Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Alcohol Free




I make no apology in telling you that I am 100% against Christians drinking alcohol.  I have heard the arguments on both sides of the issue and I am more convinced than ever that Christians should completely abstain from its use. 

The Word of God is our perfect rule of faith and conduct.  There are those that attempt to use the Word of God to excuse their “lust of the flesh” in consuming beer, wine, and liquor and in doing so they are sealing their fate.  The Bible does not support their argument and only by stretching and twisting the scripture can they ever make this argument.

In the next few pages I am going to lay out my argument.  It matters not to me if you disagree, for my mind is made up and my heart is fixed.  Once you are filled full of the “New Wine” of the Holy Ghost then you will most certainly lose all your desire for the “spirits” of this world and develop a taste for that which can only be dispensed by God.

Three Generations of Herridge Testimonies

My Dad, Ernest Herridge, shared this testimony with me many times.  He was born in 1940 and as a young boy he sold newspapers between two bars in downtown Houston.  While selling papers he saw many times where fathers would park their cars outside the bars and go inside while leaving the children in the car for hours as they sat inside drinking.  The children would cry and say, “I am hungry”.  My Dad tried to help the best that he could but there was little he could do.  Sometimes a father would stumble out to the car and scream at the children to “Shut up” and then go back to the bar to continue their drinking for several more hours.  My Dad, who did not get saved until 1976, said that this forever made an impact on him and he vowed to never drink alcohol and kept this vow until he died at age sixty-eight.

At age seven I walked down to the altar, repented of my sin, and was gloriously “Born Again”.  I knew very little about sin at that tender age but the Holy Ghost came to me and convinced me of my sin.  I knew I was a sinner and I knew that He was the Savior.  My life really started that day. 

At age fifteen I was baptized in the Holy Ghost at the Polk County Campmeeting near Livingston, Texas and it was just weeks later that God called me to preach.  I have been faithful to preach this Gospel since that blessed day.

There are many people that have wonderful testimonies of what God saved them from.  I rejoice to hear of the power of this Gospel to reach into the depths of sin and pluck a soul out.  My testimony is much different.  I have never been to a dance hall.  I have never tried alcohol (I like to tell folks in my meetings in the U.S. that the strongest thing that has ever been in this body is Vicks Formula 44 cough syrup!).  I have never tried tobacco.  Why, I wouldn’t even go to my High School prom because there was going to be worldly music and dancing there (my girlfriend, who is now my wife, and I went out to eat and to the mall instead). 

My testimony is not as much about the depths of sin that God can save you from but the depths that God can keep you from.  I thank my God that he kept me through it all.  God has the power to save from sin and He also has the power to keep us from sin.

People have asked me over the years if I have ever wondered what I might have missed by not partaking of those things.  My answer to them is this: I do not have sit on Death Row (prison execution) to know that I do not want to be there!  And I do not have to go out there and wallow in the pig pen to know that I do not want to be there! 

Last, I want to thank God for my children.  My wife and I raised our children to respect God and the things of God.  My youngest son is a holiness preacher.  He shares the same testimony that my Dad and I both share.  He never gave himself over to the influence of alcohol (his sister also has this testimony).  Once while at a company BBQ at an employer’s house my son Joshua, who was sixteen at the time, asked if there was anything to drink.  The host said to go into the kitchen and get a Dr. Pepper out of the refrigerator.  My son came back with his Dr. Pepper and set down beside me and leaned over and whispered in my ear, “Dad, there is a beer in that refrigerator”.  I almost shouted!  Here, my son was sixteen years old and he had never seen a beer in a refrigerator!  What a wonderful testimony!

You may think this is all nuts if you want to, but I am so thankful that we have lived clean lives and can testify that you can live life to the fullest without any of the artificial enhancements that this world thinks is necessary to have a good time.  God can save you in sin and He can keep you from sin. 

The Nuts & Bolts

I do not want to weigh you down with a lot of heavy information but we need to deal with a few of the more technical aspects of alcohol, or as it is referred to in scripture, wine.

The Greek word for wine is “Oinos”.  This word “Oinos” refers to any of the juice of the grape, fermented or unfermented.  There were not two different words used for each but only one.  When the New Testament refers to wine we cannot be sure to which this word is referring. 

Secular writers of the Greek era referred to freshly squeezed grape juice that had not been fermented as “oinos”.  Here are a few examples:

“Squeeze the grape, let out the wine (oinos)”. – Anacreon, 500 B. C.

