Unfortunately, many young believers – and some older ones, too – do not know that there will be times in every person’s life when circumstances don’t add up – when God doesn’t appear to make sense. This aspect of the Christian faith is not well advertised.
Is it a sin for a Christian to have a drink of alcohol?
It is an important question for our time. Millions and millions of Americans have been brutalized and devastated by the abuse of alcohol. I have had to deal as a minister with the shattered lives that occurred through the addiction and abuse of alcohol. This is not just an American issue but I live here so I will talk about what I know.
I am going to make some preliminary remarks and then do my best to back them up with the Scriptures and reason.
1. Jesus did make wine.
His first miracle was turning water into wine. I have heard many pastors that I respect go to great lengths to demonstrate that the wine that Jesus made was basically non-alcoholic. They talk about how the distilling of alcohol didn’t really happen until centuries later.
Problem: People got drunk in the Bible. There was such a thing as “strong drink” beginning in ancient times. Therefore, the argument that the wine that Jesus made was almost non-alcoholic seems farfetched to me and to most Bible scholars.
I don’t think Jesus made wine to have a party or to even enjoy it. I think He did it to demonstrate his divinity. Nonetheless, I am sure the people enjoyed it.
2. There has been a HUGE paradigm shift in American Evangelicalism concerning drinking alcohol.
It is hard to believe that most pastors now advocate drinking in moderation compared to how I grew up. Abstinence was just about THE litmus test for sanctification! The party line was almost “We are godly because we don’t drink!” That idea, although extreme, was a reality.
I think the reasoning behind it is simple: if you don’t drink you won’t ever have to worry about abusing alcohol. That is a decent argument. However, there has been a grace revolution in our thinking over the last 20 years. I think this paradigm is for the better but it opens up the can of debate that can lead to disunity. Sometimes debate is worth the possibility of disunity. Sometimes.
1 Cor 10:23 “Everything is permissible”—but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible”—but not everything is constructive. 24 Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.”
I love what John Piper said in a video I watched a while back. He intimated that although there is grace and “tee-totaling” is a choice not a law, as pastors we must not be cavalier in the advocacy of drinking alcohol.
I think there are way too many Christians that just blurt out a quick “yes” or “no” without really thinking through the complexities of this question. I used to be one of them.
I do NOT want to present the advocacy of drinking alcohol in a cavalier way. We live in a culture of addiction and abuse. Drunk driving, teenage alcoholism, child abuse stemming from drunk parents are HUGE issues. Moderate drinking CAN lead to alcoholism. It is a possibility so we must be extremely careful.
3. It is a sin to cause another person to stumble into addiction.
Romans 14:20 “Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble.”
If a mature Christian’s freedom causes a person to fall headlong into sin then it is wrong. This is not a warning for people who walk in grace to be stifled because they are worried about legalistic Christians criticizing them. This is a warning to make sure that we never destroy the work of Christ in a believer’s life by abusing our freedom.
The $10,000,000,000 question: Is it a sin to drink alcohol?
1. No, it is not a sin to drink alcohol.
I cannot find anywhere in the Scripture a defining verse or passage that says that alcohol is intrinsically evil. I have read tons of books, articles and sermons on this subject and I have never been satisfied that alcohol is intrinsically evil. If so, then taking Nyquil is a sin. So let’s ask a better question than this one.
2. Is it wise to drink alcohol?
Not necessarily. For many, many people it is unwise to drink at all. A person’s background, disposition and environment must be factored into this discussion.
Proverbs 20:1 “Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.”
What this passage means is that wine and beer are powerful and one must not be led astray. The fact that one could be led astray by these liquid entities should give every Christian a heart check.
I have heard often people comparing overeating to overdrinking. Here is the difference: if you go to Cracker Barrel and eat 6000 calories of saturated fact you are not likely to get pulled over by the police because of your fat saturation level. You are not likely to drive into a mini-van and kill a whole family because of it.
There is the possibility that you may have gastrointestinal issues that cause the people in your vehicle to vomit but you won’t be going to jail for manslaughter. You are just guilty of air-quality slaughter.
3. Is it unwise to drink alcohol?
Not necessarily. A Christian can enjoy a glass of wine or a glass of beer and it not cause havoc in the world. Here are a few verses that my super-fundamentalist pastors never preached on when I was growing up.
Psalm 104:14–15 “You cause the grass to grow for the livestock and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth 15 and wine to gladden the heart of man, oil to make his face shine and bread to strengthen man’s heart.”
Ecclesiastes 9:7 “Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do.”
Isaiah 62:8–9 “The Lord has sworn by his right hand and by his mighty arm: “I will not again give your grain to be food for your enemies, and foreigners shall not drink your wine for which you have labored; but those who garner it shall eat it and praise the Lord, and those who gather it shall drink it in the courts of my sanctuary.”
4. Is it a sin for a Christian to drink in public?
I think the correct answer to this question is going to be found in the context of each unique situation.
