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In Bible times liquids consumed were: water, often from wells; milk, mostly goat; unfermented grape juice; wine made from fermented grapes or grain that had an alcoholic content. Even though Jesus turned water into wine at a wedding, it may not have had the same intoxicating qualities as today (Jn 2:1-11). Paul instructed Timothy to drink a little wine for medicinal reasons as the water may have been causing the stomach problems as is the case in many countries today, where without modern sanitation the water is often filled with bacteria and all sorts of contaminants (1 Tim 5:23).

The consumption of intoxicating drink in the OT, although not forbidden, except by the priests, was accompanied with warnings against excessive use which would impair the judgement of the drinker (Lev 10:9; Prov 20:1, 23:20,29-35, 31:4,5; Isa 5:22). Some examples of drunkenness are Noah and

Don’t do anything that will cause another Christian to stumble – Romans 14:21

Lot; both were unaware of their actions and that resulted in poor modelling of godliness (Gen 9:20-27, 19:31-36). Again, the Bible does not specifically give instruction to refrain in the NT but the grave dangers of excessive drinking are expressed, making people unfit for their tasks (1 Tim 3:3,8; Tit 1:7, 2:3; 1 Pet 4:7).

Paul says ‘our body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, and we are to honour God by presenting it as a living sacrifice’; as Christians we are responsible to take seriously the command to abstain for the sake of others (Mt 18:6; Rom 12:1, 14:20-22; 1 Cor 3:16,17, 6:19,20, 10:32). Being a drunkard will exclude people from heaven, and is one of the acts of the sinful nature, while self-control is a fruit of the Spirit that is to be shown in our lifestyle (1 Cor 6:10; Gal 5:19-23; Tit 1:8, 2:2,5,6). The Bible teaches us that "denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world" abstaining from all appearance of evil (1 Thes 5:22; Tit 2:12).

Further it states, “Do not get drunk on wine (or anything that takes control of the mind), which leads to wickedness. Instead, be filled with the Spirit” (Eph 5:18). Here are compared two elements – wine and the Holy Spirit. Both can take control of a person’s mind and therefore resulting behaviour, but with vastly different results. As Christians, knowing we can’t be loyal to two masters at once we are not to be subservient to anything that is not of God, but instead be self-controlled and live exemplary lives as ‘advertisements’ for Christ (Mt 6:24; Rom 6:16; 1 Cor 6:12; Gal 5:22; 1 Tim 4:12; Tit 2:7; 2 Pet 2:19). Consuming small quantities of alcohol is a matter of Christian freedom (conscience), yet considering the ungodly behaviour associated with this addictive beverage and the possibility of causing others to stumble and sin, it is advisable for a Christian to abstain from drinking alcohol (Rom 14:13; 1 Cor 8:9-13).

While we are to avoid sinful activities, living a life pleasing to God should be motivated not by a checklist of acceptable and unacceptable actions but a desire that comes from a loving heart that wants to please and be like Him (Col 1:10; 1 Thes 4:1; 1 Pet 1:15).

Consider the lifestyle and associated habits of those who consume alcohol. Drinking intoxicating substances is an addictive and expensive habit causing problems financially, socially and within the family. Today much

A drink is only one away from drunkenness

marital disharmony, physical violence, breakdown of families and motor accidents are the result of people being under the influence of drink and not in control of their faculties. Consuming alcohol won’t solve life’s troubles or problems but adds to them. If excess drink impairs the faculties, surely any amount has a detrimental effect. Research confirms mothers who drink during pregnancy do enormous damage to their child’s future mentality so why take the risk.

See also: abstinence, addiction, alcohol, conscience, dependence, stumble/stumbling block, wine.