Recently we discussed a topic on “Frances and Friends” that I believe bears repeating – it is the subject of alcohol. I opened our show by reading an email which stated:
“On your program, you got on the subject of alcohol again, and I wonder why this is such a big issue to you. I’ve never drank and I have no desire to, but almost every Christian has an occasional glass of wine. My husband was told by his doctor to have a glass of wine each night to help his heart. The Bible doesn’t discourage drinking in moderation, so why do you keep harping on it? Even the extremely conservative Protestant Reformation churches here call wine, ‘a gift from God.’ I don’t drink, so I’m not trying to justify it. I just think it’s quite legalistic to condemn something that the Bible doesn’t condemn. Drunkenness is another matter though entirely.”
While that email went on to address other topics, I want to deal with these comments made about alcohol because they come up again and again from our audience. One point the email addressed concerns Christians and social drinking. Just what is the harm in a Christian drinking one glass of wine on a holiday or special occasion? I liked how our panelist, Associate Pastor, Jim Nations, responded to this issue. As one of our Associate Pastors here at the Ministry, Jim does quite a bit of counseling on this topic, and he was quick to mention Proverbs 20:1, which reads: “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise. (The Holy Spirit here says that ‘wine mocks,’ and it causes a ‘raging’ in the hearts and lives of all who imbibe. As well, it is a great ‘deceiver.’ This means that every Believer ought to be a teetotaler.)” Think about what the Holy Spirit is saying to us in this Verse of Scripture. As Christians, we should not be deceived by the mockery of alcohol because its use causes so much hurt and pain to people. As Jim went on to say, “No one starts out as a drunk, they start out with a drink.”
That’s why we will continue to address the problem of alcohol, even when others perceive our stand against it as judgmental. I think what we’re doing, instead of being judgmental, is that we’re looking at the facts. It’s well-known that drunk driving has killed maybe more people than anything else. In 2010, more than 10,000 people died in alcohol-impaired driving crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That’s one death every 51 minutes. Just recently, I read stories of two lovely Christian families that had their lives literally shattered because of drunk drivers who either killed or maimed members of their families, affecting these precious people for the rest of their lives. Tragedies like these started with one drink or one glass of wine. I’m sure it makes little difference to families who have suffered such painful losses to know that the person who killed their loved one was a social drinker or a hard-core drunkard. Too many of us hear these numbers and shrug our shoulders, but we are talking about death – death! And many of the people who died in alcohol related car crashes did not know Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour. How can a Christian condone anything that causes souls to be lost to an eternal Hell?
According to Scripture, Believers have a responsibility. We are not to cause others to stumble. We ARE our brother’s keeper. So, even if you can have one drink and stop, you don’t know who will NOT be able to stop. You don’t know who will become the next alcoholic or drunk driver, so your social/moderate drinking is actually quite unloving. You do NOT love your brother, “And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones who believe in Me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea” (Mk. 9:42). The email also stated, “The Bible doesn’t discourage drinking in moderation . . .” but, I beg to differ. The Bible certainly doesn’t encourage moderate drinking! In fact, there are many warnings in Scripture regarding alcohol. One Verse says not to even LOOK at wine. In other words, don’t even consider it! “Who has woe? who has sorrow? who has contentions? who has babbling? who has wounds without cause? who has redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they who go to seek mixed wine. Look not you upon the wine when it is red, when it gives his colour in the cup, when it moves itself aright. At the last it bites like a serpent, and stings like an adder. Your eyes shall behold strange women, and your heart shall utter perverse things” (Prov. 23:29-33).
Alcohol is like any other sin; it gets a hold on you. First, you take one drink; then, two makes you feel better, and then three makes you feel even more carefree. Before you know it, you’re keeping a bottle hidden in your desk, at home, or purchasing it on airplanes when you fly. Once addicted to alcohol, you find ways to get it. Alcohol is a serious, serious problem and addiction. We have people out there who are struggling within an inch of taking their own life because of this sin that so many others are trying to justify. Sadly, we have “pastors” preaching in churches that social drinking is acceptable. The seriousness of alcohol use becomes very clear when you get an e-mail from a self-described alcoholic ready to take his own life because he couldn’t stop drinking. I received an e-mail exactly like that during the program on this topic. He wrote, “Please help me.” I am so thankful that we were able to pray with that man and give him the hope of the Gospel. What I told him applies to anyone struggling to break free from alcohol and that is this: the Lord Jesus Christ is standing there with an outstretched Hand, and He is desiring to break every bondage and save your soul from an eternal Hell and give you life, and life more abundantly. Jesus Christ can and will set you free. You see, alcoholism is only a symptom; sin is the root of the problem. So while this Ministry may be viewed as judgmental because we preach a message of consecration, we will continue to do so because the only answer to the sin of alcoholism is found in the Cross of Jesus Christ.
