Question: is it a sin for a Christian to drink alcohol?
Question: Oh, really? …does that mean I can start drinking alcohol at will since it’s not a sin?
Answer: the answer would have been ‘YES’ but the ‘YES’ has 2 main conditions.
Question: What are the conditions please?
Answer: First, you must take into consideration the ‘weak conscience’ of believers around who DUE TO THEIR SPIRITUAL IMMATURITY still think drinking alcohol is a sin…and might indulge in ‘immoral’ habits because they saw you as a believer drinking alcohol. If you have such kind of believers around you, AVOID alcohol drinking ‘for their sake’!
‘…But you must be careful so that your freedom does not cause others with a weaker conscience to stumble…’ (1Cor 8:9 NLT)
It’s only funny how these ‘weak’ believers think they are the ‘strong’ believers.
Second, you need to know that even though the Bible never condemned ‘alcohol consumption’, yet the Bible listed DRUNKENESS as one of the ‘works of the flesh’ that proves men as either unbelievers or unqualified for divine rewards. (Gal. 5:21) This simply means there are BOUNDARIES given to the consumption of alcohol by believers! If you must drink alcohol, you must drink with a high level of SPIRITUAL RESPONSIBILITY! You must know your limit and consciously endeavor to stay within limit.
Now listen carefully: Always remember that as a believer, you are NOT prohibited from drinking alcohol for necessary use, honest delight and light pleasure. (1Tim 5:23, Eccl 10:19) But don’t drink alcohol IN ORDER TO PROVE that ‘you are not under Law but under Grace’. If you don’t have flair for alcohol, don’t start taking it …simply because you have now learnt that you are not prohibited from it. (Gal 5:13) If you can, I’ll advise you just ‘free the thing’ (as in, just go for the non-alcoholic drinks).
The Bible plainly states that:
‘…Just because something is TECHNICALLY LEGAL doesn’t mean that it’s SPIRITUALLY APPROPRIATE…’ (1Cor 6:12 MSG)
From all scriptural connotations, alcohol intake is technically legal. Some will say but the Bible said in First Timothy that we must not be given to wine. 1Tim 3:3…let me quote it from vs1:
‘…if a man desire the OFFICE OF A BISHOP, he desires a good work. A bishop must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach; NOT GIVEN TO WINE, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre…’ (1Tim 3:1-3)
First, the verse was referring to anyone desiring to consecrate himself into the office of A BISHOP. Second, the verse DID NOT say he mustn’t drink wine. The statement: ‘NOT GIVEN to wine’ …is an expression to infer ‘…not a WINE-BIBBER’. It means someone who cannot control his appetite for wine.It also means someone who has records of being ‘drunk’.
To further clear the air on this, let’s simply take a quick cross-look at how other versions presents that very verse 1Tim 3:3.
NIV – NOT GIVEN TO DRUNKENNESS, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.
NLT – HE MUST NOT BE A HEAVY DRINKER or be violent. He must be gentle, not quarrelsome, and not love money.
ESV – NOT A DRUNKARD, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.
Berean Study Bible – NOT DEPENDENT ON WINE, not violent but gentle, peaceable, and free of the love of money.
NASB – NOT ADDICTED TO WINE or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money.
Please get this: The main issue with ‘alcohol consumption vs. Christianity’ is that alcohol has both ‘SEDUCTIVE’ and ‘ADDICTIVE’ tendencies.
SEDUCTIVE: that is the ability to OVERTAKE the emotions, wits and natural intellect of a man till he is no longer in mental control of himself and immediate surroundings. The consequence of this always tends towards ‘self-destruction’!
ADDICTIVE: that is the ability to ENSLAVE a man to a habit or practice in such a way that it becomes very difficult or dangerous to stop the habit!
The Bible has this to say concerning items that has both ‘seductive’ and ‘addictive’ tendencies.
‘…Don’t gaze at the wine, seeing how red it is, how it sparkles in the cup, how smoothly it goes down. For IN THE END it bites like a poisonous snake; it stings like a viper. YOU WILL SEE HALLUCINATIONS, AND YOU WILL SAY CRAZY THINGS. You will stagger like a sailor tossed at sea, clinging to a swaying mast. And you will say, “They hit me, but I didn’t feel it. I didn’t even know it when they beat me up. When will I wake up SO I CAN LOOK FOR ANOTHER DRINK?”…’ (Prov 23:31-35)
The seductive and addictive tendencies are the MAJOR BOUNDARIES for alcohol in Christianity. So what’s the deal here? Alcohol consumption is NOT a sin! To rashly conclude alcohol intake as a sin, is to quickly expose your level of spiritual immaturity! (1Cor 8:11,13) You are the WEAK believer that needs to be saved from being weaker. (Romans 14:1-2). As a believer, you are NOT prohibited from drinking alcohol for necessary use, honest delight and light pleasure. (Read Eccl 9:7)
But if there is a situation where alcohol consumption is beginning to raise concerns among the ‘spiritually immature’ brethren in your environment and viewed to be an ‘immoral act’ capable of misrepresenting Christ and the Gospel as a LICENSE TO SIN, then the Bible advice is that you AVOID it for their sake.
Not that you avoid it as though taking it is a sin…but that you avoid it because your observers are so weak and their weakness will lead them to foolishness that eventually wouldn’t glorify Christ. Hence if you have these kind of believers around you, and you take alcohol, you have got yourself a RESPONSIBILITY. You should try and take time to teach your “weak” observers the gospel before you can take your wine “freely”. (Note the words in inverted commas: “weak” and “freely” above.)
Let this Bible verse always guide your appetite towards alcohol and other seeming controversial subjects:
‘…It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything else if it might CAUSE ANOTHER BELIEVER to STUMBLE…’ (Romans 14:21 NLT)
In the words of one of my favorite authors, Fritz Ridenour, he said: ‘Freedom to follow convictions must be balanced by personal responsibility to do what is best for your brother in Christ.’ (Pg. 113, How To Be A Christian Without Being Religious)
I so wish you will read that line again! Alcohol must never get to a point where ‘you just cannot do without it’ (addiction). If you are already becoming an addict with negative impacts, learn to prayerfully start SAYING NO to your appetite when it demands for it. Consciously avoid it …or at most…have a devoted plan to reduce the volume you take gradually every week. And God will help you!
Alcohol consumption must also never get to a point where ‘you don’t know what you are thinking anymore’ (seduction). While the Federal Government’s counsel for alcohol consumers is ‘Drink Responsibly’….the Scriptural counsel for alcohol consumers is ‘Drink SPIRITUALLY Responsibly’!
‘…And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; BUT BE FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT…’ (Eph. 5:18)
You can drink alcohol but don’t choose a lifestyle that GETS HIGH by alcohol! If you feel like getting high, go and ‘get high on the HOLY GHOST’! (Sing Psalms, listen to Grace Teachings, in Thanksgivings and prayers)!
In summary: BE IN CHARGE of your appetite for alcohol…and don’t let the desire for alcohol BE IN CHARGE of you! I believe this is clear. Remain under Grace.