Nicander recorded in the second century that squeezing grapes produces oinos.

Althenaeus spoke of “Sweet wine” that “does not make the head heavy” and in another place he wrote of men gathering grapes who “went about, and took wine (oinos) from the field”.

In all of these cases the word “Oinos” is used to refer to grape juice, not alcohol (there are many other references – these are just a few selected for brevities sake). 

When studying the Old Testament and the Hebrew language we find the same situation with the word “Yayin”, which is also used to refer to both fermented and unfermented juice from the grape.  There were other words in both Greek and Hebrew but the two common words found in scripture are “Yayin” and “Oinos”.

The scripture itself also refers to freshly squeezed grapes as “oinos” and in Revelation 19:15 it says that Jesus “treadeth the winepress” or the “oinos” press.  Let me ask you a couple of questions: when you squeeze a grape or step on it does it squirt out wine?  Does fermented alcohol come out of a freshly squeezed grape?  Of course not!  It squeezes out healthy grape juice!

I submit to you that the word “Wine” as used in the New Testament may not be the wine that you are thinking about today.  The word could just have easily been referring to grape juice as wine. 

If any of this “oinos” was fermented the alcohol content would have been minuscule to say the least.  Today’s fermenting and bottling processes are much more sophisticated than was possible two thousand years ago and today they are able to produce and store alcohol that is many times stronger.

Reasons that a Christian Should Not Drink Alcohol

Here I have some simple reasons why Christians should completely abstain from alcohol:

1.                 Alcohol reduces the ability to make rational decisions.  Have you ever considered the statement “Drink Responsibly”?  How ludicrous is this statement!  By its very nature alcohol reduces your ability to make rational and sensible decisions.  The same is true for “Don’t Drink & Drive”.  Who is making the decision to not drive?  Often it is the person that has been drinking.  They are not even capable of making a rational decision.  Alcohol has compromised their ability to think clearly and any decision made under the influence of alcohol is suspect.

2.                 Alcohol dulls the conscious.  How many millions of young people are out there that have lost their virginity while under the influence of alcohol?  How many girls have gotten pregnant while under the influence of alcohol?  How many people have cheated on their spouse while under the influence of alcohol?  One worldly slogan says, “Drink till he’s cute”.  This is exactly why Christians should avoid alcohol.  Alcohol dulls your conscious and makes it easier to yield to the flesh.  While under the influence of alcohol people are more likely to yield to temptation and even more sins of the flesh.

3.                 Lesser forms of alcohol lead to more potent forms of alcohol.  We have heard this all of our lives about marijuana but this is also true of beer.  The use of beer can, and often does, lead to stronger forms of liquor.  Often people are hypocrites about marijuana.  The beer drinkers feel pious and superior to those who smoke pot but they go out and get drunk on the liquid drug called alcohol.  One is acceptable and the other is not.  Both are just as deadly.  Usually people will start drinking beer but if they do so long enough it takes more and more to get the desired effect, so they move up to stronger and stronger types of alcohol until they are consuming hard liquor.  Sounds suspiciously like the old pot to heroine scenario to me.

4.                 Alcohol contributes nothing to worship.  If you claim to be a Christian and you still want to defend you right to drink alcohol then let me ask you this: How does drinking alcohol contribute to worship?  Our lives as Christians should be a worship to the Lord – not just at Church but at all times.  How does alcohol help you worship God?  If it is so right to drink then why not tip back a few beers (or shots of whiskey) before you head to the Church to assemble for worship?

5.                 Alcohol is a “Lust of the flesh”.  Does alcohol appeal to the spiritual side of man or the fleshly side of man?  The answer is obvious.  What part of you desires to drink alcohol?  Is it your spirit? Or is it your flesh?  Alcohol appeals to the “Lust of the flesh” not to the “Spirit”.  People do not drink alcohol to replenish the fluids they have lost, for science has proven that alcohol actually makes dehydration worse.  People do not drink alcohol to quench their natural thirst, for again science has proven that alcohol is the worst choice for this as well.  They drink alcohol because it appeals to the lust of their flesh.  It makes them feel good therefore they drink it.  

