It's A Wisdom Call

Bible Book: Proverbs  20 : 1
Subject: Alcohol; Strong Drink; Drunkenness
Introduction

I have often told my wife that if I die before her it is my sincere prayer that Jesus would so work in my life the one word she would place on my epithet would be that of others.  I really desire to live my life where Jesus is first and then my focus and attention is on others.  I realize this takes nothing short than death to self where Jesus and His life through me becomes the priority and passion of daily living.  I wish I could say that that is a reality every day but the truth is often times I enthrone self and find myself in deep need of repentance before the day ends.  However, may the overwhelming joy of my life be expressed in living for others.

Since becoming a Christ follower it has been my desire to be an example and a model of a believer to those who are around me and certainly to those who are coming behind me.  I have a desire to live convictionally in such a way that I would not allow anything that could damage my witness, my walk, my words or the work that the Lord has called and entrusted to me.

I realize that there is a lot of controversy surrounding the subject of the use of alcohol when used responsibly, recreationally, in moderation, etc.  My life is one that came from a family of alcohol abuse that later in life I took the same path.  Some would feel that with this in my background that I will have a hard time forming a fair biblical view.  It’s my heart’s desire to deal with this subject with a balance of compassion and conviction.

“I will argue against drinking alcohol as a beverage, and I will stand against the liquor industry with every fiber of my being.  However, I know that there are those who disagree with me.  They may feel they have scripture to support their moderate drinking.  I do not have the right, nor does any other Christian, to look down my nose in a judgmental manner toward someone who is struggling to be free, or for one reason or another, does not feel the scriptures condemn their practice.  In fact, the Scriptures speak strongly against pride and self-righteousness” as well.

“Alcohol does not send a person to hell.  It is not a top-tier doctrine for our faith and practice as believers.  I do not look down on those individuals who have taken an honest, unbiased look at the issues surrounding alcohol, and hold a different view.”  Josh Franklin

Many feel that this whole alcohol issue with the church is just a matter of Christian liberty.

Galatians 5:13 -“For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”

Some evangelicals with the Reformed Community have lifted their glass as a badge of Christian liberty.  John MacArthur has strongly denounced this movement.

“If everything you know about Christian living came from blogs and websites in the Reformed Community, you might have the impression that beer is the principal symbol of Christian liberty.  For some who self-identify as “Young, Restless and Reformed,” it seems beer is a more popular topic for study and discussion than the doctrine of predestination.  It’s clear that beer-loving passion is a prominent badge of identity for many in the YRR movement.  Cast a disapproving eye and you are likely to be surrounded by restless reformers denouncing legalism and wanting to debate whether it’s a “sin” to drink wine.”  John MacArthur

I.  THE BATTLE TO DRINK

Alcohol companies spend close to $2 billion every year advertising in the U. S.
Youth exposure rose 38% from 2001 to 2007. By the time a typical teenager is 18 years old, he has seen 100,000 beer commercials.  David Jernigan - Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth at Georgetown University

Just for the record the last message I prepared to deal with alcohol was September 14, 1997.

WHAT CONCERNS ME:

The median age at which children begin drinking is just over 13 years old.  Over 83% of adults who drink had their 1st drink of alcohol before age 21. 4 out of 10 youth who pick up alcohol before 18 years old become alcoholics. 90% of high school seniors say they’ve drunk alcohol sometime in their lives. 4 million Americans under 18 years of age are alcoholics. National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse

67% of high school seniors used alcohol within the last month.  John McDowell
38% say they’ve had 5 or more drinks in a row within the last 2 weeks.
36% of American 4th graders (9 & 10 years old) say they have been pressured by their peers to drink alcohol.
25 % of all alcohol consumed in American is by those under the legal drinking age of 21.
Teen drinkers are 7 times more likely to engage in pre-marital sex. (Reason:  Relaxes your morals).
2/3 of all school assault and date rapes among teens and college students involves alcohol.
Youth who drink alcohol at any level are 71/2 times more likely to use an illicit drug and 50 times more likely to use cocaine than a young person who never drinks alcohol.

“Today there are more than 40 million problem drinkers in America.  Alcohol is the #1 drug problem among teenagers.  One in 3 American families suspects that one or more family members having a drinking problem.” Dr. Danny Akin

MORE THAT CONCERNS ME

(BAC) Blood Alcohol Concentration.

