The political, educational, and cultural climate in America today is intolerant of “don’ts,” and yet receptive of any fre

     The political, educational, and cultural climate in America today is intolerant of “don’ts,” and yet receptive of any freedom of expression no matter how offensive, vile, and depraved.  As someone aptly observed, “The only thing America will not tolerate is intolerance.”  Their responses are numerous, “That’s your opinion.”  “This is right for me.”  “I feel that this is okay.”  “I don’t interpret it that way.”  “This is just the way I am.”  “No one is going to tell me what to do....”  However, God’s Word is so refreshingly absolute – many issues are clearly a matter of righteousness or sin.  While some behavior may be categorized as good, better, or best, there are some things a Christian just ought not do.

One of the “criticisms” of the Bible is that it is so negative full of “thou shalt not’s.”  The Bible is negative on sin, but equally so, it is instructively positive on righteous behavior.  The negativism is not due to God’s nature.  Read the record of His sinless creation in Genesis 1 and 2; here you find only joy, wonder, peace, contentment, fulfillment – a desirous environment for sure.  In Genesis 3, mankind sinned and caused pain, discord, contentions – a cursed existence.  God’s “thou shalt nots” correct man’s tendency toward sin and protect him from self-destruction.  This is positive involvement with man.  As this world staggers toward the return of the Lord Jesus Christ, things are going to get w-o-r-s-e, not better. According to 2 Timothy 3:1, these last days will be characterized by P__ __ __ __ __ __ __ times.  Matthew 24:12 predicts that

I__ __ __ __ __ __ __ shall abound.  Were it not for the clear teachings of the Word of God, it would be easy for the believer to be swept along by the tide of sin.  Thank God we have the Bible!

This study will look at some of the current “sociological sins” facing believers today.  They are widespread and generally accepted in the community; that doesn’t make them right.  It’s what the Bible says that counts.

REFLECTIONS IN PREPARATION FOR THIS STUDY

From the S Lesson – Separation

1.     We are to be separated from the world unto God (Romans 12:1-2).

 

2.     What is our liberty in Christ restricted to? (page 16)  To things which E__ __ __ __.  Liberty is the freedom to do right – never the freedom to do anything!

From the V Lesson – Victory

1.     What does the “world” seek from you? (page 6)  It seeks to gain your L__ __ __.

2.     According to Colossians 3:1,2, where are you to place your affections?  “On T__ __ __ __ __ A__ __ __ __.”

3.     Note the concluding statement on page 3, “Without a doubt, God’s desire and plan is for each Christian to live a victorious life – not just victory, but A__ __ __ __ __ __ __ super-abounding victory over our spiritual enemies!”

 

I.      WHY CHRISTIANS CONSUME GOOD BEVERAGES INSTEAD OF DRINKING ALCOHOL

Drinking is a monumental problem in this country –thousands of lives are lost, thousands of homes are destroyed, and millions of dollars are wasted annually as a direct result of the liquor industry.  And yet, for all of this, consuming alcohol is one of the most socially acceptable (and expected!) pastimes of our nation.  The Bible says much concerning liquor; it is clear in its teaching on this subject.  Fortunately we have a variety of good beverages, Colas, fruit juices, hot and cold drinks.  Before studying the Scriptures, it is vital to keep in mind the fact that the word “wine” in the Bible is a generic word which applies to all products derived from grapes – both natural grape juice and man-made alcoholic wine.  The context of the passage determines what is meant in each case.

Additional Study

Read the article on wine at the end of this lesson.

It addresses pertinent questions regarding social drinking as Christian behavior.

 

A.     God’s comments about alcoholic drinks

1.     “Wine is a M__ __ __ __ __” (Proverbs 20:1).

2.     Drunkenness leads to P__ __ __ __ __ __ (Proverbs 23:20, 21).

3.     The Bible pronounces W__ __ upon drunks (Isaiah 5:11).

4.     Drinking leads to N__ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ and shame (Genesis 9:20-23).

5.     God pronounces woe upon those giving their

N__ __ __ __ __ __ __ drink (Habakkuk 2:15).

6.     Liquor perverts J__ __ __ __ __ __ __ (Proverbs 31:4-5).  This passage refers to the practice of drinking to drown your sorrows.  However, drink never removes the sorrows; it only compounds them, as Proverbs 23:29-30 teaches.

7.     Drink causes us to E__ __ (Isaiah 28:7).

B.     Christians are tempted to drink “socially.”  To this we answer:

1.     Every drunkard began with just one drink.

2.     Liquor is deceiving (Proverbs 20:1).

3.     Drinking is unnecessary.

4.     Drinking identifies you with the wrong crowd.

A Lost Man Speaks

Listen to the studied conclusions of a Toronto Star staff writer.  He has made alcoholism a subject of intense study both on the university and professional levels.  As an unsaved man he gave up social drinking altogether (carefully stating that his change of heart was not due to any “moral or religious conversion”).  His research yielded this conclusion, “...drinking has brought in its wake a host of evil by-products on a scale unprecedented in our society: Death, sickness, addiction, family disruption, murder, child abuse, accidents of all sorts, and astronomical health costs.”

