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And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. John 8:32

Legal But Lost: Alcohol

By Louis Rushmore
TEXT:    Prov. 20:1
THESIS:  To emphasize that sin, though approved by society and allowed by 
         civil law, is no less sin before God, the consequence of which is 
         (spiritual) death, Rom. 6:23.
  1.   Civil government in general is ordained of God, Rom. 13:1-7.
       a)  However, God does not authorize a particular kind of government 
           (Roman Empire, democracy, etc.).
       b)  Neither does God pre-authorize specific laws of any government.
  2.  The apostles found it necessary to disregard civil government on occasion 
      when it required of them something unlawful in Godís law, Acts 4:18-20; 
      a)  But, they only disregarded civil law to the extent it required them to 
          violate Godís law.
      b)  The apostles were still bound by the balance of manís law under which 
          they lived.
  3.  When civil government allows, tolerates, legalizes, taxes or sponsors sin, 
      to that extent faithful Christians must resort to the higher law of God over 
      manís law.
      a)  Governments sometimes legalize sin, but usually donít require 
          participation in the same (e.g., abortion on demand [murder], 
          prostitution, immodesty and even nudity, unscriptural remarriage, 
          gambling, alcohol, etc.).
      b)  Christians must persevere in righteousness in spite of legal permission 
          or even compulsion to commit sin.
      A.  Liquor was outlawed in the U.S. and its territories between 1919 and 
          1.  Rhode Island and Connecticut never ratified the 18th (prohibition) 
          2.  In 1929 Utah became the 36th state to renounce prohibition.
          3.  The 21st Amendment rescinded the 18th Amendment.
          4.  Several nations in the early 20th Century also practiced 
              prohibition, later to repeal it.
      B.  Alcoholic beverages are legal today and big business for manufacturers, 
          retailers and government.
          1.  Largely, with the exception of some dry counties and age 
              restrictions, alcohol is legal throughout our nation.
          2.  Tax receipts are sizable of liquorís 20 billion dollars in annual sales.
          3.  New York has even legalized drunkenness and requires police to act 
              as a free taxi service to drunks.
       A.  Alcohol is the worst abused drug in our nation.
           1.  Alcohol abuse costs 100 billion dollars annually.
           2.  It costs about 5 times more to address the abuse of alcohol than the 
               money generated by retail sales of alcoholic beverages.
           3.  Business, industry and government spend large amounts of money 
               combating the abuse of alcohol in the work place.
       B.  Alcohol is associated with most crime; it is involved in:
           1.  70% of all murders,
           2.  41% of assaults,
           3.  50% of rapes,
           4.  60% of sex crimes against children,
           5.  56% of fights and assaults in homes,
           6.  37% of suicides,
           7.  55% of all arrests,
       C.  Alcohol is a safety hazard; it is involved in:
           1.  66% of fatal accidents,
           2.  53% of fire deaths,
           3.  36% of pedestrian accidents,
           4.  22% of home accidents,
           5.  45% of drownings,
           6.  50% of skiing accidents,
           7.  more admissions to mental hospitals than any other cause,
           8.  50% of all traffic accidents (killing 25,000 and seriously 
               injuring 1,000,000 annually)
           9.  and is the #1 killer of people 25 and under (the #3 killer in 
               America for all ages).
       D.  Alcohol is a medical hazard.
           1.  Alcohol is poisonous;  half of 1% alcohol in the blood results 
               in instant death.
           2.  Each alcoholic drink kills brain cells (which the body does not 
               replace); memory loss begins with the last things learned or 
           3.  Alcohol also damages the stomach, liver and kidneys.
           4.  Only cancer and heart disease claim more lives than alcohol each 
           5.  Alcohol is a depressant drug which affects the central nervous 
           6.  One drink (of beer, liquor or wine) produces .05% alcohol in the 
                blood and accompanying physical impairments.
