The Believer and Alcohol
Written by: Brown, David L. Posted on: 03/18/2003
Category: Christian Living
THE BELIEVER AND ALCOHOL
by Pastor David L. Brown
FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH
10550 SOUTH HOWELL AVE. OAK CREEK, WI. 53154
My heart skipped a beat as I was watching the news one
evening in late February of this year (89). A large section
in the side of an airplane had torn loose and 10 or 11 people
had been sucked out. A thought raced through my mind... my
song leader and his wife were headed for Hawaii and that's
where this plane was going. Then I realized they were not
leaving for several weeks yet.
Now just suppose you went to the ticket counter to book a
flight. You buy the ticket and the attendant hands it to you
with these words. "You should know, sir, that on this plane,
seating one hundred passengers, ten seats, sometime during
the flight, will suddenly give way and drop their occupants
out of the plane." You reply, "Don't put me in one of those
seats." The attendant replies, "But that is impossible; we
don't know the seats that will give way. Have a good flight,
You'd say, "Forget it!" No way am I going to ride on that
plane! I'm not going to take the chance."
I adapted the ticket illustration from an article that
appeared in the April 24, 1965 issue of Christianity Today.
The article, on page 25, continues, "People must be informed
that the use of alcohol is not unlike Russian roulette: every
tenth person becomes automatically hooked. The only solution
is total abstinence."
Alcohol spells TROUBLE for us all. It is the most dangerous
drug in general use today. In this study we are going to take
a look at what the Bible has to say about alcohol use.
I. A LOOK AT THE WORDS
There are 637 references to drink and drinking in the
KJV of the Bible. In those references thirteen different
words are translated "wine." To understand what the
Bible has to say about drinking, we need to look at
some of these words.
"yayin" (3196) [pronounced yah-yin] -- This word occurs
140 times. It is a general term for grape beverages and
includes all classes of wine, non-alcoholic or
alcoholic; unfermented, in the process of fermentation
and fermented. It was always diluted with water.
"shekar" (7941) [shay-kawr] -- This Hebrew word occurs
23 times. It is the word for strong drink, unmixed wine.
The 1901 edition of THE JEWISH ENCYCLOPEDIA says "Yayin,
wine, is to be distinguished from shekar, or strong
drink. The former is diluted with water; the later is
"tirosh" (8492) [tee-roshe'] -- This word is used about
38 times. It refers to fresh grape juice. It is referred
to often as new wine or sweet wine.
There are some New Testament counterparts to these
"oinos" (3631) [oy'-nos] is the counterpart of the Old
Testament word yayin. It is used 33 times. It is a
general term for grape beverages and includes all
classes of wine, non-alcoholic or alcoholic -
unfermented, in the process of fermentation and
fermented. It was always diluted with water. Often the
context has to be used to determine whether the drink
was intoxicating or not.
"sikera" (4608) [sik'-er-ah] is the counterpart to the
Old Testament word shekar. It is the word for strong
drink, unmixed wine.
"gleukos" (1098) [glue-kos] is the counterpart to the
Old Testament word tirosh. "It refers to a fresh wine, a
new wine" Dr. Paul Dixon says.
II. THE POSITION OF THE BIBLE ON DRUNKENNESS
DRUNKENNESS IS COMDEMNED IN THE BIBLE
Isa. 5:11 - "Woe unto them that rise up early in the
morning, that they may follow strong drink (7941); that
continue until night, till wine (3196) inflame them."
Prov. 23:20 - "Be not among winebibbers (5433);
The word means to drink so much that you become
tipsy or drunk.
Rom. 13:13 - "Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not
in rioting (2970 - drunken partying) and drunkenness
(3178 - general drunkenness)..."
Gal. 5:19a & 21 "Now the works of the flesh are
manifest, which are these...drunkenness (3178)..."
Eph. 5:18 - "And be not drunk (3182 form of 3178) with
wine (3631) wherein is excess; but be filled with the
DRUNKARDS ARE AMONG THE LIST OF THOSE WHO WILL NOT
INHERIT THE KINGDOM OF GOD.
