I used to drink too much. To be honest, I was a drunk. The Lord saved me from unbelief and addiction at the age of 21. I am now 37 and have been sober for almost 16 years. The Lord is good. For many years, my position on alcohol was simple: alcohol is not always bad, but it is never good.
However, I realize now that my thinking was not entirely based on Scripture. I knew the Bible’s warnings against alcohol, but I didn’t see any value in drinking. Since then, I’ve had to adjust my thinking on alcohol to align with Scripture. Here is a biblical framework for thinking through this topic. Drinking Alcohol is Not a Sin Contrary to what many Christians have grown up hearing, it is not a sin to drink alcohol.
Scripture nowhere condemns or prohibits consuming moderate levels of alcohol. Case in point—Jesus drank wine. The religious leaders accused our Lord of being a drunkard. “The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!'” (Luke 7:34).
- Of course, Jesus never got drunk, but he did drink wine.
- We all know he made water into wine at a party, and it would have been customary for him to enjoy a drink with his friends (John 2:1-11).
- It was also tradition for Jews to drink wine at the yearly Passover meal, in which Jesus routinely participated.
He also instituted the Lord’s Supper with bread and wine (Luke 22:14-20). It’s clear that drinking is not a sin; otherwise, Jesus would not have done it. Drinking Alcohol Can be a Blessing The Bible doesn’t present drinking in moderation as merely neutral; it is also depicted as a blessing.
- The Psalmist says that in addition to the many earthly blessings God bestows, the Lord gives “wine to gladden the heart of man” (Psalm 104:15).
- Friends enjoying a meal together may choose to enhance their gathering by sharing drinks.
- Alcohol can encourage relaxation, happiness, and laughter.
- These are all blessings from God (see also Eccl.9:7, Isaiah 55:1-3, Amos 9:14).
Alcohol can also be used for medicinal purposes. “Give strong drink to the one who is perishing, and wine to those in bitter distress.” (Proverbs 31:61, 1 Tim.5:23). Today, we use even stronger medications, but in the past, it was alcohol that provided relief from pain.
This, too, is a blessing from God. In a broken world full of pain, the Lord has provided help in our times of suffering. Finally, the Lord promised that in the New Heavens and New Earth, there will be wine when we feast with God Himself. “On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.” (Isaiah 25:6).
The Lord will share a drink with us in heaven. Drunkenness is a Sin Drinking is not a sin, and it is often a God-given blessing. However, Scripture’s overwhelming testimony is that drinking alcohol can be spiritually dangerous. Christians are allowed by God to drink alcohol, but we are forbidden to get drunk.
- And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit.” (Ephesians 5:18; also see Proverbs 20:1, 23:20, Isaiah 5:22).
- This is a command from the Spirit-inspired apostle.
- Christians, “do not get drunk.” To get drunk, then, is a sin.
- Christians who drink alcohol may raise a question here.
“What does it mean to be drunk?” It’s a fair question. In most states, the blood alcohol content (BAC) limit for driving a vehicle is,08 (at this point, you are considered legally impaired). Body weight, how much one drinks, and the amount of time between drinks will determine your BAC.
- For example, according to some research, a male weighing 200 lbs.
- Can consume one 12 oz beer and only reach a level of,02 BAC.
- Our bodies metabolize alcohol over time, and our BAC will drop,015% every hour from our last drink.
- Source ) Additionally, many would argue that even though,08 is the legal standard for intoxication, that doesn’t necessarily meet the Bible’s definition of drunkenness.
The positive command Paul gives to believers in contrast to drunkenness is that we should be “filled with the Spirit” (Eph.5:18). The issue, then, is about control. We must be controlled by the Spirit and not alcohol. So then, drunkenness, in Paul’s mind, at least means we have lost control.
- I suspect most believers would say that 1-2 drinks would not cause them to lose control.
- All this to say, what qualifies as being drunk varies from person to person.
- The command is easy: do not get drunk.
- Defining drunkenness, on the other hand, is not as simple.
- My pastoral counsel would be to err on the side of caution.
