Reasons Christians Should Not Drink Alcohol
Introduction. More and more Christians are
confronted with the question of whether or not Christians can drink alcohol.
This is an important question with some serious consequences.
If the answer
is “no,” then those who would allow themselves this indulgence lay a
stumbling-block before others, present an inconsistent message to the world,
and fill the church with a dangerous “leaven” that could infiltrate the
soundness of a local church.
If the answer
is “yes,” then those who would oppose all drinking are binding human tradition,
laying unnecessary burdens on others, and seeking to restrict things that God
has not restricted.
answer to this question (and all questions) is to be found in God’s word. We must
always have the courage and the honesty to dig into Scripture to find the
answers we seek. This morning I want us to do this together, as we consider ten
reasons that Scripture teaches Christians should not drink alcohol.
I. Drunkards Will Go to Hell (1
“drunkards” will not inherit the kingdom of God. There is only one alternative
for those who are not saved—they are lost and condemned to hell.
“such were some of you” (11). This is describing an unrepentant
condition. I may have been a drunkard in the past, but I cannot be a
drunkard and go to heaven.
Drunkenness is Not the Only Thing Condemned about Drinking (1
describes the character of repentance described in 1 Corinthians 6:11. I call
your attention to three words here that relate to drinking: “drunkenness,
revelries, drinking parties.” All three of these relate to actions involving
is obviously intoxication, but the other two also relate to sins involving drinking.
Gr. komos meaning - “a revel, carousel, i.e. in the Greek writers
properly a nocturnal and riotous procession of half-drunken and frolicsome
fellows who after supper parade through the streets with torches and music in
honor of Bacchus [i.e. the god of wine] or some other deity” (Thayer, p. 367).
This refers to Mardi Gras-like parties in which inhibitions are lowered
due to drink. “Orgies” (NIV, ESV) is too narrow. The ancients called these Bacchanals—processions
that celebrated Bacchus, the God of wine. These can happen even when there is
no pagan god—it is when drink is used to lower inhibitions. It may not involve
intoxication, but it is still sin.
parties” from Gr. potos “a drinking or a carousing” (Thayer, p. 533).
This is a word that doesn’t refer to drunkenness at all. This is just indulging
in the pleasure of drink (no “buzz”—no sensuality) just drinking period! Peter
says, “you have spent enough time” doing this (i.e. don’t do it anymore!).
III. Christians are Priests (1
We note here
that in Christ there is no special class of priests—all Christians are
“priests” who offer up spiritual sacrifices to God.
concerning priests (Lev. 10:8-11). When the priests served in the tabernacle
(or later temple) they were to totally abstain from all drink that could be
alcoholic so that they could “distinguish between” holy and unholy, and clean
If we are
priests in the spiritual Israel (cf. Gal. 6:16) when is it that we are ever not
serving in the temple of God? We too should abstain from all intoxicants.
IV. Christians are Saints (1
Cor. 1:2; Eph. 2:17-19).
We note here
that Christians in general are considered “saints.” The term “saint” means
“holy” or “set apart unto God.”
regarding those “set apart unto God” (Num. 6:1-6). Now there are elements of
the law of the Nazirite that are not taught in the New Testament at all (e.g.
long hair, eating grapes or raisins), but those which relate to drink, sobriety
and self-control certainly do.
Baptist may not have been a Nazirite, but this restriction regarding drink was
to apply to him (cf. Luke 1:15). As those set apart unto God, our days
of “separation” never come to an end. We then should abstain from all
intoxicants as Christians.
V. Christians are to be Temperate (1
Tim. 3:2, 11; Titus 2:2).
apply the word “temperate” or “sober” to elders, deacons, and older men,
however we 1 Peter 5:3 teaches elders are to be examples. It then follows that
behavior to be exemplified in these men should be the desired practice of all
comes from Gr. nephaleos meaning “sober, temperate, abstaining from
wine...” (Thayer, p. 425). In Attic inscriptions. It is used to denote
wine-less altars and offerings (Introduction to Greek Epigraphy, E. S. Roberts
& E. A. Gardner. Cambridge: University Press, 1905 - Vol. II, pp.379-380;
are to be “temperate” or “sober” this does not just refer to avoiding
drunkenness—it commands abstinence from intoxicants.
VI. Even One Drink Impairs Judgment
(1 Pet. 5:8; Matt. 24:42-44).
teach the importance of watchfulness, and preparedness for temptation and for
the Lord’s return. Sin is not just the overt acts of grave misconduct—it is
thought, attitude, word, it can be hatred, covetousness, lust, envy,
bitterness, profanity, blasphemy—and it can send us to hell!
must be prepared at all times to guard against sin, to set the proper example,
to be ready to stand before the Lord. Can any of us imagine appearing before the
Lord with less than our full mind, judgment and self-control?
We all have
heard scandalous stories about pilots, bus drivers, train engineers, air
traffic controllers, or others having serious lapses in judgment because of
being impaired by even a small amount of alcohol. Why? Consider some statistics
on consumption of even small amounts of alcohol:
in performance begins at below 0.02% BAC (1 to 1-1/2 drinks can result in this
level). (NIAAA - Alcohol Problems and Aging: 1998 U.S. Dept. of Health and
low doses the effects of alcohol may include alterations in mood, cognition,
anxiety level, and motor performance. It may also impair performance several
hours after the blood alcohol level has gone down. Even slightly elevated
levels result in more fatal accidents, and the majority of individuals who
experience a problem related to alcohol use are light and moderate drinkers.
