Alcohol and Drunkenness

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Is drinking alcohol sinful? Should Christians drink alcohol? These questions have been debated and argued for years by Christians and non-Christians alike. Everyone has a different opinion about Christians drinking alcohol. Thankfully God gives us his instruction on drinking alcohol and we should abide by that instruction. Therefore, let’s begin a study on alcohol and drunkenness.

First, let’s begin by clarifying that drunkenness is a sin. Ephesians 5:18 and 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 plainly state that drunkenness is a sin, and those who are drunkards do not inherit the kingdom of heaven. “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). Therefore, drunkenness is a sin and clearly we should not take part in drunkenness.

It may surprise some to find out that God speaks for (or at least not completely against) drinking alcohol. When discussing the rebuilding of His people in Amos 9:14, God says, “they shall plant vineyards and drink their wine”. Psalm 104:14-15 states that wine “gladden the heart of man”. Even the wise Solomon tells us in Ecclesiastes 9:7 to, “Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do.” What do all of these verses have in common? The same Hebrew word for wine. In these passages, the Hebrew word for wine is “yayin”, which is translated as “fermented wine”. In other words, alcoholic wine, not grape juice.

These verses then beg the question, ‘Why would God allow His people to drink alcohol?’. Well, one reason could be for overall health and well-being. Paul makes this clear in 1 Timothy 5:23 which says, “No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.” Why would Paul instruct Timothy to drink wine? Because wine helps with stomach ailments, it can help calm the stomach. Also notice how Paul does not say “No longer drink water, but wine”. He says “No longer drink only water”. Implying that Paul did not want Timothy to become an alcoholic by drinking only wine, but to drink a little to help with physical ailments. So, according to these passages and others, God is not opposed to alcohol, but He is opposed to what it can lead to, which is drunkenness.

God gives us plenty of warning about the use of alcohol. Proverbs 20:1 claims, “Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.” Proverbs 21:17 also warns us, “Whoever loves pleasure will be a poor man; he who loves wine and oil will not be rich.” The pattern between these verses is being overcome by alcohol. In other words, they are a warning not to let alcohol consume or overcome you. We cannot let alcohol consume us just like other sins. But that is the temptation that lies beneath drinking alcohol.

To conclude this study, is drinking alcohol a sin? No. But it can lead to sin which is drunkenness. Alcohol can consume anyone, they become addicted to it, and now it has consumed them, not God. So even though it is not a sin to drink alcohol, we must be careful what our intent is. Because if we have the wrong intent, Satan can and will tempt us and lead us astray.  

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