Use discretion and be wise with alcohol. Like sex, it can be wonderful, but if it is not contained and appropriately used, it can also be deadly. The measurements above are a helpful guide. Suppose we define drunkenness according to the dictionary, In that case, it means “having the faculties impaired by alcohol” and reaching “a level of alcohol in the blood that exceeds a maximum prescribed by law.” Paul’s counsel here is helpful.
“‘All things are lawful for me,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful for me,’ but I will not be enslaved by anything.” (1 Cor.6:12). The Dangers of Alcohol I’d be willing to bet my last dollar that everyone reading this article has been impacted by addiction in one way or another. Either you have struggled with substance abuse, or someone you know (and probably love) has struggled.
It’s an epidemic in our country, and alcohol is at the heart of it. This is why Scripture warns against the dangers of drunkenness. Several categories must be established here.
Drunkenness ruins lives. “Be not among drunkards or among gluttonous eaters of meat, for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and slumber will clothe them with rags.” (Proverbs 23:20-21). God’s judgment is on the drunkard. “Woe (a pronouncement of judgment) to those who rise early in the morning, that they may run after strong drink, who tarry late into the evening as wine inflames them!” (Isaiah 5:11, 22) Drunkards cannot serve in church leadership. Elders must be “sober mindedand not a drunkard.” Likewise, deacons cannot be “addicted to much wine” (1 Tim.3:2-3, 8, also see Prov.31:4-5). Drunkards are considered unbelievers in the Bible. “For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry” (1 Peter 4:3; also see Romans 13:13, Luke 21:34, Isaiah 28:1). Godliness is characterized by sober-mindedness. “Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine.” (Titus 2:3). Drunkards will not inherit the Kingdom of God. Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Cor.6:9-10, also see Gal.5:19-21).
What’s Our Motive for Drinking? Christians are called to live every part of their lives to the glory of God, and that includes both eating and drinking: “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Cor.10:31). If our drinking alcohol helps us in appreciating a pleasure God created, especially in fellowship with others, it can be a blessing.
Yet, if our reason for drinking is to become drunk, seek temporary escape from difficulties, or conform to the practice of others against our conscience, we are drinking to our own peril. Some Christians may also have been guilty of flaunting their freedom in defiance of the convictions of other believers or with no regard for the temptations of others to drunkenness (1 Cor.8:8-13).
As with any action we take, we must ensure it demonstrates both our love for the Lord and for others. God created alcohol, and in many places, the Bible describes it a God-given gift and blessing. But like all things the Lord has given, we must use it with wisdom and caution.
Unfortunately, because we are sinners, we tend to turn God’s good gifts into idolatry and sin. Alcohol is no exception. In fact, it stands out as one of Scripture’s major themes regarding warnings and judgment against a particular kind of sin. Drunkenness, therefore, is forbidden, and for good reason. The drunkard’s life is dishonoring to God and destructive to oneself, family, and friends.
Worst of all, a drunkard is a slave to alcohol and demonstrates a heart where the Holy Spirit does not reside. As Scripture says, such a person will not go to heaven. Note: This article and our many resources are made available for free through the generous support of others. Brandon is the Associate Pastor of The Journey Church in Lebanon, TN and leads the TJC RE:GENERATION ministry for the church. Brandon is married to Sherrie and has a daugher, Emma. Recent Articles:
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- 1 Where in the Bible does it say a little alcohol is good for you?
- 2 What does the Bible say about beer?
- 3 What does the Bible say about alcohol and intoxication?
Where in the Bible does it say a little alcohol is good for you?
There is a blessing in the juice of the grape. Many Christian advocates of drinking alcoholic wine point to a verse in 1 Timothy. Paul says, ” Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities ” (1 Tim 5:23).
What did Paul mean when he instructed Timothy to take “a little wine” for thy stomach’s sake? It’s obvious that Paul was not advocating social drinking in this passage. He clearly states, “Drink no longer water, ” (Anyone who has traveled in the Middle East knows the difficulty of getting pure, unpolluted water), but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities.
Whatever kind of wine Paul was talking about (fermented or unfermented), it is exceedingly plain that the purpose of his counsel to Timothy was due to his stomach ailments. Paul’s counsel related to a medicinal use, not a social enjoyment. What kind of wine was Paul recommending? Would the apostle encourage the moderate us of a drink which Proverbs 23:31 says “Look not upon the wine when it is red, ” a drink which brings “woe sorrow, babbling, and wounds” (Proverbs 23:29).