I Cor. 6:9-11 (key 10)
You can't get around it and in fact all godly men agree that
the Bible condemns drunkenness. Drunkenness is a serious
III. THE BIBLE CONDEMNS STRONG DRINK ALSO
Prov. 20:1 "Wine (3196) is a mocker (3887 - causes one
to act crazy), strong drink (7941) is raging (1993 -
causes one to rage): and whosoever is deceived thereby
is not wise."
NOTE again, Isa. 5:11 - "Woe unto them that rise up
early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink
(7941); that continue until night, till wine (3196)
Prov. 23:29-31 -- "Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who
hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds
without a cause? who hath redness of eyes? (30) They
that tarry long at the wine (3196); they that go to seek
mixed wine (4469 - a mixture of wine and spices). (31)
Look not thou upon the wine (3196) when it is red, when
it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself
aright."-- Reference is to drinking fermented wine &
strong drink. The strong drink was the "mixed wine"
which was a potent mixture of wine and spices.
WHAT WAS "STRONG DRINK" IN BIBLE TIMES?
Distillation was not discovered until about 1500 A.D.
Strong drink and unmixed wine in Bible times was from 3%
to 11% alcohol. Dr. John MacArthur says "...since
anybody in biblical times who drank unmixed wine (9-11%
alcohol) was definitely considered a barbarian, then we
don't even need to discuss whether a Christian should
drink hard liquor -- that is apparent!
CHRISTIANS SHOULD NOT DRINK STRONG DRINK!
Since wine has 9 to 11% alcohol and one brand 20%
alcohol, you should not drink that. Brandy contains 15-
20% alcohol, so that's out! Hard liquor has 40 to 50%
alcohol (80 to 100 proof), and that is obviously
Someone will say, "since beer is only 4% alcohol, IT'S
OK FOR A BELIEVER TO DRINK BEER, RIGHT?" The answer is
NO! Here's why...
IV. IN BIBLE TIMES, WHAT CHRISTIANS DRANK WAS SUB-ALCOHOLIC,
BASICALLY PURIFIED WATER
Remember the Hebrew word "yayin" and the Greek word
"oinos" that we looked at earlier? These were the
companion words for wine whether fermented for
unfermented. Remember, the key emphasis was on the fact
that whether fermented or not, it was MIXED WITH WATER.
Let's look at what John MacArthur has to say about
this... (see article titled - How do the alcoholic
drinks of today compare to those of biblical times)
Norman Geisler, Dean of the Liberty Center for
Christian Scholarship, Liberty University,has
written: "Many wine-drinking Christians today
mistakenly assume that what the New Testament meant
by wine is identical to wine used today. This,
however, is false. In fact, today's wine is by
Biblical definition strong drink, and hence is
forbidden by the Bible. What the Bible frequently
meant by wine was basically purified water.
Therefore, Christians ought not to drink wine, beer
or other alcoholic beverages for they are actually
strong drink and forbidden in Scripture. Even
ancient pagans did not drink what some Christians
All alcoholic beverages used in our culture fall under
the biblical classification of STRONG DRINK and
therefore forbidden. The least ratio of water to wine
mixture in the was 3 parts water to 1 wine. That
produced a sub-alcoholic drink that was 2.5% to 2.75%
alcohol. Normally, the ratio was even higher, up to 20
to 1. Their is NO BIBLICAL SUPPORT FOR CHRISTIANS
DRINKING THE ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES OF OUR DAY! What
believers drank was sub-alcoholic by todays standards.
Pastor's and deacons were cautioned to steer around even
the sub-alcoholic stuff (I Tim. 3:3 & 8).
The right choice is to abstain! What is your choice?
Does the Bible give any instances were alcohol can be
used? Let's move in to our next study and see.
SAY NO TO ALCOHOL
by Pastor David L. Brown
I. WHO IS ALCOHOL FOR?
A. Someone who is near death and in great pain.
B. Someone who is experiencing great anguish was given
alcohol as a sedative.
