Is it a Sin to Drink Alcohol?

Our natural, carnal nature likes to put every sin into black and white categories, always wrong or always right. This approach gives us a sense of control. It allows us to become the master rather than the servant. No discernment is required because everything is black and white. All shades of gray are erased.

But the scriptures show what might be wrong for one person is okay for another and what might be wrong in one situation is okay in another. Like it or not, sometimes the gray just won’t go away.

Alcohol is one of those stubborn gray areas. Despite all the efforts by many Christians to make it black and efforts by many unbelievers to make it white, it remains gray. The problem with making it black is there are many scriptures that tell us it is not wrong, such as Jesus turning the water into wine and the letter from the Apostle Paul instructing Timothy to drink wine (1 Timothy 5:23). The problem with making it white is there are many scriptures that say no drunkards will enter into the kingdom of heaven.

I am not trying to justify drinking alcohol. I understand too much alcohol can cause lots of problems. It can destroy relationships, cause deadly accidents, and wreak havoc on our liver causing us to die prematurely.

Personally, I prefer not to drink, but not because I think it is a sin. Maybe once every few years on special occasions I might have a half of a glass of wine. I don’t like drinking any more than that because I don’t like feeling woozy. I have found a far better way to get high, by getting into the presence of the Lord. He fills me with so much peace every day that I never need to settle for a cheap imitation.

Many Christians have gone to great lengths to demonize all alcohol. I have met Christians who claimed every mention of wine in the Bible is actually referring to non-alcoholic grape juice. Really? Who needs the scriptures when we can just make up our own?

So when I came across the scripture from Deuteronomy shown below I could not help thinking of these grape juice Christians. I actually laughed out loud because God is clearly saying; “This is not a problem for Me!”

If the distance is so great for you that you are not able to bring the tithe, since the place where the LORD your God chooses to set His name is too far away from you when the LORD your God blesses you, then you shall exchange it for money, and bind the money in your hand and go to the place which the LORD your God chooses. You may spend the money for whatever your heart desires: for oxen, or sheep, or wine, or strong drink, or whatever your heart desires; and there you shall eat in the presence of the LORD your God and rejoice, you and your household. (Deuteronomy 14:24-26 NASB)

So the Lord doesn’t have any problem with alcohol but legalistic Christians have a big problem with this scripture because the Lord is clearly instructing His people to buy wine or strong drink. Even if it were talking about grape juice where it says wine, how can anyone explain away the reference to strong drink? We all know what that is! Not only is the Lord saying it is okay, He is instructing them to use their tithe money to pay for it!

The main point from this verse is that God is pleased when our aim and motive is to honor Him, even if alcoholic drinks are part of the event. It is even okay to spend your tithe money on strong drinks, or whatever your heart desires to make a feast in the presence of the Lord if you are doing it to honor God with a celebration dedicated to remembering all of God’s commandments and his tithe. That is not a license for anyone to go get drunk either. The context makes all the difference.

In other words, God is more interested in the motives in our heart than the substance in our cup. He is even willing to foot the bill for the party! He allowed the Israelites to use their tithe money, which is His money, to pay for the whole feast including all the booze! Woo hoo!

But this is not just any party. This party is for the purpose of honoring God, remembering what He has done, and obeying His commandments. The purpose is not to get drunk. Even though strong drinks were part of the celebration they were not solely for the purpose of getting drunk because their whole aim was to please the Lord and honor Him.

When we put this scripture in the context of other scriptures, we see God is not pleased with drunkards. The Apostle Paul instructed the believers at Corinth not to associate with any so-called Christian brother if he is a drunkard; do not even eat a meal with someone like that (1 Corinthians 5:11). No drunkards will enter the kingdom of heaven and that it is not wise to get drunk with wine or strong drinks. The Apostle Paul instructed the believers at Ephesus not to get drunk with wine but rather be filled with the Spirit of God (Ephesians 5:18). He also instructed the Galatian believers that those who practice drunkenness would not inherit the kingdom of God (Galatians 5:21).

So the scriptures make an important distinction between the one who drinks alcohol to honor God and the one who drinks alcohol to get drunk. The important point is the motives of our heart, which only God can see. So we can get into error when we try to label alcohol as always black or always white. We have to leave the gray areas in the hands of God because He is the only one qualified to judge.

God is more interested in whether we are seeking to please Him than with the specific details of what we do to honor Him. If we are walking in the light we have, aiming to please Him as best we know, then He receives our offering and is pleased by it.

So in conclusion, it is not a sin to drink alcohol but being a drunkard can cost us our life now and in eternity. Whatever we do, we should strive to honor the Lord and please Him in every way we can.

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