Biblical Perspective on Alcohol

There are many Bible passages dealing with alcohol and its evil effects. The main alcoholic beverage consumed during Biblical times was wine. Since the process of distillation had not yet been discovered, alcoholic beverages were much lower in potency. However, drunkness was a major problem. The Bible is clear on some important issues relating to alcohol.

Biblical Testimonials

The Bible gives many accounts of men being led astray by drinking. The first is found in Genesis 9:20-27. Here we find Noah producing wine which he drank and became intoxicated. This causes him to disgrace himself in front of his family and lead to family strife. Genesis 19:32-35 tells of Lot committing immorality with his daughters after he became intoxicated with wine. Isaiah 28:7 says that some of priests and prophets of Israel “erred through wine.” It says, “They err in vision, they stumble in judgement.” All throughout the Bible, we find similar accounts of men doing foolish things while intoxicated.

Total Abstinence is Presented

The Nazarites were Israeli men who dedicated themselves to live holy lives for the Lord. One of their first commandment given to the Nazarite in Number 4:2-4 was to “separate himself from wine and strong drink.” Daniel displays this exemplary behavior when he was taken captive to Babylon. In Daniel 1:8, he refuses to “defile himself with the king’s rich food, or with the wine which he drank.” Luke 1:13-15 records that John the Baptist drank “neither wine nor strong drink.” Abstinence from alcohol is never given in a “Thou shalt not” manner, but those who abstained were certainly held in high regard. The standard of abstinence is given to all church leaders, pastors, and deacons in I Timothy 3. Paul lists among different qualifications excepted from them that they are to be “soberminded”(v. 2) and “not given to wine.”

Dangers of Alcohol Acknowledged

Many of the Proverbs warned against drinking. Proverbs 20:1 says, “Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler; and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.” Proverbs 23:20 warns, “Do not be among winebibers.” This passage goes on to warn against the dangers of wine when it says in Proverbs 23:29-33, “Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaints? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who linger long at the wine, those who go in search of mixed wine. 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. Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart will utter perverse things.”

The Body is the Temple of God

I Corinthians 6:19-20 says, “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; Therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” Since God lives inside Christians, we are commanded to take care of our body, the temple of God. Subjecting our body to the harmful effect of alcohol is inconsistent with this commandment.

Alcohol is Not Profitable

The Apostle Paul writes in I Corinthians 6:12, “All things are lawful for me but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.” The principle that this verse sets is not to ask what am I allowed to do but to ask what is profitable or worthwhile for me to do. I Corinthians 9:24-27 compares living the Christian life to running a race. We must not do things that will encumber or hurt us in this race. Paul says, “I discipline my body” (v. 27) in order to better run this race.

Do Not Be a Stumbling Block

Another principle set out in the Bible is that we are not to do anything that would cause a fellow believer to stumble. Romans 14:21 says, “It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak.” I Corinthians 8:9 says, “Be aware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak.” Drinking is not only harmful to yourself but those around you as well. Whether you realize it or not, you have an influence on those you know. The questions is whether it is a good or a bad influence.

Condemnation for Drunkenness

The Bible leaves no room for argument on its stand against drunkenness. Corinthians 6:9-10 lists “drunkards” among those who shall not “inherit the kingdom of God.” Galatians 5:19-20 lists “drunkenness” as one of the “works of the flesh,” which work against the “fruits of the spirit.” Ephesians 5:18 says, “Do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the spirit.” Here the Bible tells us that we are not to be drunk because we should instead be controlled by the Holy Spirit. Matthew 6:24 restates this principles when it says, “No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other.”