You will be arrested if driving a car with BAC of .08% or higher, DUI.

.01-.05%:

Effect:  Some to great loss of judgment and coordination, thinking dulled, changes in mood and behavior. 

If someone who is 129 lbs. or less, one 12 oz. beer, one 4 oz. wine, one ¼ oz. of 80 proof liquor will have .05%-.08% BAC.

Effect:  walking, speech and hand movements  clumsy. Blurred, split or tunnel vision may occur.  Chance of accident is greatly increased by up to 300% or more.

Proverbs 23:29

“Who has woe?

Who has sorrow?

Who has contentions?

Who has complaints?

Who has wounds without cause?

Who has redness of eyes?

Proverbs 23:35:

“’They have struck me, but I was not hurt;

They have beaten me, but I did not feel it.”

When shall I awake, that I may seek another drink?’”

(“at the last it bites like a serpent, and stings like a viper.”)  James Merritt said, “It is impossible to be bitten by a snake that you never play with.”

Adrian Rogers said, “Alcohol has brought to this world unparalleled suffering.  As a counselor I know that alcohol will cause a man to lie to his mother.  It will cause a man to beat his wife.  It will cause a man to deprive his children.  It will cause an otherwise, virtous woman to forget her marriage vows.  It will turn obedient children into rebuke against parents, against society and against God!”

In Proverbs 23:29

“woe and sorrow” (29) – Emotional problems.

“contention and complaints” (29) – Social problems.

“wounds and redness of eyes” (29) – Physical problems.

II. HE BEVERAGE THEY DRINK

Yale University’s Study on alcoholism - it was revealed that the normal process of fermentation of “fruit of the vine” Does not produce a drink with sufficient alcohol content to bring on drunkenness.  There must be a mechanical interference with the normal process, such as the addition of pure alcohol or other mechanical processes of distillation or it will not produce the kind of wine that is common today.

The Hebrews would have referred to our wine and beer as “strong drink”.

Ladies and gentlemen, Jesus is not in the liquor business.

NOTE:  We are not dealing with “apples for apples”

A New Testament scholar named Robert Stein researched the wine drinking of the ancient world in both Jewish sources and the Bible.  He made a fascinating discovery about the wine of Bible days, as compared to the wine of today.

The wine of biblical times was not like the wine that exists today.  Stein’s research uncovered the fact that wine in the days of Jesus, for example, was actually wine mixed with water.  On average, it would be three or four parts of water mixed with one part of wine.  In other words, what the Bible calls wine was basically purified water.

He points out that water in the ancient world was unsafe to drink.  It could be made safe by boiling it, filtering it, or the safest way was to put wine into the water to kill the germs.

The problem today is the alcohol content.  By the way, concentrated alcohol was only known in the Middle Ages when the Arabs invented distillation, so what is now called liquor or strong drink, and the 20% fortified wines of today were unknown in Bible times.

Dr. Stein noted that one would have to drink 22 glasses of wine in order to consume the alcohol in only 2 martinis today.

In summary, though fermented wine was drunk in Bible times, and though the Bible approves of wine-drinking, one needs to remember that the alcohol content of ancient wine was much less than that of wine today.  What is consumed today is not the wine of the New Testament.  To equate the two would be like comparing apples and oranges. 

Dr. Norman Geisler concluded, “Therefore, Christians ought not drink wine, beer, or other alcoholic beverages, for they are actually ‘strong drink,’ and are forbidden in Scripture.  Even ancient pagans did not drink what some Christians drink today.”

Today’s alcoholic beverages should be avoided because of Scriptures universal condemnation of “strong wine.”

THOUGHTS FOR CONSIDERATION:

1. When the Bible uses “wine,” it may be fermented, unfermented or diluted with water.

2. The process of today’s distilled liquor (adding alcohol to beverages) had not been invented yet, so we cannot compare the Bible’s wine to today’s wine or alcohol beverages, where alcohol is added.

3. In truth, much of what our culture calls “wine,” the Bible would call “strong drink.”

4. Today’s alcoholic beverages should be avoided because of Scripture’s universal condemnation of “strong wine.”

Dr. Danny Akin SEBTS President said, “In His time Jesus drank wine, and I am sure I would have had I lived in the 1st Century.  However there is no evidence that He ever partook of “strong drink.”

