"Prove all things; hold fast that which is good."
1 Thessalonians 5:21
The Bible vs Alcohol
Author:
Christopher J. E. Johnson
Published: May 22, 2014
Updated: Sept 16, 2014

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: And that ye may put difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean;
-Leviticus 10:9-10

It is surprising to me how many Christians frequently purchase and drink alcohol, considering the numerous passages of the Bible that discuss fermentation, both literally in drink, and allegorically in the church. Because I started out quoting Leviticus, many alcohol-drinking Christians will immediately seek to argue that it's simply an Old Testament rule that doesn't apply to Christians, but we will address the New Testament on this issue later. I believe this subject is rarely given a good Scriptural teaching, and so the topic often gets swept under the rug by people who want to justify their lust, so we need to keep in mind that Christians who partake in sin often do not want to hear anything that condemns their actions.

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.
-Proverbs 23:29-30
(Mixed wine is the same as people ordering mixed alcoholic drinks at a restaurant.)

There are two definitions of 'wine'. Most people around the world tend to only know of one definition, but not the other, and the Bible uses both, depending on the context, so let's take a look at both of them:

wine (adj): 1. the fermented juice of grapes
2. the juice of certain fruits, prepared with sugar
(See 'wine', Noah Webster's Dicitonary, 1828, [www.1828.mshaffer.com])

Fermentation in alcoholic substances is (in very basic terms) oxidation of sugar molecules. There is a fermented wine, which is what people get drunk off of, and there is an UN-fermented wine, which is non-alcoholic.

Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright.
-Proverbs 23:30

Many people are unaware that fermentation causes the liquid to move. Without getting into too many technical scientific details, the fermentation process breaks down glucose (sugar), and in this process, it causes an energy burst in an exothermic reaction (burst of released heat), which causes the liquid to "giveth his colour" and "moveth itself aright."

(The following video is a 10-min time lapse of fermenting beer over the course of four days. If you look closely, you will see the condensation of water on the outside, and the movement of the liquid on the inside, due to the release of heat as the sugar molecules break down.)

Whatever excuse a Christian wants to make to justify their consumption of alcohol, my Bible says not even to look at it, let alone drink it.

They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits' end.
-Psalm 107:27

The LORD hath mingled a perverse spirit in the midst thereof: and they have caused Egypt to err in every work thereof, as a drunken man staggereth in his vomit.
-Isaiah 19:14

There is only wickedness and shame that comes out of drinking alcohol, and God has even used this as a curse and punishment upon the Jewish people for their spiritual fornication.

Therefore thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Drink ye, and be drunken, and spue, and fall, and rise no more, because of the sword which I will send among you.
-Jeremiah 25:27

Drunkenness was also a curse put upon Moab:

Make ye him drunken: for he magnified himself against the LORD: Moab also shall wallow in his vomit, and he also shall be in derision.
-Jeremiah 48:26

And the end-times prophecy tells us that the evil servants would drink alcohol:

But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
-Matthew 24:48-51

This is a continuation in Proverbs after it says not to look upon the fermented wine:

At the last it [fermented wine] 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.
-Proverbs 23:32-35

The Bible is explaining to us that it is addictive, and despite all the damage it will do to your body (inside and out), you will eventually lose control and keep seeking that which is causing you to lose your senses. As you lose control over your senses, it makes you more likely to commit other sins (contention, fornication, adultery, etc).

Excuse: It's just one! I can handle it.
No alcoholic ever had a passionate dream to be an alcoholic when they were younger. Not one ever stood up and said, "I'm going to grow up to be a drunk!" Almost every alcoholic on the planet started out saying, "It's just one. I can handle it."

Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
-Galatians 5:21

You can own a gun, fire a gun, even shoot a man to defend your house, and not sin; however, if you use a gun to threaten and/or premeditate murder, then you have sinned. Likewise, you can buy alcohol, even use it to clean out a wound, and not sin; however, if you drink alcohol to premeditate drunkenness, then you have sinned.

Drinking alcoholic beverages is SIN according to the Bible.

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!
-Habakkuk 2:15

It is rarely admitted in casual conversation, but on the weekend, 90% of people attend bars/clubs looking for a one-night-stand sexual encounter. This is a direct Biblical warning against such practices.