1 John 2:16

For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

6.                 Alcohol Companies consistently promote their products with the “Lust of the Eye” and the “Pride of Life”.  Alcohol is a lust of the flesh.  How do alcohol companies promote this product?  By using the other two failings of man: the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.  When a beer commercial plays on television it is often filled with attractive twenty-somethings that are all smiling, laughing, and having a good time.  Many times the women are dressed seductively to catch the man’s eye.  These companies also advertise most heavily during sporting events when the “Pride of Life” is at an all time high.  “Our team is #1” and “We are the Best”, and “No One Can Beat Us” can be heard as the pride swells.  The alcohol companies know that this is the best way to promote their product.

1 John 2:17

For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

7.                 Alcohol does not promote Godliness.  There is nothing about alcohol that is going to make you live a holy life.  There is nothing about alcohol that is going to inspire you to give your all to Jesus.  In no way whatsoever does alcohol promote Godly living.  The use of alcohol always promotes carnality – it never promotes spirituality.

8.                 Alcohol ruins our Christian testimony.  The use of alcohol does not enhance our testimony of the power of God over sin but rather it degrades our testimony.  When a Christian drinks alcohol they are hindering their testimony of not being a part of this world.  To drink a liquid drug that is going to fill you with a false euphoria is definitely of this world.  The people of this world are watching us, they are looking to see if we really are living above the things of this world, and when we drink alcohol we just lower ourselves and compromise our testimony.

Water into Wine

I hear this all the time from backslidden, religious, and carnal people that drinking alcohol must be okay because Jesus turned the water into wine.  I like what one Evangelist says, “When I go saved Jesus turned my wine into water”, or in other words, Jesus delivered them from drinking.  Why would Jesus deliver us from alcohol and then turn around after we are saved and say to us, “Go ahead and drink up for you have Christian liberty”?

Here is the passage from the Bible about Jesus changing the water into wine.  Take note that this passage identifies two types of wine as well and both come from the original Greek word “Oinos”, which as I stated earlier applies to all of the liquid products of the grape.

John 2:1-11

1 And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there:

2 And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage.

3 And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine.

4 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.

5 His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.

6 And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece.

7 Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim.

8 And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it.

9 When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom,

10 And saith unto him, 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.

11 This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.

No one but the Holy Ghost can say with absolute clarity what wine was served at this marriage, but here are a few things we need to consider:

1.                 Would Jesus serve fermented wine to pregnant women?  Medical science tells pregnant women to avoid the use of alcohol during the pregnancy because it will have detrimental affects on their developing baby.  Here is what many doctors and dieticians are saying: “When you drink alcohol, your baby is drinking it too. Therefore, you should avoid all forms of alcohol when you are pregnant. This includes beer, wine and hard liquor. When a pregnant woman drinks alcohol, it quickly reaches the baby through the blood stream. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy may result in Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, lower birth weight, physical deformities, mental retardation, and motor development complications. There is no data to support a safe level of alcohol consumption during pregnancy. Therefore, medical experts recommend avoiding alcohol completely during your pregnancy.”  At this wedding feast there were families that had come together to celebrate the marriage of their relative.  There was no birth control at this time other than abstinence, and most families were large, so it is very likely there were many pregnant women at this marriage.  We must ask ourselves this question: Would Jesus serve fermented wine to pregnant mothers knowing that it had the potential to harm their developing baby?  I think not!  Jesus was both God and man, and being God He knew what medical science had not yet proved, that alcohol was dangerous for a developing baby.  There is no way that you would ever convince me that our Lord would do serve poison to expectant mothers. 

2.                 The distinction in this passage is between “Good Wine” and “Worse Wine” and not between “Fermented” and “Unfermented”.  Some try to say that the “Worse Wine” was grape juice and the “Good Wine” was alcohol.  The Bible makes no such distinction.  The distinction in this passage is in quality not in type.  There were several different ways of preserving grape juice to prevent fermentation in ancient times and one of those ways required dehydrating the juice down to a jelly like substance that could be later mixed with water and reconstituted.  This wine was not fermented and was healthy but it lost a lot in the taste department.  The best wine was the juice that was freshly squeezed from the vine.  The differences between these two types of wine is not fermented and unfermented but reconstituted and freshly squeezed.

Jesus Drank Wine

Matthew 11:18-19

18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil.

