Have a Drink, Brother
- Drinking and drunkenness were grievous sins in the Old Testament.
- “This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious ... he is a glutton and a drunkard” (Deuteronomy 21:21).
- Wrong because of what it does to the individual, to others, and to society (Proverbs 20:1; 23:31).
- See also Proverbs 23:33–35; Joel 3:3; Habakkuk 2:15.
- The word of God is our Standard.
- Some things are wrong inherently—within themselves.
- Sexual immorality
- Some things are wrong because of the detrimental influence they have upon others.
- Name of God is blasphemed (Romans 2:24).
- A good report from outsiders (I Timothy 3:7).
- Good works are seen (Matthew 5:16).
- Weak Christians destroyed (Romans 14:1; I Corinthians 8).
- Some things are wrong because of their appearance.
- Some things do not look right (I Thessalonians 5:22).
- Lot pitched his tent toward Sodom (Genesis 13).
- To drink Coca Cola out of a whiskey bottle appears to be wrong.
- Some things are wrong because of the danger of what they will lead to.
- A Christian widow marrying a non–Christian (I Corinthians 7:39).
- One never intends to become a drunkard, when first taking of any of these things because he does not know how they will eventually end.
- Some things are wrong because of the intensity with which we treat them.
- The home (Matthew 10:37).
- Money (Matthew 6:19).
- Take a closer look at drinking.
- Excuses and justification of self.
- The principle of love for the weak and untaught.
- Our lives must be controlled and we must partake of what is good moderately, and abstain from what is evil altogether.
- The dangers of it and what it leads to are to be carefully considered.
- Remember not only the devastation, but the influence upon others.
- With the Bible as our guide, always follows this simple principle: do right.
HAVE A DRINK, BROTHER
Drinking and drunkenness were grievous, disastrous sins in the Old Testament.
“ ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ Then all the men of his city shall stone him to death with stones: so you shall put away the evil person from among you” (Deuteronomy 21:20–21).
There is no doubt that the mishandling and misuse of it are what produce the detrimental and destructive character of drink. The passage suggests a lack of self–control in eating and drinking, for the words are “glutton and drunkard.”
“Wine is a mocker, intoxicating drink arouses brawling, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise” (Proverbs 20:1).
“Do not look on the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it swirls around smoothly; at the last it bites like a serpent, and stings like a viper” (Proverbs 23:31).
Some of the effects of it are seen in such passages as these: “Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart will utter perverse things. Yes, you will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea ... They have struck me, but I was not hurt; they have beaten me, but I did not feel it. When shall I awake, that I may seek another drink” (Proverbs 23:33–35)?
“They have cast lots for My people, have given a boy in exchange for a harlot, and sold a girl for wine, that they may drink” (Joel 3:3). Almost every sin in the catalogue of crime is perpetrated by the alcoholic out of consideration of drink. What a sad picture that a young man is given over to immoral purposes just to satisfy a drunkard's appetite for a drink. And a young girl is sold into prostitution, or maybe even slavery, to satiate for a moment that uncontrolled demand for alcohol.
“Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbor, pressing him to your bottle [adds your venom thereto], even to make him drunk” (Habakkuk 2:15). These are some of the detrimental and destructive results of strong drink.
The Word of God is Our Standard
There is only one way to determine right and wrong—an appeal to the word of God as our standard. Some things are wrong, or evil, within themselves; inherently. By that I mean they are erroneous, false, and bad within the essential character of it. It is wrong to murder someone. Life is sacred. God is the Author and Giver of it. It is criminal to take away the life of another person; it is a violation of the law of man; and it is the transgression of the law of God. To do this puts one in defiance of the divine standard.
Things Inherently Wrong
It is wrong to steal. God has always forbidden this because property rights are sacred. By sacred I do not mean something that has been dedicated to deity, or given for some religious purpose; but I do mean that it is a God–given right, bestowed upon the individual, and He intends that it be secured against violation or infringement. It is intrinsically wrong and sinful to take that which belongs to another person. That is, God has made resident the inalienable right to work for and own property, and He has forbidden anyone to infringe that right of another and thus contravene His will. There are those who live, however, to plunder.
