Sunday, January 23, 2011

Is It Permissible to Drink Alcohol According to Scripture?

Drinking Alcohol

Drinking alcohol is a very conflicting issue within the church. It is not an issue with the liturgical churches, as they serve wine with communion. Nor is it a problem in the more liberal theological churches. I am not sure how it is viewed in the Messianic congregations, but as Judaism has no problem with wine, in fact it is a mandatory component of their feasts of the Lord, I am guessing that Messianic churches have no problem with it either. The problem seems to exist within the evangelical, fundamental churches. Having grown up in the latter type of church, (but now observing a more Messianic style of Christianity)  I know how virulently against this particular “vice” some people can be. I have had people say to me outright that you can not be a Christian and drink alcohol. I have had people who “thought that a friend was a Christian” denounce them as not being Christians, when they saw them take a drink. There is a distinct attitude that these people are "bad" people.  It seems that this is not only not  a liberty in many of their minds, it is an outright unforgivable sin that sends you straight to hell. The hypocritical part of all this is that there is a growing segment of the people in these churches who say they believe this out of the one side of their mouth, but yet have a bottle of wine or six-pack of beer in the fridge at home. They dare not let anybody in their church know this, as they would suddenly find themselves as outcasts in the church. As a result, they end up hiding their stash of booze any time someone comes over, and making sure that they do not frequent restaurants where someone from the church might see them drinking wine with their dinner. They lead double lives more out of fear of becoming outcasts, than for trying to not be a stumblingblock to a weaker brother. So where does the line get drawn between being allowed liberty in Christ and not being a stumblingblock to others. That is hard to say. First though I think it is important to decide, is it a liberty in Christ, or is it a sin?

From what I have been able to gather, the idea that the Bible teaches that you should not drink alcohol comes from the verses in Proverbs. To ensure that we do not take these verses out of context and make a text from a pretext, we need to really examine what the whole of Scripture teaches about the fruit of the grape.

The first thing, before we can even get into that is to decide whether the Bible, when it speaks of wine, is talking about alcoholic grape juice, or non-alcoholic grape juice. Even though I have heard preachers try to say that it is non-alcoholic grape juice, when they need the passage to be that, the Bible clearly teaches that the word “wine” means the alcoholic variety. How can we know this? Right at the start, Noah got drunk from it. One does not get drunk from grape juice, no matter how much he drinks. The very defense used against alcoholic wine are the verses that talk about drunkenness, so obviously wine is alcoholic, as you can get drunk on it. It is not grape juice. I have heard some preachers try to skirt the issue by saying that it was wine, but it was watered down wine. So what if they did water it down, (and I am not aware of any Scriptures that say that they did that). Watered down or not, it is still alcohol is it not? So when the Bible says wine, it is wine. End of discussion on that point.

Now we have to look at how God views wine, and we will begin with His dealings with Israel as a nation.

Exodus 29:40 “And with the one lamb a tenth deal of flour mingled with the fourth part of an hin of beaten oil; and the fourth part of an hin of wine for a drink offering.”  God commands that wine be given to Him as part of a drink offering.

Leviticus 10:8-9 “And the Lord spake unto Aaron, saying, Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations.” Aaron and his sons, who were the priests who went before God, were not to drink alcohol. Is that where the sentence stops? No. It says they were not to drink alcohol when they went into the tabernacle. The priests did not serve all the time. They took turns. When it was their turn, they could not drink alcohol while actually in the tabernacle, but God specified a restriction of place, and if they were not in that place, they could drink wine.

Leviticus 23:13 “And the meat offering thereof shall be two tenth deals of fine flour mingled with oil, and offering made by fire unto the Lord for a sweet savour: and the drink offering thereof shall be of wine, the fourth part of an hin.” Again we see that God has ordained that wine be given as part of the drink offering to Him.

Numbers 6:2-3,13,20 “Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When either man or woman shall separate themselves to vow a vow of a Nazarite, to separate themselves unto the Lord: He shall separate himself from wine and strong drink, and shall drink no vinegar of wine, or vinegar of strong drink, neither shall he drink any liquor of grapes, nor eat moist grapes, or dried....... And this is the law of the Nazarite, when the days of his separation are fulfilled: he shall be brought unto the door of the tabernacle........ And the priest shall wave them for a wave offering before the Lord: this is holy for the priest, with the wave breast and heave shoulder: and after that the Nazarite may drink wine.”
When a person took a Nazarite vow, there were restrictions on what they could do. One of those restrictions was not only no alcohol, strong drink, or liqueurs, but also no grapes either fresh or dried. In other words, grapes in any shape or form were off limits. Notice that not only did they drink alcohol, but also strong drinks and liqueurs. A Nazarite vow was only for a period of time, not a lifetime. When the vow period was over it was perfectly permissible for the person to drink alcohol again.

Numbers 15:5,7, & 10 all talk about the wine being part of the drink offering which has already been covered.

