Monday, July 22, 2024

The Bible and Alcohol

by Dan Boatman

Proverbs 20:1 “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging:  and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.”

The consumption of alcohol has been a leading controversy among both Christians and non-Christians.  Over recent years, both groups have given greater embrace to drinking alcohol.  It is one of the issues that seem to be constantly overlooked, because even some of the Church’s so-called “best Christians” even have a little alcohol stuffed away for what they may call “special occasions”.  The purpose of this article is to deal with common misinterpretations about the character of Christ, expose the truth about alcohol, and offer several Bible principles that will help educate people about a substance the Devil is using to destroy the lives of people, both young and old, across this world.

It is important that we recognize the Lord Jesus Christ as the plum-line.  He is our great example.  As our pattern, let us consider the character of Christ.  First of all, we notice that the scripture says the Lord is holy.  The Lord commands us in 1 Peter 1:16   “…Be ye holy, for I am holy.”  The word holy means, “set apart,” or, “different.”  Looking further into the scriptures, we find the following traits about our Lord:

  •  One who knew no sin (2 Corinthians 5:21)
  • One in whom no fault was found (Luke 23:4, John 18:38,and John 19:4)
  • One that was of innocent blood (Matthew 27:24)

Throughout our modern culture of reason and especially a time when the Bible has come under such logical and rational scrutiny, our Lord’s character has come into question.  Modern thinking has tried to create an excuse for drinking alcohol by using the phrase, “well Jesus drank wine”.  Not only do I believe this is an inaccurate interpretation of the Word of God, but I also believe that it is a direct slam on the person of God.  Now the argument of whether it was real wine that was used during the Passover will be discussed later in this article, but just looking at this statement in the form of understanding the character of Christ will reveal that Jesus would not approve of the consumption of alcohol on any level.  The purpose and consumption of alcohol of today’s standard goes completely against the character and mind of a Holy God.  Just take a moment and think about the mental association we have of wine, beer, and liquor of today in comparison of the Bible definition of the character of Christ.  It does not take long to observe the average commercial promotes alcohol as something that correlates to partying, sexual fantasies, and immoral lifestyles.  This portrayal does not align with the Lord and His character.  The teachings of the Lord say that we should“Abstain from all appearance of evil.” (2 Thessalonians 5:22).  The typical liquor advertisement does not offer social drinking or moderation; it promotes the kind of events that would lead to drunken stupors.   However, while making this comparison, the alcohol commercials fail to show the young people with a hangover, the car wrapped around the tree, the venereal disease that was passed along through a one drunken night of “hooking up,” or the young people in a jail cell from public intoxication and/or drinking and driving.  I am definitely sure that this is not what the Lord had intended for people when he said in Jeremiah 29:11 that he had “thoughts of peace and not of evil…”

Then, we encounter the question, “Did not Jesus turn water into wine?”   There are two answers to this question.  Yes, the Lord turned water into wine, but, no, it was not fermented wine.  Later, we will look at the scientific argument as to why this was not fermented wine, but, for now, we will consider this point from the perspective of Christ’s character.  The thought of putting the Lord Jesus Christ in the same category as a late-night, off-the-wall bartender is absolute blasphemy!  The Lord Jesus would never go against the teaching of the Holy Scriptures, and he definitely is no hypocrite.  The Bible is clear in Habakkuk 2:15, “Woe unto him that giveth his neighbor drink, that puttest thy bottle to him, and makest him drunken also…”  Jesus would have never done anything that would go against the teachings found in His word.  Along the same line, woe unto the parents, the friends, the co-workers, the associates, the pastors, and the professing Christians that distribute, and embrace the idea that alcohol is okay.  Remember, when our actions are in correlation to someone else’s sin, then that sin will be on our hands as well.  From a brief observation of Christ and His character, it is obvious that if the Lord was on the earth today, He would not be found in a party, “kicking back a few cold ones,” nor would He be seen in a bar room with bottle lifted in one hand while grinding on some girl off the street.  Furthermore, He would definitely not be sitting on a tailgate drinking, listening to wicked music, surrounded by drunkenness, while waiting to worship one of America’s largest idols.  It just does not align to His Holy Character that we find in Scriptures.  Therefore if we desire to be like Christ and possess the character of Christ then we must abstain from the consumption of all alcohol for entertainment purposes.

