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Part 7


Alcohol and Drugs

1. Title somewhat of a misnomer: Alcohol is a drug (fermented liquid containing ethanol: "a colorless volatile flammable liquid C2H5OH that is the intoxicating agent in liquors and is also used as a solvent -- called also ethyl alcohol, grain alcohol ", Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary). Alcohol is a poison which is voluntarily introduced into the body.
2. Substance use and abuse in America.
3. This lesson will not go extensively into looking at all the words for "wine" and "strong drink" in the Bible. Suffice it to say that:
  a. "Wine" in the Bible does not always and necessarily mean fermented drink - Isa. 16:10 (yayin); 65:8 (tirosh - grapes).
  b. "Wine" is used of both fermented and unfermented drink. The context helps us decide its meaning in a given passage.
  c. "Strong drink" is condemned in the Bible - Prov. 20:1.
4. When you read "wine" in the Bible do not automatically assume it means fermented drink -- often it does not.
5. Alcoholic consumption is always condemned in the Bible: Prov. 20:1; 23:29-35; Isa. 28:7-8 (5:11); Hos. 4:11; Gal. 5:21; 1 Pet. 4:3.
6. The beers and wines of our day would more nearly qualify as Biblical "strong drink" than "wine.
  a. Western wine has alcohol content of 8% - 15%.
  b. When ancients fermented wine it could not have been more than 9% alcohol by volume, since this is the natural maximum. Modern wines are fortified.
  c. "Strong drink" is consistently condemned in the Bible.
  d. Such prohibitions equally condemn drinking similar beverages today.
7. The Bible gives no approval or license for His people to consume that which God says is a mocker, a brawler, unwise, error, enslaving and of the lusts of men.
8. In principle, what is said about alcohol is also true of other drugs [marijuana, cocaine, hallucinogens, inhalants, club drugs like ecstasy, anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS), nicotine, Rx drug abuse, etc.].

I. THE SINFUL PROBLEMS OF ALCOHOL and DRUGS - 2 Pet. 2:19 (Rom. 6:17-18).
  A. The Problem of Intoxication - Eph. 5:15-18. Poisonous substance introduced into the body.
    -The process of intoxication.
    -Gal. 5:21 - Drunkenness (methe) - The entire process of intoxication, not just the last stages!)
    -Intoxication process destroys…
    1. Soberness. (Prov. 31:4-7 - Intoxicating drink takes away judgment and justice.)
      a. Tit. 2:2 (nephaleos) - "abstaining from wine, either entirely (Joseph. antt. 3, 12, 2) or at least from its immoderate use: 1 Tim. 3:2, 11; Tit. 2:2" (Thayer, 425).
      b. 1 Ths. 5:6, 8 (nepho) - "to be sober, to be calm and collected in spirit, to be temperate, dispassionate, circumspect" (Thayer, 425).
        (1) 1 Pet. 1:13-15 - Without soberness we cannot be obedient to and holy before God.
        (2) 1 Pet. 5:8 - Must be sober (calm and collected) in order to be watchful against Satan.
      c. Tit. 2:12 (sophronos) - "with sound mind, soberly, temperately, discreetly." (Thayer, 613).
      d. Rom. 12:2-3 (sophroneo):
        (1) "To put a moderate estimate upon one's self, think of one's self soberly; to curb one's passions" (Thayer, 613).
        (2) "To be of sound mind, to be in one's right mind (Mk. 5:15)" (Thayer, 612-613).
    2. Self-control (temperance, KJV).
      a. Gal. 5:23; 2 Pet. 1:6 (egkrateia) - "the virtue of one who masters his desires and passions, esp. his sensual appetites" (Thayer, 167).
      b. Tit. 1:8 (egkrates) - "Having power over…mastering, controlling, curbing, restraining" (Thayer, 167).
      c. Drugs and alcohol take away self-control! - Prov. 23:29-35; Eph. 5:18
      d. They assume power and mastery over the one who consumes them - 1 Cor. 6:12; Hos. 3:11 (1 Pet. 2:19).
    3. Holiness and separation - Intoxication is offensive to the Christian's role as a priest before God - cf. Lev. 10:9; Ezek. 44:21-23; 1 Pet. 2:9-10 (2 Cor. 6:16-18).
  B. The Problem Of Willfully Harming The Body.
    -(Effect of alcohol on physical health.)
    1. The body is for the Lord's use and His honor - 1 Cor. 6:13, 15, 19-20.
    2. Alcohol and drugs offer up the body to fulfill the lusts of the flesh - 1 John 2:16.
      a. Living by the lusts of men prevents having the mind of Christ - 1 Pet. 4:1-2 (3-4).
      b. The mind of Christ is being replaced with the mind of the world when we give our bodies over to unholy activities - Col. 3:1-3 (Gal. 2:20).
    3. The principle applied:
      a. Alcohol use inherently harms and destroys the body every time it is used.
        (1) The effects are not always immediately obvious.
        (2) There are degrees of harm.
        (3) Nevertheless, alcohol always harms the body to some degree.
      b. Thus, alcohol (illicit drugs, cigarettes) violates this scriptural principle.
    4. Gal. 6:7 - Do not be deceived. The Lord is not honored by alcohol and drug use and does not approve of it.
  C. The Problem Of a Damaged and Dangerous Influence - 1 Pet. 2:11-12.
    1. Damages / destroys your influence for godliness - cf. Noah (Gen. 9:21-23); 1 Pet. 4:2-4.
    2. Your ability to effectively help others with soberness and self-control is ruined - Col. 4:2, 5. (cf. the hypocrisy of drinking parents trying to convince their children to stay away from drugs!)
    3. Your ability to emphasize heavenly things is eliminated as you partake of alcohol and drugs.
    4. Instead, your influence is one which promotes sinful conduct. Thus, your influence becomes worldly.
  D. The Problem Of Hurting Others Whom We Are Supposed To Love - Matt. 7:12; 22:39.
    1. Injustices toward others (DWI, DUI - death, mayhem, etc.) - Prov. 31:5.
    2. On the highways: "Drunk driving is one of the most frequently committed violent crimes in the United States, killing 16,653 people last year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration." (MADD web site,,1056,2699,00.html).
    3. Workplace: Drug abusers cost their employers twice as much in medical and worker compensation claims as do drug-free workers. (Nat'l Institute on Drug Abuse, Infofax 13570).
    4. Crime, divorce, child and spouse abuse, etc.
  E. The Problem Of Sin - Matt. 16:26.
    1. Enslavement - Hosea 3:11 (2 Pet. 2:19).
    2. Eternal death - Rom. 6:23.