The following quote is from the blog site of a New York bartender, discussing his personal experiences, working in bars, and watching the customers:
"As you can see from the formula, both time and inebriation have exponentially more dramatic affects than familiarity. The thought of getting down with the dude or chick next to you, creeps up on you Ė sometimes, rather quickly. The normal logic pathways and synapses of your gray matter, the ones that keep you faithful to your significant other in many cases, are slowly overtaken by new, short-term satisfaction logic Ė the fermented kind."
-Freddy, "The Truth About Why We Go to Bars," Dec 3, 2012, retrieved May 26, 2014, [thetruthaboutbartending.com/2012/12/03/the-truth-about-why-we-go-to-bars]

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

The purpose of alcohol (fermented drink) is to dull one's senses. Typical "party" scenes in the city will provide food and drink (distracting taste and smell), deafening music (distracting hearing), lights, costumes, performances (distracting sight), dancing and/or sexual encounters (distracting touch), which leaves anyone who participates in a state of pure amusement (i.e. amuse literally means to 'not think') where they will be unable to consider the consequences of their actions.

(Club scene that runs from downtown to the beach in Playa Del Carmen Mexico.)

"People go to bars because itís a socially acceptable way to meet people of the opposite sex for short-term hookups and dating."
-CallerAlgernon, "Seriously, Why Do We Go To Bars?," Jan 3, 2012, retrieved May 26, 2014, [gentlemencalling.wordpress.com/2012/01/03/seriously-why-do-we-go-to-bars]

When sinners are honest, it proves the Bible is truth.

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.
-Proverbs 31:4-5

The whole purpose of alcohol is so that people can forget about their responsibilities, and forget what is good and right by the Law of God. They can forget about the consequences of their actions.

Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts.
-Proverbs 31:6

If you want to have heavy hearts and die, then get into alcohol. If you want others to have heavy hearts and die, then give them some alcohol too.

Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.
-Proverbs 31:7

Most of the people who go out drinking like this are in debt, via credit cards and other means. It is only through debt that they give the appearance that they live comfortably, because if they had no money to borrow, many of these people would be living in complete poverty. The club/bar scene is a complete illusion of people feigning to have money to spend, so they can drink away their grief and sorrow, and take in pleasures of the flesh.

Abstain from all appearance of evil.
-1 Thessalonians 5:22

This is why so many of us have heard that we shouldn't even step foot in a bar or club like those mentioned above, because we are ambassadors on behalf of the Lord Jesus Christ, and we should seek to give a proper example of God's Word at all times. However, this is not limited to bars and clubs, but also casual drinking because if Christians ought not to be looking upon fermented drinks, why would we ever hand one to our neighbor?

I had a Christian once write me the following:
"Another thing I was thinking about was an approach of a brother in my city. He bought some bottles of beer and visited the vagabonds. He sat down with them, opened the bottles, gave them all one bottle and started to talk about Jesus. Many despised the tactic. When I asked them how would they approach the homeless they said they did not do it or did not know. I concluded my conversation with the final words: 'I liked the 'bottle of beer' style better.'"
(I noted that, even when I addressed him with the Bible saying not to give your neighbor drink, he would not admit what he believed was against the Word of God.)

Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink, that puttest thy bottle to him,
-Habakkuk 2:15

This is a Christian who is not concerning himself with the warnings of God's Word, rather, this is one who finds his own opinions (i.e. "I like this better") of more importance, and many of those who will read this article will have the same attitude before they open this document. What is your foundation? Is it the Word of God? Or is it your own arbitrary opinion, just as the heathens do? As Christians, we should not run around creating our own personal moral standards, but rely on God's Word to determine for us how we should live our lives.

For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
-Matthew 25:35-36

We don't go to the homeless and hand them beers; we go to the homeless and give them what they need, which is food, clothing, shelter, etc. I would challenge any Christian to go find me a verse that, when giving unto the homeless or the stranger, that we should give them any kind of alcoholic beverage, because I have already given verses that tell us we should not do such things.

For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward.
-Mark 9:41

We give water or juices, but not liquor. Those that go after strong drink, and hand it to others, have no regard for the work of the Lord.

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.
-Isaiah 5:12

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 mingle strong drink:
-Isaiah 5:21-22

The Bible instructs us to be sober:

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
-1 Peter 5:8

sober (adj): not intoxicated or drunk
(See 'sober', Random House Dictionary, 2014, [www.dictionary.com]; See also Collins English Dictionary, 10th Edition, William Collins Sons & Co, 2009)

(Squirrel gets drunk by eating fermented pumpkin.)

When we take in alcohol, we begin the process of dulling our senses, and thus sobriety fades. It is much easier for Satan to grab hold of those who do not have their wits about them.

This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, 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 3:1-3

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
-1 Corinthians 6:19

At the beginning of this article, I quoted from Leviticus 10, which said that strong drink in wine was unclean and not fit for the temple. Nothing about that has changed from one dispensation to the next. Today, fermented drinks are unclean and not fit for the body (temple).

Convenient Excuses: "We Christians Can Eat Anything We Want"

The typical alcohol-drinking Christian tries to claim that ANYTHING is acceptable for consumption in the New Testament. I challenge anyone to show me where that's the case because I've never heard a sound Scriptural argument for that.