When dealing with fermented wine in the Bible, we will find that it is usually mentioned in relationship with “strong drink”.  Strong drink was something that was considered extremely intoxicating, and it was made for that reason.  For instance, grape juice does not become typical strong drink on its own.   Large amounts of sugar and yeast must be added in order for fermentation to take place.  In Biblical times, common, fermented wine was much diluted; its alcoholic content was extremely low.  According to some studies, the fermented wine used during Bible days would actually be considered a non-alcoholic beverage when aligned to today’s standard.  The fact that yeast and sugar must be added to grape juice in order for fermentation to take place brings me back to the argument over whether or not Jesus drank wine during the Passover.  Considering that the Passover was a time of unleaven and that yeast is used in the leavening process, we realize that it was impossible for the Passover to be observed properly if fermented wine was used.  According to Matthew14:25 and Luke 22:18 Jesus himself called it, “fruit of the vine,” meaning it was grape juice.  The more we go into this study and learn the difference between wine and strong drink, the more we will discover the Bible calls the juice inside the grapes “wine.”  Isaiah 65:8 “…as the new wine is found in the cluster.”  Based on the wording of this verse we can also directly relate it to the New Testament where Jesus turned water into wine.  The wine he used was called “good wine”, which is basically the same interpretation as what the Old Testament considers “new wine”.  From this comparison, we conclude that the wine in which Jesus used throughout the New Testament would not have been considered fermented, but in all actuality it would be considered grape juice.  This would have been a simple and tasty alternative for that water.  The wine, or grape juice used in the New Testament by the Lord would be the same as us drinking sodas, tea, or Kool-Aid instead of  water.

Now that we have addressed the character of Christ, and looked in the context of scriptures, we must now look at the Biblical principles that are found throughout the Bible on the issue of drinking.

  • Proverbs 20:1 “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.”  From this verse, we understand that the wise person is the one that is abstinent from alcohol.
  • Proverbs 23:29-31 “Who hath woe? Who hath sorrow? Who hath contentions? Who hath babbling? Who hath wounds without cause? Who hath redness of eyes?  They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine.  Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright.”  There is not one person that was ever a social drinker that did not align to the effects mentioned in this text.  The Bible actually goes on to say that we should not even look at it when it becomes fermented.
  • Proverbs 31:4-5 “…it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink:  Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted.”  These Scriptures teach that alcohol affects good judgment.  Those that cannot think correctly are not going to act correctly.
  • Isaiah 5:22 “Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink.”  One of the great “woes” of God is for people to partake in the consumption of alcohol.
  • Isaiah 24:9 “They shall not drink wine with a song; strong drink shall be bitter to them that drink it.”  Well, that just busted the party and bar scene bubble.  “Shall not drink…” sounds pretty clear to me.
  • Isaiah 28:7 “But they also have erred through wine, and through strong drink are out of the way; the priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink, they are swallowed up of wine, they are out of the way through strong drink; they err in vision, they stumble in judgment.”  Here, we are taught that partakers of alcohol will have bad judgment.  It is dangerous and must be avoided.
  • Galatians 5:19-21 “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, reveling, and such like:  of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”  This verse offers a very convicting statement.  Those that partake in those things will not inherit the kingdom of God.  Just think if Jesus was to come back in your drunken slumber.  That would not be a great way to fall in the hands of a Holy God.