Numbers 18:11-12 “And this is thine; the heave offering of their gift, with all the wave offerings of the children of Israel: I have given them unto thee, and to thy sons and to thy daughters with thee, by a statute for ever: every one that is clean in thy house shall eat of it. All the best of the oil and all the best of the wine, and of the wheat, the firstfruits of them which they shall offer unto the Lord, them have I given thee.” Now we see what happens to the offerings that Israel gives to the Lord. The best of the offerings are given to the priests and Levites and their families to be food for them. God is ordaining and giving wine to the priests and Levites and their families (including sons and daughters) for them to drink. God Himself is giving not only His people, but specifically the religious leaders of His people, wine to drink.

Numbers 28:7 “And the drink offering thereof shall be the fourth part of an hin for the one lamb: in the holy place shalt thou cause the strong wine to be poured unto the Lord for a drink offering.”

There are a few other verses that speak of the fourth part of an hin of wine as offerings, but it is not necessary to list every one.

Deuteronomy 7:11-13 “Thou shalt therefore keep the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which I command thee this day, to do them. Wherefore it shall come to pass, if ye hearken to these judgments, and keep, and do them, that the Lord thy God shall keep unto thee the covenant and the mercy which he sware unto thy fathers: And he will love thee, and bless thee, and multiply thee: he will also bless the fruit of thy womb, and the fruit of thy land, thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep, in the land which he sware unto thy fathers to give thee.” Israel was told that if they keep the commandments of God that He would bless them and keep the covenant and be merciful to them. His blessings would include among all the other things, the fruit of the land, and in particular corn, wine (grapes), and oil (olives). Wine and oil play a big part of the offerings and the feasts to the Lord. Oil is also essential for light, so these things had great value to Israel. God promised that if they kept His commandments, they would never lack for wine. So obviously God does not have a problem with wine. Not only does He not have a problem with it, to have it is actually one of His blessings for obedience.  He requires it as part of the offerings, and He gives it to the priests to drink from those offerings that He demands.

Deuteronomy 11:13-14 “And it shall come to pass, if ye shall hearken diligently unto my commandments which I command you this day, to love the Lord your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul, That I will give you the rain of your land in his due season, the first rain and the latter rain, that thou mayest gather in thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil.” Again the reward for obedience and observing the commandments is the blessing of rain so that their crops may grow and give abundantly. This includes the grapes, which God never refers to as grapes, but always as wine. He expects them to turn the grapes into wine, not eat them only as fresh fruit. In fact, I imagine that the majority of grapes were turned into wine, so that they would not rot and be lost.  A small portion was probably eaten fresh, and some were dried, but as wine was used not only for drinking, but for offerings unto the Lord, this would have been the main use of the grapes.

I think the next few verses will truly surprise people. Not only does God ordain the drinking of wine (and strong drink, and liqueur), but he commands the people to take their tithes, buy the supplies they need, including wine and strong drink, go to Jerusalem (the place of His choosing) and party hearty. Surprise! God loves a good party.

Deuteronomy 12:17-18 “Thou mayest not eat within thy gates the tithe of thy corn, or of thy wine, or of thy oil, or the firstlings of thy herds or of thy flock, nor any of thy vows which thou vowest, nor thy freewill offerings, or heave offering of thine hand: but thou must eat them before the Lord thy God in the place which the Lord thy God shall choose, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite that is within thy gates: and thou shalt rejoice before the Lord thy God in all that thou puttest thine hands unto.”

Deuteronomy 14:22-29 “Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed, that the field bringeth forth year by year. And thou shalt eat before the Lord thy God, in the place which he shall choose to place his name there, the tithe of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the firstlings of thy herds and of thy flocks; that that thou mayest learn to fear the Lord thy God always. And if the way be too long for thee, so that thou art not able to carry it; or if the place be too far from thee, which the Lord thy God shall choose to set his name there, when the Lord thy God hath blessed thee: Then shalt thou turn it into money, and bind up the money in thine hand, and shalt go unto the place which the Lord thy God shall choose: And thou shalt bestow that money for whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatsoever thy soul desireth: and thou shalt eat there before the Lord thy God, and thou shalt rejoice, thou, and thine household. And the Levite that is within thy gates; thou shalt not forsake him: for he hath no part nor inheritance with thee. At the end of three years thou shalt bring forth all the tithe of thine increase the same year, and shalt lay it up within thy gates: And the Levite, (because he hath no part nor inheritance with thee,) and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, which are within thy gates, shall come, and shall eat and be satisfied; that the Lord thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hand which thou doest.”

These passages are dealing with what the people are to do with their tithes. For two years, the people are to take the tithes (once each year), either the items themselves, or if they live too far away, convert the items to money, and then in Jerusalem buy whatever their hearts desired in the way of food and drink for a big party. This includes wine and strong drink. They were to invite the Levites because, unlike the rest of the people, they were not given land on which to grow crops and have animals. They were dependent upon the offerings of the people to supply them with food. On the third year, the entire tithe was to be given over to the Levites, strangers, orphans and widows that lived in their “gates” (town, city or near vicinity). It was charity for the poor, needy, and the priests. Why did God command this? So the people would “fear” Him. In this sense, fear would more imply to have a reverence for God.