           7.  Alcohol combined with medication or other drugs can kill.
           8.  Alcohol consumption during pregnancy may result in birth defects 
               (including facial abnormalities, heart defects, abnormal limb 
               development and less than average intelligence).
           9.  Even in small quantities, alcohol deadens mental activity and 
               slows muscular response and co-ordination.
           10.  Alcohol produces fatigue and lowers physical endurance.
        A.  Alcoholic beverages are widely used.
            1.   About 71% of Americans 18 and up use alcohol.
            2.  Only 29% abstain from its use.
            3.  Most restaurants serve alcohol (including Pizza Hut, Ground 
                Round, Chi-Chiís, etc.).
            4.  Where permitted almost all grocery stores sell alcohol.
            5.  Serving alcoholic beverages to guests upon entrance into oneís 
                home has become the norm for modern hospitality.
            6.  Alcohol accompanies most social and sporting events.
            7.  Our leaders and heroes (e.g., politicians, entertainers, athletes 
                and most other public figures) are viewed regularly using alcoholic 
        B.  Even some religious leaders condone its use.
            1.  Billy Graham has expressed his approval of alcohol.
            2.  Church festivals frequently offer alcoholic beverages.
            3.  Military chaplains commonly fellowship over cocktails.
            4.  The Roman Catholic church owns wineries and uses alcohol in its 
                worship service.
        C.  Alcoholism is said to be a disease.
            1.  It is the only disease which is taxed by governments.
            2.  It is the only disease which typically leads to auto accidents, 
                divorce, murder, rape, etc.
            3.  It is the only disease for which one can be fined for having too 
                much of it.
            4.  It is the only disease gladly accepted by its victim.
            5.  It is the only disease which employs people for its manufacture.
            6.  It is the only disease regulated by government.
            7.  It is the only disease allowed or disallowed in a community by 
                popular vote.
            8.  It is the only disease bottled and sold.
       A.  Conservative religious people have always regarded alcohol as sinful.
           1.  Some churches oppose the selling of alcoholic beverages close to 
               their buildings.
           2.  Some churches distribute literature opposing the pleasurable 
               consumption of alcoholic beverages.
           3.  Many elders, preachers and congregations throughout the churches 
               of Christ oppose alcohol on biblical grounds.
       B.  The pleasurable consumption of alcohol is condemned in the Old 
           1.  Priests were forbidden to consume alcohol under penalty of death, 
               Lev. 10:8-11.
           2.  Civil leaders were forbidden to drink alcohol lest they pervert 
               judgment, Prov. 31:4-5.
           3.  Faithful Jews were not allowed even to look upon wine in its 
               intoxicating state, Prov. 23:31.
           4.  Alcohol was reserved for medicinal purposes, Prov. 31:6.
           5.  Drunkenness was punishable by death, Deut. 21:20-21.
           6.  Alcohol impoverishes, Prov. 23:21.
           7.  Drinking alcohol demonstrates lack of wisdom, Prov. 20:1.
           8.  Faithful Jews were forbidden to be in the company of those 
               drinking alcohol, Prov. 23:20.
           9.  Alcohol leads to other immorality, Prov. 23:29-35.
           10.  Alcohol is hazardous to health and safety, Prov. 23:29-35.
           11.  Alcohol causes Godís servants to err, Gen. 9:21, 22; Isa. 28:7.
           12.  Drinking alcohol was considered a defilement by faithful Jews, 
                Dan. 1:5-8.
           13.  It was a crime to give alcohol beverages to another person, 
                Hab. 2:15.
           14.  The Israelites were forbidden to drink alcohol in order to always 
                know God and practice his law, Deut. 29:6.
           15.  Alcohol is associated with violence, Prov. 4:17.
           16.  Total abstinence from alcohol was praised by God, Jer. 35:2-19.
       C.  The pleasurable consumption of alcohol is condemned in the New 
           1.  Whereas Old Testament priests were forbidden to drink alcohol, 
               Christians are priests (1 Pet. 2:5, 9) in the perfect tabernacle (the 
               church, Heb. 9:11; 8:2) all the time.
