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Is Drinking Alcohol A Sin?

By -- The Bible says that "wine is a mocker, intoxicating drink arouses brawling" (Proverbs 20:1). The Bible also says, "Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbor, pressing him to your bottle, even to make him drunk" (Habakkuk 2:15). Yet the Bible does not say that drinking a glass of wine or beer, or a cocktail with dinner, is a sin. Drunkenness is a sin, forbidden by the Bible, but having one drink may not be wrong.

Is drinking alcohol wrong? I do not drink alcoholic beverages for one major reason: My conduct might cause someone else, who is weak, to stumble. The apostle Paul established a rule of conduct that I think is very good. He said he would not eat meat or drink wine or do anything else which would cause a weaker brother to stumble (see Romans 14:14-21).

In a country where there are at least twenty million problem drinkers, and millions of others who use alcohol to excess, Christians just cannot stand by and say, "I can drink alcoholic beverages because the Bible does not say not to." My conduct should be governed by the law of love. If I love my brother, I will not cause him to stumble and be offended. I personally refrain from drinking alcohol for that reason.

There is another reason for not drinking. The believer's body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. It is hard to think that we could pour liquor into the temple of God without defiling it. Liquor destroys blood vessels and brain cells. Long-term consumption of alcoholic beverages can cause cirrhosis of the liver, lead to delirium tremens, and make for habitual alcoholism.

It is also very difficult to think that anyone could worship God with his mind befogged by drinking. Even one ounce of liquor can begin to bring on intoxication. Two or three ounces can make a person legally drunk. Half of all the traffic deaths in the United States are caused by people who have had at least one drink prior to driving.

To take our money, our lives, and our bodies, all of which belong to Jesus, and subject them to a state of intoxication can hardly be said to glorify the Lord or be an act of faith.

Some would raise the issue of what Jesus did when He changed water into wine. In ancient Israel there was almost no alcoholism, and there is little problem with it in Israel today. But in Jesus' day, wine was used at meals and in ceremonial functions or for special parties. As a national matter, wine was not a problem for them. Their wine was probably a low-alcohol-content grape derivative, and it was more of a refreshing beverage than it was an intoxicant. Jesus lived in a society in which alcoholism was not the problem that it is in our day. So, for Him, in the context of that culture, wine was all right. But for us in America today, alcohol is not all right.

How Can I Quit Drinking or Depending on Drugs?

In both of these instances a person has to make up his mind to quit. I do not believe in gradually tapering off of cigarettes, narcotics, or alcohol. You need to make a total break. That means you should get rid of anything you have that might tempt you.

In my case, when I found Jesus, I poured some valuable Scotch down the drain, to the consternation of my wife, who had not yet made the same commitment. That was a definite break for me. From that moment on, I was not going to drink any more. I believe this is the case with any habit a person regards as sinful. He or she must say, "That's it. That's the last one. No more." And from that moment on, ask God to help you.

You must confess that you have been doing something you consider wrong, and that you have been defiling the temple of God. You must tell God that you want and need His forgiveness and deliverance. You must renounce your habit and cast the spirit of alcohol, the spirit of narcotics, or the spirit of nicotine from your body. Command it to leave you and resolve that, with God's help, you will never again smoke another cigarette, another joint of marijuana, or whatever it may be that you are giving up, again.

After that, do not consort with those who helped to get you into trouble or who would soon have you back where you used to be. It may be hard to do that, but it is necessary. Instead, you should try to find some others, preferably Christians, who have given up the same habit themselves, to support you during the first days of quitting. Alcoholics Anonymous is one such group that is very helpful.

It takes about thirty days to establish a habit. You have to get into the habit of not smoking or not drinking. It will take about the same length of time for your body to clean out the poisons and the chemical dependency. After that time period, the craving should be over, and in the case of cigarettes, you may discover that the smell of cigarettes and cigarette butts will actually become repugnant to you.

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