I posted a couple of years ago on alcoholism. 

I have come across believing Christians, both men and women, who think that social drinking or moderate drinking is not a problem but essential to living in this world. The urban work culture, with frequent business trips and social get-togethers, has simply made drinking a symbol of eliteness and a necessity. Many so-called Christians take enough Bible verses to prove how safe and good it is to drink without getting drunk thereby simply proving their ignorance and inability with the Bible, twisting it for their own end. I am not an expert in addressing this subject, and therefore, I will quote others here, and in the next paragraph, I will articulate my Biblical thoughts to make my point. Stanely E. Jones said this: “There are three possible attitudes toward reality. First, escape it. Second, rebel against it. Third, work with it. One of the commonest methods of trying to escape reality is through narcotics. In taking narcotics, you build upon an unreal world and live in it for the time being”. There is a humorous story in which a man asks someone living in Manchester why he drank liquor, and his reply is, “It’s the shortest way to get out of Manchester”. Although it’s a humour it makes the point very clear, the quest to escape reality through alcohol. ‘Smart drinking’ is a myth, as any form of drinking is an attempt to escape reality. Elvin Jellinek says: “Inferiority feelings may be present in some degree in all drinker-types, for the desire to escape reality is present both in ‘drunkard-types’ and ‘drinker-types’”. According to Dr. Walls, “Alcohol offers an escape to the blissful state of infantile omnipotence”. The one word anyone who drinks hate to hear is the term ‘alcoholic’. Even an addict doesn’t want to be called an ‘alcoholic’. Almost all forms of drinkers believe that they are in control of their drinking habits. Most ‘moderate drinkers’ or ‘social drinkers’ would say that they drink but they are not drunkards. Let me again quote Stanley E. Jones here, “If it takes ten drinks to get you drunk, then when you take one you are one-tenth drunk. You are on the way to the other nine-tenths. You are a deteriorating personality. Every moderate drinker is a potential addict. Every drink sets the skids for the next – the toboggan slide has begun”. According to the British Medical Journal June 2017 publication, “There was no evidence of a protective effect of light drinking over abstinence on brain structure or function. Moderate alcohol consumption is associated with increased risk of adverse brain outcomes and steeper cognitive decline”. That drives home the point that there is nothing called ‘no risk drinking’ or ‘safe drinking’, to think so is to believe in a myth. Similarly, to create arguments from the ancient Near Eastern culture where wine was directly taken from grapefruit as part of the diet, which sadly was also used for intoxication, and applying it to the commercial making of alcohol as it is rampant today is another common fallacy of our time. When our hearts want to justify something, we can end up finding enough arguments and events, even within the Bible, to explain what we want to justify. 

Let me now make the Biblical case here. The very first judgment in the Old Testament, soon after God instituted a priesthood, is in the context of intoxication with wine, which led to the death of Nadab and Abihu in Leviticus 10. I believe their fire was unauthorized fire because they were intoxicated with wine while they entered the presence of the Lord (Lev.10:1,8,9). The book of Proverbs has enough verses in it that says that wine and wise living are mutually exclusive. In the New Testament, one of the qualifications for a pastor is that he must not be a drunkard (I Tim.3:3; Titus 1:8). I also find a greater example in our Lord’s life. I remember our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross, writhing in pain, was offered wine mixed with myrrh. He refused to take it (Matt.27:34; Mark 15:23). That was a typical intoxicating drink made of wine offered for criminals on the cross to cause numbness in the body in order to ease the pain. This offering of wine with myrrh was an act of grace from the world to a condemned criminal, helping him to tackle the reality of pain. Yet, Jesus refused to take it. I believe it is because Jesus knew that to face the reality of pain is part of his suffering, and he refused to escape that reality. He was determined to fully obey his Father’s will and so he refused the world’s way to escape this. He was completely sober and clearheaded as he suffered on the cross and uttered those final words “It is finished”. Those were not the babbling words of an intoxicated man, but instead, those words came out of God-Man, who was completely sober on the cross.

Apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesians in 5:18, “Do not be drunk on wine which leads to debauchery but be filled with the Spirit”. Alcohol leads to brawling and debauchery whereas the Spirit leads us to joyful submission to God’s plan in all aspects of life. Alcohol gives us a false identity and an unreal world where there is a temporary escape from the realities of life, whereas the Spirit gives us our identity in Christ and equips us to face the realities of life without denying them or escaping them. That’s the life God wants us to live. I request believers to show zero tolerance to sit for any form of drinking and urge you to pay attention to the model in Christ and the words of God through the Apostle Paul. Don’t believe in moderate or safe drinking. Be separated from the world and unto God by showing zero tolerance to this temptation, which is so accepted and has become a norm in our society. God wants you to live a sober life. Here again I find the words of Stanley Jones very helpful, he says, “I do not think that I should drink, for when I drink I do not think”.

-Pastor

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