5.     Listen to the convictions of famous men of yesteryear.

 

·                   Abraham Lincoln said it was “a cancer in human society, eating out its vitals and threatening its destruction.”

·                   William Gladstone said strong drink was “more destructive than war, pestilence, and famine.”

·                   Sir Wilfred Lawson said it was “the devil in solution.”

·                   William Shakespeare said, “Alcohol is a poison men take into the mouth to steal away the brain.”

·                   Lord Chesterfield said it was “an artist in human slaughter.”

·                   General John Pershing said, “Drunkenness has killed more men than all of history’s wars.”

·                   General Robert E. Lee said, “My experience through life has convinced me that abstinence from spirituous liquors is the best safeguard to morals and health.”

The article on wine at the end of this lesson will help the Christian who is honestly seeking God’s will in the matter of social drinking.

C.     Alcoholic beverage is a man-made product.

The process of fermentation requires special conditions and human intervention.  The exact proportions of sugar, yeast, and water must be present, and a temperature range of 50-70 degrees F maintained – otherwise vinegar would be produced.

D.     But didn’t Jesus make wine at the wedding in Cana?

Some argue for drinking by citing the first miracle of Jesus Christ – that of turning the water into wine at the marriage feast in Cana.  However, oriental weddings were religious occasions, not festive, and God never

 

 

contradicts His Word – this wine was the fruit of the vine, that is, grape juice.

E.     From your honest evaluation of this issue, and from reading the Scriptures and the article on wine, do you conclude drinking alcohol is:

·                   Not God’s best design for Christians?

·                   Not an issue God is concerned about?

 

II.     WHY CHRISTIANS WORK HARD INSTEAD OF GAMBLING

A popular slogan promoting a lottery says, “Millions Won Weekly,” but fails to tell the other side of the story – “Countless Millions Lost Weekly,” not to mention ruined lives, broken homes, hungry children, and the accompanying rise in organized crime, prostitution, and theft.  Lotteries now operate in a majority of states and in the District of Columbia.  Gambling is on the rise – the year 1992 alone saw an increase by 21%!  Our country is a nation of gamblers – from raffles, bingo, and lotto, to racing, professional and collegiate sports, and casinos.  There are numerous opportunities to lay down your dollar with hopes of getting more in return.

What does the Bible have to say on this matter?  What direction does it give either by specific command, divine principle, or experiential wisdom?

A.     Gambling is an insult to God.

1.     God shall supply A__ __ our N__ __ __ __ (Philippians 4:19).

2.     God will see to it that His children will have all

S__ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ in A__ __ things (2 Corinthians 9:8).

 

 

3.     Christian, realize that your life and destiny are in God’s hands (Psalm 37:23; Romans 8:28).

When we gamble we are in affect saying to the Lord, “I do not think You can or will keep Your promise to take care of me.”

B.     Gambling is spiritually dangerous.

It is a sin that has destroyed many people.

1.     In Proverbs 11:28 God warned, “He that trusteth in his riches shall F__ __ __: but the righteous shall flourish as a branch.”

2.     1 Timothy 6:9 instructs those who will be rich (that is, they want riches above all else), that the danger before them is:

T__ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ A S__ __ __ __

F__ __ __ __ __ __ and H__ __ __ __ __ __ lusts.

C.     Gambling is basically selfish.

It is seeking prosperity at the expense of others.  Greed is the motivating cause.  Where do the funds in the million-dollar jackpot come from?

1.     “Thou shalt not S__ __ __ __ “ (Exodus 20:15).  No one gambles to lose.  The prime motivation for all forms of gambling is to gain at the expense of others.  That is covetousness.

2.     1 Timothy 6:10 does not teach that money is a problem, but rather the L__ __ __ of it is.

3.     According to Genesis 3:19, God intends man to live by the S__ __ __ __ of his face; that is, to work for a living.

4.     God’s Principle of Gain is that there must be:

WORK BEFORE WEALTH

SOWING BEFORE REAPING

·                   (2 Thessalonians 3:10) “…this we commanded you, that if any would not

W__ __ __, neither should he E__ __.”

·                   (Ephesians 4:28) “Let him that stole steal no

 

 

more: but rather let him labour,

W__ __ __ __ __ __ with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.”

Gambling invalidates God’s natural law because the gambler seeks to reap what others have sown.

D.     Gambling is poor stewardship.

No one ever really wins by indulging in gambling. According to 1 Corinthians 4:2, God requires each

Christian to be F__ __ __ __ __ __ __ over all that has been given to him from God’s hand.

E.     Gambling is often just plain “superstition.”

One often hears of “lucky numbers,” “lucky systems,” “keeping your fingers crossed,” etc.  Read what God has to say about such things in Isaiah 47:12,13.

1.     Romans 8:28 says, “All things work together           for G__ __ __ to them that love God . . . .”

2.     According to 1 Peter 5:7, you are to be “Casting A__ __ your C__ __ __ upon H__ __. . .”

One word that needs to disappear from the Christian’s vocabulary is luck.  It plays no part in God’s loving and providential care for His own.

