Tuesday, October 5, 2021
As we begin today’s devotions I am compelled to remind you that if we desire to become people of wisdom then we must be seeking God’s wisdom and not man’s. That requires the sacrifice of worldly pursuits, principles, and passions for the sake of moral purity in Christ. Today’s subject may well reveal more than any other whether or not we are willing to become people who pursue Christ above all else.
Proverbs 23:19-21 “Listen, my son, and be wise, and keep your heart on the right path. Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags.”
One of the most divisive and destructive issues in the local church today is over the use of alcoholic beverages. Is drinking a sin, or is just drunkenness the sin? Should we or shouldn’t we use them? If we believe it’s ok to drink in moderation, what constitutes moderation? Do we have any responsibility to God or to others when we make our decision? These are all questions that are asked and argued by all of us from the young in Christ to the mature.
I pray that as I address this topic that our hearts will be open to hearing the voice of God. My desire is that all our lifestyle choices would not only reflect the wisdom of God by being morally pure, but that they would be motivated by a pure love for Jesus and not love for self.
First, the Bible does not call drinking a sin. I address this issue first because it is the issue that I believe causes the biggest problem in teaching others a true Biblical position on this subject. It is wrong to call something a sin that God has not called sin. When we try to conform another person’s behavior through untruth that we have called truth, we create rebellion in the other person against all truth. When our children grow to an age of understanding truth for themselves, they may reject what we have said because we tried to manipulate them into a certain type of behavior. Let’s just tell them the truth. Jesus performed His first miracle by turning water into wine, and we know it was alcoholic wine because the host of the party said so. (John 2:9-10)
Having said that, there are some very strong statements in Scripture about the use of alcoholic beverages, and several of them are right here in Proverbs. Let’s look at what is said:
1. It is not wise to join with those who drink too much, because it will lead to laziness and poverty.
2. Choosing not to join with them will keep our hearts on the right path. Everything about our relationship with Jesus Christ begins in the heart. When we desire to join with those who drink too much it shows that we are dependent on the world to provide us with value and not on God. Why would we who are joined to Christ have any need or desire to seek acceptance and approval from the world by joining with them? Our lifestyle choices reveal the level of our sincerity and security of our identity in Christ.
3. According to Proverbs 23:29-35, the consequences of drinking too much are severe – woe, sorrow, strife, complaints, bruises, and bloodshot eyes. Who needs any of those things? Just pick up any newspaper and you don’t have to read very far before you come to a story of an accident, a fight, an assault, a divorce, or a death that is the direct result of alcohol. We must consider carefully the consequences, not only for ourselves, but also in the lives of others around us.
4. We each must carefully evaluate our heart by asking some tough questions and then answer them honestly. The Proverbs 23:29-35 passage tells us what those questions should be:
Do I have an increasing curiosity about alcoholic beverages? Do we linger over the beverage, and want to try more and different kinds? Be careful, curiosity killed the cat, and we don’t have 9 lives to give. We have only one life to give, and I choose to give it to the glory of God.
Do I find myself desiring alcohol because of the temporary benefits it provides? Do I use it to relieve pain or to produce pleasure in any way? Do not gaze at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup. Why should alcohol be the escape from the problems of life, or the producer of pleasure in life? When will I wake up so I can find another drink?” Doesn’t this reveal a heart condition that needs the healing touch of Jesus? The Apostle John says, “Love not the world, neither the things in the world…for these shall all pass away.” On what does your heart truly depend for peace and hope?
Do I find myself enjoying the taste? Proverbs says to be careful when it goes down smoothly! Just because we like it doesn’t make it beneficial or right. If that argument was valid, then let’s use it for other things we like as well, like sex. Sex is right only in the context of marriage, and when that purity is maintained it honors God. Each of us must determine in what context, if any, drinking is right and honoring to God.
There is so much more that could be said from other passages of Scripture concerning our responsibility to honor God in everything – especially in the area of the care of our temple of the Holy Spirit and our privilege to reflect the love and grace of Jesus to others. But I want us to consider carefully the three questions above, and evaluate our choices in regards to this issue. When you make your choice, make it in prayer before the throne of God, and make sure that your choice doesn’t in any way dishonor Him or exalt yourself over Him in any way. He is Lord, and is there any worldly sacrifice too great to make for our King?