To break from the subject for a moment, people are always taking the attitude that God was a difficult, mean God in the Old Testament, because He gave so many laws for the people. Many were civil laws for people's protection and the ordering of society. Others we now understand were for the protection of their health, and others (like the feasts) were given to be teaching lessons, symbolic of what God was trying to do for them. Tithing was something that God commanded, and most people only know enough about it to know that they were expected to give the best and the first tenth of their crops and flocks to the Lord. What people do not know is what God did with these things. He made them save up their tithes for two reasons. One was to take care of the needy. They gave one out of every three years to this cause. The other was so that they could have a vacation in Jerusalem every two out of three years and have a big party there. O how cruel our God is! Yes, that was sarcastic. We try so little to understand what God is doing for us. He would give us so much, if we were only faithful and obedient. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. As this would not fall on the same year for every family (every year couples would be marrying and beginning their own households, so the tri-year cycle would start in different years for different people), there would always be people in Jerusalem asking the Levites to come party with them. There would also be people giving to the needy and Levites that lived within their own towns on a regular basis, thereby keeping a continuous supply of food available for charity purposes. What a great system!  We would not have people starving and doing without if we used this system, and it would not be an onerous burden for us either. God had someone partying in Jerusalem all the time. He loves to see people having a good time and rejoicing, but having them knowing that He is the one providing the party. Therein lies the secret. He had them do this so they would “fear” Him. He wanted them to realize that the good things in their lives were because of His benevolence. That He was the host of their party, the provider of their wine (and other things).

Deuteronomy 16:13-14 “Thou shalt observe the feast of tabernacles seven days after that thou hast gathered in thy corn and thy wine: And thou shalt rejoice in thy feast, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite, the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, that are within thy gates.” Now we see that the feast of tabernacles is celebrated after gathering in the harvest of corn and grapes (which are pressed into wine). It is in part thankfulness for this harvest that this feast is observed. The people were to celebrate a thanksgiving to God for His giving them the wine.
Deuteronomy 18:4 “The firstfruit also of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the first of the fleece of thy sheep, shalt thou give him.” This passage is about what the Levites receive from the people. They are to take these things from the offerings given to the Lord. Part of that is the wine.

Deuteronomy 28:39, 51 “Thou shalt plant vineyards, and dress them, but shalt neither drink of the wine, nor gather the grapes; for the worms shall eat them...And he shall eat the fruit of thy cattle, and the fruit of thy land, until thou be destroyed: which also shall not leave thee either corn, wine, or oil, or the increase of thy kine, or flocks of thy sheep, until he have destroyed thee.” This passage deals with the curse that God will put upon Israel if they do not obey Him. First they will lose their crops to worms, so they will lose the blessing of wine if they are disobedient. Then nations will rise up against them and take their crops and flocks.

The next few books of the Bible have repeated references to wine, some being about the sacrifices, and others merely mentioning wine in passing as people having it or using it. As they do not add anything to this study, we will skip over them. When we get to Psalms and Proverbs there are more references to wine.

Psalm 104 is a meditation upon the majesty and providence of God. Verses 14-15 “He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth; And wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man's heart.” Wine is to make a man's heart glad.

Proverbs 3:9-10 “Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.”If the Lord is honored with the firstfruits of the tithes, then He will bless with an abundance of wine.

Now for the first time, we have warnings about wine.

Proverbs 20:1 “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.”

Proverbs 21:17 “He that loveth pleasure shall be a poor man: he that loveth wine and oil shall not be rich.”

Proverbs 23:20-21 “Be not among winebibbers; among riotous eaters of flesh; for the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags.”

Proverbs 23:29-30 “Who hath woe? Who hath sorrow? Who hath contentions? Who hath babbling? Who hath wounds without cause? Who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine, they that go to seek mixed wine. Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.”

This last set of verses, especially verse 31 is the verse that people who oppose wine look to for their Biblical defense. What they fail to realize is what all of these verses in Proverbs are saying. If one looks at them altogether with the ones that follow, one sees the connection. It is the abuse of alcohol and drunkenness. The love of wine, gazing upon it with longing, tarrying long at it, using it to corrupt others. In other words, drunkenness and addiction. Naturally God would not approve of drunkenness. Nobody does. That is not the same as merely having a glass of wine. One should know one's limit and drink in moderation, not to the point of drunkenness.  Excess in anything is bad.  God hates gluttony too, but we still have to eat.  We should use moderation in all things.

Continuing on in Proverbs, we see that some people need to be careful about drinking.  Here in the Old Testament it speaks of the priests and rulers making sure they do not drink when on duty.  In the New Testament we will see that the leaders of the church need to make sure they never drink to excess.

Proverbs 31:4-5 “It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink: Lest they drink and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted.”

Rulers are to be very careful (as were priests when on duty) to not be drinking when on duty, lest they pervert justice when they were judging the people. One should not be drinking at work. It is too easy to overindulge and then not be doing the job the way it should be done.

Proverbs 31:6-7 “Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts. Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.”

We are told that if someone is ready to perish (whether this means really going to die, or just exhausted or sick) they should be given wine. Likewise those who have a heavy heart, meaning really down in the dumps, or depressed, or possibly mourning. I am sure that giving someone wine to help them forget their problems is not advice that one would expect to find in the Bible, but indeed that is exactly what it says.

Now we see again warnings to not be drunkards.  Drunkenness is the sin, not drinking wine.

Isaiah 5:11 “Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, till wine inflame them!”