Remember that we are not talking about getting drunk. We are talking about having a glass (or 2) of wine or beer.
If, by drinking a glass of wine, a Christian selfishly causes a weaker Christian (a former addict or one who may have an over proclivity to become one) then the answer is yes. Don’t guess and don’t go there would be my strong recommendation.
If a Christian is sitting down to a nice dinner with their spouse or friends and has no fear or guilt about drinking a glass of wine but has faith that God has given them freedom to do so then the answer is yes.
Romans 14:22-23 “So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves. 23 But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.”
I have not addressed every single issue on this subject but I have tried to give us a “helicopter ride” over this subject. The possibility of fallout is okay with me because I really believe that a pastor must dive into the complex issues of our time with honest questions and thoughtful answers.
Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is the truth.
Theologically, Real freedom is the ability to function the way God designed us to function. This is the reason why freedom and truth are so intertwined; we need to know what our purpose and design are before we can exercise the freedom to fulfill our mission on earth. That is also true of things we ourselves make. A meticulously manufactured car is a marvel on the road, is completely useless in the water. Similarly, we function at our best when our lives measure up to our creator’s prerequisite.
Anyone with a bit of knowledge, and any experience at all with today’s world, is aware of the fact that the people of today is facing a time of great crisis. Fundamental reason is that Basic truth has been thrown to the wind. God said in Hosea chapter 4:6 “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being my priest. Since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.” Why are things in such a state of chaos? One of the reasons is ignorance of God’s truth. There probably has not been a time in this century when Bible truths even among the Believers have ruined to such a base level. Let us be more precise. We suffer a leadership crisis. Where are the godly leaders who know the Bible from “cover to cover”? You probably heard the old story about the judge who couldn’t find a Bible in his courtroom with which to swear in a witness; so he simply called for a Christian man and had the witness place his hand upon the brother’s head. The days are gone when God’s people were known as a “Bible-toting, Bible-quoting “or people living in submission to God’s word. Many members of the church never carry a Bible to worship, and they could not cite scriptural references on the most fundamental of doctrinal issues.
The majority of churches are not the solid Bible teaching centers, a few they used to be. The time was when the leaders and pastors of our churches were great Bible teachers who knew how to powerfully proclaim the truth. They were rich in Bible knowledge. The Bible teaching seminar and convention that we have seen in recent decades is sadly feeble. It is hard to find serious and deep Bible teaching that is spirit filled, strong in doctrine and life changing. The current professional and lively seminars are filled with case-study/story telling- scenarios and role-playing exercises that rely more on human wisdom than a respect for the authority of God’s Word. The supreme concern within God’s heart in giving us the Bible has been, through the centuries that we might understand what goes on in the human spirit, affecting everything we do. He has deliberately made the physical to correspond to the spiritual in such a way as to illustrate to us what is going on within.
One of the keys to triumphant Christian life is a persistent and continual pursuit of scriptural truth for freedom in the Spirit. Passion for precepts will drives everyone to extend and expose to new initiatives and create a new spiritual environment. The desire to keep growing in knowledge of god will inspire us to stretch beyond our fears and self-imposed boundaries. God’s Truth are essential in real, lasting, life-changing experience and genuine freedom.
There are two kinds of knowledge. These are the head knowledge and the revelation knowledge of Jesus Christ. Head knowledge of Jesus Christ is more of intellectual assent rather than experiential encounter with the Lord. A person may know all the great doctrines of the Bible, can give beautiful insights of biblical verses, but may not actually know God or have not personally experienced God in his life. Knowledge of God and knowledge about God are two different things.
For example Paul’s experience with the Lord is revelation knowledge. One of the distinguishing marks that a person’s experience with the Lord is revelation knowledge is the revolutionary transformation of such person and that is exactly what happened to Paul. Prior to his conversion Paul was a very different person and pursuing an entirely different direction in life. Formerly he was the persecutor of the Church of Jesus Christ. He was a violent man, a persecutor. .He did everything to oppose the followers of Jesus Christ. He was extremely fanatical for his religion. He had been a member of the Pharisees, the strictest sect of their religion. He is also filled with head knowledge about God, but he was alienated from the life of God. A person could be filled with so much theology, doctrine but still very much alienated from God. He thought he was living inside the will of God but actually outside of it.
But when the Lord Jesus was revealed to him the truth, one day while he was on a mission to Damascus, a dramatic transformation happened to his life. There is a radical revolution that happened to him, and the course of his life was totally altered. The Faith that he once tried hard to destroy became now the one he bravely proclaimed and he even risked his life for this faith. He became a radical preacher of the gospel. To achieve a Freedom in one’s life, the “Truth” (CHRIST) must first be revealed to that person. We should never settle for anything less, we must crave for the revelation of the Son of God in our life. Paul said “But I make known to you brethren that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
Without exception, Deceptive knowledge elevates the self and lowers God. It always, no matter how seemingly sincere and objective and scholarly, caters to human self–will, pride, fleshly inclinations, and independence. Those are the basic characteristics of the unredeemed, and they always direct and determine the unredeemed thinking, desires, and conclusions. The reason people love complex, elaborate philosophies and religions is because these appeal to human ego. They offer the challenge of understanding and doing something complex and difficult. For the same reason some people scoff at the gospel. It calls on them to do nothing—it allows them to do nothing—but accept in simple faith what God has done. The cross crushes human sin and crushes human pride. It also offers deliverance from sin and deliverance from pride.