           2.  Drinking alcohol is expressly forbidden, Eph. 5:18.
           3.  Drunkenness is a sin explicitly cited as keeping people from 
               heaven, 1 Cor. 6:9-11; Gal. 5:19-21.
           4.  Drinking alcohol is drinking with the devil, 1 Cor. 10:21.
           5.  Drinking alcohol is a work of the flesh, warring against the spirit 
               of man, Gal. 5:19-21.
           6.  Christians are exhorted to be sober, 1 Thess. 5:6, 8; 1 Tim. 
               3:2-3, 8; 1 Pet. 1:13; 4:7; 5:8.
           7.  Aged women are cautioned against use of alcohol, Tit. 2:3.
           8.  Alcohol was restricted to medicinal use, 1 Tim. 5:23.
           9.  Leaders of the church are especially forbidden the use of 
               alcohol, 1 Tim. 3:2-3, 8.
           10.  Christians are exhorted to avoid even the appearance of evil, 
                1 Thess. 5:22.
           11.  It is sinful to harm the body, which alcohol does, 1 Cor. 
                3:16-17; 6:19-20.
           12.  Drinking alcohol is sinful and associated with other sins, 
                Rom. 13:13.
      A.  Jesus turned water into wine at a marriage feast, John 2:1-11.
          1.  The Greek word from which wine is translated in John 2 can mean 
              the grape vine, the grape, grape juice, grape juice concentrate, grape 
              juice mixed with other flavors or alcoholic wine and can only be 
              defined by the context in which it appears (oinos).
          2.  Jesus lived under the Old Testament which forbid drinking alcohol.
          3.  If Jesus, then, made alcoholic wine, he sinned, and could not be the 
              perfect sacrifice.
          4.  If Jesus sinned, therefore, we all are hopelessly lost in sin, having no 
              hope whatsoever of going to heaven.
      B.  The Bible condemns drunkenness, not drinking alcohol.
          1.  This is a faulty distinction between drinking and drunkenness which 
              the Bible does not make.
          2.  Medically, drunkenness is only a matter of degrees; one drink alone 
              kills brain cells and deposits alcohol in the blood stream; additional 
              drinks only increase the concentration of alcohol in the blood.
          3.  The word, drunk, even by English definition is "having the 
              faculties impaired by alcohol"; drunkenness is only a matter of 
              degrees (of drunkenness).
          4.  Included in commands against alcohol in Godís former law is 
              warning not to even look upon alcohol, Prov. 23:31.
          5.  The Gospel commands soberness (nepho), which by Greek definition 
              "signifies to be free from the influence of intoxicants," 1 Thess. 5:6, 8; 
              2 Tim. 4:5; 1 Pet. 1:13; 4:7; 5:8.
      C.  Paul told Timothy to drink wine for his stomach, 1 Tim. 5:23.
          1.  It is not conclusive that the word wine refers to alcohol.
          2.  Even if wine here is alcoholic, the medicinal purpose taught in this 
               verse falls far short of allowing the pleasurable consumption of 
              alcohol as a beverage.
      D.  While elders are not allowed any alcohol, deacons are permitted some 
          alcohol, 1 Tim. 3:3, 8.
          1.  The Greek words translated wine here are paroinon and prosecho, 
              which both mean "to be addicted to."
          2.  Both passages equally condemn a disposition which is attributed 
              drinking alcohol.
          3.  Compare the inclusion of the word much in verse 8 to these 
               passages, Ecc. 7:17; 1 Pet. 4:4.
      E.  Ancient peoples did not know how to preserve grape juice and 
          therefore drank alcoholic wine.
          1.  Ancient peoples often preferred pure grape juice to fermented grape 
          2.  In order to preserve grape juice, they boiled it, leaving too much 
              sugar to ferment;
          3.  Or, employed filtration, getting rid of the yeast;
          4.  Or, used subsidence to allow the yeast to settle on the bottom before 
              skimming the juice from the top;
          5.  Or, used fumigation, adding sulfur to absorb the oxygen.
      F.  The word wine is used in several instances in the Bible where its use by 
          the children of God is not condemned.
