Saturday, January 9, 2010

2 hot 4 church? - Week 1 - Alcohol

Should Christians drink and if so, how much is permissible? One glass, one beer, two sips?

On what do you base your answers?

What does the Bible say about alcohol, it's uses, and the believer? Did Jesus drink?

This morning we want to tackle this question not by looking at the historical contents of Biblical wine or discussing the culture of the day or by pulling out one verse to either support drinking or to condemn drinking. Instead let's take a systematic approach to this question by looking at many verses throughout the Bible to see what God's word has to say about this hotly debated issue.

First let's understand that when the Bible talks about alcohol it is primarily speaking about wine (just a simple word search on wine in the Bible results in 238 verses [link]) and not fuzzy navels, screw drivers, or those wimpy drinks with fruit and umbrellas in them (proverbs mentions beer). During the time of Jesus distillation had not been invented so there were "hard drinks" to speak of. What we are discussing here is wine with the alcohol content of no more than 11-14% very similar to what is found in stores today.

The first time wine appears in the Bible is in Genesis 9:20-24. God has just destroyed everyone and everything on the planet with the exception of Noah, his family, the animals on board, and the fish that survived in the sea. In chapter 9 Noah plants the first vineyard, makes the first wine, and is the first in history to party like it is 1999 B.C. Sound like a good time? Not so much as we learn that when Noah drank, he passed out naked in his tent and while he was out his son Ham came in and did something not so nice. Strike one against alcohol.

So that's purely an isolated event right? The next "incident" with wine is found in Genesis 19:30-38. Lot and his two daughters are living in a cave "down by the river!" and the daughters have the bright idea to get their dad drunk, to sleep with their dad, with the overall plan to get pregnant by their dad. I am sure at the time it all looked great on paper but not for me. You drink, get drunk, sleep with your daughters and now your grandson is also your son. Strike two against alcohol.

Again these are just two instances out of hundreds where wine is mentioned in the Bible.

Some verses talk about what a blessing wine is - Proverbs 3:9-10

Isaac prayed that God would bless with wine - Genesis 27:28

1 Timothy 5:23 Paul commands Timothy to drink wine for medicinal purposes.

And wine is used as a "drink offering" as part of the worship of God - Genesis 35:15, Exodus 29:40, Leviticus 23:13, Numbers 4:7, and so on.

Yet in other places the Bible warns us to abstain, stay away, or avoid wine, strong drink, alcohol.

Leviticus 10:9 warns the priest of God to not drink when going before God or they will die.

Psalm 75:8 says that wine is used by God to be poured out on all the wicked of the earth.

Proverbs 20:1 says that anyone led astray by alcohol is unwise, proverbs 21:17 says that anyone who loves wine will be broke and proverbs 23:29-35 is a very strong warning to not drink.

So what did Jesus think about wine and drinking wine?

First Jesus turned water into wine John 2:1-3. Jesus drank wine and was often accused of being a drunkard and a glutton, Matthew 11:19 and Luke 7:34. Jesus stated that it isn't what we eat or drink that makes us clean or unclean, Matthew 15:11, but what comes out of our mouths.

And in Matthew 26:27-29 Jesus states that He will not drink wine again until He drinks it with us in His Father's kingdom.

Jesus made wine, Jesus drank wine, and Jesus is abstaining from wine until He can drink it with us in the new Kingdom.

Confused yet? Good!

So what is it? Can we drink or can't we? Is it sinful to drink or isn't it?

Is drinking a sin? Yes....