II. WHY SHOULDN'T BELIEVERS DRINK ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES?
A. DRINKING LEADS TO DRUNKENNESS
B. THE BIBLE CONDEMNS THE DRINKING OF STRONG DRINK
C. DRINKING CAUSES OTHERS TO STUMBLE
D. DRINKING HARMS OUR BODIES WHICH ARE THE LORD'S
E. BELIEVERS ARE KINGS & PRIESTS, SEPARATED UNTO GOD
F. ALCOHOL IS ADDICTIVE
Richard Quebedeaux, neo-evangelical author wrote in his book
The Worldly Evangelicals, "In the course of establishing
their respectability in the eyes of the wider society, the
evangelicals have become harder and harder to distinguish
from other people. Upward mobility has made the old
revivalistic taboos dysfunctional." He goes on to say that
evangelical business people have "changed their minds" about
such things as drinking and smoking and found it necessary
and pleasant to do those things.
That's a sad commentary on the state of Bible believing
Christians in light of the fact that we are neither to be
conformed to the world (Rom. 12:2) nor love the world(I John
I John 2:15). We ARE to be SEPARATE FROM world (2 Cor. 6:17)
and LIGHT TO the world (Eph. 5:8; Phil. 2:15).
Perhaps social drinking has enhanced the acceptability of
Christians in society but it has not advanced the cause of
Christ and it does not glorify God! Social drinking is simply
a means which the devil uses to blunt our testimony for
Christ and squeeze us into his mold. There are at least SIX
GOOD REASONS A BELIEVER SHOULD NOT DRINK. We will take a
close look at each of those reasons as soon as we answer the
question -- Does the Bible say there are any legitimate
reasons to drink alcoholic beverages in the Bible?
I. WHO IS ALCOHOL FOR?
"Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and
to those that be of heavy hearts. Let him drink, and
forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more."
This verse lists two categories where strong drink could
A. SOMEONE WHO IS NEAR DEATH
"Give strong drink unto him that is ready to
The phrase "ready to perish" is but one Hebrew word
that is generally used of a person who is near
death. In reality alcohol was used as a anesthetic
to ease the pain.
Our Lord Jesus Christ is an illustration of the
medicinal use of wine in this way. In Matthew
27:33-34 we see Christ was offered vinegar mixed
with gall to drink just prior to his crucifixion.
The word vinegar is the Greek word for "sour or
bitter wine." It was mixed with gall to become a
powerful medicine that would take the edge off
pain. After just a taste, Christ refused it.
Again, we see "sour wine" being used as a pain
killer in John 19:28-30. Just before Christ dies,
he requests a drink. Even this request was to
fulfill prophecy. They give him a sponge soaked in
The believer does not need to drink alcohol as a pain
reliever today. We have much more sophisticated and
power pain killers available.
There is a second category where it was allowable to use
strong drink in the Bible.
B. SOMEONE WHO IS EXPERIENCING GREAT ANGUISH
"Give strong drink to those that be of heavy
Emotionally speaking, the term "heavy heart"(4751)
is used to describe a heart crushing experience.
Strong drink was used in these cases as a sedative
to calm the person. Today, we have much more
Prov.31:7 describes the results that are hoped for.
First, that they forget their "poverty" (7389),
that is their desperate circumstance. Second that
they forget their "misery" (5999) or pain.
II. WHY SHOULDN'T BELIEVERS DRINK ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES?
A. DRINKING LEADS TO DRUNKENNESS
1 out of every ten drinkers becomes an alcoholic
according to American Medical Association. Rather
than play Russian roulette with the bottle, it is
better not to drink at all.
The Bible is clearly against drunkenness. It says
"Let us walk honestly...not in...drunkenness"
It says, "And be not drunk with wine..." Ephesians
5:18. That means wine or any other alcoholic
An individual who is habitually drunk will not be
in Heaven according to I Corinthians 6:9-10. We see
from verse 11 that drunkenness, along with the
other sins is spoken of as being in the past..."and
such WERE some of you."