A drink which is deceptive (Proverbs 20:1), a drink which perverts the judgment causing tine eyes to behold strange women and thine heart to utter strange things (Proverbs 23:32-33). Certainly not! The Bible uses the word wine to refer to both an alcoholic fermented beverage as well as unfermented grape juice.
According to Isaiah 65:8, the new wine is found in a cluster and there is blessing in it. This is obviously the unfermented, freshly squeezed juice of the grape. Referring to the communion wine served, Jesus told His disciples that He would not participate in the service again until He “drank it new with them in the Father’s kingdom” (Matt.26:29).
- The communion wine representing Christ’s pure, undefiled Blood must be unfermented since fermentation is a sign of sin.
- In 1 Timothy 5:23, Paul encourages Timothy to use a little wine or grape products for his stomach’s sake.
- Unfermented grape juice has healthful properties for the body.
- Indeed there is blessing in the freshly squeezed juice of the grape.
The Bible tells us in 1 Peter 5:8, ” Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour,” The advice is to be SOBER. When you are not sharp and have all your wits about you Satan can tempt and deceive you.
A recent health article on CNN.com states in part, The latest studies show you can get all the same benefits from grape juice as you can from wine. The reason purple grape juice contains the same powerful disease-fighting antioxidants, called flavonoids, that are believed to give wine many of its heart-friendly benefits.
The flavonoids in grape juice, like those in wine, have been shown to prevent the oxidation of so called bad cholesterol LDLs, or low density lipoproteins that leads to formation of plaque in artery walls. It goes to tell us that the alcohol found in wine is actually harmful to you, University of Wisconsin researcher John Folts, Ph.D.
- Says, “with grape juice, you can drink enough to get the benefit without worrying about becoming intoxicated.” What’s more, alcoholic drinks don’t seem to improve the function of cells in blood vessel linings the way grape juice does.
- And alcohol generates free radicals unstable oxygen molecules that can actually cause damage to blood vessel tissues dampening any of the benefits that red wines antioxidants may offer.
The word ‘grape juice’ first appeared in Webster’s Dictionary in 1896. In ancient literature wine had the dual meaning of fermented or unfermented grape juice. Aristotle wrote of a sweet grape beverage he called wine: “It has not the effect of wine, for it does not intoxicate like ordinary wine.” Marcus Cato describes “wine still hanging on the grapes.” Since wine could be fermented or unfermented, the translators of the King James Version of the Bible did not always specify which meaning the Hebrew yayin or Greek oinos had in a text.
- We can’t assume that just because the Bible says ‘wine’ that it is referring to the fermented type.
- As prudent Bible students we must sort out the context.
- In John 10:10 in part says, ” I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly,” God says, In using alcohol we participate in destroying not only our own life but often the lives of others.
We must live for God and seek to honor Him in all that we do. ” Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God ” (1 Corinthians 10:31). It is impossible to drink alcohol to the glory of God. Despite the prevailing view that the Bible supports the moderate use of alcohol, we have seen that God has set a standard of total abstinence for Christians.
Why is alcohol haram?
It is believed that the Quran forbids alcohol because it harms one’s health, can lead to addiction and disrupts society. A general warning was given to prohibit Muslims from attending prayers in a drunken state (Quran, 4:43).
What does alcohol do to your brain?
Image Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) of fiber tracks in the brain of a 58-year-old man with alcohol use disorder. DTI maps white-matter pathways in a living brain. Image courtesy of Drs. Adolf Pfefferbaum and Edith V. Sullivan. Alcohol interferes with the brain’s communication pathways and can affect the way the brain looks and works.
What does the Bible say about a strong drink?
It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink : Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts.
What does God say about addiction?
Corinthians 10:13 – “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” The Bible teaches something that is also an important lesson in : You are not alone in facing adversity.
What does the Bible say about beer?
Should Christians Drink Alcohol? “Here are your keys,” muttered the secretary when I arrived to pick up the keys to my office at Aberdeen University, where I would be studying for my doctorate in theology. “It looks like you’re in The Old Brewery.” Intrigued by the name, I later found out that it reflected the building’s original function.