          1.  The word wine is represented in the Bible by 10 Hebrew and 3 Greek 
          2.  Sometimes wine means first-fruits which are ripe first, Num. 18:12-
          3.  It can mean the cluster of grapes, Isa. 65:8.
          4.  Wine can refer to raisins, Hos. 3:1, ASV.
          5.  Sometimes wine equals the winepress, Neh. 13:15.
          6.  Wine can be the pure juice of the grape, Prov. 3:10.
          7.  And, it can refer to alcoholic wine as well, Gen. 9:21.
          8.  The context is the overriding factor determining the definition of both 
              the Greek and English words for wine.
      G.  The apostles in Acts 2, and Jesus in Luke 7:34, were respectively 
          accused of being drunken and a winebibber; both accusations suggest 
          Jews drank alcohol.
          1.  The Jews were mocking the apostles; the verses do not conclusively 
              argue for either alcoholic or non-alcoholic wine in view of the 
              mocking; in any event the charge was not true.
          2.  Whether any Jews were in the habit of drinking alcoholic wine does 
              not affect whether God approved of it.
          3.  In the context of Luke 7:34 (29-35) Jesus was also accused of being 
              a glutton; other times he was said to be demon-possessed, (Mark 
              3:22), called crazy (Mark 3:21; John 7:20), and called a Samaritan 
              (John 8:48).
          4.  Under Judaism during which time Jesus lived, gluttons and 
              winebibbers were sentenced to death, Deut. 21:20-21.
          5.  Are the enemies of Jesus credible, to be believed?
          6.  Not the Christ and no apostle admitted to the consumption of 
              alcohol, nor gave others permission.
      H.  Jesus used an illustration in a parable about wine and new and old 
          bottles (skins) which shows the Jews customarily drank alcoholic wine, 
          Luke 5:37-39.
          1.  On the contrary, new skins were used to keep the grape juice from 
          2.  Emptied old skins would develop yeast, which if transmitted to a new 
              batch of grape juice, would ferment and burst old skins.
          3.  Further, the preference for older wine in verse 39 does not prove it 
              was alcoholic; something aged is not necessarily fermented.
  1.  Drunkenness has always been sinful.
  2.  No law of man can override Godís law on any topic, including alcohol.
  3.  Various national, state and local governments have found cause against 
      alcohol to legislate against it.
  4.  Alcohol is a dangerous drug.
  5.  Alcohol costs more than it earns in tax dollars.
  6.  Alcohol is frequently associated with crime.
  7.  Alcohol is a safety hazard.
  8.  Alcohol is poisonous and otherwise harmful to oneís health.
  9.  The use of alcohol is deeply ingrained into nearly every aspect of society.
  10.  Alcohol is the most unlikely and peculiar disease.
  11.  As if man didnít know it was bad for him, God denounces the 
       consumption of alcohol as sinful.
  12.  No defense can be made for alcoholic beverages.
  13.  Christians must not consume any alcoholic beverages.
  14.  Christians and the church must oppose this evil to whatever extent 
       possible, Eph. 5:11; Jam. 4:7.
  15.  Alcohol destroys internally, externally and eternally!
  1.  We must listen exclusively to the law of God on all subjects addressed 
      by God in the Bible; further, we must obey, Heb. 5:8-9.
  2.  Repentance precedes forgiveness for both sinner and saint, Luke 13:3; 
      Acts 8:22.
  3.  Non-Christians must accompany their penitence also with BELIEF, 
      CONFESSING CHRIST and BAPTISM, Rom. 10:17; Rom. 10:9, 10; 
      Acts 22:16.
  4.  Erring Christians express their penitence through prayer, 1 John 1:7.
Louis Rushmore
Gen. 9:21-22, "And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was
              uncovered within his tent." 