But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.
-Genesis 9:4

For example, if anything is good for consumption, is it okay with Jesus if you drink bleach? Is horse manure good for consumption? I don't argue that we can eat pork if we want to, but attempting to put carte blanche (do whatever you please) privilege onto our eating habits is just insane, and certainly not Biblical.
Those of you with a love of the truth will find it interesting that we Christians are not supposed to consume blood at all, and that's been the case in every dispensation.

But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.
-Acts 15:20
(That includes your steaks! Don't order them rare -- cook out the blood!)

The bottom line is that most Christians have come up with convenient one-liners to keep any rebuke off of them because they don't want reproof from the Word of God concerning their lusts.

Now let's begin to address the arguments of those who favor alcohol and drunkenness, and seek to maliciously use God's Word to justify themselves. As I mentioned at the beginning, there are two definitions of "wine," (one is strong drink, and the other is fruit juice) and when the Bible uses the word, it can refer to both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, depending on the context.

Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities.
-1 Timothy 5:23

This is obviously not saying that we should never drink water, but drink not water only. These verses are advising us to drink some fruit juice along with water.

If the definition of "wine" used here was referring to alcohol, then we have a Biblical contradiction. We can't on the one hand say that we are supposed to be sober, and not allow strong drink into the temple of our bodies, but yet put aside water for strong drink. This is obviously talking about fruit juice, and most especially citrus fruits, because many infirmities (scurvy for example) can afflict those who have primarily a bread/water diet without fruit, which would have been a common diet for those who traveled and sailed a lot back and forth around the countries of the Mediterranean Sea, like the apostles did. (i.e. it's difficult to travel with fruits and vegetables without them going bad)

And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.
-Genesis 1:29

The following are based on studies done by the National Institutes of Health:
"Drinking water and other liquids, such as fruit and vegetable juices and clear soups, may make fiber in the diet more effective in normalizing bowel function and maintaining regularity."
-National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC), "How is Constipation Treated: Eating, Diet, and Nutrition," Sept 18, 2013, retrieved May 26, 2014, [digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/constipation]

For problems with digestion, fruit and/or vegetable juices can solve the problem by simply adding some to your water. No where in the above article is alcohol mentioned as a solution for digestive problems, and when you go to your doctor with such problems, one of the first things they tell you to do is back off drinking alcohol.

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.
-Isaiah 28:7

Those who defend alcohol often refer to the marriage in Cana of Galilee, attempting to use the Lord Jesus Christ for their justification:

And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine... Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it. When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was... And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now.
-John 2:1-10

Anyone who approaches John 2's defintion of "wine" as alcohol, does so on complete assumption. As we have seen in numerous places of Scripture, God (who is Jesus Christ) has said that those who are given to much drinking of strong drink are sinning, so why would Jesus Christ make more strong drink for them to continue in their sin, when in his ministry, he was teaching people they need to repent? There's no need to assert assumptions, and thereby create contradictions, UNLESS someone is desperately seeking to justify their sin.

And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.
-Luke 16:15

Many alcohol-drinking Christians love the flavor of their mixed drinks, but did you realize that almost any mixed alcoholic drinks in the world can be made what's called a "virgin" drink? A virgin drink simply has no alcohol in it. So if alcohol-drinking Christians are so obsessed with the flavor, why don't they get the same drink without alcohol in it?
ANSWER: They are actually lusting after the alcohol itself!

Most alcohol-drinking Christians aren't even aware that they seek after the alcohol for the drunken feeling they get from consuming it. The following are testimonies of Christians who were former alcoholics, and they understand the Bible condemns alcohol, and they won't go near it.

(Former-alcoholic Jackie Price gives her testimony.)

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
-Romans 12:2

"I am 52 years old... I started drinking when I was 13 years old... Yes, I fought the battle of the bottle for more than 30 years... Yes, I have been in treatment centers. Then I would stay sober for a month or two, and then that little voice would come back saying, 'well just drink a six pack and no more.' I would listen to it for days and fight it, but soon I would give in, and I would go get me that six pack of beer. Before I knew it, I was getting another one and then it would be whiskey. I have had people come around to visit me and I never remembered them being there. I would sit in this old chair, drinking and watching television. This would go on for days, and finally when I would sober up, beside my chair was a big pile of beer cans and whiskey bottles. I would think, 'how can a man live like this?!'... On August 1, 1991, I had a heart attack. I could of died, but by the grace and mercy of God, I made it through. While I was in the hospital on my sick bed, Jesus was knocking on my heartís door. I made a decision during that time to come back to the Lord. All those times in the past that I had cried out to him for help, I thought He wasnít listening, but now I know He was. It took something drastic in my life for me to listen to what he was trying to tell me. The Old devil tried to kill me, but Jesus came on the scene, and when Jesus shows up, things happen! Now I am saved, filled with the Holy Ghost, and I praise God for he does hear and answers prayer. That night somewhere in time, I was totally and completely delivered from alcohol, and I have to this day never touched another drink... Praise God! Jesus took this Old Drunk, put a guitar in my hands and now I play and sing in church for the Lord."
-Leroy Hicks, "A Recovered Alcoholic," 2005, retrieved May 27, 2014, [www.precious-testimonies.com/BornAgain/h-k/hicks.htm]