Aberdeen was founded in the 15th century and used to train monks for ministry. In the brewery, monks brewed vast quantities of Scottish ale, which was served by the liter at mealtimes. And here I was, a post-fundamentalist Ph.D. student studying the Scriptures in a malted sanctuary where late medieval Bible college students once clapped mugs together in an act of worship.
Throughout Christian history, alcohol was rarely a taboo as it is in some circles today. John Calvin had a stipend of 250 gallons of wine per year written into his church contract. Martin Luther’s wife was a famed brewer of beer, which certainly won Martin’s heart.
And the Guinness family created their renowned Irish Stout as an act of worship to Jesus. From Bordeaux to Berlin, wine and beer have always been part of church tradition. But what was once considered the nectar of heaven was later condemned as the devil’s libation. Moderation not Abstinence Even though some Christians advocate for the total abstinence of alcohol as a moral mandate for all believers, the Bible never requires all believers to abstain from alcohol.
It condemns drunkenness and being enslaved to wine (Ephesians 5:18; Titus 2:3), but it never says that tee-totaling is the better way to obey God. In fact, the Bible never says that abstaining from alcohol is the wisest way to avoid getting drunk. Think about it.
Alcoholism has been rampant through every age, but the Bible never says that all believers should therefore refrain from drinking. If Christians want to forbid all alcohol consumption to avoid drunkenness, then to be consistent, they should also avoid making a lot of money to guard against the crushing sin of materialism and the misuse of wealth.
What About our Testimony? I sometimes hear that when Christians drink, it ruins their testimony. But quite honestly, I’ve never understood this line of thinking. It’s one thing if you’ve struggled with alcoholism or are ministering in a Muslim country, but for the most part, most non-Christians I know are turned off by the arbitrary dos and don’ts created by modern Christians.
- I’m not convinced that if my unbelieving neighbor sees me slipping into a pub, I will lose much traction to my Gospel witness.
- In many cases, the Gospel will shine brighter when you break down wrong assumptions about Christianity by having a beer with your neighbor.
- When we strip away all the man-made clutter that dims the Gospel, the full glory of Jesus shines much brighter.
A good chunk of the dying world that’s rejected Christianity hasn’t said no to Jesus, but no to a pharisaical version of Him. Some people have been turned off by the Gospel because they’ve thought that becoming a Christ-follower meant giving up having a beer with your friends after work.
If this is the “good news” we preach, then the true beauty of a crucified and risen King will become covered in the fog of a man-made, pharisaical “don’t drink” gospel. AA didn’t hang on a cross for your sins and abstaining from alcohol won’t give you resurrection life. Any Christianese, man-made, unbiblical footnotes to the gospel are actually a distraction and offense to the Gospel.
Lower Alcohol Content? Now, some say that wine in the Bible was nothing more than grape juice and therefore neither Jesus nor the Biblical writers advocated drinking alcohol. Others say that wine was so diluted that it hardly contained any alcohol. But neither of these views can be substantiated by what the Scriptures actually say.
If wine was really unfermented grape juice, then why did Paul warn the Ephesians: “Do not get drunk with grape juice, which is debauchery, but be filled by the Spirit?” This doesn’t make sense. It is true that wine back then probably had a lower ABV than today’s stuff. But whatever the alcohol content, people were quite able to get smashed by drinking too much of it (Proverbs 20:1; Isaiah 5:11).
Still, the Bible never says not to drink it. There’s another alcoholic beverage mentioned in the Bible called “strong drink. The Hebrew word for “strong drink,” shakar, refers to fermented barley, which is why some translations call it “beer.” Shakar had an ABV of around 6-12 percent, similar to a Belgium Tripel Ale or a Double IPA.
Like all alcoholic beverages, the Bible prohibits abusing beer (Isaiah 5:11; 28:7; Proverbs 20:1; 31:4). But in moderation, drinking beer was encouraged (Proverbs 31:6). In fact, Deuteronomy 14:26 actually commands Israelites to use some of their tithe money to buy some beers and celebrate before the Lord.