I do not believe the Bible could be any clearer on the issue.  Some would argue that the Bible condemns drunkenness but not moderate drinking or social drinking.  We must come to an honest assessment of social drinking.  There may be someone out there, but I will go out on a limb and say there has been very few, if any, that have drank socially and not at one point and time become drunken.  Based on some medical research, I found that the body becomes ineffective after just one drink.  It truly is a drug that should be avoided at all cost.

Have you ever just stopped to think about the fact that nothing good has ever come out of the consumption of alcohol?  I believe that those who have partaken in alcohol would not have to look far to find that it caused them to do actions that they sorrowfully regretted.  Statistics have concluded that alcohol is our nation’s number one drug.  I believe it is America’s number one poison.  It is destroying a country, and it is definitely turning the hearts and minds of today’s generation away from the Lord.  Alcohol is the leading cause of abuse in the home; it is one of the major contributors to divorce.  Many of today’s alcoholics come from an environment in which the parents were social drinkers.  It is highly likely and almost a certainty that parents who drink will produce children that drink even more.  We cannot embrace sin and expect a good outcome.  Do you think the drunk on the bar stool that continues to embrace alcoholism as a way life and that spends almost his entire income on his addiction imagined in his childhood that he would be a drunk for the rest of his life?  If not, then where did it begin?  It began with one drink, and it created an addiction that could not be broken.

America is creating a cesspool for alcoholism across this land.  In almost every state, colleges are no longer known for their education but for their parties.  The wickedness and immorality that is taken place among the majority of our young people is at an all-time high and it stems from the pushing and promotion of alcoholism.  Colleges were created to be places of higher learning; they have become places of higher levels of immorality.  The fall season is when the immorality of alcoholism hits its highest levels.  People drive from all over the country, spend thousands of dollars, and drink themselves into oblivion, weekends at a time, all to cheer louder for their football team.  Recently, while watching a sports channel, I heard that tailgating has become America’s largest social activity.  The large amounts of alcohol that is consumed during this time would probably float a large boat.  In the name of “having a good time” America has become drunk on their own idol worship! Our modern televisions programs and the majority of commercials that air them prove the drunkenness of the United States.  The average sitcom today has at least one scene or the entire scene is oriented around a bar room or feature parents drinking alcohol.  Beer commercials have become the leading sponsors to the majority of sports programs.  We have become infested and consumed in drinking ourselves to death, all in the name of a “good time”.

How sad that many feel as though they cannot have a fun unless they are drinking.  Many think a social gathering cannot be successful without alcohol.  For others, it is the only way to have peace and fulfillment.  However, the drink is only a temporary fix for a more eternal problem.  The reason so many today have to binge themselves into temporary happiness is because it helps them forget their own sin and conviction.  It has become America’s way of “getting away”, or “calming down,” and, at the same time, it has turned Americans into belligerent drunks.  I can testify from experience that the fix I got when I got saved is a high that I have not been able to lose.  I no longer need something else in order to have a good time.  Jesus says in 1 John 1:4 “And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.”  The key to full joy is not a bottle or a bar; it is a relationship with Jesus Christ.  The cure is not a twelve step program; it is a one step program.  Take a step toward Jesus through repentance and faith and allow him to give you a permanent peace that passes all understanding.  Christians, we must turn back to the scriptures and realize that we are not to embrace the philosophies of the world, but live the principles of God’s Word.  We need a revival of holiness and a revival of the Bible.  We must not buy into the Satan’s lie.  Ephesians 5:18 says, “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.”  Rather than allowing our body, mind, and spirit to be overtaken by the drug of alcohol, we must be overcome with the Holy Spirit.  May the Lord help us to realize the truth!

by Dan Boatman

Original article can be found at

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  1. Great article brother. Incidentally, I clicked the link to your website and Google chrome popped up a Malware warning and blocked me. Just so you know. Shalom- Dr. Mike 2 Tim 2:2

  2. Just some thoughts …,,,
    I believe it all centers around being set apart But what does being set apart really look like? I don’t believe being set apart is defined by what you stand for or what you stand against.