F.     Gambling makes one insensitive to God’s will.

According to John 19:23-24, the Roman soldiers gambled for the clothes of the crucified Christ.  They were completely unaware of the significance of the event transpiring in their presence.  When anyone is consumed with self-interest, they are most insensitive to the movement of God.  Avoid gambling as an enemy of your soul.  Lean wholly upon the Lord for everything that is good and necessary in life.

G.    Gambling fosters the “Get-Rich-Quick-But-Hurry” mentality in America.

We are losing the work ethic of previous generations. They knew they had to earn something before they

 

 

could have it.  No one was going to step up and hand it to them; and, they didn’t expect anyone to.  They were willing to work hard and make something of their lives by building it themselves.  But change began in the 1930s, and today, many people don’t want to work and save for something; they want it now.  They also want something for nothing, believing that they deserve things they haven’t earned.  This get-rich-quick mentality is being propagated through advertising; through professional sports, Hollywood, and rock stars; through the “magic of the stock market;” through the lottery; and more.

The Bible denounces laziness, greed, the love of money, stealing, faithlessness in stewardship, and being bound by obsessions.  Gambling is not consistent with God’s command to trust Him.

 

III.     WHY CHRISTIANS TAKE CARE OF THEIR BODIES INSTEAD OF SMOKING

Smoking is addictive; that’s why people struggle with it. Tobacco smoke’s harmful substances destroy the body and are a cause of cancers.  These drugs (and other harmful narcotics) should be absent from your life for three basic reasons:

 

 

A.     For PHYSICAL reasons

It is common knowledge that smoking is harmful and even deadly.  Unsaved people quit smoking for this reason; Christians should live by a higher standard.

1.     1 Corinthians 6:19 says the believer’s physical body is the T__ __ __ __ __ of the H__ __ __

S__ __ __ __ __.  It is sacred, and should not be knowingly defiled by any harmful substance.

 

 

2.     The Apostle Paul kept his physical body well by keeping it under S__ __ __ __ __ - __ __ __ __ (1 Corinthians 9:27).  Harming your body hinders your ability to effectively serve the Lord.  Christians take care of their bodies as a way of acknowledging the Lordship of Christ and posturing themselves to be most effective in the King’s service.

B.     For EMOTIONAL reasons

1.     Many people start smoking because of underlying emotional causes – insecurity, anxiety, etc.  It becomes a deadly crutch.  Addiction is a terrible thing.

2.     The believer is to be “. . . C__ __ __ __ __ __ (full of care, anxious) for nothing . . .” (Philippians 4:6). Rather, he is to trust in the Lord for all things.

3.     Experiencing Philippians 4:7 eliminates the need for illicit, addictive drugs.

C.     For SPIRITUAL reasons

A Christian who smokes is a poor testimony for Christ. Unsaved people expect Christians to be clean in their habits, and this is not unreasonable.  Addictive behavior is a great obstacle to winning people to Christ.

 

IV.    WHY CHRISTIANS FELLOWSHIP BUT DON’T DANCE

A.     The value of fellowship

Fellowship deepens wholesome relationships between Christians.  It bonds God’s people together and enriches their lives.  It pulls them closer to each other and demonstrates to the world the love and unity that is possible through Christ.  Christ enjoyed a depth of relationship with both men and women; it was pure.

 

B.     Dancing is a practice with strong sexual overtones.

1.     Ballroom dancing with its intimate embrace, or the latest body-shaking “gyrations” which flaunt the flesh and lower God-given inhibitions are both strongly sensual.  If dancing has any place whatsoever, it could only be between a husband and wife in the privacy of their marriage relationship.

2.     Other dance styles, such as ballet, are usually accompanied with skimpy, tight-fitting costumes that reveal the sensual parts of the body and leave little to the imagination.

C.     The Bible associates dancing with evil.

1.     Read Exodus 32:1-29.  Dancing is mentioned in verse 19.  Notice what is associated with it:

a.     Verse 4 –                                                        

b.     Verse 25 – N__ __ __ __ __ __ __ __

2.     Read Matthew 14:1-12.  Dancing was the means of getting the adulterous Herod to put John the Baptist to death.  Who danced here?

                                                                                       

D.     Some Christians point out that King David danced before the Lord (2 Samuel 6:12-21).

It is important to understand what is happening here. David is dancing alone, and it is out of extreme joy before the Lord.  He is not waltzing around with a woman in his arms, and he most likely is not sensually gyrating to music.  He is jumping up and down, spinning around, clicking his heels, and waving his arms out of delight that the Ark of the Covenant has arrived.  Even so, it seems this kind of dancing caused David to uncover himself (verse 20), and contributed to a problem with his wife.  As innocent as this dance of childlike excitement and praise to the Lord may have been, it was nothing like the kind of dancing seen in today’s society.