I was told after someone broke into my house and robbed me of possessions accumulated over a period of forty years that 90 percent of those who “break through and steal” are never detected. Misgotten gain in this country amounts to billions of dollars each year. Locks and other security devises are small deterrents to the professional thief who lives by pillaging, looting, and plundering. What makes this case even sadder is that what they get from the sale of the stolen goods most likely goes for the purchase of drugs.
It is wrong to lie because truth is sacred and God forbade it. It damages the other person and destroys the moral fiber of one's own character. Read carefully the chapter on lying in this book.
Such sexual sins as homosexuality are condemned because they are wrong within themselves. God censures the sin of homosexuality and denounces the one who is guilty of practicing it. His disclaimer is considerably stronger than
that—God damns the one who continues in the practice of this sin! Listen to what Paul said to the Corinthian church: “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, not idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites ... will inherit the kingdom of God” (I Corinthians 6:9–10).
In writing to the Roman Christians, he said, “For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due ... God gave them over to a debased mind” (Romans 1:26–28).
We have multitudes of people among us today who want to dignify these sins claiming this is the way God made us. “It is just a different life style,” they tell us. They have desecrated the beautiful word gay and prostituted other language in our mother tongue, as well as the Bible. They are blind to what God has said on the subject, or they are so hardened by sin to be indifferent and impervious to it. Paul, by inspiration, calls it: (1) sexual immorality, (2) shameful lusts, (3) unnatural relations, (4) indecent acts, (5) inflamed lust, (6) perversion, and (7) a depraved mind. How do you rationalize such behavior and vindicate people guilty of such scandalous and despicable wickedness? They call for legislation that will legitimatize it and even raise it to be on par with the God–established standards of His holy word.
You might expect this of sinners out in the world who are ignorant of what the Bible teaches and who have low morals with which they begin their arguments, but what about priests and preachers who advocate and practice this kind of living? They build up congregations of such people, and justify or at least make an effort to extenuate themselves by claiming it is just another approach to living. “Our moral attitudes, preferred entertainment, and modern fashions are dissimilar to yours,” they assert, “but these points of difference do not make our way of life and our deportment among our fellow men either inferior to yours, morally wrong
or injurious to ourselves or others.” How one reaches that degree of depravity in his reasoning, if it may be called reasoning, is not quite explicable in the light of either logic or Bible principle. Some things are wrong and God forbids them.
Wrong Because of Influence
Your influence upon weak Christians or upon those who are not Christians may determine whether you should engage in certain activities. Inspired men in their writings speak often of our conducting ourselves so that the name of God will not be blasphemed. Speaking in this context, Paul remarked to the Romans: “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you” (Romans 2:24). When the apostle laid down qualifications for those who lead God's people in the local congregations, he stipulated, “Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside” (I Timothy 3:7). Jesus told us to so walk and conduct ourselves “... before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
Must Act in Love
In making application of this principle, Paul instructed the Christians in the church at Rome, “Yet if your brother is grieved because of your food, you are no longer walking in love. Do not destroy with your food the one for whom Christ died. Therefore, do not let your good be spoken of as evil; for the kingdom of God is not food and drink, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men.
“Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are pure, but it is evil for the man who eats with offense. It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak” (Romans 14:15–21).
Still discussing this posture of the Christian before others, Paul writes to the Corinthian Christians, “But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are
weak. For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol's temple, will not the conscience of him who is weak be emboldened to eat those things offered to idols? And because of your knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? But when you thus sin against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble” (I Corinthians 8:9–13).
May I depart for a little while from the points I am trying to make in this lesson to state my position which, I believe, is the Bible position about wine and Christians partaking of it. I would like to quote from a book in which I had a part in writing in South Africa: “The Greek word is oinos and it just means wine. It is the kind of wine that would make one drunk if he drank too much of it. Paul instructed Timothy to ‘drink a little wine,’ oinos, for his stomach's sake (I Timothy 5:23). Jesus never taught that wine was wrong within itself, but the misuse of it is sinful. The moderate use of wine by a Christian may be inexpedient, or even forbidden, if his influence is thereby harmful.”