Isaiah 5:22 “Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink”

Isaiah 28:7 “But they also have erred through wine, and through strong drink are out of the way; the priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink, they are swallowed up of wine, they are out of the way through strong drink; they err in vision, they stumble in judgment.”

Habakkuk 2:15 “Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink, that puttest thy bottle to him, and makest him drunken also, that thou mayest look on their nakedness!”

There are a number of other references in the Old Testament to wine, but let us jump to the New Testament.

Again here are more warnings about drunkenness, not about simply having a drink.

Luke 21:34 “And take heed to yourself, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.”

Romans 13:13 “Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.”

Romans 14:21 “It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.” 

This verse tells us that if our drinking is a stumblingblock for a weaker Christian, who does not realize that this is a freedom we have, that we should refrain.  Herein lies the problem for people in fundamental evangelical churches who do realize this freedom.  They have to hide what they are doing, because not only do the weaker brothers not realize it is not a sin, they condemn the drinkers as sinners and make them outcasts.  Thus the hypocrisy of living a double life comes into play.  If pastors were to know their Scriptures better and teach their flock the truths in God's Word, this could stop being a problem.  A person is not obligated to drink alcohol, but neither should he condemn someone who does, as long as they do not carry it to the point of drunkenness. A person who has understanding of God's Word and the freedoms he has, should not have to live a life of abstinence simply because the other Christians refuse to mature through studying God's Word.  Now if it were just wine we are talking about, one can give that up fairly easily, but this verse is not just about wine.  It is about anything that offends your weaker Christian brother.  That can cover a lot of territory for some people who have no idea what the Bible says, and decide to take a Pharisaic approach to Christianity.  This was the problem Christ encountered with the religious leaders of His day.  They sinned themselves, but were so intent on making sure that the people did not, that they added incredible restrictions above and beyond what God had said, creating a burdensome yoke on the people's necks.  This is why people have the attitude that the "Old Testament" God was so mean.  They look at man's version of God's rules, not God's rules.  The church today has done the same exact thing.

1 Corinthians 5:11”But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.” Here we are told not to keep company with drunkards, but notice it is a fellow Christian that is a drunkard that we are not to keep company with. We are not told to stay away from non-believers that are drunkards. In fact, we are to bring the gospel to them so that they may realize the errors of their ways, and that may require being in their company even though they are drunkards.

Drunkenness is the sin that is condemned below, not drinking wine.

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.”

We are not to be drunk. All of the following warnings are about drunkenness, not about drinking wine. There is a big difference.

Ephesians 5:18 “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.”

1 Timothy 3:2-3 “A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach, Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous.”

1 Timothy 3:8 “Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre.”

Titus 1:7 “For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre.”

Notice that the things that bishops and deacons are not to be are all excesses that are sinful. A man needs to earn a living, but he should not be greedy for money. Likewise, he may have a drink of wine, but he is not to be given over to drinking.

Wine is a medicinal curative.

1 Timothy 5:23 “Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomachs sake and thine often infirmities.”

Women also drink wine.

Titus 2:3 “The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things.”

Lastly, our Lord and Savior not only drank wine, but in the Lord's Supper told us that the wine taken in this ordinance represents the blood He shed for us. He told His disciples that He would not drink wine again until He drank it with them at the wedding supper of the Lamb. Wine obviously is important to God. It is a blessing that he bestows for obedience. It is taken away as punishment for disobedience. It is to be used medicinally as a restorative and for stomach problems. It was and will be used in the offerings for the Lord at the temple. It is to be enjoyed when rejoicing and feasting in honor of the Lord. It is however not to be overindulged in to the point of drunkenness. Drunkenness is a sin.

Not to be repetitious, but as a quick overview of what has been learned: 1) wine is a gift from God, 2) obedience brings an abundance of the blessing and disobedience means losing the blessing, 3) wine should not be imbibed when carrying out your vocation, as it can interfere with the job, 4) wine can be used for restorative and medicinal (whether physical or emotional) purposes, 5) abuse of wine, drunkenness, and alcoholic addiction are sins, can corrupt good judgment and morals, make one sick, make one lose everything, is disgusting for those around the drunkard, and can lead to eternal damnation, 6) wine is to be used to rejoice unto the Lord with thanksgiving, 7) drinking wine is a blessing, not a requirement, and one should not offend weaker Christians with one's freedom, and 8) wine has been and will be used in temple worship.  

For those who still do not believe that drinking wine is permissible, you need to take that up with God, because He has clearly said that it is. He gave it to us for that purpose. You do not outrank God, so do not make yourself judge in His place and condemn those who choose to exercise the permission God has given.  You cannot argue with the Scriptures.  God's Word is truth.  Drinking alcohol is not obligatory, but it is not forbidden. Drinking is a choice. It is not one for which people should judge others. It is a freedom and a blessing. In short, it is okay to drink in moderation according to the Scriptures, but it is never permissible to abuse the privilege.  This may seem like a simple answer to what some may see as a difficult question, but it is really not all that difficult.  It has to do with self-control and moderation, not the object in question.  Is it not this way with most things - food, sex (within marriage), money?  Abuse is never permissible, but they are all necessary things in life.