(Former-alcoholic born-again Christian Scott, and his testimony about alcohol.)

These people had to make a choice between alcohol or Jesus Christ. There was no justification for their drinking. They had to repent of the sin of alcohol before God would save them. Ask these former-alcoholic Christians, and see if they won't rebuke a Christian for saying "It's just one, I can handle it."


QUESTION: Deut 14 tells the Jews that it was acceptable to buy and consume alcohol, so why do you tell Christians that it's wrong?
First, let's read the Scripture. God is telling the Jews that if they can't carry the goods, to trade for money, and then buy what they want:

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,
-Deuteronomy 14:26

Earlier, we quoted from multiple verses that warned us not to even look at fermented beverages, let alone drink them, so I want to make sure we point out that those who make this argument are attempting to put a contradiction in the Bible. (i.e. Attempting to make God into a liar to justify their sin.) Since we know the Lord God does not contradict Himself because He cannot lie, therefore, we need to go back and define what is meant by "strong drink."

The phrase "strong drink" can refer to alcoholic beverages, like it does in the following verse:

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.
-Isaiah 28:7

However, this doesn't mean that "strong drink" ALWAYS means alcohol. We have strong drink today that is non-alcoholic, for example, coffee.
Even the website Death Wish Coffee [www.deathwishcoffee.com] advertises itself as a seller of the "World's Strongest Coffee." To assume that "strong drink" always means alcohol is to assume the Bible contradicts itself, and to assume the Lord Jesus Christ thinks your sin is acceptable.

Verses like Deu 14:26 are obviously talking about strong drinks that are non-alcoholic, because the God I worship does not contradict Himself, which means He would not put in a verse that tells them to drink alcohol, and another verse that tells them not to drink alcohol. Let's stop putting our presuppositions into the Bible, and start letting the Lord God define the words He uses by the context in which He uses them.


ARGUMENT: Ephesians 5:18 tell us that we can drink alcohol, so long as we don't drink too much.
Let's read the verse:

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

First notice: This verse does not say it's acceptable to God to drink alcoholic beverages. It says, "be not drunk with wine." The emphasis that's put on this verse is "where is excess," so the argument is: "So long as I don't drink in excess, my actions are acceptable in God's eyes."

Wrong. Let me demonstrate what I mean:

For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries:
-1 Peter 4:3

Here is another verse that speaks of excess of wine, but let's read more:

Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you:
-1 Peter 4:4

So rioting is acceptable to God within excess? No.

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

Is it acceptable for Christians to look at pornography, so long as they don't do it excess? Is it acceptable for Christians walk around their neighborhood in the nude, so long as they don't do it in excess? It is acceptable for Christians to lie, so long as they don't do it in excess? Sipping instead of gulping does not justify sin.

Let's back up a bit and read slowly:

See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,
-Ephesians 5:15

Don't be like the world, doing the foolish things they do, and fearing the worldy things they fear. This is fairly simple.

Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
-Ephesians 5:16

This is a phrase similar to our use of "buying time," like when child has done something wrong, and will attempt to stall, or buy himself time, before having to admit his wrong (or, "face the music").

Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.
-Ephesians 5:17

Don't be ignorant of what God has commanded us, and what He expects of us.

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

Those who are drunk from alcohol do so because they are fulfilling their lust, and that's why drunkards seek so much of it. If we should seek to be filled with anything, it should be with the Spirit of God, not with things that will fulfill our lusts. Those drinking their alcohol are filling themselves with the drink of the world, but we should be filled with the drink of Christ.

And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.
-1 Corinthians 10:4

The drink we ought to be seeking is the righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.

For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
-Romans 14:17

Even if someone was to say that there was a limitation on the drinking of alcohol, how much is too much? How would someone know the line between when it's okay and when it's not? The problem is that "excess" is not based on God's Word, but rather on the personal feelings of the individual, when puts man in judgment of sin, rather than God.

No one knows where that line of "excess" is for every person. There is one simple solution to the whole problem: Follow God's Word and don't do it at all.


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