Jesus Made Wine
Later on, in 1953, when someone who received our writings in India questioned me about Christ making wine (he called it inebriating wine), and stated that he was greatly shocked, I stated in part: “The moderate drinking of wine was condemned in neither the Old nor the New Testament times. Rather, it was practiced by good men, including the Lord Himself. Jesus said, ‘For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, “He has a demon.” The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, “Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners” ’ ” (Luke 7:33–34). Jesus was not a gluttonous man nor a winebibber, but He plainly said He came eating and drinking—and the only drinking under consideration was the drinking of wine. His only denial of the statement of His accusers was the degree of eating and drinking. The reply to the gentleman from India continued: “At the wedding feast in Cana, Jesus turned water into wine (John 2:3). It was the kind of wine, oinos, on which Noah got drunk (Genesis 9:21).”
It was this same wine which Jesus said would burst the old wineskins (Matthew 9:17). What would cause new wine to burst old wineskins except fermentation? Paul forbade the Ephesian Christians to get drunk on this wine, oinos, (Ephesians 5:18).
He advised young Timothy to drink a little of it for his stomach's sake (I Timothy 5:23). Elders were not to be selected who were given to wine (I Timothy 3:3). The word given means given over to, enslaved to, drunken. Nor were deacons to be selected to serve if “given to much wine” (I Timothy 3:8).
“It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles,” said Paul to the Roman Christians, in which case it was right to abstain from both (Romans 14:21). Over indulgence in wine is plainly and strongly condemned in both the old and the New Testaments. Drunkards will go to hell unless they repent and turn to the Lord.
In our society today, what is the attitude toward the drinking of wine and other intoxicants? What influence does a Christian have on a weak or new Christian? What about the men of the world? We are not of the world. I believe our influence would damage the new Christian and deter the man of the world in becoming a child of God; therefore, we should abstain altogether from drinking.
Wrong Because of Appearance
Some things don't look right. They are border line events. Some of them are on the verge of being wrong. The counsel given by inspired men is to stay away from activities that may be construed as questionable.
The New International Version of the New Testament renders I Thessalonians 5:22 thus: “Avoid every kind of evil.” That is not as accurate as it is found in the New Testament language. Paul uses the word eidon, and that means “form, external appearance, sight, perception, species.” It is true that the Christian should abstain from every kind of evil, but this verse strongly indicates that he should avoid and stand aloof from
even the appearance of evil. There are things which a Christian may do that are not wrong within themselves, but they may have the outward semblance of indiscretion or even evil.
Not Directly Implicated
Lot, Abraham's brother's son, was not directly implicated in wrong doing when he pitched his tent toward Sodom. “Lot dwelt in the cities of the plain” (Genesis 13:12). Peter looks back in history and remarks: “God ... delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed with the filthy conduct of the wicked (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds) ...” (II Peter 2:6–8).
The lesson of influence and evil association also enter the picture. “Evil company corrupts good habits” (I Corinthians 15:33). While Lot himself was not evil, and even vexed his righteous soul at the wickedness of the Sodomites, he lost his wife and prospective sons–in–law, and his daughters were far from what they ought to have been.
It is not wrong for a Christian to drink a soft drink, a Coca Cola for instance, but to stand on a public street or in front of the church building where people meet to worship and drink Coca Cola out of a whiskey bottle would appear to be wrong. Christians must exercise the greatest care and caution. “You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men” (II Corinthians 3:2).
Wrong Because of Danger
There are activities and even relationships that may not be inherently wrong, but there are dangers lurking which may spell disaster unless we are exceedingly careful.
“A wife is bound by law as long as her husband lives; but if her husband dies, she is at liberty to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord” (I Corinthians 7:39). Granted, the literal translation of the permission here is “only in the Lord.” There is nothing morally wrong for such a widow to marry someone else than a Christian, provided the potential husband is eligible for marriage. But there are a great many dangers for
her to do so. In fact, there are so many that she is forbidden by the Lord to take such a step. She may be drawn away from the faith and enticed and tempted to take up a life of worldly pleasure. She may expose her children and herself to such conditions as to lose all respect for the church and jeopardize all their souls eternally. Being in love with a man, she may not intend to do that at all. It may have been the farthest thought from her mind.
