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Article 37

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Human habits - Alcohol, drugs and smoking

 

Humans habits are a recurrent pattern of behaviour. It is something we repeat over and over in our lives usually because of the person enjoying it. Some habits become a addiction where we become enslaved to the habit – to stop it would cause severe trauma. Drug, alcohol and smoking can all become addictions. But even when they are not, for example, social drinking of alcohol – what does the Bible say about them?

Alcohol

Despite the claims of some people – drinking alcohol is not wrong (not a sin). Nowhere in the Bible does it say that consumption of alcohol is not allowed by God.

Consider this scene of the coming kingdom of God:

"In that day the mountains will drip new wine, and the hills will flow with milk; all the ravines of Judah will run with water. A fountain will flow out of the LORD's house and will water the valley of acacias.    Joel Ch.3:18

God gave wine as a blessing: 

He will love you and bless you and increase your numbers. He will bless the fruit of your womb, the crops of your land—your grain, new wine and oil—the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks in the land that he swore to your forefathers to give you.     Deuteronomy Ch.7:13

Despite the claims of some people – drinking alcohol is not wrong (not a sin). But despite alcohol not being banned from being consumed it needs to be used with discretion. Drunkenness is condemned in the Bible.

At special occasions and other celebrations wine can be consumed. 

On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus' mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus' mother said to him, "They have no more wine." "Dear woman, why do you involve me?" Jesus replied, "My time has not yet come." His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you."  

Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. [1]

Jesus said to the servants, "Fill the jars with water"; so they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, "Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet." They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realise where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, "Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now."  

This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed in Cana of Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.    

John Ch.2:1-11 

Jesus used wine to represent his blood at the last supper. 

After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, "Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes." And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me." In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.       Luke Ch.22:17-20 

If alcohol was a forbidden substance it would not have been used to commemorate his sacrifice. 

Israel was a wine-producing country. The winepresses bursting with new wine were considered a sign of blessing. 

Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine       Proverbs Ch.3:9-10 

Alcohol – the warnings

Despite alcohol not being banned from being consumed it needs to be used with discretion. The following are some warnings about alcohol:

1.     Drunkenness is condemned by the Bible

The Bible talks about getting drunk from wine.

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Ephesians Ch.5:15-21 

The instructions are clear – we should not get drunk from alcohol. Rather we should fill ourselves with the Spirit of God. This means to fill our minds with godly thoughts and activities. God’s word in the Bible should be directing our minds not the mind altering influences of alcohol or other drugs.  

Alcohol gives a temporary “high” whereas being filled with the spirit of God produces lasting joy! In Christ, we have a better joy, higher and longer lasting to cure any depression, monotony or tension we may have. 

2.     Losing self-control is condemned by the Bible 

Drinking wine or alcohol to excess is strongly condemned in the Bible. It can lead to you losing self-control which is not allowed for a believer. It can make you look foolish. 

Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.        Proverbs 20:1 

They eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence.      Proverbs 4:17

3.     Drinking is only a temporary escape from this world.

Drinking alcohol to excess is only a temporary escape from this world.

Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaints? Who has needless bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes?

Those who linger over wine, who go to sample bowls of mixed wine. Do not gaze at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly! In the end it bites like a snake

and poisons like a viper. Your eyes will see strange sights and your mind imagine confusing things. You will be like one sleeping on the high seas, lying on top of the rigging. "They hit me," you will say, "but I'm not hurt! They beat me, but I don't feel it! When will I wake up so I can find another drink?" Proverbs Ch.23:29-35 

The soothing comfort of alcohol is only temporary. Real relief comes from dealing with the causes of the sorrow and the strife and complaints by turning to God for peace. Don’t lose yourself in alcohol; find yourself in God! 

4.     Alcohol can destroy a person’s efficiency. 

He who loves pleasure will become poor; whoever loves wine and oil will never be rich.       Proverbs Ch.21:17

5.                Alcohol dulls the senses; it limits clear judgment. 

The sayings of King Lemuel—an oracle his mother taught him:

“O my son, O son of my womb, O son of my vows, do not spend your strength on women, your vigor on those who ruin kings. "It is not for kings, O Lemuel— not for kings to drink wine, not for rulers to crave beer, lest they drink and forget what the law decrees,      and deprive all the oppressed of their rights.            Proverbs Ch.31:1-5 

6.                Drinking to excess can lead to negative consequences 

We can make mistakes that we will regret by drinking to excess. 

Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded to plant a vineyard. When he drank some of its wine, he became drunk and lay uncovered inside his tent. Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father's nakedness and told his two brothers outside. But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it across their shoulders; then they walked in backward and covered their father's nakedness. Their faces were turned the other way so that they would not see their father's nakedness.

Genesis Ch.9:20-23

Drugs and smoking 

Reading through the Bible you will find no mention of smoking and drug-taking. Despite this, there are a number of principles that can be applied to these habits.

(note: “drugs” does not refer to prescription drugs but rather to mind-altering substances taken for leisure use). 

1.   We should allow the Spirit of God to govern our lives. 

There are no benefits from taking drugs like heroin, cocaine, etc. It doesn’t matter whether a person is addicted to these drugs or taking them occasionally, they go against the commands of God. There are two reasons for this:

a.   Taking drugs mean the user is denying the power of God in his life. He or she is allowing their life to be directed by the hallucinatory power of these drugs.

b.   You lose self-control when you take drugs. God always requires us to be in control so that we don’t sin against his commands. You may make many mistakes you will later regret. Drug abuse has led to many evils such as crime and broken families. 

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.        Ephesians Ch.5:15-20

2.   The believers body is a temple of God. 

Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him; for God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple.              1 Corinthians Ch.3:16-17 

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.     1 Corinthians Ch.6:19-20 

Smoking can lead to damage to a healthy body

Excessive alcohol intake, smoking or drug abuse can lead to a healthy body being eaten away by disease. Such a self-vandalised body is not an appropriate dwelling place for the Holy Spirit.  

What is not realised even by the habitual taker of drugs (and smoking), is that he has set himself or herself on a course of moral, spiritual and physical deterioration which may result in irreparable damage to the brain, lungs, liver, kidneys and bladder; or the victim can find himself suffering from asthma, serious palpitation or even paralysis of the lower extremities. Deliberately polluting one’s body is not contributing to the holiness God requires. 

3.   We can stop these habits by making the decision. 

If we have made mistakes taking drugs or smoking or excessive alcohol intake it is never too late to change our ways. 

 

Notes

1

John 2:6 Greek two to three metretes (probably about 75 to 115 liters)

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,       Ephesians Ch.3:20

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Last Updated: Sunday, 08 March 2015