I have not only read the stories, but I have also experienced real pain in many ways from the effects of drunkenness, both from my own drinking before I began following Christ (although the effects last to this day), and also from the drunkenness of others.
So, with Saint Patrick’s Day tomorrow, I am compelled to share a good word about Alcohol and the Christian Life from Zach Schlegel. Zach is a former pastor at Capitol Hill Baptist Church, and now a pastor at First Baptist Church Upper Marlboro.
To listen to the full talk, click here. Selected portions and quotes from Zach’s message are here below:
“Well, for almost the past decade, Dos Equis beer has advertised their brew as the choice of a refined and suave-looking elderly man, probably in his seventies, known as the most interesting man in the world. The commercials feature a montage of daring achievements that he had done and accomplished from his youth, such as freeing an angry bear from a trap. And during the commercials, the voiceovers tell us facts about him. The police often question him just because they find him interesting. He once had an awkward moment, just to see how it feels. He found the fountain of youth, but chose not to drink from it, because he wasn’t thirsty. The aim of the ads is to suggest that those who drink Dos Equis beer lead interesting lives. Is that true? Do people who drink Dos Equis beer actually lead more interesting lives? Well, many people think so. In fact, the year that the ads came out, their sales jumped 22% in that year.
But in all seriousness, what about you? Do you think that the Christian who chooses not to drink alcohol is missing out in life? Or do you think those who do drink have it better? Well tonight I’d like to think about questions like that. I’d like for us to think about alcohol and the Christian life.
Now, for some of you who hear that, and this topic, you think, ‘Well, it’s about time’. You know, you look around, and you see some concerns or abuses. And others of you hear this topic, and you’re feeling a little nervous. You think, ‘I knew it, I joined a baptist church, and this is what happens. They’re going to list a bunch of legalistic rules on drinking.’
So, why give a talk like this on alcohol? Well, in 1 Corinthians 10, Paul writes this: ‘So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.’ Notice the focus and the detail and the nuance that Paul has for whatever we do as a Christian. For the Christian, we recognize, God is in charge of every aspect of our lives, including what we drink. Either God is King of our lives, and all of life, or He’s not King at all. So we as Christians want to glorify God in everything that we do, including the choices that we make around drink, or eating, or whatever we do.
So, to think about that, and to help us think about that together tonight, what I want to do is to think about four different things. I have four brief points, I’ll give them to you ahead of time:
First, wine is good.
Second, drunkenness is evil.
Third, love should control your use of freedom.
Fourth, God is the centerpiece, not your drink.
. . .
So, one thing Scripture says about wine is that it’s good. And I think we need to hear that from Scriptures that we’re looking at. But that’s not all that Scripture says about alcohol. As with any gift that God generously provides, our sinful hearts can take something that’s good, and was intended for good, and in our sinful hearts, we can use it for evil. We can twist the thing that’s given to us, and bring about bad. Which brings us to our second point, that drunkenness is evil.
In Ephesians 5:18, Paul says, do not get drunk: ‘Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery. But be filled with the Spirit.’
. . .
So the Bible is crystal clear that drunkenness is a sin, and it’s something that we as followers of Christ should avoid. It’s not just that drunkenness leads us to do other things that are evil; it’s that drunkenness itself is also evil. With that said, with the impaired judgment that comes with being drunk, drunkenness also does often lead to other sin. It leads us to say things that we regret, actions that hurt others. It leads us to do things that actually lie about God, that destroy relationships, that make people lose jobs. Proverbs highlights this, throughout the Proverbs. Look at Proverbs 20:1: ‘Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.’
. . .
Solomon is talking about the drunkard. They’re not under control. They don’t have self-control. They’re actually led by the wine, or the strong drink.
. . .
Or turn over to Proverbs 23:29: ‘Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes?’ . . . So who has these things? ‘Those who tarry long over wine; those who go to try mixed wine’
. . .
What are the consequences of drunkenness? Look at [Proverbs 23] verse 32: ‘In the end it bites like a serpent, it stings like an adder. Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart utter perverse things.’
. . .
Several of you have contacted me even this past week with terrible stories about the ways that drunkenness has effected your life or has effected your family life. Some of you here grew up with an alcoholic family member who was either harsh or abusive or was simply passed out and absent because of alcohol. Some of you have lost loved ones because of the abuse of alcohol. My own grandmother and Aunt were killed in a car accident when a drunk driver hit my Dad and my Grandpa and his sister and Mom in a Sunday afternoon drive. In fact in 2013, 10,000 people were killed in America, and approximately 290,000 people were injured by a drunk driver. 40% of all violent crimes in America involve alcohol. And 7 out of 10 alcohol-related incidents of violence actually occur within the home. So you can see how drunkenness actually destroys all types of relationships. It has sad consequences for families, for marriages, for parents, for kids.
And sadly, I think one of the things that’s frustrating, is that our culture makes light of drunkenness. People run to drunkenness in order to loosen up or to have a good time or to forget their worries. And often times over conversations on Monday at work, the stories and the conversations on Monday are filled with drunken stories, and jokes about what happened that weekend at the bar, and they’re making light of it. But Scripture is very clear that drunkenness is a sin, and drunkenness is no laughing matter.
In 1 Corinthinas 6 and in Galatians 5, Paul includes drunkenness in a list of vices, saying that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. It’s serious. Unrepentant drunkenness can lead you to hell. We should be careful not to joke about it then. Instead, we should be adamant about avoiding it ourselves, and helping others in this church avoid the sin of drunkenness as well.
. . .
Love should control your use of freedom.
. . .
God is the centerpiece, not your drink.
. . .
When we see Jesus for who He is, we will see undeniably His all-surpassing worth. And when we see and behold His all-surpassing worth, we’ll hold these other things, our freedoms, more loosely. We’ll count everything as rubbish in comparison with the surpassing value of knowing Christ.
. . .
Part of my encouragement to us as a church is to think carefully, think biblically, think honestly, and keep the conversation going. Talk to those around you whom you love, who know you, whom you respect, who know their Bibles.”