The millions of drunkards and alcoholics we have in this land never intended to be drunkards. The young, pure, and beautiful woman never intended to become immoral—and certainly never had any intentions of becoming a prostitute, but she allowed boyfriends to engage her in fondling, caressing, and touching the intimate parts of the body, exciting the desires, and raising the passions to a frenzied heat; thereafter, she was well on the road to immoral living.
Some of the prominent people of our country whose names are almost household words never intended to become alcoholics, but they did. The reason why they degenerated into habitual users and addicts is that they failed to see and heed the dangers at the first. They became chronic, established, and fixed drunkards and once settled in this kind of problem, it is difficult to turn back.
There are more than eighteen million alcoholics in the United States in this year of 1988. More than twenty–five thousand people are killed each year on our streets and highways as a direct result of drinking intoxicants. In one year, there were eight hundred thousand crashes in automobiles traceable directly to drinking. These are the figures that were reported. No one knows how many were not reported. In addition to all of this, there are some thirty–five million problem drinkers in America. So, a Christian should think twice before engaging in the drinking of alcoholic beverages.
Wrong Because of Intensity
Some things are wrong because of the intensity with which we treat them. There may be an overemphasis of things that are right within themselves and thus become wrong. There is nothing wrong in a clean, well–played sport, but when it is treated with such fervor and zeal that it becomes the all–
encompassing interest of our lives, it then and there crosses over the line from right to wrong.
There is certainly nothing wrong with close, warm, and sharing family relationships, but they may become so completely and totally absorbing of our time, energies, and money that other things with greater priority are neglected and swept away. “He who loves father and mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me” (Matthew 10:37). This is a matter of relative preference. We are to have great family love, storge, but it must not supersede and take precedence over our love for, and our service to, Christ.
It is not wrong to make money, if it is made honorably. It is not wrong to keep and use money; but “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” (I Timothy 6:10). An overemphasis is placed upon it and the things that it will purchase. It is wrong to treasure treasures (Matthew 6:19).
A Closer Look at Drinking
One may say, “The Lord made and drank it; therefore, I am justified in drinking as I may wish.” Someone else may say, “It was the abuse of this practice that made it wrong.” Still another contends: “It was drunkenness that He condemned.” There is truth in all these statements. It may be well for us to consider that the highly distilled alcohol in drinks in our day are very much unlike the natural fermentation of the juice of grapes in that day. The percentage of the content of alcohol is very much higher now than then.
But even then, in that day, inspiration always spoke of controlled, moderate partaking of wine. There were other circumstances of the exercise of divine principle. There was the influence hitherto spoke of on the new or weak Christian (Romans 14:21). The outside influence one has upon others who are not Christians is a principle always to be taken into consideration.
This governing principle is fraught with love, consideration, and care for the spiritual welfare of others. “But when you thus sin against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience,
you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble” (I Corinthians 8:12–13).
The kind of alcoholic drinks which are produced in our country today—and other countries as well—are laden and fully charged with some dangers which should signal how carefully guarded the Christian should be in considering this question of drink.
Someone has said that alcohol “breaks more laws, corrupts more morals, divides and destroys more homes, incites more crime, jeopardizes more lives, kindles more strife, lacerates more feelings, pains more mothers, sells more virtue, undermines more youth, excites more passions, and yields more disgrace than any other enemy of man!”
Before you say, “Have a drink, brother,” or accept one, remember that the danger is an increase of death on the streets and highways, a vote for broken homes, consent for hungry, ill–clad children, a contribution to juvenile delinquency, and a stamp of approval on the crime of immorality.
Remember, it buys less groceries, fewer shoes, limited clothes, smaller homes, and great insurance risks. It produces poverty, wretched lives, scared children, unloved spouses, neglected duty, and devastated souls
You have a Bible to guide you and, if you are determined to do His will, He will grant wisdom to properly evaluate and use the knowledge for good. God's counsel is simple and easily understood. Do Right!