19 The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children.

Those that are carnal in the Church love this scripture.  They may not know three scriptures in the entire Bible but this is usually one of them.  They will shout out, “See!  The Bible clearly says that Jesus came eating and drinking”.  Actually the Bible says no such thing.  Look at this scripture with me again and notice that there is a comparison being drawn between John the Baptist and Jesus.  We know that the diet of John the Baptist consisted of “locust and wild honey” and there is no mention of what he drank, but most likely it was simple water in keeping with the rest of his diet. 

The key to understanding these verses is this statement, “They say”.  Who are the “They” mentioned here in scripture?  Well, it is not Holy Ghost who is the author of the Word of God!  The “They” is others, and not just any others but those that criticized the ministries of both John and Jesus. Most likely it was the religious leaders who hated both.  This was their testimony of John and Jesus and not the testimony of the Word of God.  This was “hearsay” from others and not the word of the Holy Ghost.  The point of the scripture is not to put a stamp of approval on “eating and drinking” or “not eating and drinking” but rather to show us that no matter who God sent the religious leaders of that day would find fault with them.

Again, look at the testimony of “They”.  Speaking of Jesus the “They” say this: “They say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners.  Their slanderous testimony of Jesus was that he was a glutton and a winebibber.  Was Jesus either?  Both are a sin.  If Jesus was a glutton then He was not the perfect sacrifice that the Bible teaches. 

The Bible tells us this about gluttony and winebibbing:

Proverbs 23:20-21

20 Be not among winebibbers; among riotous eaters of flesh:

21 For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags.

Deuteronomy 21:20-21

20 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.

21 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.

It is clear that the Bible teaches that both gluttony and winebibbing is a sin.  If Jesus was either of these then He was not the “spotless lamb” but was a sinner, and if He was a sinner then He cannot be the sacrifice that takes away the sin of the world. 

My friend, Jesus was not a winebibber or a glutton.  He was simply being slandered by His enemies and He is still be slandered even today by those that want to feed the flesh and feel good about doing it. 

The Lord’s Supper

Matthew 26:26-29

26 And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.

27 And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it;

28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

29 But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom.

1 Corinthians 11:23-30

23 For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread:

24 And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.

25 After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.

26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come.

27 Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.

28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.

29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.

30 For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.

Both of these passages of scripture are the basis for the Lord’s Supper or communion as it is practiced in the Church.  Most all New Testament churches have some type of communion service and all follow this pattern to some extent or the other.  The sad part about this is that some religions serve fermented wine as part of the communion and they insist that this was the way it was served in the scripture.

The question must be asked: Did Jesus serve fermented grape juice as part of The Lord’s Supper?  We need only look at the passages to get our answer. The Bible lists two ways to describe what they drank during this ordinance.  One was by referring to the liquid as “The Cup” and the other was a reference to “Fruit of the vine”.  Neither of these references mention alcohol in any way.  Those that claim alcohol was part of the Lord’s Supper are purely using conjecture for the scripture does not make that distinction.  Furthermore, it would certainly be out of character with the whole concept of the Lord’s Supper to do so. 

There are two elements to communion.  The first is bread.  No one contests the fact that this bread was unleavened –from Catholic to Protestant, all agree on this point.  It had to be unleavened for the leaven, the yeast, that makes bread wise was a type of sin and error.  This unleavened bread represented Jesus’ body that was broken at Calvary and no sin or error could be in His body. 

The cup had to also be unleavened grape juice.  The process to make alcohol is the same process used to make bread rise: you add leaven/yeast to it.  The adding of leaven/yeast to grape juice will start the fermentation process.  So, if Jesus and the disciples drank leavened grape juice then they broke the type, which is symbolic of Jesus’ blood. 

Why would they use unleavened bread and then turn around and use leavened grape juice?  It is out of character, out of context, and against type.  No, my friends, Jesus served juice from “The Fruit of the Vine” that was unfermented and thus he kept the type true to himself.

Don’t Drink the Water!

This is a myth perpetrated by the alcohol drinkers.  They claim that the reason people drank alcohol in the Bible times is simply because the water was so bad they had no other choice.  The scripturally astute of this group will sometimes mention Paul’s words to Timothy in I Timothy 5:23, “Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities.”  They point at this scripture as their alleged proof that the water was bad and Paul was advising drinking alcohol instead.

Let me clarify something for you here.  The ancient people drank water more than anything else.  This is an historical fact.  Entire civilizations were built along rivers and lakes for this very reason.  There are tens of thousands of references to wells, cisterns, and lets not forget the famous Roman aqueducts that piped water into their cities.  The ancients did drink water.  Water was their number one hydrating product. 

