The Expository Files

 The World's Most Popular Drug

"Can I bring you something to drink while you are waiting for your meal?"
"Why, is the food that bad?"

What is the best way to overcome society's problem with alcohol? Many social experts, along with the breweries and distilleries, say that "drinking in moderation" is the answer. That is not the answer. For much too long that has been the problem. Think about it; is that the way to handle society's problems with any other drug? Is the answer to the heroin problem to encourage people to use it "in moderation"? How about cocaine? Marijuana? LSD? Would our society be better if "moderate" use of these was urged? Would we be better husbands, wives, fathers, mothers and children as well as neighbors, employees and students? Absolutely not; so then why is the drug alcohol given "preferred drug" status? Whatever the reason, it is not because it has been demonstrated to be less harmful than the others!

Just because a thing is popular does not mean it is right. Just because society looks upon an activity with approval does not mean that God does. And just because someone says "drinking won't hurt me" does not mean that it won't.

Do Not Be Deceived
"Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is intoxicated by it is not wise" (Proverbs 20:1). Alcohol can accomplish much. If you are looking for a way to slow down your brain activity for a spell, then alcohol is your ticket. In fact, if you drink enough you can do so permanently. If you are looking for less self-control, then alcohol is at your service; it will allow you to stupidly do and say things you never would while sober. If you want to slow down your reflexes and hamper your motor skills, again alcohol can do it. And since your self-control is also depleted you can get behind the wheel and "hit the road" or whatever/whoever else might be in your crooked path. Alcohol also helps you break down your immune system so you can more easily become infected by some special disease that you've always wanted. And who needs all those billions of brain cells that will be destroyed? They will always grow back, won't they? (NO! They won't!). "Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaining? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of the eyes? Those who linger long over wine, Those who go to taste mixed wine. Do not look at wine when it is red, When it sparkles in the cup, When it goes down smoothly; At the last it bites like a serpent, And stings like a viper. Your eyes will see strange things, And your mind will utter perverse things. And you will be like the one who lies down in the middle of the sea, ... They struck me, but I did not become ill; They beat me, but I did not know it. When shall I awake? I will seek another drink" (Proverbs 23:29-35).

Misuse of Scripture To Justify Use Of Alcohol
"...which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction" (II Peter 3:16). First, the Bible does not condemn all possible uses of all kinds of wines! But one cannot justify a use of wine that the Bible does condemn on the basis of a use of wine that it allows. There are at least three uses of wine that are spoken of favorably in the Old Testament: New wine (fresh grape juice) was used for its nutritional value and to quench the thirst (Genesis 27:28); New wine was also used in religious observances either to be consumed (Deuteromony 12:17,18) or poured out as an offering (Numbers 15:10). Fermented wine was used as pain killer for the injured or sick (Psalm 69:21 Proverbs 21:6).
No Biblical passage justifies the recreational use of alcohol. Into what kind of wine did Jesus turn the water (John 2:1-11)? The record states that it was "good" wine. Early writers describe this kind of wine to be "harmless." Pliny describes it as being "destitute of spirit." It is naturally sweet, not sour or bitter. It is fresh.

Timothy was urged to "No longer drink water exclusively, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and frequent ailments" (I Timothy 5:23). There was not a large supply of healthy drinking water in Bible times. To help alleviate this problem, wine would be mixed with the water so that water could be drunk without the ill side affects. The ratio was about one part wine to four parts water. Timothy's gastro-intestinal tract needed help, and such use of wine (not necessarily fermented) was urged by Paul. But again, none of these passages justify the recreational use of alcoholic beverages.

Living For The Lusts of Men or The Will of God?
"...So as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men but for the will of God. For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts drunkenness, carousals, drinking parties and abominable idolatries" (I Peter 4:3). There are three words in the above passage that relate to modern drinking habits. All three are obviously prohibited from the life of one who is living "for the will of God."

The first is translated "drunkenness." This is the habitual drunk. His senses are dulled and his life is in shambles. He is out of control. No one admires a person in this state!

The second is "carousals." This describes the "party animal." He is full of fun. He is often admired by the world. He is the one you see on the commercials.

The third is "drinking parties" or "banquetings." This is similar to "carousals" with one important exception: the word does not necessarily imply drunkenness. It means repeated drinking of alcohol regardless of the amount. One is guilty of this when he drinks whether he is noticeably intoxicated or not.

All three of these drinking styles are condemned by God's word. They are all damaging to health and influence. They can all lead to alcoholism and other serious problems. We are God's people. We have better things to do with our lives.

By Jon W. Quinn
 From Expository Files 10.6; June 2003