 

V.     WHY CHRISTIANS ARE SELECTIVE IN THEIR CHOICE OF MUSIC…listening to spiritual songs instead of Rock, Country & Western, and other styles

Some Christians believe the issue of music is simply a matter of personal taste – some liking Classical, others preferring jazz, or country & western, rock, rhythm & blues, and so on.  However, this is not the case!  Music styles are not amoral as some suggest.  The alphabet is amoral, but the wrong letters together make profanity, immoral words, sentences, thoughts, and stories.  Lines, curves, colors, shading, textures are amoral, but the wrong elements together make pornography and offensive art.  Eggs, flour, sugar, and other ingredients are neutral elements, but when put together one can make a good cake or a bad one.  We are willing to admit these facts when it comes to literature, art, sculpture, or any form of creativity – and the same is true for music.  Musical notes, melody, harmony, and rhythm are neutral, but the wrong construction of them produces sensual music that appeals to the base appetites of man. The proper use of these elements produces good music.

According to Ephesians 5:10, believers are to prove what is

A__ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ to the L__ __ __ .

A.     God’s standard for music

Godly music is the expression of a Spirit-filled life. Ephesians 5:18 instructs us to be filled with the Spirit and sing…. Sing what kind of music?

1.     In Ephesians 5:19-20 three forms of music listed                     are:

a.     P__ __ __ __ __ = Scripture set to music.

b.     H__ __ __ __ = songs based upon Scripture.

c.     S__ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ S__ __ __ __ =

 

 

Christ-exalting music which speaks to one’s new spiritual nature, not his old fleshly nature.

2.     According to Colossians 3:16, Christian songs should T__ __ __ __ and A__ __ __ __ __ __ __ one another.  Where do these songs come from? From those who let the word of Christ dwell in them richly in all wisdom (verse 16).

B.     What is Christian music?

To know what Christian music is you must understand from Scripture what Christian is.  The Bible defines Christian in the following terms:

1.     (2 Corinthians 5:17) “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

2.     (1 John 5:4) “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.”

3.     (1 Peter 1:14-16) “As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: {15} But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; {16} Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.”

4.     (Romans 8:29) “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.”

To be Christian is to be Christlike.  Christian music is music that reveals Christlikeness.  “Christian music is that music in which lyrics, music, performers, and performance practices are conforming to the image of Christ.”

C.     The principle of the “New Song”

The following diagram illustrates the progression that

 

occurs when someone trusts Christ as Savior:

NEW BIRTH Ü NEW CREATURE Ü NEW SONG

 

1.     The new birth makes one a new creature in Christ and then they have a new song.

Notice this progression in Psalm 40:1-3: “I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. {2} He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock [new birth], and established my goings [new creature]. {3} And he hath put a

N__ __ S__ __ __ in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD.”

2.     Other passages that reveal that we will have a new song are Psalm 33:3; 96:1; 144:9; 149:1; Isaiah 42:10; Revelation 5:9; 14:3.

3.     “These verses define the character of music, not the kind of music.  The Hebrew word translated “new” in these Old Testament references is chadash.  The Greek word translated “new” in the New Testament passages is kainos.  These words mean virtually the same thing: new in quality and new in freshness as opposed to brand new or new with reference to time.”

4.     When we are saved, God gives us a new nature, a new heart, a new name, a new spirit, new mercies, and one day we will receive a new dwelling place – a new heaven and earth.  However, the word new is used more frequently in connection with our music than with any of these concepts of our changed life.  One of the most visible features of our new life will be our new song – a new quality of music in our life!

D.     Music profoundly affects us.

 

 

A John Philip Sousa march (for example, Stars and Stripes Forever) stirs us to want to stand up and march around the room.  Soft organ music makes many people feel religious and reflective.  Heavy organ music is used at a hockey game to rally the team and get the audience involved.  A love ballad can make you melancholy.  Music can give men courage in battle or reduce them to tears.  Retail stores will spend thousands of dollars on the “shopping” music to entice customers to buy more merchandise.  Unquestionably, music has a profound emotional (and spiritual) affect on us.  The difference between godly and unwholesome music is that godly music emphasizes the melody, whereas fleshly music accentuates the beat (with little attention to the melody and harmony) and arouses the flesh.

E.     Bad music styles

Our comments here will be confined to three styles of music: country & western, rock & roll, and contemporary Christian music (CCM).

1.     The theme of country & western music is almost exclusively sex – husbands and wives who cheat on each other, or live-in sex partners who do. Cheating, broken relationships, broken hearts, and such topics do not make for spiritually edifying music.  Rock music also sings about sex, but fortunately, some times you can’t understand the lyrics.  You can comprehend all the filth with country & western.

2.     Why is rock music dangerous?  Here’s a

brief listing:

 

 

·                   The beat is fleshly – a throbbing, pulsating one that appeals to the flesh; and in conjunction with everything else about rock and roll, it arouses impure thoughts and actions.

·                   The lyrics cover four themes: sex, drugs, rebellion, and Satanism.

·                   The musicians are some of the most depraved and ungodly people in our society. Read what one rock performer said:

“Missionary evangelism is the height of cultural arrogance.  To go to somebody else’s country and attempt through trickery, food, or medical treatment, to capture ‘souls’ for Jesus…. presumes that the guy with the travel budget and the hypodermic needle has a ‘spiritual edge’ over the native he’s going to save.”

