And be not drunk with wine,
wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;
Many Christians have to face this issue soon after he is saved. Very likely, he had been a drinker before he was saved. Unlike smoking, cigarettes pack usually carries a health risk warning on its packaging, alcoholic beverages are not required to do so. Probably the only form of warning the public receives is the danger of drink driving.
In the Bible, Christians are commanded, “not to be drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:18 & 19). This verse also shows that in the matter of drinking, there are believers who will indulge in the flesh and as such, a command is given to forbid Christians in such practice just like any other sins to avoid such as fornication, adultery and idolatry. Moreover, abstinence from wine is to be observed by church office holders for a bishop and a deacon who are not to be given to wine (1 Timothy 3:3 & 8).
Worldly Christians would want to justify their “social drinking” claiming that the commandment here is concerning drinking in excess and they can exercise “self-control” and hence, this issue does not apply to them at all. Some would even want to justify drinking further whether social or in private with Paul’s instruction given to Timothy, “Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities” (1 Timothy 5:23). The instruction for Timothy is clearly one for a medical condition that requires treatment. They want to confuse the issue between drinking wine for sinful indulgence and using wine for a medical condition. For Christians who abuse the Scriptures, it is obvious that their infirmities are one of fleshly indulgence instead of soberness and godly living that honors God. They would rather be brought under the control of wine than the control of the Spirit which will result in godliness with melodious singing of psalms, hymns and spiritual songs praising the Lord.
Drinking will lead to drunkenness. If this warning is not clear enough, consider Proverbs 20:1 and 23:29-35. “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise. 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 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. Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things. Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast. They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not: when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again.”
Another portion of Scriptures concerning this issue that comes with a curse is found in Habakkuk 2:15 & 16, “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. Thou are filled with shame for glory: drink thou also, and let thy foreskin be uncovered: the cup of the Lord’s right hand shall be turned unto thee, and shameful spewing shall be on thy glory.” In order to cover up his sin of adultery with Uriah’s wife, King David tried to make Uriah drunk hoping that Uriah might go home and sleep with his wife (2 Samuel 11:6-13).
Lot’s daughters made their father drunk to conceive children out of incest with him. “And the firstborn said unto the younger, Our father is old, and there is not a man in the earth to come in unto us after the manner of all the earth: Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father. And they made their father drink wine that night: and the firstborn went in, and lay with her father; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose. And it came to pass on the morrow, that the firstborn said unto the younger, Behold, I lay yesternight with my father: let us make him drink wine this night also; and go thou in, [and] lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father. And they made their father drink wine that night also: and the younger arose, and lay with him; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose. Thus were both the daughters of Lot with child by their father. And the firstborn bare a son, and called his name Moab: the same is the father of the Moabites unto this day. And the younger, she also bare a son, and called his name Benammi: the same is the father of the children of Ammon unto this day.” (Genesis 19:31-38) So the next time when someone offers you a drink and wishes you health, think again!
Read what the Lord pronounced upon the sin of drunkenness. “Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, till wine inflame them! And the harp, and the viol, the tabret, and pipe, and wine, are in their feasts: but they regard not the work of the LORD, neither consider the operation of his hands. Therefore my people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge: and their honourable men are famished, and their multitude dried up with thirst. Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to ingle strong drink: Which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him!” (Isaiah 5:11-13,20-23).
You may protest! But the Lord Jesus also offered wine to his disciples during the Lord’s supper! Let’s consider the Scriptures instead of making our own private interpretation on this matter, shall we? The supper mentioned in the gospel of Mark and Luke simply indicated the “cup” and the content in the cup was called “fruit of the vine” (Mark 14:23-25 and Luke 22:17&18). And in the gospel of Matthew, the content which was the “fruit of the vine” was further elaborated by the Lord Jesus to be “new”; “But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” (Matthew 26:29). To find out what is new wine, we have to compare Scriptures with Scriptures. In Isaiah 65:8, we have, “Thus saith the LORD, As the new wine is found in the cluster, and one saith, Destroy it not; for a blessing is in it: so will I do for my servants’ sakes, that I may not destroy them all.” So new wine is found in the cluster. Only a person with a wicked heart bent on justifying drunkenness will associate the wine used in the Lord’s supper that typifies the pure and precious blood of Christ shed for sinners to be fermented wine.
Some Christians would continue to protest that in business, sometimes you would have to participate in social drinking so as not to offend the business associates. Now since when is an unsaved man worry about offending the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. Why worry about offending the feelings of sinners when your underlying motives are to gain some earthly advantage by being around these sinners. Like Esau who sold his birthright for his belly, such drinking Christians despised their Christian birthright to gain the friendship of this world so that they might also satisfy his belly.
So how shall we deal with those who refuse to take heed to the danger of drinking? It is pointless to argue with such people because the backslider is always filled with his own ways. We can pray for them. We can avoid them and not participate with them in their sinful indulgence. We can also observe God’s dealing with them when they end up in tragedy, which often also affects their family. We need to take heed that we ourselves can also fall prey and become addicted to drinking as well. Remember the admonishment in 1 Corinthians 10:12, “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.”