The Scriptures speak often of the destructive power of alcohol. Noah’s drunkenness brought shame to his family (Gen. 9:20-27). Lot’s drunkenness resulted in an incestuous relationship with his two daughters (Gen. 19:30-38). An inebriated Xerxes sought to humiliate Queen Vashti publicly (Est. 1:9-22). The consumption of alcohol impairs judgment, inflames passions, and invites violence (Lev. 10:8-11; Prov. 20:1, 23:29-35, 31:4,5).
There are 637 references to wine, drink and drinking in the King James Version of the Bible. Most people think in today’s terms, believing that when wine is mentioned it refers to alcoholic wine. Actually, that is not necessarily true. Thirteen different words are translated "wine" in the King James Version of the Bible. The word wine has a wide range of meaning in the Bible, covering everything from grape juice, to concentrated grape syrup to alcoholic wine.
Old Testament Hebrew Words for Wine
"yayin"-- It is a general term for grape beverages and includes all classes of wine, non-alcoholic or alcoholic; unfermented, in the process of fermentation and fermented. (Proverbs 31:4) The context will show whether it is alcoholic wine or not. Yayin, when used properly was always diluted with water.
"shekar"-- It is the word for strong drink, unmixed wine. Yakin is wine to be distinguished from Shekar, or strong drink. The former is diluted with water; the later is undiluted." Shekar was not diluted with water." (Numbers 28:7)
"Tirosh"-- This word refers to fresh grape juice. It is referred to often as new wine or sweet wine. (Proverbs 3:10; Deuteronomy 7:13)
New Testament Greek Words for Wine
"oinos" is the counterpart to the Old Testament word yayin. It is a general term for grape beverages and includes all classes of wine, non-alcoholic or alcoholic; fermented or unfermented. The context has to be used to determine whether the drink was intoxicating or not. (Luke 10:34; Ephesians 5:18). Oinos, when used properly was always diluted with water.
"sikera" is the counterpart to the Old Testament word shekar. It is the word for strong drink, unmixed wine. (Luke 1:15)
"gleukos" is the counterpart to the Old Testament word tirosh. This refers to fresh wine, a new wine or freshly squeezed grape juice.
1. Drinking leads to Drunkenness
Drunkenness is condemned in the Bible
Isaiah 5:11, Proverbs 23:20, Romans 13:13, Galatians 5:19a & 21, Ephesians 5:18
Drunkards will not inherit the Kingdom of God
1 Corinthians 6:9-10
The fact is that the Bible clearly condemns drunkenness. Drunkenness is a serious matter.
2. The Bible condemns strong drink Proverbs 20:1, Isaiah5:11, Proverbs 23:29-31
What was strong drink in Bible times?
Distillation was not discovered until about 1500 A.D. Strong drink and unmixed wine in Bible times was from 3% to 11% alcohol. Therefore, since anybody in biblical times who drank unmixed wine (9-11% alcohol) was definitely considered a barbarian, then it is obvious that a Christian should not drink hard liquor at all.
Christians should not drink strong drink.
Since wine has 9 to 11% alcohol and one brand 20% alcohol, you should not drink that. Brandy contains 15 to 20% alcohol and hard liquor has 40 to 50% alcohol (80 to 100 proof), and that is obviously excluded.
3. In Bible times what Christians drank was sub-alcoholic (purified water). Remember the Hebrew word "yayin" and the Greek word "oinos". These were the companion words for wine whether fermented or unfermented. In fact, whether fermented or not, it was mixed with water.
All alcoholic beverages used in our culture fall under the biblical classification of strong drink and are therefore forbidden. The least ratio of water to wine mixture used in Bible times was 3 parts water to 1 wine. That produced a sub-alcoholic drink that was 2.5% to 2.75% alcohol. Normally, the ratio was even higher, up to 20 to 1. There is no Biblical support for a Christian to drink alcoholic beverages today. What early believers drank was sub-alcoholic by today’s standards. Pastors and deacons were cautioned to steer around even the sub-alcoholic stuff (I Timothy 3:3 & 8).
4. It will cause others to stumble Romans 14:21
Innumerable Christians claim their "Christian Liberty" when it comes to social drinking. In order to do that, they must turn their backs on this passage of Scripture. Sipping Saints have given multitudes of people an excuse to drink.
The problem is, drinking often sets off a chain reaction of influences that are like tipping over the first domino. Drinking causes some to stumble, others to be offended, and many to be weakened. And as a warning to Parents, you must remember that whatever you do in moderation your child will likely do in excess.