·                   The rock atmosphere is worldly.

·                   The effect of rock is morally degrading and destructive.  Listen to these titles of articles from major newspapers: “Rock Videos Called Dangerous to Teens,”  “Satanic Rock Music is a Serious Hazard,”  “Rock Music May Be Teen Suicide Factor,”  “Troubled Teens Turn to Music, Not Mom”

A disc jockey in Cleveland, Ohio first used the term rock & roll.  He got the phrase from the ghetto; it was a term used for “adultery and fornication.”  The rock culture is hardly a model for Christians to follow.  We need to be discerning Christians and not hide behind a lame admission “I don’t see anything wrong with it.”  Nor should we try to “dress it up” by attaching Christian lyrics to fleshly music and calling it Christian rock & roll.

 

 

What is Christian adultery and fornication anyway?

3.     Contemporary Christian Music?

What is CCM?

“There are two main thoughts that guide CCM composers and performers.  The first is that music (the notes themselves) is neutral – neither good nor bad.  It is assumed that the only bad music is music that promotes bad things (lyrics), is performed by bad people (the secular rock crowd), and is performed in bad places (bars, dances, rock concerts).  If we as Christians can take the same music and sing about good things (God and His love), have it performed by good people (Christians), and perform it in good places (churches, youth concerts, rallies), then we can use that music to serve the Lord.  ‘Any music style is acceptable for communicating the Word of God’ is the conclusion of this reasoning.  The second guiding principle of the CCM movement is that music is primarily a tool for evangelism.  Since rock music is the language of today’s culture (as supporters of CCM would contend), we need to reach out in a language that culture can understand.”

The Battle for Christian Music, by Tim Fisher

Historical Perspective –

In the 1990s we are witnessing the climax of a change that has been going on for some time – “Christian musicians” have succeeded in “crossing over” to secular markets.  They have bridged the gap between Christian and secular music.  Major secular recording companies are signing Christian performers to multimillion-dollar contracts.  Christian recording companies are entering into marketing agreements with non-Christian companies to expand into secular

 

 

markets that were formerly unreachable.  John Styll, editor of CCM Magazine and president of the Gospel Music Association, states, “The gospel music industry began copying secular acts in an attempt to get others to see the light.  The music was the bait in fishing for souls.”

Unfortunately this pragmatic approach fails to preserve the distinction of being a new creature with a new song.

Weak or False Theology –

One popular CCM artist’s song “Walking in the Light” illustrates the shallow and erroneous doctrine found in Contemporary Christian Music:

The sun woke me up real early,

It’s a beautiful morn.

‘Cause I’m goin’ down to the river

To be reborn.

Now me and Jesus did some heavy

Talkin’ last night.

So I’m goin’ down to be dipped and

Come up walkin’ in the light.

What does this song teach?  A person can be born again by being baptized!  Heresy!  This may please unbelievers and sell records, but Christians realize salvation is in Christ not water.  The author, Amy Grant, can’t find one verse in the Bible to support her song’s theology.

For Additional Information

There are informative Christians books available that deal with the subject of music.  A particularly insightful book is The Battle For Christian Music, by Tim Fisher, published by Sacred Music Services, P.O. Box 17072, Greenville, SC 29606.

 

 

 

 

 

THE BIBLE AND WINE

By Bruce Lackey

1.     The word wine in the Bible is a generic term; sometimes it means grape juice; sometimes it means alcoholic beverages.  The following verses prove that the word "wine" can mean fresh grape juice, the fruit of the vine: Deut. 11:14; 2 Chron. 31:5; Neh. 13:15; Pro. 3:10; Isa. 16:10; 65:8; 1 Tim. 5:23.

2.     The context will always show when "wine" refers to alcoholic beverages. In such cases, God discusses the bad effects of it and warns against it.  An example would be Ge. 9, Noah's experience after the Flood.  Verse 21, "and he drank of the wine, and was drunken," clearly refers to alcoholic beverage.  Proverbs 20:1 speaks of the same thing when it warns us, "Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging; and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise."  Alcoholic wine is deceptive; but how?  In the very way that people are advocating today, by saying that drinking a little bit will not hurt.  Everyone admits that drinking too much is bad; even the liquor companies tell us not to drive and drink, but they insist that a small amount is all right.  However, that is the very thing that is deceptive.  Who knows how little to drink?  Experts tell us that each person is different.  It takes an ounce to affect one, while more is necessary for another. The same person will react to alcohol differently, depending on the amount of food he has had, among other things.  So, the idea that "a little bit won't hurt" is deceptive, and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise!

Pro. 23:30-31 refers to alcoholic wine, because it tells us in the previous verse that those who drink it have woe, sorrow, contentions, babbling, wounds without cause, and redness of eyes.  What a graphic description of those who "tarry long" at alcoholism.  Verses 32-35 continue the same description; context always makes it clear when alcohol is meant.