Addendum: 7/17/16 - It has been five years since I posted this article. The other day I came across an article that said that while they had to admit that drinking, as long as done properly, was not a sin or against God's Word, that they still teach that Christians should not drink, Their reasoning was that they feel it is impossible to drink responsibly. That if one starts drinking, it will lead to abuse. That is a straw man argument. Eating too much is gluttony and it is a sin also, so would they tell people not to eat to avoid gluttony? Is everyone who eats led to be a glutton? If one is taught the proper use of something from the time they are young, people will usually use things the way they are taught. Especially if they are given reasons, and shown the consequences of abuse when they are still young, but old enough to understand. To imply that a responsible and godly Christian will never touch alcohol to avoid become a drunkard is a straw man argument.  Abuse leads to drunkenness, not drinking responsibly. Christians should be doing all things in moderation and responsibly, so if they aren't then the problem is with the individual, not the action itself.  To then set oneself up as superior for not drinking, by using the straw man argument is just the sin of pride. So they are exchanging one sin for another.  God gave us wine as a blessing. It is fine to refuse it, but do not judge others for thanking God and enjoying it.

Addendum 2/1/18 - It came to my attention, when this debate began in the church that I am presently attending, that I had neglected to really address something about wine. I mentioned it just ever so briefly above, that Jesus said that it represented His blood which was shed for us. I think this is far more important than anyone is realizing. Almost every Christian takes communion. And when we do, we lift up the fruit of the vine, whether alcoholic or non-alcoholic and say that it represents the blood of Christ, which He shed on our behalf to take away our sins (and when Christ did it, He held up alcoholic wine). It is the symbol of that great sacrifice. It is forever attached to that great sacrifice. Yet those who feel that alcohol, the object itself, not just taking a drink, is an abomination, who show it contempt, who call it a tool of the devil, will walk out of communion and call the very same object that they just said is sanctified and represents the very thing that has taken away their sins, these very blasphemous names. Think about what this must mean to God when someone says this. The wine, which represents the blood of Christ is a tool of the devil? It is an abomination? It is contemptuous? Christ said that every time, EVERY time we drink wine, we are to do it in remembrance of Him. While one can say that He only meant the Passover seder, or what we now celebrate as communion, the symbolic connection between Christ's blood and wine does not go away just because we are not taking it as communion in church. Wine always represents Christ's blood. It isn't just the third Cup of Redemption in the seder that does, for we have removed the connection to the Cup of Redemption by removing communion from the seder. The only connection that is left is the wine itself. So when one partakes of wine, one should think of Christ and His sacrifice, whether it is at dinner or at communion. And one should never refer to it as a drink of the devil, or a tool of Satan, or an abomination or anything other than the very respectful appellation that it represents the blood of Christ. 


  1. Praise God that I found someone who does in depth studying on topics! :)

    I came across your page while doing some research for a bible study on this topic. Thanks for the post. Apparently the same topic was on both of our minds at the same time. :)

    I'd like to share the outcome of an in depth look at biblical definitions and the scripture with you and/or your readers. May God bless you. Bible Study on Wine and Grape Juice

  2. Great well researched ! Moderation

  3. Dear Connie,

    What do you feel about drinking hard liquor?

    - anand (India)

  4. Dear In His Grace,

    It's really not a matter of how I feel or what I think personally. It's a matter of what God says. God does make the distinction between wine and strong liquor in the following verses, and in both cases He clearly allows the drinking of it. However as shown in the above article, drunkenness is not permissible, and as hard liquor makes one drunk so much more quickly, the amount that one can imbibe should be seriously reduced and controlled. And naturally if one has a problem with it, one should probably stay away from it, for we are to flee temptation. Drinking is really only for those who can control their use of it according to God's instructions. Everyone else should avoid it if they cannot control themselves. Moderation and temperance in all things. Self-control is the key.

    In Deuteronomy 14:24-26 it says "And if the way be too long for thee, so that thou art not able to carry it; or if the place be too far from thee, which the LORD thy God shall choose to set his name there, when the LORD thy God hath blessed thee: Then shalt thou turn it into money, and bind up the money in thine hand, and shalt go unto the place which the LORD thy God shall choose: And thou shalt bestow that money for whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatsoever thy soul desireth: and thou shalt eat there before the LORD thy God, and thou shalt rejoice, thou, and thine household."

    Proverbs 31:6-7 says "Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts. Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more."

    That's God's words on the issue, not mine.

  5. Thank you for your prompt reply
    Many people here in India drink hard liquor. Wine as such is hardly consumed and when someone here says drinking it mostly means hard liquor like brandy, rum etc or something softer like beer. I have once had a little wine and it makes you feel a little warm especially during the cold of December. My father in law has been contemplating whether he can use brandy in small quantities because he feels that he has some form of clinical depression, which is the reason for my question to you.
    I myself am a Christian and I know one thing for sure. The moment someone says that its okay to drink in moderation as long as you are not drunk, people start drinking here and justifying their drunkenness.
    In India drinking is a serious, serious problem.
    Once again thank you for your reply,
    God bless,

    1. Dear InHisGrace,

      Drinking is a serious problem everywhere around the world. Satan delights in having people abuse everything God has given them, alcohol, drugs, name it, Satan has corrupted it and has people abuse it. If we try to eliminate the problem by forbidding whatever it is that is being abused, we are no better than the Pharisees that Jesus condemned for putting a yoke on the people's necks, because they added so many more restrictions to the law than God had ever made. And still people sinned. We can't stop people from abusing things and sinning, but we can teach what Gods Word truly says, and be an example of how we are to use the freedoms God has given us.