The Bible clearly defines drinking as an activity that is to be foregone because it causes others to stumble and makes them weak (fall into sin).
5. It harms our bodies which are the Lords I Corinthians 6:19-20, I Corinthians 3:16-17
The first effect of alcohol on the brain is to dull the capacity for self-criticism and the sense of caution. A lessening of care and anxiety follows this. The checks on irresponsibility and unreasonable behavior are also curtailed. Actions follow the impulses, which is dangerous. Reaction time becomes slower; coordination is disturbed; drowsiness follows. Alcohol has adverse affects on your esophagus, stomach & intestines, bloodstream, pancreas, liver, heart, bladder, kidneys, glands and your brain. As believers, our body belongs to the Lord. We should not knowingly do anything that would harm it. Alcohol harms the body; therefore we should not drink alcohol.
6. Alcohol is addictive I Corinthians 6:12tells us that we are not to "be brought under the power" or to be controlled by anything. The only exception is the Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 5:18)
Alcohol is clearly a powerful substance (Proverbs 23:35). Because alcohol is addictive, we should choose not to drink alcoholic beverages.
7. Believers are kings and priests, separate unto God. "The prophets, the kings, the Nazarites, the leaders -- those who were special in the plan of God were total abstainers" Kings and public officials were not to drink (Proverbs 31:4-5). The priests of the Old Testament were to abstain totally. The Aaronic priests were not to drink because they ministered in the tabernacle before the Lord (Leviticus 10:9)
The application:Believers are a "royal" or kingly priesthood (I Peter 2:9). We are the temple of God (I Peter 2:5). We are God’s special children and should choose total abstinence.
Drinking, even social drinking cannot be legitimately supported by the Bible. Every drink that is available today, even beer, falls into the category of unmixed or strong drink. Clearly, Christians should not drink alcoholic beverages. Drinking socially is a worldly activity and in light of the fact that believers are neither to be conformed to the world (Romans 12:2) nor love the world(I John 2:15) our choice should be clear. We are to be separate from the worldly system (II Corinthians 6:17) and a light tothe world (Ephesians 5:8; Philippians 2:15). Perhaps social drinking has enhanced the acceptability of Christians in society, but it has not advanced the cause of Christ, and it does not glorify God, Social drinking is simply a means which the devil uses to blunt our testimony for Christ and squeeze us into his mold.
Illegal Drugs. Though drug use is not specifically mentioned in the Bible, its impact on the drug user and on society far exceeds the evil results of alcohol abuse. The addictive nature of certain drugs is so powerful that a single episode can hook an individual for life. Furthermore, the irreversible physical damage to one’s organs and mental capacities makes drugs extremely dangerous. The greatest danger is the all-consuming control of one’s life, constantly interrupting one’s focus on work and destroying personal relationships and spiritual well-being. Beyond the personal toll of drug addiction is the disastrous burden placed on families and society.
Alcohol and illegal drug use are well documented factors in domestic violence, road and work rage, child abuse, suicide, and a variety of other socially destructive behaviors. Alcoholism and drug addiction present a national crisis threatening to destroy the fabric of our society.
Tobacco.While smoking and chewing tobacco does not impair one’s judgment nor carry many of the relational side effects of alcohol and illegal drugs, tobacco has now proved to be a primary health concern. Yet young people year after year are becoming hooked on the habit through effective ad campaigns that deceptively associate smoking with maturity and popularity.
For many years the surgeon general of the United States has warned society of the dangers of smoking, even to the point of forcing tobacco companies to place the warning on their products. But not until the casualties of mouth and lung cancer and addiction to tobacco began to increase did people take the warning seriously. When it became evident that non-smokers were becoming victims of diseases caused by inhaling second-hand tobacco smoke, then society began mounting major opposition to the use of tobacco. While medical studies in recent years have shown conclusively that smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer, the church has opposed the use of tobacco because it is a habit that is harmful to a Christian’s testimony as well as to a Christian’s body, which is the temple of the Holy Spirit.
With these realities about alcohol, tobacco, and drug use, the argument for abstinence is well established. The Christian is called to a higher standard of self-control and self-denial concerning those things not beneficial to his physical and spiritual well being. To argue for any level of "moderate use" of alcohol, narcotics, or tobacco is to be insensitive to the weight of Scripture and the present perils of our society. Christians realize the pressing need for a pure testimony before our world. As the apostle Paul said, "I urge you . . . in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will" (Romans 12:1,2).