  A. Logically, These Two Practices Stand Or Fall Together.
  B. Scripturally, They Both Fall - Prov. 23:29-35.
    1. Drinking alcohol in all of its stages is prohibited in 1 Peter 4:3:
      a. Drunkenness (oinophlugia) ["excess of wine," KJV].
      b. Revelries (
komos) ["revellings," KJV] - The riotous conduct associated with drinking and the forsaking of social decency. Drunken parties, Rom. 13:13.
      c. Drinking parties (
potos) ["banquetings," KJV; "tippling, NEB" ] - lit., "a drinking" without reference to amount.
        (1) Verb form is
potizo, "to give to drink" without regard to amount (as in Matt. 10:42 "give to drink…a cup of cold water").
        (2) R. C. Trench says concerning
potos: "not necessarily excessive," (Synonyms of the New Testament, p. 211). Further says it is related to words of excess in that it gives "opportunity for excess."
    2. The devil's invitation: "Have a drink, just one!" {"…have a joint…a pill…a snort…just one."}
  C. What About Smoking?
    1. Its addictive and harmful nature, as well as the bad influence it reflects, shows it to be of the world - 1 Cor. 6:19-20; Eph. 5:29.
    2. More than 400,000 deaths each year in the US from smoking-related illnesses. One out of every six deaths each year is due to smoking. (National Institutes of Health,
    3. Name one good thing about smoking? (1 Cor. 6:19; Rom. 12:1)