(Ever hear that verse being read as the ushers are passing the plates?) They were also commanded to offer up two liters of beer to God six days a week and even more on the Sabbath (see Numbers 28:7-10). This is why the absence of beer (and wine) was an outcome of God’s judgment on the nation.
- Wine as a Blessing But the Bible goes further than admitting that drinking is simply allowed.
- Throughout Scripture, the production and consumption of beer and wine are often connected to the covenant promises of God.
- Under the old covenant, wine is a blessing (Deut 7:13; 11:14) and the absence of wine a curse (28:39, 51).
When Israel looked to the future, God promises to flood them wine flowing from the mountaintops (Amos 9:14; Joel 3:18) and vats brimming with fresh wine (Joel 2:19, 24). Jesus signals the beginning of such blessings by creating an over-abundance (150 gallons) of wine at Cana (John 2:1-10).
And on the eve of his death, He sanctified a cup of wine as “the new covenant in my blood” (Luke 22:14-23). When Christ comes back, He’ll prepare “well-aged wine” (Isaiah 25:6)—the stuff I only notice on the top shelf but can never afford—and for theological reasons it will be served, as at Cana, in abundance.
Although a good beer and rich wine are blessings from God, they should be consumed with caution. There’s a growing tendency, however, among some younger evangelicals to celebrate their freedom without discipline. These young, restless, and slightly inebriated libertines are doing some great things for the Kingdom.
- They’re feeding the poor, living in community and planting authentic churches—or missional communities—all to the glory of God.
- Yes, God cares about the poor; He also cares about your sobriety.
- Enjoying alcohol in moderation takes discipline, and many beer drinkers, I hate to say it, aren’t known for their discipline.
A good glass of beer can be celebratory; it doesn’t belong in the hands of an undisciplined 16-year-old playing video games in his mom’s basement. Belgium ale is strong and complex. Savor it, sanctify it, and let it meditate on your palate. Give glory to God, not just to your thirst, when enjoying the blessings that flow from Eden.
- Drunkenness may not be at the top of God’s list of most heinous sins; neither should it be tossed aside as a relic of American fundamentalism.
- Drinking alcohol without celebrating the Cross and Kingdom is theologically anemic.
- Abusing alcohol mocks the blood of Christ and scoffs at God’s holiness.
- But moderate, intentional, celebratory and reflective drinking of wine and beer, which contemplates the crucified and risen King and anticipates our future glory, is rooted in the grace that poured from Christ’s veins on Calvary.
I originally wrote this post for in 2014. : Should Christians Drink Alcohol?
Who was the first drunkard in the Bible?
Definition and origin – In the Bible, the few chapters that come between the creation of Adam and the birth of Noah contain no mention of alcoholic drinks. After the account of the great flood, the biblical Noah is said to have cultivated a vineyard, made wine, and become intoxicated,
Thus, the discovery of fermentation is traditionally attributed to Noah because this is the first time alcohol appears in the Bible. Noah’s wine has been described as a “pleasant relief for man from the toilsome work of the crop”. There is debate as to whether certain references to wine in the Bible are actually to a non-intoxicating substance, but, at least in this passage, the Bible states Noah became drunk ( Hebrew : ישכר yiškār ) after consuming wine ( יין yayin ).
It has been suggested that Noah’s wine must have been drugged as it could not have been strong enough to cause him to become intoxicated. Rabbinic literature goes as far as to suggest that the grape vine-branch had its origins with Adam, and that Satan, along with fertilization using animal blood, played a part in the production of the wine.
- It blames those factors (especially the latter two) for the aforementioned potency of the wine.
- From a biblical view, fermented beverages presumably spread throughout the world after Noah’s supposed discovery, as alcoholic beverages are historically widespread.
- Some climates are not suited for the growing of grapes; hence it is purported that humanity was led to discover other means (e.g.
beer ) of not simply satisfying thirst but also stimulating the mind.
What does the Bible say about alcohol and intoxication?
Ephesians 5:18 – There are a number of scriptures that speak about drinking in the Bible. For example, in Ephesians, Paul writes “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.” In most cases, you can replace alcohol with drugs and the meaning of the line remains the same.