There is another reason believers should not
B. THE BIBLE CONDEMNS THE DRINKING OF STRONG DRINK
Prov. 20:1 says "Wine is a mocker, strong drink is
a raging and whosoever is deceived thereby is not
Wine and strong drink are used as synonymous in
this verse. Anyone who drinks them are deceived.
Prov. 23:31 says "Look not upon the wine when it is
red, when it giveth colour in the cup, when it
moveth itself aright."
The reference is to fermented wine or alcoholic
wine (remember, in the Bible, the word wine covered
anything from freshly squeezed grape juice to
alcoholic wine). The phrase "look not" means don't
give any thought to or refuse to pay any attention
to. The focus it alcoholic wine. So you come out
with the idea -- DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT DRINKING
ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES. DON'T EVEN CONSIDER DRINKING!
All the alcoholic beverages that are produced today
would fall into the category of strong drink and
are subject to the Biblical injunction against
Another reason believers should not drink...
C. IT WILL CAUSE OTHERS TO STUMBLE
Romans 14:21 says " It is good neither to eat
flesh, nor to drink wine, nor anything whereby thy
brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made
Innumerable Christians claim their "Christian
Liberty" when it comes to social drinking. In order
to do that they must turn their backs on this
passage of scripture. "Sipping Saints" have given
multitudes of people an excuse to drink. More than
once I have heard a believer say "there is nothing
wrong with drinking in moderation. Pastor so and so
even says it is OK." I had one of my members say
something like that to be in justification of his
drinking. I discovered his drinking problem one
Saturday when a frantic teenager called me saying
one of the church members was pounding on the
church door and carrying on like a mad man. It
scared her witless. As it turned out "sipping
saints" had given this man a justification to
drink. He had both stumbled and was made weak.
The problem is, drinking often sets off a chain of
influences like tipping over the first domino. He
had a wife and kids at home and his actions set off
a chain of events that caused some to stumble,
others to be offended and some were weakened, using
dads rationalization to do the same.
According to a survey done by the Daily Journal
newspaper, October 26 of 1988 one of the top five
reasons teenagers drink is because their parents
drink. This has proven true time and time again.
Let me take it one step further. Parents, you must
remember that whatever you do in moderation your
children will likely do in excess.
The Bible clearly defines drinking as an activity
that is to be foregone because it causes others to
stumble and makes them weak (fall into sin).
There is yet another reason that believers should
D. IT HARMS OUR BODIES WHICH ARE THE LORD'S
I Cor. 6:19-20 "What? know ye not that your body is
the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which
ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are
bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your
body, and in your spirit which are God's."
I Cor. 3:16-17 "Know ye not that ye are the temple
of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
If any man defile the temple, him shall God
destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which
temple ye are."
How many of you had high school or college biology?
I did and it was great. I especially enjoyed the
fit the girls had when we had to dissect first the
large grass hoppers and then the frogs. But what
was really rank was the day we had to walk up to
the big barrel fill with formaldehyde and reach in
and get a cat. That day some of the babes lost it
and I think even one of the guys. I will never
forget the aroma of the formaldehyde.
That brings me to what Dr. Robert Haas has to say.
He is the president of the American College of
Sports Nutrition. He said, " Beer, wine and hard
liquor form toxic substances called aldehydes that
can destroy the liver, kidney, and brain cells.
(Most of us who took high school biology probably
dissected a frog that was preserved in
formaldehyde). Aldehydes serve a useful function in
preserving or "pickling" dead animal tissue, but
they serve no beneficial purpose in people.
"Alcohol dehydrates (robs) your body of its
precious water supply, and along with the water go
vital nutrients such as B Vitamins, calcium,
magnesium, and potassium."