Yes, water could become contaminated, just as it does today.  I can remember the times that I traveled from the USA to Mexico and getting those many warnings from my well-meaning friends, “Don’t drink the water”, and there is truth in their warnings, for I live in a country where the health standards are higher than anywhere else on earth.  My immune system is not adjusted to many of the water-borne illnesses that are common in so many developing countries.  But, if you notice the people in those countries drink the water and it does not bother them at all.  Why is that?  They are used to it!  The same can be said of the ancient people in Israel.  They could drink the water because they did not live in a sterile environment and their bodies were adjusted to most water-borne illnesses.  At times they did get sick and when they did they had home remedies and even physicians to help them, just as we do.  Paul’s advice to Timothy was simply for him to drink “oinos” – which could have been grape juice or alcohol, and if alcohol it was to be used in a medicinal sense – not as a winebibber! 

Alcohol and Caffeine

Here is another objection that I often hear from people that want to justify drinking alcohol and it goes something like this: “My drinking alcohol is no worse than you drinking coffee with caffeine in it.”

Is this really true?  Is caffeine as dangerous as alcohol?  Certainly large amounts of caffeine are not good for you.  So are large amounts of fats, sweets, or starches.  Can we honestly say that caffeine and alcohol are equal in danger?

Have you ever read a Surgeon General’s Warning on a can of Folgers’s Coffee?  Do you lose control after drinking two cups of coffee?  Do they arrest people and test them for Blood-Caffeine levels to charge them for being under the influence?

The answer is no.  Caffeine is such weak stimulant that it has a minimal effect upon people.  Also, caffeine is a naturally occurring substance that is found in several different kinds of plants including coffee beans, tea leaves, and cocoa (yes, you get some caffeine from chocolate). 

While, we may help ourselves by ingesting less caffeine, there is hardly any comparison between it and alcohol.

Alcohol and Nicotine

The same argument is used with caffeine is sometimes used with nicotine also.  Now, I do want to make it clear that I am also against Christians using tobacco in any form.  Why?  Because of the tobacco – cancer connection.  Christians should do everything in their power to protect their bodies from harm.  This includes abstinence from alcohol and tobacco.

Alcohol and Gluttony

Usually if you oppose the use of alcohol someone will end up pointing a finger at you and saying, “You have no room to say anything for you are a glutton”.  Many of us here in America are overweight.  Does that mean that we are glutton?

The word “Glutton” is defined as “a riotous overeater”.  We understand it to be someone that is in love with food and eats way more than what is healthy for them to do so.  Food becomes their obsession, the passion, and all they can think and talk about. 

Is an overweight person a glutton?  Sometimes they are.  Sometimes they are not.  I am about thirty pounds overweight, yet I eat less today than I did ten years ago.  Why am I overweight?  Well, for starters I probably should be eating better foods than what I eat, but the main reason is I am now knocking on fifty years of age and my metabolism is slowing down.  I am not burning off the calories that I consume as I did when I was younger.  Sometimes I sit down and eat a meal with my two sons who are both in their twenties.  Guess what?  They eat two and sometimes three times what I eat.  Am I a glutton?  Sometimes the biggest gluttons are the skinniest people bit the biggest.  Just because a person is overweight does not necessarily prove they are a glutton.  Just because a person is slender does not necessarily prove they are not a glutton. 

The worldly and liberal person that wants to drink alcohol likes to justify his or her taste for liquor by pointing at everyone in the Church that is overweight and calling them gluttons.  This is unfair and still does not justify their taste for that which is forbidden.  Their problem is not what others are doing but rather what they are doing.  No amount of finger pointing is going to sanctify their sin.

The Medicinal Use of Alcohol

1 Timothy 5:23

Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities. (KJV)

I addressed this scripture earlier in this article but I want to take another look at what is being said here.  Here Paul is not saying to Timothy you need to stop drinking the water, but rather, that you need use wine for your stomach’s sake.

Again the scripture does not clarify if this is grape juice or alcoholic wine.  Paul could simply be instructing Timothy to drink grape juice, which is one of the healthiest juices a person can drink.  Surely this was common knowledge in ancient times that those that drank grape juice were healthier. 

Paul could have also been instructing Timothy to use alcohol as a medicine for an infirmity that he had.  If this is the case you can be sure that Paul was not instructing Timothy to drink for pleasure but only for medicinal reasons. 

