“Belshazzar the king made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank wine before the thousand. Belshazzar, whiles he tasted the wine, commanded to bring the golden and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple which was in Jerusalem; that the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, might drink therein. Then they brought the golden vessels that were taken out of the temple of the house of God which was at Jerusalem; and the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, drank in them. They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone.” Daniel 5:1-4
Lately, what has been coming out in these writings are messages about the heart. This makes complete sense to me since it is not our outward actions that God considers when discussing righteousness. In fact, none of our outward actions, apart from God, does He consider righteous at all. What He looks at is the heart, our motives, behind all of our actions.
With this very thing in mind, I feel the need to address the issue of drinking and Christianity. The church Body seems divided on the subject. There are those who believe that one drink does no harm, and that the occasional drink is not sinful. It is only when drinking is done to excess, then, that it is an issue. Without condoning drinking alcohol, let us review why we drink.
Why drink alcohol?
To be social? We are to be in the world, not of the world, and we are separated by God from the world. This is called being sanctified, and it means we are now called to be like God, and not like the world. God is holy, which means without defilement, and so we are to be holy.
So, to be social with the world, in the way of the world, would be a denial of Jehovah Mekkodishkem, the God Who sanctifies. The means by which we are to be social with the world must show our holiness and portray the difference we have from the world, not to appear more like the world. As far as being social with the Body, we are to do so to strengthen and encourage one another in Truth and in Spirit. Alcohol has no place in that, because even one drink would dull our senses and our sensitivity to the Spirit’s touch and voice.
Why drink alcohol?
To relax and enjoy life? If this is our reason, then we must look with an open heart and honestly evaluate our lives. Are we truly leaning on Christ for our needs, especially that of joy? If we need alcohol to relax, we should evaluate why we are tense. Are we stressed and worried about our life? If so, then we are relying on ourselves and not upon God. Jesus said that we who are weary and heavy laden should come to Him and He will give us rest. A Christian should always turn to God when he or she has again become stressed over their life. God Alone can make changes that need to be made, and He Alone can deliver us from our time of trouble. Drinking is not turning to God, it’s turning to the bottle. It’s a worldly response, and Jesus said that we cannot serve both God and the world. It’s one or the other.
One more thing to consider is what Jesus said about the disciples not washing their hands before they ate. He said:
“Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: these are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.” Matthew 15:17-20
Now, Jesus was speaking of the dirt on their hands that might get consumed, but we can apply this to everything that goes in. If alcohol is consumed, that, in and of itself, is not a problem. It’s effects become the problem. If that alcohol loosens one’s inhibitions, then one is more likely to commit sin, either by word or by deed. Many have rightly said that the truth comes out when one drinks. Alcohol has led many, many people to do things they would not normally have done. So, we need to be very careful about this, because our hearts don’t need any more encouragement to sin than they already have, they being prone to sin through wickedness unknown.
Lastly, the Bible never tells of a single instance of someone becoming drunk where good things happened. Each and every example of someone in drunkenness ends badly. Further, the Bible says specifically not to be drunken. It is, in fact, a fruit of the flesh to be drunk, and we are to walk in the Spirit, denying those things of the flesh.
Knowing all of these things about drinking, from the perspective of God, I must now concede that there are instances in the Bible where it seems alcohol was not only used, but suggested to be okay by God. Christ turned water to wine for a wedding celebration as His first miracle. The Apostle Paul told Timothy to take some wine for his stomach, and for other ailments. Even in the Old Testament, God says not to drink strong wine when the priest is to go into the tabernacle, which would imply that they drank strong wine at other times. So, I will neither support nor condone drinking alcohol, because I cannot see a stance that can be taken for or against doing so without taking in the whole Biblical perspective. However, I must refer to the original question.
Why drink alcohol?
We must look at our motivation to do so. If we are turning to it for any reason other than on occasion, and even then possibly only celebratory, we are probably not bringing the real issues to the right place, and that is God. If we aren’t bringing them to Him, then we aren’t fully trusting Him with all things, and that indicates a heart problem. We are suffering the consequences of trusting in ourselves and failing and trying to numb our hearts. Instead of drinking alcohol to numb ourselves, let’s turn to God for strength from whatever we are seeking the numbness of alcohol.