 

 

If "wine" may mean fresh grape juice or alcohol, how can we know which is intended?  The context determines the meaning.  We can tell when "wine" means fresh grape juice and when it means alcoholic beverage by reading the context, just as we have done in the previous paragraphs.

3.     Scripture warns against the drinking of alcoholic wine. The Bible is consistent on this, both in the Old and New Testaments.  The two previously quoted passages, Pro. 20:1 and 23:29-35, are good examples of scriptural warnings against consuming alcohol.  Pro. 23:32 says "at the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder."  Verse 33 shows that it will cause one to look at strange women (that is, not one's wife) and to say perverse things, or things which he would not say if he were sober.  Verse 34 predicts that it will cause death, such as drowning, or loneliness, such as lying upon the top of a mast.  Verse 35 warns against numbness ("they have beaten me and I felt it not") and "addiction ("when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again").   Pro. 31:4-5 teaches, "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."  The danger is obvious.

By the way, Pro. 31:6,7 give us the only legitimate use of alcoholic wine in Scripture.  "Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts.  Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more."  This would be using it as an anesthetic; a painkiller.  But this is not for everyone; he says in v. 6, "unto him that is ready to perish."  Of course, they did not have all the painkillers that we have today.  In our time, it would not be necessary to do this.  We have many anesthetics available for those who are dying.  Then, about the only thing available to the average person would have been some kind of alcohol.  Alcohol is a depressant; it is not a stimulant, as some think.  After several drinks, one gets

 

 

dizzy; then he will pass out.  So this passage teaches that alcoholic beverage would be only for the person who is ready to die; there would be no hope for his life.  All that would be possible would be to ease his pain and help him forget his misery.

Another passage is Isa. 5:11. "Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, till wine inflame them!"  Obviously this is alcoholic, because it inflames.  Why does he say, "Woe unto them"? Verse 12 answers, "...they regard not the work of the Lord, neither consider the operation of his hands."  Everyone knows that when one gives himself to the drinking of alcoholic beverage, he will not be more spiritual, more desirous of learning the Word of God.  To the contrary, it causes a person to ignore the Lord.  Verses 13-14 reveal two other serious results: people go into captivity (become slaves to something or someone) and Hell enlarges itself!  The drinking of alcoholic wine has caused Hell to be enlarged! God does not want anyone to go to Hell; He has given the greatest, dearest gift that He possibly could, to rescue sinners from it.  He never made Hell for people.  The Lord Jesus Christ said that Hell was prepared for the devil and his angels (Matt. 25:41).  However, because of evil alcohol, Hell has had an enlargement campaign.  Here, then, is a clear warning against drinking alcohol, because God does not want anyone to go to Hell.

Isa. 28:7, 8 continues the warning.  "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.  For all tables are full of vomit and filthiness, so that there is no place clean."

What a tragic thing, that even in the days of Isaiah, the priests and prophets were engaged in the drinking of

 

 

alcoholic wine!  Thus we see that the problem of preachers recommending alcohol is not new.  Six hundred years before Christ, demon alcohol had worked its way into religion.

4.     The making of alcoholic beverages is not a strictly natural process. Years ago I took for granted that if you took the juice of a grape and let it alone, not refrigerating it, it would automatically, in time, turn into alcoholic wine.  There are several reasons why this is not true.  It takes more than time to make wine.  Sometimes people try to defend its use by saying that it must be good because God made it.  But, the fact is, God did not make it.  Man has learned how to make alcoholic liquors through processes that he has invented.  Wine-makers know that one must have the correct amount of water, sugar, and temperature to make wine. Keeping grape juice in a refrigerator would prevent if from fermenting, because the temperature is not right.  Likewise, hot, tropical temperature would prevent fermentation.  In ancient days, before we had refrigeration and vacuum-sealing ability, people learned to preserve the juice of the grape without turning it into alcoholic wine.  Many people boiled it down into a thick syrup.  By doing so, they could preserve it for long periods of time.  When they got ready to drink it, they would simply add the water to the consistency desired, in much the same way that we take frozen concentrates and add water.  In Bible days, contrary to what many believe, it was not necessary for everyone to drink alcoholic wine as a table beverage.

I recommend the book entitled Bible Wines and the Laws of Fermentation by William Patton (Challenge Press, Little Rock, Arkansas).  More than a hundred years ago, this preacher was the only one in his town who believed in total abstinence.  He saw that it was necessary to make an extensive study to see what scripture taught.  This book is the result of that labor and is the very best thing I have read on the subject.

 

 

[Editor: One point of Patton's book is that the making of alcoholic wine requires input from man.  It requires the addition of certain additives (though it might be something as simple as sugar) and the control of temperature, etc.  The natural processes alone will produce fermentation under certain conditions, but these natural processes, if unaided by man, rapidly move to a vinegar state.  The alcoholic beverages industry is very much a man-made thing.  Natural process are PERVERTED by man.]

Now we come to the longest point in this entire study, but one which is most important, chiefly because so many insist that Jesus made and drank alcoholic wine.