I have never taken a drink of wine or any alcohol, so I can’t speak of its so-called benefits. But, all of us have seen or read in the news about alcohol’s effect on other people, how it makes them act and what it can make them do. For some, their personality completely changes when they get a little drink under their belt, so to speak. People who drink lose their dignity and start acting foolish and silly. Others turn mean and violent, capable of doing untold harm to their families or themselves. Police reports show that alcohol use is a direct contributor to reported cases of domestic violence and child abuse. So I fail to see why people, especially Christians, would want to defend the use of alcohol in any amount. Yet, there are plenty of doctors and even preachers who defend the use of alcohol, saying there is nothing wrong with drinking in moderation. We have pastors preaching today that social drinking is acceptable and, sadly, some drink themselves. Remember . . . so goes the church, so goes the nation. Actually, the main health benefit, the “resveratrol,” is really found in the grape, not the alcohol itself. If you want the benefit of the grape, drink grape juice or eat grapes. It’s simply an excuse for sin to try to say you are drinking alcohol for health reasons. Any “benefit” can easily be found from other sources. In fact, there are actually many health risks to drinking alcohol. Why do you think they ask you if you drink alcohol when you apply for health insurance? Because there is actually GREATER RISK for adverse affects to your health than there are benefits.
As Brother Carl Brown pointed out on the “Frances and Friends” program, “Christians who don’t really want to consecrate to the Lord are the ones who take up issues such as social drinking,” and he is absolutely correct. Quite simply put, drinking alcohol appeals to the flesh, not to the Spirit. The Holy Spirit will never lead one to drink alcohol. Churches defending alcohol use may as well have a big red neon sign blinking for everybody to see that says, “We’ve lost the Power of God, and we’re having to imitate.” In other words, “We’ve got to put something in to take the place of the Moving and Operation of the Holy Spirit.” Ladies and gentlemen, be assured that there is absolutely nothing else that compares to the Anointing and the Power of the Holy Spirit in our personal lives and in the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. “For these are NOT drunken, as you suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. But this is that which was spoken by the Prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh . . .” (Acts 2:15-17). As Believers, the Lord gives us the Power to live a consecrated life and He reminds us, in I Corinthians 6:19, that our “body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit.”
Something in man always thinks he can control sin. Something in him says, “Oh, I can handle this; I can stop at one drink,” but, when you play around with sin, you are actually dealing with the spiritual realm. And, believe me, no mortal man is stronger than the spiritual powers of darkness. You are playing with fire. This is what you call deception! It’s deception to think you can drink moderately and it has no effect on you. You are deceived. What if a problem arises in your life? You may turn to the alcohol when you never thought you would have before. You are tempting yourself and God to try to drink moderately. “. . . You shall not tempt the Lord your God” (Mat. 4:7). Even if you do not become an alcoholic, drinking alcohol can affect you spiritually in other ways. It is more than a coincidence that alcohol is referred to as “spirits.” Alcohol, like any other drug, actually opens your mind to the spirit world. Satan has more leeway to plant suggestions in your mind that are anti-Biblical when you use drugs. It’s a well-known fact that other religions purposely use drugs in order to get in touch with their “gods” or spirits, which we as Believers know are nothing more than demon spirits. People often hallucinate after drinking, particularly after a tragic event or a stressful time in their life. These hallucinations are demonic in nature. They often appear as “familiar spirits.” The Bible says that the last days would be marked by “pharmakeia,” – sorcery, drugs! “. . . For by your sorceries were all nations deceived” (Rev. 18:23).
So, maybe you will not become the next alcoholic, but you may engage in some other sin. Many end up in fornication or homosexuality because they have opened themselves up to spirits of lust through alcohol and drug use. Many become angry and even commit murder under the influence of drugs. Many begin to believe false doctrine and fall away from Truth in some way. You may leave the Message of the Cross. You see, if you give your mind over to Satan often enough, if you yield your mind to spirits rather than the Holy Spirit often enough, you will have no control over what lies you start to believe. “BE SOBER, be vigilant; because your adversary the Devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour” (I Pet. 5:8). When people are given over to false doctrine, it’s actually a sign of God’s Judgment. I don’t find it a coincidence that both false doctrine and the acceptance of alcohol are on the rise in our churches. The two go hand in hand.
Really any Believer should be convicted of drinking alcohol, but many have pushed away the conviction and chosen not to obey. The Holy Spirit will never lead you astray, but He does not force us to obey Him either. If we push Him away, He will not override our will or force us to repent. “Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts” (Rev 9:21). This is why it’s so important for Believers to develop a close personal relationship with the Lord and be Spirit-led. He will show you right from wrong, but you must draw near to Him. The more you allow Him to be Lord of your life, the more that answers to moral questions such as these become very simple. It’s our own “thinkings” and intellect that get in the way. It’s our intellect that devises excuses or tries to justify our sins. Look to the Lord for your answers.