  A. Some Christians Try To Defend Social Drinking.
    -Either because they do not know the Bible strictly condemns fermented drink, or they willfully choose to remain ignorant of its teaching - Prov. 23:29-32 (1 Pet. 4:3 - see above, "banquetings" / "drinking parties").
    1. "The Bible approves the use of wine in several passages."
      a. Yes, while strongly condemning it in others. Have to define "wine" as used in the Bible.
      b. "Wine" can be fermented or unfermented - Find out which one is approved and which is opposed by God!
    2. "Christ made wine at the wedding at Cana" (John 2:1-11).
      a. Water into oinos (refers to either fermented or unfermented beverage).
      b. Jesus made 120-180 gallons and approved its consumption after guests had already drunk a large amount of it (oinos).
      c. If fermented, then:
        (1) Jesus approved the consumption of large quantities of alcohol.
        (2) We have His approval for bartending.
        (3) The Son of God was a bartender on this occasion.
        (4) The Son of God violated several clear passages (drunkenness, soberness, etc.).
      d. Is it not fairer to Christ and in harmony with His character and with scriptures, to say that He made unfermented wine?
    3. "Timothy was told to take wine" (1 Tim. 5:23).
      a. Timothy was a teetotaler, not a social drinker. ("no longer drink only water")
      b. Is this fermented or unfermented wine? Which is better for frequent stomach problems?
        (1) A poison (ethanol) that is harmful and acidic? Or
        (2) Cool, soothing, vitamin-filled, unfermented juice?
      c. Medicinal use, not recreational use.
      d. "Use a little" - Not a command or allowance to socially consume alcohol day after day.
    4. "Romans 14:21 allows the use of alcohol as long as it does not cause others to stumble."
      a. Assuming "wine" here is fermented. Chapter deals with liberties, and "wine" here best fits with the context of "meats" which God accepts when taken with a clear conscience (14:3).
      b. But why would unfermented wine cause others to stumble? Because, just like meats offered to idols, unfermented wine was used in gluttony in pagan Roman and Greek cults. (Matthew Miller, "Alcohol and the Christian", Watchman Magazine, Feb. 2002).
    5. "Wine is a natural creation of God, so He allows us to enjoy it."
      a. Actually, grapes of God's natural creation, as are yeast and the process of fermentation.
      b. It takes man's deliberate effort and skill to produce drinkable, desirable wine.
      c. And, just because something is natural does not mean it is for human consumption. (cf. Petroleum oil, lava, arsenic)
    6. "Recent studies show red wine clears the arteries of plaque."
      a. There is still debate over whether it is the alcohol or a substance in the skin of the grape that has the beneficial effect.
      b. Doctors admit the cadavers of drunks have clean arteries, but they have diseased livers. (Like shooting yourself in the foot to stop a headache: it works, but it does more harm than good.)
      c. A much healthier way to clear your arteries: eat better and exercise.
    7. "In some cultures it is considered polite to socially drink; we would offend our hosts by refusing alcohol."
      a. Perhaps, but that is not a problem unless we are more afraid of offending man than God (Matt. 10:28; Gal. 1:10).
      b. Same reasoning: Eat monkey brain in SE Asia, raw fish in Japan, scorpions and baby snakes in China, blood in some parts of the world.
      c. My experience is there are alternatives available.
    8. "What is wrong with one drink to take the edge off?"
      a. What edge would a Christian need to take off?
      b. Problems, pain, suffering, anxiety, etc.: Pray, read Bible, meditate - Phil. 4:6-8; Jas. 5:13.
      c. Or, drink poison that dulls your senses and puts off dealing with your problems?
    9. "There is simply no harm in drinking wine."
      a. Tell that to Lot, whose daughters gave him wine, got him drunk, and raped him.
      b. Tell that to Noah, whose nakedness was uncovered.
      c. Tell that to the millions of lives that have been damaged or destroyed by alcohol.
   10. If a Christian supports social drinking, let them ask themselves:
      a. "Why do I support it?" "What good and godly reason is there for drinking alcohol?"
      b. "How do I reconcile my belief with scriptures which disapprove of wine and strong drink?"
      c. "Have I thoroughly studied the issue, or have I just assumed that social drinking is okay because I like it?"

1. Tit. 2:11-12 - We are to live soberly, righteously and godly - In full possession of our mental, emotional and physical faculties, so that we may glorify God in our body and spirit, which belong to Him (1 Cor. 6:19-20).
2. Alcohol, illicit drugs, harmful drugs - All of these produce an enslavement that is not to righteousness, but to those things which addict, intoxicate, cause a loss of self-control, reduce physical and mental health, and damage a godly influence.
3. Gal. 5:24-25 - They represent the things of the flesh and the world, not the things of the Spirit.
4. Eph. 5:6-7 - Don't be deceived - don't partake with the disobedient - Put all these things away.



"Alcohol and the Christian", Matthew Miller, Watchman Magazine, Feb. 2002 (
"Social Drinking Demythologized", Ron Halbrook, Searching the Scriptures, June, 1973
Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, Thayer
Online Bible Greek Lexicon
MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) web site (
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS): Fact Sheet, October 4, 2001; SAMHSA web site
National Institutes of Health (NIDA) web sites, including the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Infofax


(This is not an endorsement or recommendation of the services below, but strictly resources for additional information.)

"From Lost Lives to Car Insurance Hikes (What Works to Reduce the Social Costs of Drunk Driving)" (
"Drunk Driving Statistics in the US" (Angelique Cruz):
"Alcohol Addiction" (Boca Recovery Center):