Alcohol has been used as a medicine since ancient times.  There are some healthful benefits when taken in small doses for particular illnesses.  In these cases the use of alcohol is not a sin but a simple remedy to be used until the illness has been cured.  This is not an excuse for a person to drink every day.

We have all heard stories of some old drunk with a bottle of whiskey saying to everyone, “This is my medicine”.  God can see right through that sham.  If one needs an alcohol based medicine then it needs to be prescribed by a doctor and the treatment stopped as soon as the person gets better.


Filled with Spirits or with the Spirit?

It is amazing that one of the words used to describe alcohol is the word “Spirits”.  This word was probably derived from the Arabic as was the word alcohol.  The word alcohol comes from the Arabic word “Al-Kuhl” which was the name of a flesh eating demon or spirit, hence the use of the word “spirits”.  Some also conjecture that the term spirits, which is associated with breath, is also derived from the fact that consuming alcohol takes ones breath away.  Another interesting fact is that the English word “ghoul” is also derived from the Arabic word “Al-Kuhl”.  Does this make you feel all warm and fuzzy?

The Apostle Paul in his letter to the Ephesians contrasted being “filled with the Spirit” to being “drunk with wine” and made it clear that of the two we should choose to be “Filled with the Spirit”.

Ephesians 5:18 (KJV)

And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;

David Wilkerson, the author of The Cross and the Switchblade and founding Pastor of Times Square Church in New York City wrote these words:

“I cannot understand how a Spirit-filled Christian, who confesses that his tongue has been sanctified and yielded to God for the use of heavenly languages, can turn around and pickle that same tongue with alcohol.”

The question you need to answer is this: Do you want spirits (plural) or do you want the Spirit (singular)?

Alcohol and Sports

Alcohol companies learned long ago that sponsoring sporting events was the best way to sell their product.  Today the alcohol industry spends billions of dollars a year sponsoring every conceivable sport they can find.  From the biggest, American football to baseball, basketball, soccer, car racing, golf, tennis, bowling and anything else you can think of.  The number one supporter of sports through advertising is alcohol companies.  And who is the largest audience of sports?  Youth!  Now, don’t get me wrong, there are many different ages of people that watch sports but the overwhelming majority are youth.  By youth the statistics indicate from the teens to the thirties.  This is the largest demographic in certain sports venues, though there may be some fluctuation among the different types of sports.  Get to them while they are young and you can create a customer for life.

If you go to a sporting event, say baseball, you will be overwhelmed by the ads promoting the different beer companies.  The crowds all around are swilling their favorite tap.  It is hardly a family pastime to take your children to any sporting event today.  The event has been totally taken over by the consumption of liquor. 

Alcohol and Music

Alcohol is a common theme throughout all styles of music.  Music reaches down and touches a deep level in people and it is at this time that they are more apt to be influenced. 

Here is a list of the top drinking songs of all time.  Please read the titles of these songs and see if they sound “Christian-Like” and promote Godliness:

