In Ephesians 5:15-21, we are instructed to “Look carefully then how you walk.” “To walk” is a euphemism describing our day-to-day life. This was a big concern to the author of Ephesians, as he repeats this instruction throughout many of his writings in different ways.
“Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!” 2 Corinthians 13:5
This is one test you don’t want to fail. We are to examine ourselves to be sure that we are not just going through the motions of Christianity but that we are Christians!
“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up.”
1 Corinthians 10:23
1 Corinthians 10 should heighten our awareness of the trap some mindsets and activities can be for us.
Evil masquerades itself as innocent or as a right, such as I deserve this, but that’s what makes these activities a spiritual black hole. Ephesians 5:18 reveals the third spiritual black hole for us to avoid, alcohol.
When unpacking this subject, I don’t want to exceed what the Bible teaches. The Bible doesn’t say drinking isn’t a sin, but that drunkenness is a sin.
In recent years drinking has become a silent topic in the church, but silence has only enhanced the dangers of alcohol.
29 Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaining? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? 30 Those who tarry long over wine; those who go to try mixed wine. 31 Do not look at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup and goes down smoothly. 32 In the end it bites like a serpent and stings like an adder (viper). 33 Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart utter perverse things. 34 You will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea, like one who lies on the top of a mast. 35 “They struck me,” you will say, “but I was not hurt; they beat me, but I did not feel it. When shall I awake? I must have another drink.”
1 Peter 4 lists drunkenness among some of the vilest sins. 1 Peter 4:7 explains that we are to be self-controlled and sober-minded at all times. Yet, the nature and intent of alcohol today disables self-control, preventing us from knowing when to say when.
Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit, and we should avoid any activity that inhibits the work of the Holy Spirit in our life.
People turn to alcohol for a variety of reasons. Some drink too;
- Forget the past or a painful experience.
- Cut loose; to have fun.
- Relieve stress.
- Find courage.
Each of these reasons for drinking is a counterfeit of God’s role and blessing in our lives.
- Only God can heal your past and brokenness.
“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3
2. God is the source of your joy.
“Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy are in his place.” 1 Chronicles 16:27
3. God relieves stress without side effects or hangovers.
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7
4. Courage comes from the LORD!
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.” Ephesians 6:10
Furthermore, Ephesians 5:18 connects drunkenness with debauchery, which comes from the Greek word asotia and means insubordinate or unruly. Drunkenness is counterintuitive to the lifestyle of a believer.
But you might ask, “doesn’t the Bible have examples of people consuming wine and alcohol?”
Yes, but alcohol in the Bible is not the same as alcohol today. It would be highly misleading and hermeneutically improper to suggest that the use of wine in the Bible justifies drinking today.
According to the Mishna, wine was diluted to a ratio of 3 parts water, 1 part fermented grape juice. Furthermore, fermented grape juice was used extensively because the water sanitation in much of the Bible world was poor, as it counteracted the bacteria in the water.
It was considered disrespectful in both the Greek and Hebrew culture to intoxicate your guest.
Therefore, the many warnings and examples in scripture regarding consuming alcohol should be a red flag to us.
Paul encourages believers to be instead filled with the Holy Spirit who imparts to us the wisdom of God, is the power of God, gives the peace of God, and teaches us the will of God. We are called to live as wise and remember not everything is beneficial.
Alcohol is a trap that deceptively removes our dependence on God as the source of our joy, peace, and strength in exchange for an empty bottle.
It is a counterfeit and destructive habit that has terrible consequences.