      I have found that people who forbid alcohol end up with children who get drunk. On the other hand, I taught my children temperance, and that is how they treat it...with great respect.

      Only your father-in-law can know if he has control over his drinking and can do it in moderation according to God's Word. If he can't, then he shouldn't.

      You are right that people try to justify their sin, but there is no justification for sin. They would sin anyhow as the problem is not alcohol, the problem is their relationship with God. Changing God's laws is not the answer. Taking them to the Scriptures is the only thing one can do.

  6. Great article, you use a pleasant format. First Old then New Testament, and commenting after every relevant passage.

    I use many of those passages myself if I get criticised because of my, of course moderate, alcohol consumption. I sometimes (jokingly) accuse people of being better christians than Christ, since he obviously drank alcohol.

    But I have a question for you. There's no article about it so I'm asking it in the comment section. It is not really related to the topic here, but the two things are often lumped together. What is your opinion on smoking? More specifically, on christians who smoke? And what, in your opinion, does the Scriptures have to say about it?

    Looking forward to your reply, and God bless you.

    1. I forgot to add this. My personal preference is non-smokers, apart from sin simply because of the smell. It stinks. People who smoke smell, their breath is awful (I kissed someone once who smoked and wanted to vomit), their clothes stink and no amount of washing can make them smell better after a while, their cars stink, and their homes and all their furnishings stink. And it isn't restricted to the smoker. He/she makes her whole household stink too. I'm not trying to be offensive, just honest.

  7. Hi Strii,

    I saw your comment on the rapture issue, and will probably respond to that too if you want to check back there.

    Alcohol is such a much easier issue to address, because of course God has a lot to say on the issue. Of course if you are a moderate drinker as I am, we have obviously forsaken our salvation according to those who don't believe God's Word. LOL. But being in the same league as Christ on this issue, I guess we're in good company. I often wonder if they think about the fact that Passover wine had to be wine, not grape juice, because the grape harvest is in the fall, and without modern day methods of preservation, it would have been bad by the spring if not turned into wine. But why confuse them with logic and facts, right?

    As to smoking, that is not addressed by God, so I have to look at other things to determine a stance on it. First, cigarette smoking seems to be an addiction for people, not just the occasional rare "social smoke". It is bad for your health, and not only that, continual exposure to second hand smoke is bad for others. These things would seem to fall under the category of what Romans teaches us - that our bodies are a temple for God and to be holy. Not only for yourselves, but the worst is you are subjecting others to its bad health properties. This would seem to make it a sin UNDER THOSE CONDITIONS.

    Now if someone is a "social smoker", the rare cigarette or cigar on special occasions, then it would not really be harmful to your health, or anyone else's for that little exposure (unless of course they have allergies). It would not be an addiction (the sin of addiction is idolatry), but would fall under the category of a form of entertainment, so to speak, and under that category would not seem to be a sin per se, as it is not harming anyone physically. The thing to consider that could make it a sin is, are you doing it in a place or way that is an offense to either a Christian brother, or does it destroy your witness to a non-believer? If it does that, then just as we are to try to refrain from ANYTHING that will cause someone to stumble, a person should probably refrain if the situation requires it to maintain their witness.

    I think all things that are not directly addressed by Scripture fall under the same sort of scrutiny that smoking would fall. TV can be an addiction and if so it becomes a sin. If you are watching bad or sinful shows, it becomes a sin. If you only watch it for acceptable entertainment and aren't addicted, or if you use it for educational purposes (there are channels that promote education) then of course it is perfectly acceptable. It all boils down to how you use it and if it offends someone's spiritual walk with God or destroys your witness. If you've read my article on music you will see that that falls into the same category. There is good and bad music. The way I see it, everything was originally created good by God. Satan has a corrupted version of everything good that God has created. Our job is to be able to enjoy the good part of God's creation without getting caught up in the corrupted form that Satan has made to rival the good.

    Does that answer your question?

  8. It answers my question perfectly, as I asked for your opinion and you gave it. Thank you for your reply, it is very interesting.

    I take issue with people who claim that smoking is a sin by definition. If I ask them on what basis their claim rests they usually come up with the passage in Romans about he body being a temple of the Holy Spirit and that it is to be holy. And I agree with that. But I don't agree that based on this passage one can argue that smoking is a sin. Because that would require that everything that is bad for your health be a sin. Eating a BigMac would be a sin, since it is hardly good for your health. Or being fat would be a sin, because that is very bad for your health, and our bodies are supposed to be temples for the Holy Spirit.

    I do not think that this reasoning is correct. I of course agree that smoking can be a sin, as can practically anything under the right conditions.