    I believe being set apart means that I’m living my life in a way that’s transforming the earth around me to look more and more like Heaven.

    I believe being set apart means I will be known by my reckless love for people instead of my opinionated hate for their sin.

    I don’t believe being set apart means that I will be the one that doesn’t drink to take a stand against the dangers of alcohol.

    I believe being set apart means that I will be a representation of managing my freedom well, of being able to have a glass of wine and leave it at that.

    You hear the church warning their people about the sin that alcohol will bring you into and the evil doors it will open your life up to… But if they preach that message than they need to preach the dangers of overeating as well.

    In youth group you’re told not to drink and not to get tattoos because your body is a temple.

    When was the last time you were told that you needed to eat well and exercise because your body is a temple?

    The two go hand in hand.

    The issue isn’t alcohol, food, and tattoos. The issue is that Christian’s don’t know how to manage themselves because they don’t know the truth. They don’t know the truth of their God breathed identity, the glory that’s within them, the authority and power that they can walk in if they choose.
    You did use a lot of scripture and true there are many warning against drunkedness but there’s also warnings against over eating and taking care of our bodies as they are the temple of Christ. Too many ibf’ers have taken too many issues way too far and put their own personal spin on it as if it’s God’s personal directive. It’s so sad and compmetely misleading. How about being honest as say “as for me I choose to not partake but use caution and good judgement and take care of our bodies all the way around. There are WAY to many over weight unhealthy fundamental preachers who need to reassessed their own lives and take the beam out of their own eyes Just saying I think there’s too much misdirecting going on in the fundamentalist circles and I’m glad I have left it behind to develop a deeper relationship with my Lord without all of the man made restrictions that are put upon us.

    • Preach it sister! I could not have said it any better! I can’t even begin to describe the “opinionated hatred of my ‘sin'” that I endured in my life! The giant leaps to specific conclusions by people such as Mr. Boatman are frustrating to see. It is misleading. However, I can respect him in his personal interpretations and convictions. I wish him and all other IBF’ers all the best and look forward to one day being in heaven where these differences in opinions won’t matter. We will all bow before our God! May we all learn that the “greatest of these is Love!”
      Peace be with you all!

    • I find it funny that so many people get offended on this one point. Revelation 1 says Jesus Christ has made us kings and priests. Proverbs 31 says it is not for kings to drink wine. That right there should end the argument for someone that is wise.

      Do you sincerely claim that alcohol will not cause people to stumble? Because I know a lot of lost people and young Christians that have used the fact that some Christian drinks to justify their drunkeness. This puts us squarely in the I Corinthians 8 realm, wounding weak consciences.

      1 Corinthians 8:13
      Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.

      Alcohol is absolutely the drink of the world. There is nothing associated with alcohol that is considered spiritual or godly. Every thing people think of when thinking of alcohol is either directly opposed to God or does not recommend him.

      As for the weight thing, a couple of strong, specific verses would be appropriate, please.

  3. first let me make a comment the wine in the bible was fermented and Passover was in the spring no fresh grapes to make it from and JESUS IS A JEW I was raised and taught the original greek and Hebrew the only way to preserve grape juice was fermentation and if it went right you had wine if not you get vinegar both were used daily ,JESUS followed all the jewish law as well as health laws wine was used at all feasts and holy days ,man has tried to change the facts to confuse and cause separation in the church ,satan is the author of confusion there is a big difference between drinking a little wine or strong drink and getting drunk which is what the above scriptures reference and ves JESUS drank wine and was without sin churches that teach a lie and spread false teaching will have to answer to GOD wine is not the problem using it in the wrong way is the kings drank wine david drank wine most of the old testament speaks of drinking wine and yes it was real wine because many times they got drunk read your bible don’t just pick out a few scriptures read them in context .john the Baptist ate locust and wild honey and only drank water so if you want to follow him fine ,but as for my house we will follow JESUS CHRIST the KING OF THE JEWS……

  4. If strong drink is clearly alcholic as the author states, then explain this section from Deuteronomy 14:

    23 And thou shalt eat before the Lord thy God, in the place which he shall choose to place his name there, the tithe of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the firstlings of thy herds and of thy flocks; that thou mayest learn to fear the Lord thy God always.