40. Beer Run by George Jones & Garth Brooks

39. Killin' Time by Clint Black

38. Beer For My Horses by Toby Keith & Willie Nelson

37. That's Why I'm Here by Kenny Chesney

36. Naked Women and Beer by Hank Williams, Jr. & Kid Rock

35. Beer Thirty by Brooks & Dunn

34. Tonight the Heartache's On Me by The Dixie Chicks

33. Wasted Days & Wasted Nights by Freddy Fender

32. Tequila Sunrise by The Eagles

31. Ten Rounds With Jose Cuervo by Tracy Byrd

30. I Love This Bar by Toby Keith

29. Two Pina Coladas by Garth Brooks

28. What's Made Milwaukee Famous by Jerry Lee Lewis

27. Wine Into Water by T. Graham Brown

26. Whiskey, If You Were a Woman by Highway 101

25. Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down by Merle Haggard

24. All the Girls Get Prettier At Closing Time by Mickey Gilley

23. You Never Even Call Me By My Name by David Allen Coe

22. Set 'Em Up, Joe by Vern Gosdin

21. Two More Bottles Of Wine by Emmy Lou Harris

20. The Whiskey Ain't Workin' by Travis Tritt & Marty Stuart

19. Drinkin' My Baby Goodbye by Charlie Daniels

18. It's Five O'Clock Somewhere by Alan Jackson & Jimmy Buffett

17. I'm Gonna Hire a Wino To Decorate Our Home by David Frizzell

16. Whiskey Bent and Hellbound by Hank Williams, Jr.

15. Pop a Top by Alan Jackson  & Jim Ed Brown

14. Straight Tequila Night by John Anderson

13. There's a Tear In My Beer by Hank Williams & Hank Williams, Jr.

12. Longneck Bottle by Garth Brooks

11. There Stands the Glass by Webb Pierce

10. You Ain't Much Fun Since I Quit Drinkin' by Toby Keith

9. Chug-a-Lug by Roger Miller

8. White Lightnin' by George Jones

7. I Think I'll Just Stay Here and Drink by Merle Haggard

6. All My Rowdy Friends Are Comin' Over Tonight by Hank Williams, Jr.

5. Sunday Morning Coming Down by Johnny Cash

4. Whiskey River by Willie Nelson

3. Don't Come Home a Drinkin' by Loretta Lynn

2. Family Tradition by Hank Williams, Jr.

1. Friends In Low Places by Garth Brooks

Here we can see how much the use of alcohol has entered into the modern psyche.  It is everywhere.  The singers sing about.  It is at every sporting event.  Each holiday has been taken over by binge drinking.  Alcohol makes its appearance at birthday parties, anniversaries, graduations, family reunions, and any other excuse people can come up with to break out the booze. 

The saddest part about all of this is when a supposed Christian tries to defend their right to drink liquor.  Why would we even want to promote this complete taking over of the world by King Alcohol?

Don’t Just Take My Word for It

If you are still not convinced (some of the more carnal will not be) then let me share what others throughout history have said about alcohol.

David Wilkerson wrote a book entitled, “Sipping Saints” in 1978.  Here are some quotes from that book:

“Alcohol is the modern Delilah, bent on shearing the church of its locks and robbing it of strength.”

“Not only do multitudes of Christians drink nowadays but they flaunt it as well.  They rattle the chains of their bondage.  They not only drink without condemnation but they also seek to bring the entire church body into the camaraderie of the cup.  With an almost evangelistic fervor, they testify to the joyous freedom of being liberated sipping saints.”

“The sipping saint is no longer saying, ‘Don’t judge me.’  Now he is saying, ‘Join me!’  Christians who drink want moderate drinking to be the rule rather than the exception.  They want more than justification for their alcohol affections – they want encouragement.  They seek this encouragement from society, from the church, from ministers, and mostly from the Bible.”

“I challenge any attempt to use scripture to justify drinking.  I challenge drinking as an indulgence that is contrary to the nature of Jesus Christ.”

          -David Wilkerson

Death isn't in a dance hall or a beer bottle, death is in a mind that WANTS that stuff.

-B.H. Clendennen

          “O thou invisible spirit of wine,

          if thou hast no name to be known by,

          let us call thee devil!”

          - William Shakespeare

O God, that men should put an enemy in their mouths to steal away their brains! That we should with joy, pleasance, revel, and applause transform ourselves into beasts!
- William Shakespeare

For the record, in my years as a Christian and pastor, I have never encountered one man who drinks alcohol socially who I have found to be actually spiritual; not one.

-Britt Williams

A drinker has a hole under his nose that all his money runs into.
- Thomas Fuller

After all is said that can be said upon the liquor traffic, its influence is degrading upon the individual, the family, politics and business, and upon everything that you touch in this old world.
- Billy Sunday

At Kansas City, Kansas, before the saloons were closed, they were getting ready to build an addition to the jail. Now the doors swing idly on the hinges and there is nobody to lock in the jails.
- Billy Sunday

God Almighty never intended that the devil should triumph over the Church. He never intended that the saloons should walk rough-shod over Christianity.
- Billy Sunday

I am the sworn, eternal and uncompromising enemy of the liquor traffic.
- Billy Sunday

I challenge you to show me where the saloon has ever helped business, education, church, morals or anything we hold dear.
- Billy Sunday

I dare not exercise personal liberty if it infringes on the liberty of others.
- Billy Sunday

What's drinking? A mere pause from thinking!