According to the September 81 issue of Good
Housekeeping "Even in moderate amounts alcohol has
noticeable effects on the body. Because it enters
the blood stream it touches almost every organ, and
its effects on feelings and behavior are well
Alcohol has adverse affects on your esophagus,
stomach & intestines, bloodstream, pancreas, liver,
heart, bladder, kidneys, glands and your brain.
(See appendix for a more complete listing).
"The most drastic and noticed effect of alcohol is
on the brain. It depresses brain centers,
progressively produces uncoordination, confusion,
disorientation, stupor, anesthesia, coma, death.
Alcohol kills brain cells and brain damage is
permanent." (From - Office of Highway Safety,
As believers our body belongs to the Lord. We
should not knowingly do anything that would harm
it. Alcohol harms the body, therefore we should not
There is a further reason you should not drink...
E. ALCOHOL IS ADDICTIVE
I Cor. 6:12 tells us that we are not to "be brought
under the power" or to be controlled by anything.
The only exception is the Holy Spirit (Eph 5:18).
Alcohol is clearly a powerful addictive substance
(Prov. 23:35). In the appendix you will find a
chart showing the stages of addiction as well as a
questionaire that can help a person determine where
he/she is at in the addiction process if they are a
drinker. Because alcohol is addictive, we should
choose not to drink alcoholic beverages.
The final reason we will consider for not drinking
alcoholic beverages is...
F. BELIEVERS ARE KINGS & PRIESTS SEPARATED UNTO GOD
"The prophets, the kings, the Nazarites, the
leaders -- those who were special in the plan of
God were total abstainers" says Dr. Paul Dixon and
Kings and public officials were not to drink-Prov.
Dr. Paul Dixon says "the priests of the Old
Testament were to abstain totally." The Aaronic
priests were not to drink because they ministered
in the tabernacle before the Lord (Lev. 10:9).
The application: Believers are a "royal" or kingly
priesthood (I Pet. 2:9). We are the temple of God
(I Pet. 2:5). We are God's special children and
should choose total abstinence.
Drinking, even social drinking, cannot be legitimately
supported by the Bible. Every drink that is available today,
even Beer, falls into the category of unmixed or strong
drink. Drinking unmixed or strong drink is forbidden in the
Bible, except in two instances. First, it was given to
someone who was near death to relieve pain. Second, it was
dispensed as a sedative to those experiencing great anguish.
The fact is, there are SIX GOOD REASONS THE BELIEVER SHOULD
NOT DRINK... 1) DRINKING LEADS TO DRUNKENNESS 2) THE BIBLE
CONDEMNS THE DRINKING OF STRONG DRINK 3) DRINKING CAUSES
OTHERS TO STUMBLE 4) DRINKING HARMS OUR BODIES WHICH ARE THE
LORD'S 5) BELIEVERS ARE KINGS & PRIESTS, SEPARATED UNTO GOD
6) ALCOHOL IS ADDICTIVE
YOU MUST MAKE A CHOICE...TO DRINK OR NOT TO DRINK, THAT IS
WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE ENSLAVED TO ALCOHOL
What should you do if you find that you are hooked on
I. ADMIT THAT YOU ARE POWERLESS OVER ALCOHOL
Before anyone has even the chance of being helped, they
must realize that there is a problem. The Bible is clear
that drunkenness is a sin. You must be willing to admit
that you have sinned and come short of God's standard.
II. BELIEVE THAT GOD CAN HELP YOU GET THE VICTORY OVER
There is no problem too big for God. Jeremiah the
prophet prays "Ah Lord God! behold, thou hast made the
heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched
out arm, and there is nothing too hard for
thee:"(Jeremiah 32:17). The Lord confirms the prophets
estimation of Himself in verses 26, 27 of the same
chapter as we read, "Then came the word of the LORD unto
Jeremiah, saying, Behold I am the LORD, the God of all
flesh: is there anything to hard for me?" This
rhetorical question implies a NO! There is nothing to
hard for the Lord to accomplish. God WILL help those to
go to him and determine to follow his instructions.
III. TRUST THE LORD JESUS CHRIST AS
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