If you:

1. Are under 21 - 1 Peter 2:13-14 says to submit to government and it's laws.
2. If your pastor asks you not to drink and you do -
3. If you cause others to sin - Romans 14:20-21
4. If you do so in an uncontrolled manner - The Bible commands us to be sober so that our
thoughts and our prayers are not hindered - Romans 12:3, 2 Timothy 4:5, 1 Peter 1:13, 1
Peter 4:7, 1 Peter 5:8
5. If you do so and become drunk - The Bible has very harsh words for getting drunk and for
drunkards - 1 Corinthians 6:10 says that drunkards won't inherit God's kingdom. Ephesians
5:18 says "do not get drunk on wine" an proverbs 23:29-35
6. If you drink to relax, have peace, escape because in doing so you are setting up alcohol as a
functioning savior, replacing Jesus. Alcohol to you is a god, and idol. Exodus 20:3 commands
us to have no other Gods and Exodus 20:44-5 says we aren't to worship anything else other
than God.
7. If you drink and are convicted of it. Romans 14:22-23

I personally like dark beer but have made the decision to not drink based on the following reasons:

1. I am cheap - $12.00 for a glass of beer? Are you kidding me?
2. Noah - I am not down for the tent party.
3. Abraham - It's not going down like that with me.
4. I am incapable of drinking to the glory of God. - 1 Corinthians 10:31
5. I love my pastor. Brother Holie has been called to lead us by God. He is assigned to be over
us, we are assigned to be lead by him. The Bible says that one day he will give an account for
us. In joining the church I agreed to be under his spiritual authority and the Bible commands
me to submit to spiritual authority.
6. I have promised not to as a leader and as a Seminary student.
7. I have my wife and three beautiful children to think about.
8. I love you and I don't want to be a stumbling block to anyone.

The real question isn't can we drink? Sinful people are always by nature looking for a loophole...the question is for you to ask.....Can I drink? And if you drink...why do you drink?

Each of us saved by Jesus are now adopted into the family of God, we are now citizens of the Kingdom of God, and God has offered us a new way to live.

Romans 14:20-23 says that as children of God, as brothers and sisters of each other and Christ we each need to make the decision today to not hinder anyone (Romans 14:13). Wine or food in and of itself is not unclean - it is not what we eat or drink that saves us as there is nothing we can do to earn our salvation. Salvation comes by faith in Jesus, believing that He is God, that He died on the cross in our place for our sins and confessing Him as Lord with our mouths. Yet wine is unclean to those who believe that it is (Romans 14:14).

Therefore each of us are commanded not to grieve our brothers in Christ, not to destroy them (Romans 14:15.) This means that if you are convinced that drinking is OK that you still, willfully abstain so as not to destroy your brother who struggles with this hot issue.

Romans 14:17 "For the kingdom of God is not a matter of easting and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit."

There are primary issues that you and I will never budge on, will fight to the death over like Jesus as the only way to heaven, the Bible as God's word, the virgin birth, etc. Then there are secondary issues, matters of opinion that we may disagree over but with not break fellowship over.

You and I must not destroy the work that God is doing in our church, in our families, in our friendships, in our circles of influence over a Bud Light! Romans 14:20.

It is very wrong to make others stumble, Romans 14:20 and it is good for us to abstain for the benefit of others Romans 14:21. If you and I are going to serve Jesus it will always cost us something...time, money, comfort, a beer. Jesus said He would not drink until we are all together in His Father's kingdom....if He is waiting why can't we?

The gospel isn't about us seeing how close we can get to sin without crossing the line. The gospel is an invitation to a new way of life with Jesus. A life of love for each other where we are now citizens of God's kingdom where God has placed His Holy Spirit inside of us which is way more powerful than granddad's hooch.

Our command is to be filled with the Holy Spirit, Ephesians 5:18.

The real question isn't can Christians is in light of God's word and His Holy Spirit can I drink?

Romans 14:14 - I personally am persuaded, like Paul, that nothing in and of itself is unclean but because I love Jesus, and I love you I have made the decision that I will not do anything to destroy God's work!

Will you make that decision today?

Additional resources:

1. - free online resource for anyone struggling with alcohol, food, sex or tobacco addictions.

2. Got questions about today's lesson? Text them to 99503 - be sure to put 96840 in the body of the text.

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