Words of Wisdom About the Use of Alcohol

The consumption of alcohol is widespread in our culture. Those who drink alcohol come from every station of life. Regardless of race, gender, wealth, profession, or region, the use of alcohol is a problem. Peter, when he mentioned sins that were common among those in the world, listed three that had to do with the consumption of alcohol – “drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties” (1 Peter 4:3). Peter expected that those in the world would be “surprised that you [Christians] do not run with them into the same excesses of dissipation” (1 Peter 4:4). There would be a striking contrast between Christians and non-Christians in that the Christians did not engage in these sinful practices. And yet, many Christians today engage in the practice of drinking alcohol. Others, although they do not drink, see nothing wrong with it and defend the practice.

While men use what seems to be wise reasoning to defend the consumption of alcohol, we need to remember that even “the foolishness of God is wiser than men” (1 Corinthians 1:25). So for this article, let us consider some words of wisdom from Solomon in the inspired word of God about the use of alcohol (Proverbs 23:29-35).

Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaining? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who linger long over wine, those who go to taste mixed wine” (Proverbs 23:29-30). Who has problems in life? Of course, we all do. Many people turn to alcohol when times get tough or when stress comes upon them. Then they “linger long over wine.” But this is only a temporary solution. In fact, it is really no solution at all. It is just a way to make one temporarily forget his problems (cf. Proverbs 31:5-7). Instead of turning to alcohol when problems arise, we need to turn to the Lord. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). When we have problems, we need to go to God in prayer. Alcohol is a substitute for this.

Do not look on the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly; at the last it bites like a serpent and stings like a viper” (Proverbs 23:31-32). While some Christians attempt to make excuses as to why they can drink or why it is not a big deal, the wise man told us to not even look at it. It will look appealing, but we need to avoid it. After talking about how appealing the drink would seem, the writer wrote to remind us of the fact that harm will come from it. Sin is able to provide a certain amount of pleasure (Hebrews 11:25). The devil tempts us with that. But God, in His word, directs us to look past the pleasure and see the consequences of the sin. Some of these consequences are discussed further in this passage.

Your eyes will see strange things and your mind will utter perverse things” (Proverbs 23:33). Alcohol causes one to lose control. His mind becomes unrestrained. His tongue becomes loose. This is a process that begins with the first drink. The consumption of alcohol also leads to other sins as it breaks down ones inhibitions. We see an example of this with Lot and his daughters (Genesis 19:30-38). Following the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot and his two daughters stopped to rest in a cave. The daughters, overreacting to the events that just transpired, reasoned that they needed to preserve their family by procreating with their father. They were able to “trick” their father into doing this by making him drink wine (Genesis 19:32). The use of alcohol leads to other sins, as it did with Lot, because it causes people to lose control. In contrast, Christians are to be sober-minded. “Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:13). We cannot drink alcohol and be sober in spirit.

And you will be like one who lies down in the middle of the sea, or like one who lies down on the top of a mast. They struck me, but I did not become ill; they beat me, but I did not know it” (Proverbs 23:34-35a). These verses are talking about how one loses awareness of what is happening to him because of alcohol. They are able to sleep – this is the idea of being unworried or unconcerned – despite being in a precarious situation such as lying down in midst of the sea or at the top of a ship’s mast. Alcohol can place one in danger without him ever feeling a sense of fear in light of the situation. It can also cause one to ignore or not even notice the harmful effects of the alcohol use. He can be beaten or injured in some way and not even realize it. Later, he may not even know how he received his injuries. Alcohol interferes with one’s awareness of what is happening to him and can result in serious physical harm.

When shall I awake? I will seek another drink” (Proverbs 23:35b). This refers to the addictive nature of alcohol. This may or may not be a physical addiction, but it is at least a psychological one. People talk about how they “need a drink.” They have come to depend on alcohol to cope with stress, problems, disappointments, etc. The fact is that they do not need it. But they have allowed themselves to become enslaved to it and they need to break their addiction. Paul told the Corinthians that he would “not be mastered by anything” (1 Corinthians 6:12). In the context, this would even include things that were “lawful” – things that were not wrong in themselves. Paul was not going to allow anything to have control over him. Later, he told the Corinthians, “But I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:27). Alcohol’s addicting nature is another reason why it should be avoided.

Those in the world will continue in their use and abuse of alcohol. But those of us who are Christians need to be different from the world. Instead of using human reasoning to try and justify the practice, we should look at the wisdom of God’s word that reminds us of the consequences of alcohol use and warns us to avoid it.

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