5.     Jesus did not drink or make alcoholic wine.  Here are ten proofs from Scripture.

The first reason is because of His holy nature.  In Heb. 7:26, we read that the Lord Jesus is "holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners."  No doubt, the Saviour, being God in the flesh, had an air of holiness about Himself that could be seen by even the most casual observer.  For instance, the profane soldiers, who were sent to arrest Him, gave as their reason for returning without Him, that "never a man spake like this man." (John 7:46)  The words of Jesus were different; He, no doubt, had a very holy appearance, character, and speech.

Why is this so important?  Consider this illustration.  The word "cider" may mean an alcoholic beverage, or plain apple juice. Suppose we lived during the 1920s, prohibition days, and were approached by two people offering us a drink of cider.  One of the persons, we knew to be one of the holiest men in town, faithful to the house of God, separated from the world, diligent in prayers, always witnessing to others; the other was a known liquor dealer.  If each one offered us a drink of "his very own cider," we would assume that the holy person's was no more than apple juice, but there would be no doubt about our opinion regarding the liquor dealer's cider!  

 

Obviously, the character of a person influences what that one does.  Since the Lord Jesus Christ was "holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners," we may safely assume that He would not make that which is called in Scripture a mocker and deceiver of man, causing untold misery.

A second reason: He would not contradict scripture.  In Matt. 5:17-18, Christ made this clear, saying, "Think not that I am come to destroy, but to fulfill.  For verily I say unto you Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled."  Therefore, Christ could not have contradicted Hab. 2:15, "Woe unto him that giveth his neighbor drink, that puttest thy bottle to him, and makest him drunken also, that thou mayest look on their nakedness!"

Certainly, Jesus knew that this verse was in the Bible; He was well-acquainted with Scripture, since it is His Word and was written about Him.  He did not come to violate Scripture, but to fulfill it.  He could not have done so, if He had made alcoholic wine and had given it to his neighbor.

Some people object to the use of this verse by saying that it would apply only to one who would give his neighbor drink for the purpose of looking on his nakedness.  But we must remember: when one gives his neighbor something which will make him drunk, he is putting himself in the very class of those who do so in order to look on their nakedness.  And since the Scripture commands us to "abstain from all appearance of evil" (1 Thes. 5:22), we can be sure that the Lord Jesus would not have done something that would have been associated with such an evil practice as that described in Hab. 2:15.  For the same reason, no Christian should be engaged in the selling of alcoholic beverage.

The third reason is that Le. 10:9-11 commands the priest of God, "Do not drink wine nor strong drink…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

 

 

statues which the Lord hath spoken..."  Now, since Heb. 2:17 calls Christ "a merciful and faithful high priest," we would expect Him to obey all Scriptures pertaining to that office.  If He had made or drunk alcoholic wine, He would have disobeyed these verses and would have been disqualified from teaching the children of Israel the statues of the Lord.

The fourth reason is found in a passage which we have already considered: Pro. 31:4-5 prohibits kings and princes from drinking alcoholic wine or any other strong drink.  If they had done so, their judgment would have been perverted.  It was necessary for Christ to obey these verses also, since He was Prince of Peace (Isa. 9:6) and King of Kings (Rev. 19:16).  In Matt. 27:11, He admitted to being the King of the Jews.  He rode into Jerusalem on a donkey's colt, to fulfill Zec. 9:9, which prophesied that Israel's king would enter the city in just that way.  Undoubtedly, He was king, and as such, would have had to obey Pro. 31:4-5.

Reason five: Christ did not come to mock or deceive people, yet Pro. 20:1 says that wine does both.  Rather than coming to mock or deceive he came to save!

Reason six: He did not come to send people to Hell.  We have already seen that Isa. 5:11-14 teaches that Hell had to be enlarged because of the drinking of alcoholic beverage.  Christ did not come to send people to Hell; listen to John 3:17: "For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved."

Reason seven: Christ did not come to cast a stumblingblock before anyone; yet, Rom. 14:21 teaches that a person who gives another alcoholic wine does just that.  "It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak."  Everyone who has studied the problem of alcoholism has learned that some people cannot handle any amount of alcohol, while others may drink one or two "social" drinks and stop.  Experts do not know why this is true;

 

 

various theories have been propounded, but nothing has been proved to be true regarding every person.  Some say it is chemical; others insist that it must be psychological.  The fact is, we do not know for certain. In any given group of people, there would be several potential alcoholics.  What a shame it would be for a person, who is a potential slave to it, to get his first taste at the Lord's table in church, then proceed down the road of misery to an alcoholic's grave!

 I certainly would not want my children to get their first taste of alcohol at the family meal; nor would I want them to get it at church.  One or more of them could well be potential alcoholics.  As evidence that this is possible, we should consider that some denominations which serve alcoholic wine in their religious services also operate homes for alcoholic priests!

But we can be absolutely sure that Christ did not come to cause others to stumble!

