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Sunday, May 29, 2016 am                                                Others 2016 Index

 

OTHERS 19
Sins of Society – 3
The Christian and Social Drinking

 

In our continued study of the interaction of Christians to others, we are in the midst of examining a few societal behaviors that we ought to avoid as Christians.  These are behaviors that society believes to be acceptable, but from the standpoint of a Christian, it doesn’t make it so.  These are behaviors that come will all sorts of problems that society has to deal with. 

Today we want to address the question of the Christian and alcohol.  We know that the Bible strictly condemns drunkenness.  But should a Christian drink socially?  Should Christians be drinking at all?   In this lesson I want to present some Biblical principles to consider which will show this is conduct we ought NOT to participate in. 

The consumption of alcohol is big business.  According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/alcohol-facts-and-statistics), in 2014, 24.7% of adults reported having engaged in binge drinking in the past month.   Nearly 7% had an Alcohol Use Disorder (16.3 million adults).  Many other statistics including underage drinking can be found at this link. 

Last year (2015), the Washington Post reported that 33 million adults have alcohol problems (that is roughly 1 in 10).  https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/33-million-americans-are-problem-drinkers-or-14-percent-of-us-adults/2015/06/08/b75c4854-0af4-11e5-95fd-d580f1c5d44e_story.html

From these statistics and other sources, we see the problem of alcohol is very real in our society.  Like gambling, there are many problems with it – health problems, domestic violence, financial problems, societal troubles (in 2014, alcohol misuse cost $249 Billion in the U.S.), even killing people (drunk driving, etc. - Nearly 88,000 people die each year from alcohol related causes.), criminal activities, etc. 

And like gambling, the industry does NOT get a pass as to their culpability.   It thrives because of the social, casual and the problem drinker.   Yet if you were to ask them, you would think all is well and wonderful.  Commercials talk about how wonderful life is with their beer or wine.  You never see the bad side of drinking – abused wives, car wrecks, ruined teenagers, etc.   

So what does the Bible have to say about the Christian and drinking?  As with so many topics, the Bible doesn’t say, “Don’t take a single drink”, but there are principles for us to consider.   In this lesson we shall appeal to wisdom – GOD’S wisdom as we determine if we should drink at all.  Proverbs 1:1-7There is not a passage of scripture that clearly approves of it, especially in our modern culture.  But there are plenty of passages that warn against its use as we shall see.

 I.                     Drunkenness – clearly condemned

a.       Ephesians 5:18 – do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation.

b.       Galatians 5:19-21 – it is a work of the flesh. 

c.        Romans 13:11-14 – we are to walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness…

d.       Proverbs 20:1 – wine is a mocker.  Whoever is led astray by it is not wise.

e.       Also 1 Peter 4:1-3 – we have spent enough time…in which you once walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, …  Here we merely notice we should not be caught in drunkenness.   More on this text later. 

f.         Question:  At what point does one become drunk?  Is there really such a thing as “a little drunk”?    At what point is your sobriety affected? 
Drunkenness is a process, not just a state one is in.  It happens gradually, and for some with very little alcohol (there are many factors).  Also, consider that one cannot determine that level UNLESS he crosses the line.  And often, because alcohol DOES dull the senses, the one getting drunk doesn’t admit it until it is too late. 
For the one defending drinking “responsibly” and controlling it: Why are you drinking?  Is it to relax a little?  Is it to “take off the edge”?  If so, are you not admitting that even a little alcohol has an effect on your body?
Sometimes drugs cause drowsiness (and alcohol can be a drug, in fact, it is classified as such).   They are prescribed realizing this is so. When sick, you take something to help you sleep to get better – you are dulling the senses. 

 II.                   Problems with alcohol –principles to consider

a.       We are to be sober – Romans 12:3 – think soberly!  Titus 2:11-12 – we live soberly and righteously.   As Christians, we should not deliberately engage in activities that diminish our sobriety. 
1 Thessalonians 5:6 calls for us to watch AND be sober.  Watch implies the idea of being alert.  Both alertness and soberness are affected by drinking, even in small quantities.

b.       Alcohol causes many problems - the Bible deals with this.  Prov. 23:29-35 describes what wine can do to someone.    This text says so much about the dangers of alcohol.
Three is a reason it is associated with the works of the flesh, Galatians 5:21. 

c.        It can be addictive – See Proverbs 23:35 from above!
We addressed this last week with gambling - 1 Cor. 6:12 – do not be brought under the power of anything!  Studies have shown there is a danger with one that takes the first drink becoming compulsive (1 in 10).

d.       It can affect our influence on others -
As Christians, we are to glorify God and Jesus.  1 Corinthians 10:31, all that we do is to be to the glory of God. 1 Peter 4:11 – work with our ability that in all things God may be glorified.    The way we glorify God is in the choices we make and the example we set for others.   Is consuming alcohol bringing glory to God and Jesus in any way?  PLEASE Be honest!
Is it helping your influence for good?  Someone said, “Our light does not shine well through the bottom of a bottle!”
Furthermore, will we by our influence partake in the stumbling of others?  Can it lead struggling brethren to stumble? 1 Corinthians 8:9-13, Romans 14:20-21.
And considering the struggles of those in the world, is our influence on them leading them further away from God?