Lev. 10:8-11, "And the Lord spake unto Aaron, saying, Do not drink wine nor 
             strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the 
             tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: it shall be a statute for ever 
             throughout your generations: And that ye may put difference between 
             holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean; And that ye may 
             teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the Lord hath spoken 
             unto them by the hand of Moses."
Deut. 21:20, 21, "And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is 
             stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, 
             and a drunkard. And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, 
             that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel 
             shall hear, and fear." 
Deut. 29:6, "Ye have not eaten bread, neither have ye drunk wine or strong 
             drink: that ye might know that I am the Lord your God." 
Prov. 20:1, "Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is 
             deceived thereby is not wise." 
Prov. 21:17, "He that loveth pleasure shall be a poor man: he that loveth wine 
             and oil shall not be rich."
Prov. 23:20-21, "Be not among winebibbers; among riotous eaters of flesh: 
             For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and 
             drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags."
Prov. 23:29-35, "Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? 
             who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath 
             redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek 
             mixed wine. Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it 
             giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it 
             biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. Thine eyes shall 
             behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things. 
             Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as 
             he that lieth upon the top of a mast. They have stricken me, shalt thou 
             say, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not: when 
             shall I awake? I will seek it yet again." 
Prov. 31:4-6, "It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; 
             nor for princes strong drink: Lest they drink, and forget the law, and 
             pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted. Give strong drink unto 
             him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy 
Isa. 28:7, "But they also have erred through wine, and through strong drink are 
             out of the way; the priest and the prophet have erred through strong 
             drink, they are swallowed up of wine, they are out of the way through 
             strong drink; they err in vision, they stumble in judgment." 
Jer. 35:8, "Thus have we obeyed the voice of Jonadab the son of Rechab our 
             father in all that he hath charged us, to drink no wine all our days, we, 
             our wives, our sons, nor our daughters;" 
Dan. 1:5-8, "And the king appointed them a daily provision of the kingís meat, 
             and of the wine which he drank: so nourishing them three years, that 
             at the end thereof they might stand before the king. Now among these 
             were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: 
             Unto whom the prince of the eunuchs gave names: for he gave unto 
             Daniel the name of Belteshazzar; and to Hananiah, of Shadrach; and to 
             Mishael, of Meshach; and to Azariah, of Abednego. But Daniel 
             purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion 
             of the kingís meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he 
             requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile 
Hab. 2:15, "Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink, that puttest thy 
             bottle to him, and makest him drunken also, that thou mayest look on 
             their nakedness!" 
Matt. 21:33, "Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which 
             planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress 
             in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a 
             far country:" 
Rom. 13:13, "Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and 
             drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and 
1 Cor. 6:9-11, "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom 
             of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor 
             adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 
             Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor 
             extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of 
             you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the 
             name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God." 
1 Cor. 10:21,  "Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye 
             cannot be partakers of the Lordís table, and of the table of devils." 
Gal. 5:19-21, "Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; 
             Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, 
             hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 
             Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like:of the which 
             I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which 
             do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God." 
1 Thess. 5:6, 8, "Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and 
             be sober. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the 
             breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation." 
1 Tim. 3:2-3, 8, "A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, 
             vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; 
             Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, 
             not a brawler, not covetous; Likewise must the deacons be grave, not 
             doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;" 
1 Tim. 5:23, "Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomachís 
             sake and thine often infirmities." 
Tit. 2:3, "The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh 
             holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good 
1 Thess. 5:22, "Abstain from all appearance of evil." 
1 Pet. 1:13, "Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to 
             the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of 
             Jesus Christ;" 
1 Pet. 4:7, "But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and 
             watch unto prayer." 
1 Pet. 5:8, "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a 
             roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:" 

H. A. "Buster" Dobbs, email:
P. O. Box 690192
Houston, Texas 77269-0192
(281) 469-3540

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