The eighth reason: John 2, the miracle of turning water into wine, does not require that it be alcoholic.  Many insist that it was, on the basis of verse 10, which says, "Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse; but thou hast kept the good wine until now."  They would say that, in those days, it was common to serve the best alcoholic wine at first, saving the worst until later, when men's tastes have been dulled by much drinking.  But the point is just the opposite here!  These people could definitely recognize that the wine which Jesus made was much better than what they had been served at first.  This could not have been possible if they were already well on their way to becoming intoxicated!  The fact is, neither the wine which they had at first, nor that which Christ made, was alcoholic.

Reason nine is found in the same passage: the Lord Jesus Christ would not have gotten glory from making drunk people drunker.  Verse 11 is most important when it

 

 

states that, by this miracle, Jesus "manifested forth his glory."  Verse 10 indicates that the people had drunk quite a bit of whatever kind of wine they were drinking.  If it had been alcoholic, they would have been intoxicated, or nearly so. Had Christ made alcoholic wine, He would have made drunk people drunker, or almost-drunk people completely drunk!  Such a deed would certainly not have manifested any glory to Him!

This chapter also gives us the tenth reason: making drunk people drunker would not have caused his disciples to believe more strongly on him, yet verse 11 says that, as a result of what He did in turning the water into wine, "his disciples believed on him."  John 1:41 shows that they had already believed on Him as Messiah; this was a deepening of their faith and a proof that they had not been wrong.  Would making drunk people drunker inspire such faith?  The opposite would be likely!  They were not looking for a Messiah who would pass out free booze!  Thus, because of the description of this miracle and its result, we can not conclude otherwise than that this wine was non-alcoholic.  In closing, we must consider two things.  One passage, we have already seen.  Rom. 14:21 clearly teaches that Christians should totally abstain, the reason being that it is good "neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak." We have already seen that people may be potential alcoholics.  By the social drinking of alcohol, one might encourage a person to start drinking, who would not be able to stop.  Missionaries and tourists to foreign countries, where alcohol is a common table beverage, should remember this.  We should also wake up and realize that, in such countries, alcoholism is also rampant.  Let us totally abstain, so that we might not encourage someone to drink and go down the road to alcoholism.

The last consideration is 1 Cor. 6:9-10.  Here, the Bible

 

 

teaches that drunkenness will send a person to hell.  "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."  This does not mean that a drunkard can never be saved, because the next verse says that some of the Corinthians committed these very acts before they were converted.  A person can be gloriously set free from drunkenness, by receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour and by following His teachings.  Many people have experienced such a release!  But the tragedy is that if a person continues in drunkenness, refusing to let Jesus be the Lord, preferring rather to let king alcohol rule, that one can look for nothing but a drunkard's grave and eternity in the lake of fire.  "Be not deceived," the Bible says "the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God."

If you are having trouble with this sin, let me encourage you to realize that you can ask Jesus Christ to be the Lord of your life and Saviour from all your sins, and to set you free.  You can know what it means to be free in Christ!  The Bible says, "If the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed" (John 8:36).  Realize that you are a sinner in God's sight, "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23).  Repent of your rebellion against God, surrendering to His authority.  "Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish" (Luke 13:3).  Receive Christ as your Lord and Saviour.  "As many as received him, to them gave he the power to become the sons of God" (John 1:12).

 

WHAT ABOUT 1 TIMOTHY 5:23? "...drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities."  Many insist that here the Bible gives the privilege, if not a command, of using alcoholic wine as a medicine.  However, this

 

 

cannot possibly be referring to alcoholic wine, because he specifically says that it is to be taken for Timothy's stomach.  He obviously had some kind of stomach disease and any doctor will tell you that such a person must abstain from alcoholic beverage.  This author has had much stomach trouble through the years and has consulted various doctors, observing various dietary restrictions.  In every case, they warned against drinking any alcoholic beverage whatsoever.  If we know that today, surely the Holy Spirit of God knew that when He inspired this verse!  We do not know what Timothy's specific infirmities were, nor do we know what kind of healing properties there were in grape juice.  Maybe Paul was saying that Timothy should not drink the water, since in many parts of the world it is not pure and would cause a healthy person to have trouble from amoebas, etc.  One who already had stomach problems would only multiply them by drinking impure water.  Paul might have been recommending that Timothy drink grape juice only.  In any case, we can be positive that he was not telling him to put alcohol in a bad stomach!

 

IS IT ALRIGHT FOR A CHRISTIAN TO DRINK MODERATELY? (1) No, even slight drinking impairs one's thinking and lowers alertness to spiritual danger (1 Pet. 5:8, 9).  (2) No, Christians are not to be controlled by liquor (Eph. 5:18).  (3) No, Christians are priests, and the Bible forbids priests to drink (1 Pet. 2:9; Lev. 10:8,11).  (4) No, Christians are not to touch the unclean thing (2 Cor. 6:17-7:1).  (5) No, Christians are to abstain from every form of evil (1 Thes. 5:22).  (6) No, Christians who drink cause others to stumble (Rom. 14:21).  (7) No, wine is a mocker and a deceiver (Pro. 20:1).  No man who takes an alcoholic beverage to his lips knows exactly where it will lead.