e.       We are to be different!  Do not be conformed to this world, be transformed – Romans 12:1-2, a recurring theme in scripture is how we are to be different.  If we used to drink and do such things, we have changed. 
Notice again, 1 Peter 4:4 after dealing with drinking in various forms (we will address this in a few minutes).  The world will see you differently now. 

f.         Does it pass the “good” test?  1 Thessalonians 5:21-22, “Test all things, hold fast to what is good.  Abstain from every form of evil.  Where in this would you put drinking, even socially?
Would you place that single drink as closer to the works of the flesh or the fruit of the Sprit?  (Galatians 5:19-23)
Thought:  For those seeking to justify social drinking – will you ever hear them turn to 1 Peter 1:15, “be holy for I am holy” and use that to justify their drinking? 
OR Matthew 5:13-16 – we are salt and light – I drink so that I can let my light shine for Jesus. 

 III.                 What about “social drinking”

a.       Some might argue that while drunkenness is wrong, an occasional drink or social drinking is fine.
 This is where the challenge lies.  As we noted earlier, there is no passage in the Bible that says “you shall not drink alcohol in your home at night” or “Don’t drink champagne at a wedding.”
But what about the principles we have addressed thus far?  They do not just relate to drunkenness. 

b.       1 Peter 4:1-3 – “drinking parties” is typically viewed as social drinking.  KJV, “Banqueting”.   While some define this as a party where unrestrained indulgence of alcohol takes place (but isn’t that what “revelries” is about?), others see it as, “a social gathering at which wine was served, drinking party” (πότος, BDAG). 

c.        What does wisdom say?  Consider all the principles we have discussed.  Is drinking, even a little, a wise and virtuous decision? 
Will it affect my alertness and soberness at all?  Will I be contributing to an industry that does great damage to society?  Will my drinking, even a little, affect my influence on others?  Am I in danger of being addicted to it? (If you drink, to answer this question – quit and see how much you struggle.)  Friends, be wise!!!!!

d.       Again, it is questionable behavior – at best, there is doubt about this subject!  Romans 14:22-23

 IV.                 Arguments

a.       The Bible is filled with warnings of the dangers of drinking and what it leads to, especially excess. 

b.       The Bible addresses the subject of wine in both the Old and New Testaments.  In some cases, it seems that it is acceptable behavior.  But one thing we must realize is that the culture back then was different than today.  We emphasize context in our studies.  A part of context is understanding the culture which helps us determine how to apply certain passages. 
Drinking back then was NOT the industry we see today.  1) Their choices of beverage were limited.  2) The alcohol content was not as it is today (natural and even enhanced fermentation could yield small percentages.  3) The quality of water was bad in many places and required treatment (we treat our water today).  The wine would help purify it, but at the same time it diluted the alcohol content to near zero.  4) To our knowledge, it was not marketed as a recreational drug as it is today.  It was not the highly lucrative industry we see promoting social gatherings.  In fact, any passage dealing with social gatherings speaks NEGATIVELY of its consumption.  These are just some of the differences.
Also, the Greek word for wine (οἶνος, oinos), while often had reference to the fermented product of the grape, could describe the grape in its various states including unfermented (cf. Isaiah 16:10 LXX, Matthew 9:17, etc.).  There are other words in both Hebrew and Greek. 

c.        Jesus and wine – Jesus was described as a winebibber (and John because he didn’t eat or drink had a demon) – Matthew 11:19.
In John 2:1-10, at a wedding feast, Jesus made wine.  In fact, it was His first miracle (vs. 11).  It is argued that Jesus made and drank wine and thus it must be acceptable.

                                                   i.      That Jesus drank something and made “wine” of some sort on that occasion cannot be denied.  

                                                 ii.      HOWEVER, I struggle with the concept that Jesus as a bartender or creating something that would cause drunkenness, even on a festive occasion as a wedding.     The text says the people had already “well drunk” (vs. 10, 3).

                                                iii.      As to Matthew 11:19 – look at the context – they are exaggerations of extremes intended to accuse Jesus.  They were false charges – both against John AND Jesus

                                                iv.      Also, as noted, an understanding of wine back then should be considered.    Oinos – a word that can mean any product of the grape.  It does NOT have to be fermented! 

d.       Timothy was told to drink a little wine for his stomach’s sake – Based upon 1 Timothy 5:23.  Is that the same social drinking, or even the occasional beer?  You know better!!!  Notice: 1) It was medicinal; 2) It was a “little” wine;
3) Timothy had to be told to do it.  In other words, he abstained until told he needed medicine!

e.       Note: There are a couple of other passages along with these, (qualifications of elders and deacons, etc.), but these too cannot be conclusively used to justify the consumption of alcohol today. 

 

And thus we can see that drinking alcoholic beverages is something that ought to be avoided by Christians today.  Today there are other options and choices.  There is NOTHING good provided by alcohol that cannot be achieved without it.  It is simply not needed and unwise! 

This lesson could also apply to the use of drugs.  We have societies that are legalizing marijuana now.   How long before other recreational drugs are legalized?  I do not want to support this industry at all!

May we resolve to surrender to God in every aspect of our lives, realizing that others are watching!  Is temporal pleasures worth risking the souls of your brethren, your sphere of influence and perhaps even your own soul? Think about it!