    Now I'm an occasional pipe smoker, and I am not afraid of being confronted by those people. I'm more than happy to debate them. But I know people who are ostracised by the community because they smoke, and I mean daily cigarettes by that. Which I wouldn't recommend to anyone for health reasons by the way. But they are told by the community that they are committing a grievous sin, and thus they are afraid of God's judgement over them. And I do think that that is wrong, because first of all, they are scaring people with God's judgement while there is no Biblical basis for what they say, and second, those people aren't the most healthy specimens themeselves. If I confront them, their reasoning doesn't hold up. It might be bad for your health, but that doesn't mean it is a sin.

    And About the whole stink thing, I do not know if you have ever smelled pipe smoke but it smells very different from cigarette smoke, and everyone that has ever been around when I smoke a pipe has confirmed it. It is a sweet smell, and it varies with what flavour of pipe tobacco one uses (e.g. cherry, or vanilla, etc). This is why almost all pipe smokers hate cigarettes, because cigarettes are made of processed (read: ruined) tobacco and stink very badly and thus give pipe smoking a bad name. Cigarette smokers also usually inhale the smoke into their lungs, which pipe smokers don't (some do, but they are usually people who have switched from cigarettes and are used to inhaling). Smoking a pack of cigarettes a day (with inhaling) gives one an big increased risk of lung cancer after an extended period of time, so the risks smoking an occasional pipe are quite small in comparison. One is probably not going to die from it. On an interisting side note, Japan has one of the highest percentages of cigarette smokers, two thirds of Japanese men smoke, and one of the lowest percentages of deaths from lung cancer. Conversely, America has only about 20% smokers and of the highest rates of lung cancer in the world, so there would seem to other variables involved. But I'm straying off topic. What I want to say is, if you ever have the chance to smell the difference, you should.

    Also I noticed from your article that you are a fan of J.S.Bach, as am I. Did you know he was an avid pipe smoker? He even wrote a short poem about it, very nice, even with a spiritual lesson. Here's a link to a site that has posted it online if you're interested (translated from German):

    I am of the opinion, and so was Bach apparently, that smoking tobacco in a pipe (in moderation of course) is one of the wonderful things of creation that God has provided for his children to enjoy.

    Sorry for my lenghty comment, and I thank you that you took the time to reply. I really appreciate your Blog.

    1. Thank you so much for the compliment on my blog.

      Had you said you were a pipe smoker, I could have addressed that, but as so few people smoke pipes these days........

      I have smelled pipe tobacco and have no objection to it at all. It has a lovely aroma. I also have to admit a predilection to loving the old English Victorian gentleman persona, so I have to admit a weakness to seeing a man with a pipe in his hand, especially the full bent types. So Sherlock Holmesian. Somehow for some reason, for me it conjures up the associations of refined, intellectual masculinity. Sigh. (Sorry about that. My romantic nature gave way for a moment. ;-) ) Nor do I see pipe smoking as an addiction as cigarettes are, and as I said, it is addiction (idolatry) that is really the sin more than harming the body (which really only happens if it is an addiction). But as you pointed out, for example, my weakness for good chocolate is also probably a sin. Although sadly these days I have had to give my chocolate up. As you said, they don't yell at fat people for sinning, (although they will harp about health), while they will crucify alcohol imbibers or tobacco smokers. It's the same exact thing, and I am as guilty as a smoker, although you can live without cigarettes, it's kind of hard to live without food, so it's much harder to break an addiction.

      My older son has thought about taking up pipe smoking as he is a man out of time. He is a very English Victorian college professor type of persona, (although he is an engineer) so it would fit. Occasionally when he is with his friends from his college days on special occasions (such as they are all now getting married one by one) they have the celebration cigar. I have never smelled a good cigar, so can't say that I like the smell of those. Maybe a good Cuban cigar smells better.

      I don't agree with people ostracizing people for smoking, I was not brought up to do that. We had smokers in church when I was a kid, however I do believe addiction of any kind (in this case chain smoking) is a form of idolatry and that is a sin. Thou shalt have no other God before me. You may not agree with my reasoning on that, but that is where I stand on that issue. I did say the occasional smoke is not a sin unless you are going to cause someone to stumble, but that refers to anything, not just smoking. If eating chocolate is going to destroy someone's faith, then I shouldn't eat chocolate (in front of them of course. It doesn't mean one cannot do - whatever - when in other company.)

      My point is, we are not supposed to go out of our way to offend the weaker brother, but on the other hand, if it isn't going to destroy their faith and all they are going to do is label you, then honestly I couldn't care less what people like that think. Jesus was castigated for his behavior too. I don't go out of my way to drink in front of those who would do that, just to keep THEM from the SIN of gossip and a judgmental attitude of others freedom in Christ, but if they see me doing it, neither am I going to hide. I am not going to let them speak evil of my freedom. (which is a Scriptural teaching also.)

      As for Bach, being a classically trained musician and Christian, I think he was the greatest composer ever, although I like a broad range of music, not just because his music is outstanding and he was prolific, but his use of God's principles in his composition and his writing not for man's approbation, but solely to glorify God makes him untouchable. As for his thinking smoking a pipe was one of the most wonderful things in creation, well, as a woman I don't think I'd look good with a pipe. Although he wasn't a Christian by any means, I think I will agree with Benjamin Franklin when he said that wine was God's gift to man (I know tee shirts say he said beer, but he actually said wine from what I read). I also love tea. Wine, chocolate, and tea. God's greatest gifts to mankind. Okay, I'll add pipe tobacco for you. :-)

  9. I share the same predilection, actually. I read in your 'about me' section that you love the Victorian age. So do I. Maybe that is why I started smoking a pipe. Well when I think about it, that probably is the reason. Besides that, it forces one to slow down, because smoking a pipe is a delicate procedure. If smoked too fast or vigorously, it will burn too hot. If smoked too slow it will go out. It requires attention and dedication to tread the fine line between them.