(Department of Health and Human Services in their reports to Congress 1990 and
to two drinks of alcohol impair mental and physical abilities; mental processes
such as restraint, awareness, concentration and judgment are affected, reaction
time slowed, and an inability to perform complicated tasks. (“The Effects of
Alcohol and Other Drugs,” Motorcycle Safety Foundation, Irvine, CA, 1991).
blood alcohol level, even a BAC of 0.02%, the result of just one drink,
increases the risk of a crash. Alcohol impairs nearly every aspect of the
brain’s ability to process information, as well as the eye’s ability to focus
and react to light. (University of California, Berkeley, Wellness Letter, Jan.
We are at
war! Satan wants us to do anything that will lower our self-control, lessen
our inhibitions, loosen our tongue, and impair our judgment. Any Christian that
imagines that we can be right with God deliberately injecting into our system a
chemical that will aid Satan in all of these areas has not studied God’s word
carefully enough, nor taken the danger of sin seriously enough!
VII. It Could Cause Others to Stumble (Rom.
of this passage is talking about the attitude that Christians should take
towards those who converted to Christ from Judaism and still struggle with
Jewish dietary laws. This is not a perfect parallel to our topic in that
following Mosaic dietary laws was not sinful, nor was failure to follow them
some would mistakenly say “drunkenness is all that is condemned—I can drink in
moderation and not get drunk, and it’s ok!” We have already seen problems with
this—but even if that was true, what does this passage say about that?
say you can drink in moderation, does that mean that everyone can?
A simple but
absolute cure is available to prevent drunkenness—don’t take that first drink!
There appears to be a biological difference in people that makes it easier for
some people to have addictive, compulsive personalities—while others never have
that I struggled with an addiction to chocolate. I didn’t like it but, for
whatever reason, any time I took a bite of chocolate I could not stop until I
ate so much chocolate I was vomiting chocolate and had spent every penny I had
you say to yourself, “That’s your problem—I can eat chocolate in front of you
and it’s your problem if you can’t control yourself!”
Christ, we cannot have this attitude (Phil 2:3-4). Christians should not drink
alcohol because there is never any way to know if our influence on others will
lead them to stumble.
if that one we cause to stumble, is our child? Is it worth it? Absolutely not!
Christians should do all we can to avoid making anyone stumble.
VIII. It Could Damage Our Influence
here that our behavior is to be such that it leads others to “glorify God.”
others to come to Christ is a difficult thing. We are calling on people to turn
away from sin, and demonstrate self-control, in obedience to Christ and His
word. Does drinking alcohol help with this process or hurt this process?
you are talking to someone about coming to Christ. You have talked to them
about sobriety and self-control—but they bump into you at the store with a
“six-pack,” or at the restaurant with a glass of wine. Doe this help, or hurt
you have a brother or sister in Christ that respects your knowledge of God’s
word, and admires your love of God, but they have struggled with addiction to
drink in the past. What if they see you in the same situation? Will your
influence be the same?
if it is a young person. Teenage years are so hard. Their friends pressure them
to act “grown-up” and go to those parties where kids are drinking, or to see
how fun you are “wasted!” If they see you, how does that influence them?
the most precious asset any Christian has to “let their light shine” to others.
It can so easily be compromised. Christians should abstain from alcohol because
of the tremendous risk it poses to our influence with others.
Ancient Drinks and Modern Drinks are not the Same (John
2:1-10; 1 Tim. 5:23).
passages illustrate two of the most common passages that are often used by
those who would argue that Christians can drink because (as they say) “Jesus
drank wine!” and “Paul commanded Timothy to drink wine!”
of 1 Tim. 5:23 clearly demonstrates a medicinal application to Paul’s command.
He speaks of his “infirmities.”
provide this huge amount of an alcoholic drink to people to whom he would later
reveal that drunkenness can lead to condemnation?
regarding ancient drink.
names were applied to alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.
knew how to impede fermentation. Things such as boiling and filtration do a
great deal to impede fermentation. Both of these methods are described
extensively by ancient writers.
ancients watered down their drinks. Some sources record portions of 1 part
wine to 20 parts water!
made the alcohol content of ancient drinks different from modern drinks that
bear the same names. Homemade wine is usually only about 6% alcohol, but
modern fortified wines are about 18%.
were alcoholic drinks but it is misunderstanding Scripture to think that
references to wine, or strong drink in the Bible equals modern drinks.
of strong alcoholic drinks was not invented until the Middle Ages.
beers and wines have sugars, yeast, and distilled alcohol added to boost
alcohol content. As a result at its worst beers (for example) at their
strongest were only 2-3% alcohol while modern beers are usually 5% and above.
X. We Have So Many Other Choices (1
you lived in the world of the Bible. You might draw water from a well, you
might have a cow or a goat to milk. You might even have a vineyard, a fruit
free or a grainfield from which you could make some drinks. In the market you
could purchase drinks, and if they were drinks from grapes or fruits, you could
take measures to preserve them or prevent any type of intoxication.
How does this
compare to our day? We can go to the grocery store and walk down an aisle with
hundreds of choices of juices, and soft drinks, or milks, and teas. We could
drink any of these with no risk of compromising our salvation, our influence,
our judgment or our self-control.
Why, with all
of these choices would anyone choose drinks that do? Christians should not!