-         Lord Byron

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the first use of alcohol typically begins at age 12.
- Xavier Becerra

Avoid using cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs as alternatives to being an interesting person.
- Marilyn vos Savant

I am more afraid of alcohol than of all the bullets of the enemy.
- Thomas J. Jackson

I'm glad now, at age 66, that I never used alcohol or tobacco... I've buried a lot of friends who used tobacco or alcohol.
- Jerry Falwell

I'm very serious about no alcohol, no drugs. Life is too beautiful.
- Jim Carrey

I've never had a drink of alcohol or any drug in my life.
- Penn Jillette

If I go out to dinner with you and you order wine, I leave. I won't be around drugs and alcohol at all.
- Penn Jillette

It's absolutely absurd to even consider voting on Sunday alcohol sales. I am opposed to alcohol period. It doesn't do anybody any good in the long run. It's a dangerous drug.
- John Hunter

Our national drug is alcohol. We tend to regard the use any other drug with special horror.
- William S. Burroughs

With such compelling information, the question is why haven't we been able to do more to prevent the crisis of underage drinking? The answer is: the alcohol industry.
- Lucille Roybal-Allard

Alcohol doesn't console, it doesn't fill up anyone's psychological gaps, all it replaces is the lack of God. It doesn't comfort man. On the contrary, it encourages him in his folly, it transports him to the supreme regions where he is master of his own destiny.
- Marguerite Duras

And when night, darkens the streets, then wander forth the sons of Belial, flown with insolence and wine.
- John Milton

I made a commitment to completely cut out drinking and anything that might hamper me from getting my mind and body together. And the floodgates of goodness have opened upon me-spiritually and financially.
- Denzel Washington

I'm tied of hearing about temperance instead of abstinence, in order to please the cocktail crowd in church congregations.
- Vance Havner

I'm tired of hearing sin called sickness and alcoholism a disease. It is the only disease I know of that we're spending hundreds of millions of dollars a year to spread.
- Vance Havner

My experience through life has convinced me that, while moderation and temperance in all things are commendable and beneficial, abstinence from spirituous liquors is the best safeguard of morals and health.
- Robert E. Lee

No power on earth or above the bottomless pit has such influence to terrorize and make cowards of men as the liquor power. Satan could not have fallen on a more potent instrument with which to thrall the world. Alcohol is king!
- Eliza ''Mother'' Stewart

Of all vices, drinking is the most incompatible with greatness.
- Sir Walter Scott

Under a tattered cloak you will generally find a good drinker.
- Spanish Proverb

Saying a Christian can drink as long as they don't get drunk is like saying a Christian can smoke pot as long as they don't inhale...of course they will!

-         Alan Auclair

When we lower the standard on drinking, lower the standard on Holiness, lower the standard on a proper dress code, Lower the standard an qualifications for pulpit ministry we might as well change the name from Church to Private Club.

- George Laboyteaux

What is Your Motive for Drinking Alcohol?

Ultimately it all comes down to this simple question: Why do you want to drink alcohol?  What is your motive for drinking?  An honest answer to this question may reveal a lot about yourself.  Right now, sit back and ask yourself this question honestly.  What is the answer?

Your flesh may try to convince you that you drink alcohol to quench your thirst but science has proven that alcohol actually encourages dehydration.

Your flesh may try to convince you that you drink for health reasons but again, science has proven that there are more dangers associated with alcohol consumption than benefits.

Your flesh may try to convince you that you drink to help yourself unwind and relax.  To this I would like to ask you; why do you need alcohol for this when you claim you have the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit?

No, the real reason that people drink alcohol is for the effect that it has upon them – an effect that appeals to the flesh and not the spirit.

When asked why they drink, most people listed these three reasons:

1.     The effect that alcohol produced or the “Buzz” as many called it.

2.     To improve their image with others.  To look “Cool”.

3.     To experiment and try a new thing.

Do any of these reasons sound spiritual to you?  Oh, I know, you don’t drink for those reasons.  You drink simply to quench your thirst.  You drink for the health benefits.  You drink simply to unwind.  Right?

Three Simple Rules

When it comes to alcohol there are three simple statements that we should consider.  Here they are:

1.                 The Bible warns us that wine and strong drink is a mocker.

Proverbs 20:1

Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.

2.                 The Bible commands us not to give offense in anything.

1 Corinthians 10:31-33

31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

32 Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God:

33 Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.

3.                 The Bible commands us to abstain from all appearance of evil.

1 Thessalonians 5:22

Abstain from all appearance of evil.

These three directives from scripture ought to be enough to convince anyone that the social use of alcohol by Christians is completely forbidden and inexcusable.

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