One Beer

It is clear that God condemns drunkenness. His word warns, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). Regardless of what anyone else says, God says no drunkard is going to heaven without repenting. Thus, “Do not be deceived!”

Elsewhere God said, “Wine is a mocker, intoxicating drink arouses brawling, and whoever is lead astray by it is not wise” (Proverbs 20:1). And, “Do not look on the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it swirls around smoothly; at the last it bites like a serpent, and stings like a viper” (23:31-32). At the very least, we should see He is telling us to not be lured by the pleasure of drinking, right? What else can “not look on the wine” mean? 

“But what if I don’t get drunk? What if I only have one or two beers? Is that still a sin?” Yes, it is. Peter addressed this very thing in 1 Peter 4:3 when he condemned “drunkenness, revelries, and drinking parties.” Revelries refers to the celebratory use of alcohol (like after winning the game), while drinking parties refers to casual, social drinking without the intent of getting intoxicated. All of these condemn a recreational use of alcohol and drugs. The only exception the Bible gives is when we must use intoxicants for medical purposes (“a little wine for the stomach’s sake,” 1 Timothy 5:23). Other than that, we have no permission from God to use intoxicants.

Some will use Jesus’ miracle of turning water into wine (John 2:1-11) to justify drinking and getting high, but that interpretation places Jesus in violation of other Bible passages. While it is true that wine is mentioned often in the Bible, it is also true that any juice of the grape was referred to as wine (Isaiah 65:10; Jeremiah 48:33). This distinction is seen in cases like Hannah, who had neither “wine nor intoxicating drink” (1 Samuel 1:15). This passage shows that some “wine” could be non-intoxicating drink, which is likely what Jesus made when He turned water into wine. If He did not, and He actually made intoxicating drink for a crowd, He violated the Scriptures. Isaiah said, “Woe to men mighty at drinking wine, Woe to men valiant for mixing intoxicating drink” (Isaiah 5:22). Woe is a warning of judgment against ungodly behavior. It is used here of people who mix intoxicating drink for recreational drinking. So, either Jesus violated this passage in creating liquor or He made a wine (beverage of the grape) that people could consume without getting drunk. You can believe what you want, but I choose to believe Jesus was not “valiant for mixing intoxicating drink.” I do not see Him contributing to a drinking party.

For those who are still looking for ways to justify a moderate use of alcohol and drugs, consider these final questions:

1.  Are you setting a godly example in purchasing and consuming intoxicants? As a Christian, you are supposed to be the “light of the world” in glorifying God in “good works” (Matthew 5:13-14). Are you doing that when you are seen drinking at a bar or buying alcohol at a liquor store? If a mother with small children was seen doing these things, she would be viewed with contempt. Would you be viewed any differently if people knew you were a song leader, Bible class teacher, or preacher? Are you an example “in conduct” and “in purity” while visiting these places or in acting this way?

2.  Can you take God’s word with you while out drinking, without being an offense? If not, how can you say you represent what it teaches?

3.  Would you have one beer before worship or teaching a Bible class? Would you be coming before God with a sober mind if you did? Would other Christians approve of you if they knew you did?

4.  Does drinking make you a better Christian? Are you more spiritually-minded and closer to God by having a drink? If so, why are you afraid of certain people finding out that you drink?

5.  Are you ready to meet God while drinking?

Thus, I stand upon God’s command to “not look upon” strong drink while it swirls in the cup. Until I can be shown otherwise, I will encourage all drinkers to repent and be sober-minded.