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The Wine List
by Don Beers
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Most, if not all, of us have read the word of the Lord in Ephesians 5, specifically the verse that tells us “do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit…” Eph.5:18 and we take it at face value only.

When I said that “we take it at face value only”, what I mean is that we simply take these words only to mean that we are not to consume alcoholic beverages. I realize that there are various views on the consumption of alcohol; some say that we can drink but not to the point of intoxication while another group of people say that we are not to drink at all. Whatever your convictions might be, I’ll leave that to you and the Lord.

Be that as it may, if and when we read these words and take (or maintain) a superficial stand and do not allow our minds to consider that there may be a deeper meaning available to us here, we come up short. More than that, we deprive ourselves.

“Do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation…” does mean that we are not to consume excessive amounts of alcohol. But, let’s “lower our vessels” deeper into this well and find that cooler, cleaner and more refreshing water that is hidden from our view.

Read our verse again “do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit.” Notice the word “but.” It’s a conjunction or in simpler terms it is connective; it joins two sentences, phrases or paragraphs together.

We are not to “be drunk with wine” BUT we are to “be filled with the Spirit.” The former sentence magnifies the latter and it does it metaphorically. In order to come closer to the meaning of the “be filled with the Spirit” we must first look at the “do not be drunk with wine.”

What does it mean to be drunk? Let’s break it down to its simplest parts.

If I decide I want to feel something other than what I am presently feeling then the solution for my personal dilemma is as close as the nearest liquor store or convenience store. Once there I am just a few short steps away from the necessary product.

I make my purchase and head back home. Even before I turn my car into my driveway I’ve turned the lid of the bottle and have begun to “drown my sorrows.” What have I done?

I have taken something which is outside of me, the wine, and after a few swallows, it is now inside of me. I begin to feel its effects and the relief I’ve sought arrives soon after.

Most of us know that the first thing to “go” when a person is consuming alcohol is our judgment. With each drink our ability to make rational decisions dissipates. What was once wrong is now right. What was once unthinkable is now wandering freely through our minds. What was bothering us before is now the last thing on our minds. In Christian terminology, the loss of judgment is the loss of discernment.

If enough wine is consumed it’s not long before I am completely under its influence. I am intoxicated. I am now under the control of something that was previously “outside” of me. Now, we begin to come closer to what is being said in Ephesians 5:18.

We can be “under the influence” of anything. Most of us have been in situations where the heightened emotions of the crowd caught us up in their revelry and it wasn’t long before we were “up there” with them. I’ve seen this happen at rock concerts and I’ve also seen it happen at revivals.

We refer to the perfumes our ladies wear as being “intoxicating.” Some people are “intoxicated” watching a car traveling a quarter mile in the blink of an eye. Others are “intoxicated” watching a sunset; it has a soothing affect on them and washes away the cares of the day. The list is long and I’m sure by now you’ve even come up with some of those things that “intoxicate” you.

So, turning our attention back to our verse, let’s paraphrase the first few words.

“Do not be under the influence of anything that is outside of you…” is, if you will, the deeper, cooler water of this particular well. Another way of applying this may be to more accurately say “Do not be controlled by anything that is outside of you…”

I like watching people. Not always from a predisposition to criticize them, but just out of curiosity. A couple of years ago I was invited by some friends to go to a Christian concert. The bands would be playing their “rock” music with a Christian theme. Not there’s anything wrong with Christian concerts. I’m not saying that.

When we got there I couldn’t help but notice how subdued the crowd seemed. Now, I understand that all of us have those days when the “gray clouds” of life have followed us every step of the way, but among this group of folks there seemed to be a heaviness they all shared and I knew that not all of them had had a bad day. Well, it seemed highly unlikely anyway.

After the first band played a couple songs that same crowd was on their feet, clapping, yelling and cheering. What struck me was that the two songs they’d just sang said absolutely nothing about Jesus Christ. What was emphasized was not Him, but rather they’d sung about our life. What I mean to say is that He wasn’t mentioned first; He wasn’t glorified. The church was glorified instead.

What had happened to take this “gray cloud” group of people and in less than 15 minutes transform them into this “hootin’ and hollering” bunch I saw now? Jesus said that “if I, even I, be lifted up, I will draw all men unto ME.” But that’s not what was happening here. He wasn’t “lifted up”, we, the church were lifted up first.

Something (or someone) outside of them had been allowed in and they were “under the influence.” I had to wonder if they were there for Him or were they there for themselves and the mention of His name in connection with this event was sufficient reason to attend.

