What I am saying in the title is that there is no sin in the bottle of alcohol. The sin is in us- in the world. Just as there is no sin in the internet, anymore than there is sin in the telephone; both popular communications mediums. The internet is no different than telephones, televisions, or citizen band radios. All are vehicles to transmit both good and evil. This website is proof of that. This site is about good. Sure, the internet is wrought with pornography, and the liquids poured from bottles of alcohol have ruined lives, hardened hearts, and led many to destruction. But the sin is in the person and in the world.
Some denominations tolerate alcohol and some forbid it, and different religions look upon it in different ways. Let us look at scripture and see what the Word has to say about it. I spent a good deal of time searching through the Bible for relevant passages. The early part of the Bible makes few references to alcohol. Consider this passage which lists some specific things to not do:
Deuteronomy 14:11-21 "You may eat any clean bird. But these you may not eat: the eagle, the vulture, the black vulture, the red kite, the black kite, any kind of falcon, any kind of raven, the horned owl, the screech owl, the gull, any kind of hawk, the little owl, the great owl, the white owl, the desert owl, the osprey, the cormorant, the stork, any kind of heron, the hoopoe and the bat. All flying insects that swarm are unclean to you; do not eat them. But any winged creature that is clean you may eat. Do not eat anything you find already dead. You may give it to an alien living in any of your towns, and he may eat it, or you may sell it to a foreigner. But you are a people holy to the LORD your God. Do not cook a young goat in its mother's milk."
Now consider this mention to alcohol in the verses immediately after the preceding ones:
Deuteronomy 14:22-26 "Be sure to set aside a tenth of all that your fields produce each year. Eat the tithe of your grain, new wine and oil, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks in the presence of the LORD your God at the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name, so that you may learn to revere the LORD your God always. But if that place is too distant and you have been blessed by the LORD your God and cannot carry your tithe (because the place where the LORD will choose to put his Name is so far away), then exchange your tithe for silver, and take the silver with you and go to the place the LORD your God will choose. Use the silver to buy whatever you like: cattle, sheep, wine or other fermented drink, or anything you wish. Then you and your household shall eat there in the presence of the LORD your God and rejoice."
In this passage, the Bible acknowledges that fermented drink is a part of human existance, and things that people can legitimately purchase, like cattle, sheep, etc.
Within the Old Testament, the main references to alcohol come from Solomon in the book of Proverbs. Now Solomon was given wisdom by the Lord, and so it is not suprising that Solomon, the wisest man to have ever lived, had poignant words to speak about the EFFECTS of alcohol. I love this passage, because it really speaks about alcoholism in fluid description. The red eyes; the room spinning; the effects of hangovers- waking up and not remembering actions and injuries, etc. Then the sarcastic finality of all alcoholics- "I can't wait to feel this horrible again. Isn't this fun?"
Proverbs 23:29-35 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?"
Kind of sounds like Solomon had "been there and done that" doesn't it?
Proverbs 9:5 "Come, eat my food and drink the wine I have mixed."
Proverbs 20:1 "Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise."
Proverbs 23:20 "Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags."
So, it is clear from Solomon that alcohol can be abused, and that is wrong. And you can eat too much as well.
Jumping forward to the New Testament, Jesus references alcohol a few times:
Luke 12:45-48 "But suppose the servant says to himself, 'My master is taking a long time in coming,' and he then begins to beat the menservants and maidservants and to eat and drink and get drunk. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers."
Jesus dedicates more of his time to describing the place for people who get drunk and beat on people. Everyone already knows that you are not supposed to get bombed. But, when he returns, Jesus will smite the alcoholics, and get rid of all the alcohol, and take us to a place where all we will be concerned with is praising and glorifying the Lord.
Matthew 13:41 "The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear."
But in the meantime, until that glorious day comes, Jesus sent good men to preach specifically against ABUSING alcohol- for those of us with hard heads. The apostles write:
Romans 13:13-14 "Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature."
1 Corinthians 5:11 "But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat."
According to the Word. Drunkards will not inherit the kingdom of God. Plain and simple.
1 Corinthians 6:9-10 "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God."
Galatians 5:19-23 "The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law."
And on and on...
Ephesians 5:18-20 "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."
1 Peter 4:2-4 "As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do-- living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. They think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you.
Titus 1:7 "7Since an overseer is entrusted with God's work, he must be blameless-- not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain."
1 Timothy 3:2-5 "Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church?)"
1 Timothy 3:8 "Deacons, likewise, are to be men worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain."
But Paul advocates some wine to Timothy because of his medical condition.
1 Timothy 5:23 "Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses."
Once we read the Word, the truth becomes clear. It is not the drink itself, but the effects of overindulgence that is the sin. The Bible makes it abundantly clear that drunkards will not enter heaven.
Now, some sins are easier to avoid. It is relatively easy to avoid murder. With alcohol though, there is a line drawn- a point where you cross over from simple indulgence to intoxication. Often you do not realize that you have crossed over this line until afterwards. Still, it is important to note that point, so that you do not cross it over in the future. I would define this point at the point in which the alcohol starts to affect your thoughts and actions. At this point, you are intoxicated. Of course, when in public, or behind the wheel, you are bond by the rule of law (see Romans 13 regarding submitting to authorities and following the law). However, in your household, (where Man's law does not apply), you must refer back to the standard of the Bible, which preach against getting drunk. It is the intoxication of the body, which leads to intoxication of the mind AND spirit.
Although drugs like marijuana, LSD, and cocaine are not mentioned specifically in the Bible, it is clear that the same scriptures that speak of drunkeness apply equally (maybe even more so) to mind altering drugs. That is because alcohol CAN be used in moderation, with no ill efect. The sole purpose of mind altering drugs however, is to alter the mind, so intoxication is a direct, unavoidable, and INTENDED result of their use. Thus, use of these substances is forbidden by the Bible.
Bummer you say? Yes. But, that is the way it works. Pot and booze feels good. That is why we drown ourselves with them. Sin feels good. That is why we sin. But it is still sin. Sin creates a wall between and a relationship with God. You need to keep your mind clear so you can enjoy that relationship.
1 Peter 4:7 "The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray."
But, until people see the reality of this truth. Until they are faced with their mortality, they often continue. Thinking there will always be time to quit later down the road. And so they drink and drink and drink... It is human nature.
2 Peter 2:22 "Of them the proverbs are true: "A dog returns to its vomit," and, "A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud."
Lance Bailey has been there and done that. I've been a world-class drunkard. And, I was good at it! Few could hang with me over the longhaul. But no more. I have been sober since Sept 30th, 2003, I average a beer or two a day, (because I still like the way it tastes), and it really has not been that much of a struggle. I have leaned on Jesus heavily through this time, and He has made all the difference. No 12 Step program was needed. Just One Step. No Alcoholics Anonymous program needed. No need to step in front of a podium and have to say: "My name is Lance Bailey and I am a alcoholic." Nope. I can just face myself in the mirror, place my hand on the Bible and say with a smile- "I am a Christian! And I love Jesus!"