|Bible InfoNet Home||Firm Foundation||World Video Bible School|
Books of Bible
Legal But Lost: Alcohol
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. INTRODUCTION: 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; 5:28-29. 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. BODY: I. ALCOHOL AND CIVIL GOVERNMENT. A. Liquor was outlawed in the U.S. and its territories between 1919 and 1933. 1. Rhode Island and Connecticut never ratified the 18th (prohibition) Amendment. 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 The 21st Amendment rescinded the 18th Amendment. 4.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. II. ALCOHOL AND THE FACTS. 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 memorized. 3. Alcohol also damages the stomach, liver and kidneys. 4. Only cancer and heart disease claim more lives than alcohol each year. 5. Alcohol is a depressant drug which affects the central nervous system. 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. III. ALCOHOL AND SOCIETY. 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 beverages. 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. IV. ALCOHOL AND THE BIBLE. 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 Testament. 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 Testament. 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. V. OBJECTIONS TO THE CONDEMNATION OF ALCOHOL. 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 juice. 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 words. 2. Sometimes wine means first-fruits which are ripe first, Num. 18:12- 13. 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 fermenting. 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. CONCLUSION: 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! INVITATION: 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 ALCOHOL AND THE BIBLE: SUNDRY PASSAGES FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT 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 hearts." 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 himself." 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!" FROM THE NEW TESTAMENT 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 envying." 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 things;" 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:"