Be that as it may, and back to the point; we are not to be under the influence of, under the control of, or intoxicated by anything (or anyone) that is OUTSIDE of us. Regardless of how rousing the music might be. Neither are we to lose (forfeit) our judgment, (discernment) just because the preacher/pastor/evangelist is raising his voice and striding from one side of the platform to the other. Those are things which are outside of us.

More than one cult and/or heresy has been initiated by this type of intoxication. The most subtle method employed by most, if not all, is “excitement” and I’ve heard more than one advertisement for some church event where the announcer promised some real excitement and I’ve talked with people who’ve been to those places and the word they use the most to describe the experience is “excitement.” Something that had been “outside” of them was allowed “inside” and they were under the influence. Discernment was “checked at the door” of their hearts and minds.

Revivals are notorious for their intoxicating theology as the preacher (pastor or evangelist) uses a raised voice to stir the people up. Some accent words supposing that it adds a degree of holiness to what they are saying. Who hasn’t heard some preacher say “God-uh” or “in the name of “Jeeesus” as if his tone adds the missing ingredient?

You will know them by their fruit” are familiar words to all of us. Let’s add these words to the analogy. Where does wine come from? Fruit, of course.

Some people have borne fruit. But, don’t make the mistake of assuming that all fruit is good and don’t forget how easy it is to take any verse from the bible and make it say something that is not meant.

The common saying among some is that they were “drunk in the Spirit” and although that sounds good because it’s found, of all places, in Ephesians, chapter 5, verse 18, there is a loss of judgment because the speaker used words that had an intoxicating effect on the people.

The Spirit is the Spirit of Christ and I have never read any scripture where it says that Jesus “barked like a dog” or engaged in “holy laughter.” And I’ve never read a verse that says Jesus fell over backwards "under the power or the presence of God." But, such acts are attributed to a work or move of the Spirit of Christ. As if the Spirit is separate from Christ and does things the Christ never did or would do.

“Do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit…” Now, let’s focus on the words that follow the conjunction “but.”

We are to not do the one, but we are to do the other. Allow me a paraphrase, keeping all of this in mind and then you’ll see more clearly these words of Ephesians. You will, if you’ll hear it, have lowered your vessel into the deeper part of the well where the water is truly refreshing and doubtlessly will satisfy the thirstiest soul.

“Do not be under the influence of anything or anyone outside of you, but be under the influence and in the control of He who lives inside of you…”

If you are presently doing something, anything, that Jesus didn’t do then I’d ask you to consider who’s influencing you. What intoxicating theology did you drink that causes you to behave as you do?

Are you doing something now because someone outside of you has said that you should? There may be a reasonably good chance that you are under the influence of someone or something that is outside of you.

I’ll illustrate this anecdotally and perhaps that will help you to see what I’m getting at here.

There are things that my wife insists that I do and when I do not do them it appears that I am indifferent or that I do not care, but nothing could be further from the truth. I cannot allow her, who is outside of me, to have control of my heart or mind. I am to be “under the influence” of the Spirit within. If and when I discern that the course she prefers is one that is contrary to the Way, then I must refuse to “drink it”, come what may.

To me she is an intoxicating woman, and I certainly mean that in the best sense of the word. Still, I must not allow what she considers to be “fruit” made into “wine” to influence me personally until I have searched for myself those scriptures that will either confirm or deny her counsel or her demands on me. I cannot, for her sake, the sake of the children, my sake and most of all, for the sake of His name yield to her regardless of how intoxicating she is. She is that and more besides.

“Do not be under the influence of anything or anyone outside of you, but be under the influence and in the control of He who lives inside of you…”

This well is deeper still, but for now, this is the deepest I know of, but I am comforted to know there’s still more. There will always be “more.” What man can suppose he’s plumbed the depths of our God and reached the bottom of any well in scripture? That would make that man “God” and his worship would diminish accordingly.

Ponder all that this might mean, if anything, to you personally. For me to go on and on would deprive you of the discovery of Him while you read your bible. Keep one thing in mind while you read; if you aren’t looking for Him on every page, then you’ll learn a lot, but you’ll only walk away with a head full of facts.

As you continue to read then you will see for yourself as the Spirit of Christ takes the water of the Word, makes it into wine and begins to have you “under the influence.”

Now, that’s intoxicating.

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Member Comments
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LauraLee Shaw 28 May 2008
Lots of messages packed in here. And wisdom too! ;)


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