Becoming a Christian does not give us all the answers to everything—certainly not in the areas of science, electronics, math, or any other field of strictly human learning. Many nonbelievers are more educated, brilliant, talented, and experienced than many believers. If we want our car fixed we go to the best mechanic we can find, even if he is not a Christian. If we need an operation we go to the best surgeon. If we want to get an education we try to go the school that has the best faculty in the field in which we want to study. As long as they are used properly and wisely, medicine and technology and science and all such fields of human learning and achievement can be of great value. Christians should thank God for them.
But if we want answers to what life is about—answers about origin, purpose, meaning, relevance, morals and destiny where we came from, where we are going, and why we are here, about what is right and what is wrong—then human learning cannot help us. If we want to know the ultimate meaning and purpose of human life, and the source of freedom, happiness, joy, fulfillment, and peace, we have to look beyond what even the best human minds can discover. Human attempts to find such answers apart from God’s revelation are doomed to fail. Jesus said in Luke 16:15 “And he said to them, You are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knows your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.”
The above Scripture is followed by the literal account of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31). The Bible contrasts the extravagant and pleasurable life of a rich man verses the sorrowful existence of a poor beggar named Lazarus. In the end, the Bible tells us that the rich man went straight to Hell to be tormented in flames; but Lazarus was escorted by angels into Abraham’s Bosom (i.e., Paradise). There is not a clearer passage of Scripture in the Word of God, testifying to the vanity of earthly fame and fortune. The rich man had it all―wealth, health, power, security, friends, and the respect of his peers; BUT, he didn’t have Jesus. In sharp contrast, Lazarus had nothing except Jesus. He was sick and the Bible says that dogs came and licked his wounds. Lazarus ate from the rich man’s garbage, whatever he could scrape together. The Bible tells us that the rich man was consumed in his mind concerning building bigger storage barns for his grain, and laying up massive wealth for his old age; BUT, his retirement never came because God ended his life. The selfish rich man never gave thought to helping Lazarus in any way, nor did he think about God or the eternal destiny of his soul.
The world measures greatness by many standards. At the top are intelligence, wealth, prestige, and position—things which God has determined to put at the bottom? – “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight.” God reveals the greatness of His power by demonstrating that it is the world’s nobodies that are His somebody. According to Jesus, the greatest man who ever lived, was John the Baptist. He had no university education, no money, no military rank, no political influence, no social position, no prestige, no impressive appearance or oratory. Yet Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist” (Matt. 11:11). This man fit none of the world’s standards but all of God’s. And what he became was all to the credit of God’s power. Why Because John was A BURNING WITNESS TO THE LIGHT-John 1:6-8-There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came for testimony, to bear witness to the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness to the light. Jesus Said He Was Born to Bear Witness to the Truth “You have sent to John and he has testified to the truth. (John 5:33) Jesus also said “For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.”
Knowledge of Divine truth is the fundamental factor of all meaningful relationships. Truth means is love and justice in action — the action of selflessness, of esteeming others above ourselves. All interpersonal problems could be solved with a faithful, mutual expression of divine love. Imagine what the world would be like if everyone acted in truth and love. No war. No divorce. No evil, No AIDS. No murder. No rape. No tears. No sin. We want to be appreciated, loved, treated with dignity, and esteemed. This, then, is the way we ought to treat others. The double benefit is that when we treat others that way, they begin to treat us the same and our relationships are characterized by God’s truth, divine love, transparency, trustworthiness, respect and faith.
The more you know the truth of God the more powerful you are to change your world. There is no excuse for not being the best you possible. Now is the time to change your life, regain the power you have given away because you are waiting for someone else to fix things for you, and get what you know you deserve. So what are you waiting for? Truth is liberty in many ways. It has the power to eradicate ignorance, sin; poverty, bondage and make individuals become free indeed. Bible is God’s liberating power of Divine Truth. THIS BOOK contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners and the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable. Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe and practice it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you and comfort to cheer you. It is the traveler’s map, the pilgrim’s staff, the pilot’s compass, the soldier’s sword and the Christian’s charter. Here paradise is restored, heaven opened and the gates of hell disclosed. Christ is its grand object; our good is its design and the glory of God its end. It should fill the memory, rule the heart, and guide the feet. Read it slowly, frequently, and prayerfully. It is a mine of wealth, a paradise of glory, and a river of pleasure. It is given you in life, will be opened in the judgment, and will be remembered forever. This why ““Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
God Bless you!!!!!