Another question out of the Wagner email bag…what should I tell newer believers about drinking alcohol? See below for a great question and my response to it. Be encouraged as you read through/process the Scripture and feel free to jump into the conversation!
From: Xxxx Xxxxxx
Sent: Thursday, September 22, 2011 12:55 PM
Subject: What is a good answer to give baby christians regarding drinking?
I have been asked by several baby christians regarding drinking and since I didn’t have a good biblical answer, I then informed them that I would get back with them once I received an answer from the pastoral office. I was given the following answer from one of your members (copied just below) and wanted to get your opinion to see if this is ok for me to give to my baby christian friends.
I will appreciate your response.
RESPONSE FROM CHURCH MEMBER:
Please see the below portion of a commentary that we would be in agreement with from www.gotquestions.org It does a good job of articulating the biblical view on Christians and their use of alcohol and the many scriptures that speak on the subject: http://www.gotquestions.org/sin-alcohol.html
Scripture has much to say regarding the drinking of alcohol (Leviticus 10:9; Numbers 6:3; Deuteronomy 29:6; Judges 13:4, 7, 14; Proverbs 20:1; 31:4; Isaiah 5:11, 22; 24:9; 28:7; 29:9; 56:12). However, Scripture does not necessarily forbid a Christian from drinking beer, wine, or any other drink containing alcohol. In fact, some Scriptures discuss alcohol in positive terms. Ecclesiastes 9:7 instructs, “Drink your wine with a merry heart.” Psalm 104:14-15 states that God gives wine “that makes glad the heart of men.” Amos 9:14 discusses drinking wine from your own vineyard as a sign of God’s blessing. Isaiah 55:1 encourages, “Yes, come buy wine and milk…”
What God commands Christians regarding alcohol is to avoid drunkenness (Ephesians 5:18). The Bible condemns drunkenness and its effects (Proverbs 23:29-35). Christians are also commanded to not allow their bodies to be “mastered” by anything (1 Corinthians 6:12; 2 Peter 2:19). Drinking alcohol in excess is undeniably addictive. Scripture also forbids a Christian from doing anything that might offend other Christians or encourage them to sin against their conscience (1 Corinthians 8:9-13). In light of these principles, it would be extremely difficult for any Christian to say he is drinking alcohol in excess to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).
Jesus changed water into wine. It even seems that Jesus drank wine on occasion (John 2:1-11; Matthew 26:29). In New Testament times, the water was not very clean. Without modern sanitation, the water was often filled with bacteria, viruses, and all kinds of contaminants. The same is true in many third-world countries today. As a result, people often drank wine (or grape juice) because it was far less likely to be contaminated. In 1 Timothy 5:23, Paul was instructing Timothy to stop drinking the water (which was probably causing his stomach problems) and instead drink wine. In that day, wine was fermented (containing alcohol), but not necessarily to the degree it is today. It is incorrect to say that it was grape juice, but it is also incorrect to say that it was the same thing as the wine commonly used today. Again, Scripture does not forbid Christians from drinking beer, wine, or any other drink containing alcohol. Alcohol is not, in and of itself, tainted by sin. It is drunkenness and addiction to alcohol that a Christian must absolutely refrain from (Ephesians 5:18; 1 Corinthians 6:12).
Sent: Thursday, September 22, 2011 7:55 PM
To: Xxxx Xxxxxx
Cc: John Cox; Jonathan Pokluda
Subject: RE: What is a good answer to give baby christians regarding drinking?
Glad you want to make sure you communicate God’s heart on this topic accurately. GotQuestions.org is a website we refer to and trust….and I think their response is excellent. In addition to the Scripture referenced in their response, I would encourage you to read through Romans 14 and see how that passage stirs your heart. Talk through this with your community group and sharpen each other by searching God’s word together. I typically find that I learn/grow the fastest when I study Scripture with others who know me well.
We don’t have a standard “Watermark policy” on alcohol other than to be aware of the Scriptures teachings and exhortations highlighted in the questions below and in the Got Questions piece. Remember, to compromise (dissipate) your mind with any substance is not God’s best for us (Ephesians 5:18) and therefore prohibited by Scripture…that much is clear.
Here are a few questions I would encourage you to use as you share with anyone who asks you about drinking or anytime you are discerning how to honor the King in any activity that the Bible doesn’t explicitly forbid.
- Am I/Will I be mastered by this activity. Specifically, is this now, or could this become, a coping strategy or idol or addiction that takes the place of God in my life? (1 Corinthians 6:12)
- Is it profitable/beneficial (1 Corinthians 6:12)?
- Will it cause the/my ministry to be discredited in any way? (2 Corinthians 6:1-3)
- Could it cause other believers to stumble/be confused if they saw me engaging in this activity (1 Corinthians 8:9-13)?
- Does it help me to make disciples/advance the Gospel (Matthew 28:19-20)?
- Am I living under a yoke of legalism that doesn’t honor the Gospel? Am I limiting my freedom in Christ for any reason other than my love for Him or my concern for others (Galatians 5:1)?
- Will participation in this action violate the encouragements found in Ephesians 5:3, Psalm 101, Philippians 4:8, 1 Peter 2:12, 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22, or Romans 14:13-23?
- Does it glorify God (1 Corinthians 10:31)?
Hope that helps …may we all be continually yielded to the Spirit as we honor our Lord as His servants and image bearers.
Todd Wagner | firstname.lastname@example.org