    What I want to say is this. I love the Victorian era, it has always struck me as an example of how society can be, if influenced enough by the Bible. For the Bible was the foundation of society in Victorian times no doubt. Don't get me wrong, of course society wasn't perfect back then (it never is, this is still a fallen world) but it was certainly better than now, at least on a moral plane. Morality has sunk lower than ever in western society since then, especially since WW2. Although there are some torchbearers left, like you and me, who still proclaim the morals of that bygone age, when all society was founded upon Biblical morality. We may be a voice crying in the desert that is today's debauchery, but we still herald those truths that people then held dear; Faith, Propriety, Decency, Marital fidelity, and many others.

    (A sidenote about marital fidelity: I do not believe there exists a difference between pre-marital sex and extra-marital sex (i.e. sex with someone else than one's spouse). They're both extra-marital. And therefore both adultery. If a young man has sex with his girlfriend, he is cheating on his future wife, for it is in no way certain that his girlfriend is the same person until the vows are exchanged. So in effect, he is committing adultery.)

    Also I am enamoured with the style society had back then, for example, if one compares the clothing then and now, the question immediatly rises: Why on earth did we abolish those beautiful dresses for women and stylish suits for men? I myself make a point of always being well-dressed. Picture this, but with waistcoat and tie, and you'll have an image that is representative of my usual clothing:

    I am a 22-year-old university student, and studying for an academic career in Philology, so I am also returning some good old-fashioned decency back to the university, since students and professors alike (especially the younger ones) look terrible these days. I once had a teacher who looked like he was some hippie stuck in the sixties, it was horrible. How can one take a teacher like that seriously as a student? But I stray.

    As you may have noticed, I also am a man out of time. My mother once saw a movie set in Victorian times and said afterwards: 'Now I understand, you have been born a century-and-a-half too late.' A joke of course, but the fact that it was made is revealing. I don't consider it a loss to be born in this day and age however, since, as I said above, today's society needs its prophets, its torchbearers of good old-fashioned christian morality. And I am one of those, as I believe are you.

    I highly recommend Samuel Smiles' excellent chapter on 'The True Gentleman' in his 1859 book 'Self Help' (which meant 'self improvement' back then, not what it means today). It is something every man should read, and take to heart. (And probably every woman too, even if only to recognise a Gentleman when she sees one).
    The chapter is online (pdf) I believe, although I recommend that you, as a fellow Victorian born too late, acquire the book (maybe for your son?). It's on Amazon for £4 (also on for $8).

    But here I am rambling on about my own sillyness. I hope you don't mind my blabbering about my love for Victoriana. I really like your blog, although I have not yet read all your articles. I'll make sure to visit regularly. God bless you.

  10. Strii,
    I would love to hear more babbling about Victoriana, but not on this site. I posted my email in the comment section of the first article I ever wrote for this blog. It is titled "Introduction" and can be found in the archives at the right. You'll immediately know it is my email address. I would love to hear from you on the subject of the Victorian Age. I don't have anyone to talk to about it very much, except my older son who loves it too. He is with you (as am I) on the clothing. But I won't go into that here. Hope you come back and I hear from you via email.

  11. Connie,

    How do you feel about the scriptures that women should not be teaching men. I know in my life God has shut my mouth - literally when I attempted to expound on the Scriptures to a man....

    1. Hi Elena,

      I wrote an article on this which I tried to link here, but am having major computer problems this morning. It is called The Role of Women in Church Leadership and is found in my archives in Feb. 2011. I tried putting the link here, but it doesn't seem to be connecting correctly. So you can either go over and look for it in the archives or try to cut and paste. Sorry, I don't know why it is acting up like this. I'm no computer genius, so don't know why it isn't linking as usual.

      If you still have more questions, please feel free to ask. I know it is a very difficult line to know where to draw, as sometimes it seems that God puts us in a situation where we do teach a man on a one to one basis. I have that situation in my life right now with a relative who just came back to the Lord at the age of 58. He has a lot of catching up to do, and it seems God has put me in his life to help him come up to speed in knowledge of the Lord. One must observe God's rules, but sometimes God calls you to bend them for His sake. The Scriptures have precedents for this, so we should follow the Lord's leading and not be legalistic if God leads us to do something. Otherwise we should follow the rules laid out in Scripture. If God is shutting your mouth, then there is a reason for it. I don't know what the problem is, but there is apparently something that is wrong for you to speak to this man. It may have nothing to do with you speaking out, there may be other things which prevented it because of the situation. If this man is teaching error or heresy and is a leader, and you want to confront him on it, then I would ask if you are addressing him in private, for that is how it should be addressed, not in public. To do it in public would be a challenge to his authority, which should follow a chain of command to do so.