    24 And if the way be too long for thee, so that thou art not able to carry it; or if the place be too far from thee, which the Lord thy God shall choose to set his name there, when the Lord thy God hath blessed thee:

    25 Then shalt thou turn it into money, and bind up the money in thine hand, and shalt go unto the place which the Lord thy God shall choose:

    26 And thou shalt bestow that money for whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatsoever thy soul desireth: and thou shalt eat there before the Lord thy God, and thou shalt rejoice, thou, and thine household,

  5. The cause of Christ is our first priority in life on earth above our own preferences. Therefore can we effectively share the gospel with the Bible in one hand and a beer in the other? Or would it be more benificial for alcohol not to be in the equation? I pray that we all step out of the way for people to repent and let Jesus do the work.

  6. The quotation for Isaiah 24:9 has been taken out of context and interpreted exactly opposite to it’s meaning within context. It is actually given as a curse to the people for abandoning God’s Law:

    4 “The earth mourneth and fadeth away, the world languisheth and fadeth away, the haughty people of the earth do languish.
    5 The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant.
    6 Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate: therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left.
    7 The new wine mourneth, the vine languishetn, all the merryhearted do sigh.
    8 The mirth of taberets ceaseth, the noise of them that rejoice endeth, the joy of the harp ceaseth.
    9 They shall not drink wine with a song; strong drink shall be bitter to them that drink it.
    10 The city of confusion is broken down: every house is shut up, that no man may come in.
    11 There is a crying for wine on the streets; all joy is darkened

  7. Anybody in favor of prohibiting all alcoholic beverages please explain the following verses OT Isaiah 1:21-23
    21 See how the faithful city
    has become a prostitute!
    She once was full of justice;
    righteousness used to dwell in her—
    but now murderers!
    22 Your silver has become dross,
    your choice wine is diluted with water.
    23 Your rulers are rebels,
    partners with thieves;
    they all love bribes
    and chase after gifts.
    They do not defend the cause of the fatherless;
    the widow’s case does not come before them.

    Is it considered ‘good’ in verse 22 that wine was diluted(less alcoholic), given to us by one of God’s greatest prophets Isaiah….

    In the NT. I Corinthians 11:20-22

    20 So then, when you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, 21 for when you are eating, some of you go ahead with your own private suppers. As a result, one person remains hungry and another gets drunk. 22 Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God by humiliating those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? Certainly not in this matter!
    Was the communion wine alcoholic? Did Paul demand that they water it down? Is it a sin to become drunk, and was honoring of God? Could people drink at home? This last question was particularly something that I’ve grappled with(i.e. alcohol in the home) but here Paul the Apostle speaks about drinking and eating at home. I gusess you can’t exercise self control, if you are prohibited from doing something that God’s Word allows… Things that make you go hmmm.

    • This guy Rick uses a watered down bible instead of the Authorized King James Bible. He should be more concerned with that instead of the watered down wine he speaks of here.

  8. As someone who has been a member of 2 different IFB churches, the biggest problem here is that IFB churches are so eager to be zealous for God that they will make the Bible say things it just doesn’t say.

    Is drunkenness sin? Usually, but not always. Is a lifestyle of habitual drunkenness sin? Clearly. But there are exactly zero passages absolutely prohibiting the moderate consumption of alcoholic beverages in the Bible.

    Jesus not only drank alcoholic wine, but the Lord made alcoholic wine in John 2; the wedding steward in John 2:10 calls it “good wine” capable of (μεθυσθῶσιν) intoxication.

    So if you don’t want to drink alcohol, fine – but stop misrepresenting Scripture.


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