“It is possible to become intoxicated from wine mixed with three parts water, but one’s drinking would probably affect the bladder long before it affected the mind.”  It should also be noted that children would drink this diluted mixture of water and wine.  It seems clear that there is no one-to-one correspondence with 1st Century wine and 21st Century distilled liquor.  Concerning the later I believe the Lord Jesus would have no part.”

Even if Scripture were silent on this issue, because of its impact on today’s society, I would publicly condemn its use.

Romans 14:21 - “It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak.”

It is clear that the first drink endangers many into alcoholism.  Research tells us that 1out of 7 people who drink become alcoholics.  J. D. Greear notes about this statistic, “I wouldn’t keep a dog in my house that bit 1 out of every 7 people who entered, and I won’t play around with a drink that has a solid chance of sabotaging and destroying my life or the life of someone I love.”

J. D. Greear went on to say, “If 7 people follow my example and drink socially because I do, and one of them becomes an alcoholic, God holds me responsible.  Is that a chance I am willing to take with my children, or in those who look up to me?  Would Christian love really put others in this kind of risk?  Every year, 1,700 college students die of over-drinking.  That’s 4 jumbo jet liners packed with college students.  What would the implications be for an airline industry that had that happen in 1 year?  The dean of students at Duke says that easily 1/3 of all discipline related issues that comes through his office are alcohol related.  If you could eliminate 1/3 of the problem on your campus by changing one thing, would you not think solely about doing that?”

Shakespeare said, “Oh God that men would put an enemy in their mouth to steal away their brains.”

SPEAKS OF MY AREA OF INFLUENCE.

You say, “I will never abuse alcohol.  I will never become an alcoholic.”

One out of every ten that start to drink will become an alcoholic.

One man put it this way:  Wine is a deceiver

We drank for happiness and became unhappy
We drank for joy and became miserable
We drank for sociability and became argumentative
We drank for sophistication and became obnoxious
We drank for friendship and became enemies
We drank for sleep and became awakened without rest
We drank for strength and felt weak
We drank for relaxation and got the shakes
We drank for bravery and became afraid
We drank for confidence and became doubtful
We drank to make conversation easier and slurred our speech
We drank to feel heavenly and ended up feeling like we had been to hell
We drank to forget and were forever haunted
We drank for freedom and became a slave
We drank to erase problems and saw them multiply
We drank to cope with life and invited death.

III.   THE BEST CONCERNING DRINKING

Don’t Drink!

Adrian Rogers said the liquor industry refers to, “The finest product of the brewer’s art.”

Dr. Rogers referred to “the finished product of the brewer’s art.”  He showed a picture of a man in an alley with a beer bottle in his hand by a garbage can, with a big rat running past.”

Vance Havner used to say; “I’m tired of hearing alcoholism called a disease.  It’s the only disease we’re spending millions of dollars each year to spread.”

Adrian Rogers, “What our generation does in moderation the next does in excess.”

Billy Sunday once called liquor, “the devil in liquid form.”  He said, “wine is a deceiver

(Proverbs 20:1); the devil is “the great deceiver.”

Norman Geisler wrote, “Christians ought not to drink wine, beer, or other beverages for they are actually strong drink and forbidden in Scripture.”

Former President George W. Bush quit drinking after his wife Laura asked him a soul-scorching question, “Can you remember the last day you didn’t have a drink?”  He asked himself this question, “Could I continue to grow closer to the Almighty or was alcohol becoming my god?”

“During a considerable portion of Charles Spurgeon’s life he used alcoholic beverages.  In later years his convictions changed.  His 2 sons were against alcohol, as were several students in his college.  The Lord seemed to use those and the Holy Spirit and in 1871 he became a Total Abstainer.  In 1882 Spurgeon would loudly declare, “’Next to the preaching the Gospel, the most necessary thing to be done in England is to induce our people to become abstainers.’” Arnold Dallimore

CONCLUSION

I was converted from a life of alcohol abuse. 

Greg Moss, Walt Clark, Randy Richardson, but the Grace of God was STRONG!

Live for OTHERS!

Galatians 5:13

“For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”

Use your liberty for others!