Imagine your best friend let you borrow a brand new $70,000 car.  In fact, your friend was so kind that they allowed you to use it every day for many years, you would only have to pay for maintenance and gas.  Would you take care of it? Of course!

Now one day that new car had a mechanical problem, and you didn’t know how to diagnose it. If you had a choice between asking the manufacturer or myself for help who would you ask to give you advice? The manufacturer of course!  Why? The answer is simple, the creator would know exactly how everything works.

The Bible says we are created by God. Since God is our Creator did He give us a manual on how to live? What about what we eat and drink? Let’s be specific, what does the Bible say about alcoholic beverages? Should a Christian drink alcohol? Is it a sin to drink alcohol? Can it keep us out of heaven? No matter what we may think we know, we must realize that the Creator would know exactly how everything works and what we should and should not drink. Therefore let us study the Bible, God’s inspired life manual, to see what God says to these relevant questions for our life.

But before we open the Bible let us ask for the Creator’s help, let us pray.

Dear Heavenly Father,

We know that your way is always best; for you know all and have power over everything on earth.  We ask today that you give us wisdom as we search your word to discover what your plan is for our lives in regards to alcohol.  We ask that you teach us Father, send your Holy Spirit to guide us in our understanding and whatever your will for us is… may we follow you for we know that you desire only good things for us.  We thank you Lord that no matter the question, you have given us clear guidance in your word.  Thank you for first loving us and sending your son Jesus for us.  Bless us now and we thank you for hearing our prayer.  We pray all these things in the name of your son Jesus, amen.

A Biblical Definition

“The word “wine” in the Bible sometimes refers to the new—or fresh juice of the grape; other times it is used to describe the aged or fermented product containing the drug alcohol. The translators never used the term “grape juice.” In the Hebrew text, the writers use different words to distinguish between the two. The word tîyrôsh is used for new unfermented wine, and yayin is generally used for fermented wine, but there were some exceptions (Isaiah 16:10). However, in the New Testament, only one Greek word is used to describe both fermented and fresh grape juice: oinis . But this shouldn’t be a problem. By simply understanding the context of the word in a passage, the appropriate meaning will usually surface. So unless the passage says old or new wine (as in Luke 5:37–39), the context will often tell us what kind of grape juice is being described.”[1]

One simple example occurs in Mark 2:22: Jesus says “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine bursts the wineskins, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins”. Obviously the new wine would be the fresh unfermented kind, the old wine being that which has undergone the aging process of fermentation and acquired alcoholic content.  Another example would be when Jesus instituting communion said “Assuredly, I say to you, I will no longer drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”(Mark 14:25)  Here Jesus clearly stated that communion wine should be new wine, non-alcoholic grape juice.  With this distinction in mind let us now tackle the important questions.

Did Jesus drink? Was this new wine or old wine?  Fermented alcoholic drink, or grape juice?  If Jesus drank alcohol it could not be a sin to do so.  Also if drinking a single drink of alcohol has no effect on anyone or anything it cannot be a sin to do so either.  But if drinking alcohol is a sin and we do not repent, can it keep us out of heaven?

Does it matter at all?

The Bible gives us a clear answer in Galatians 5:19-23 when it says…

Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness,  idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies,  envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, self-control.[2]

Does it matter?  Yes! Galatians 5:19-23 tells us that those who practice drunkenness will not inherit the kingdom of God. But what about just a few drinks?  In the above Biblical passage it gives a list of characteristics, some specified as good some as evil.  As one consumes alcohol I’d like you to make your own decision in regard to which of the below characteristics increase or decrease in strength…

Increases As one consumes alcohol what happens to these characteristics? Decreases
self-control

Outbursts of wrath

gentleness

Hatred

dissension (disagreement)

faithfulness

fornication

lewdness

adultery

There is actually a simple way to finding the true answers to this worksheet.  We can answer where every characteristic should be placed based on only one question.  Does alcohol increase or decrease one’s self control?  Now I know we all come from different backgrounds and we may have different opinions at the moment on whether a Christian should drink alcohol, but I think we can all agree that drinking alcohol decreases a person’s self-control.  I’ve never met anyone who drove better after 5 drinks.

So if we can agree that drinking alcohol decreases one’s self control, then we have the answer to all the above characteristics.  How so?  Since self-control decreases, then outbursts of wrath, hatred and dissension must increase.  And as self-control decreases then faithfulness also decreases.  A lack of faithfulness leads to adultery, lewdness and fornication.

The fruit of the Spirit is self-control, gentleness and faithfulness.  Can one claim to be controlled by the Holy Spirit and also drink alcohol?  The verse we covered in Galatians 5 told us that those who practice drunkenness “ will not inherit the kingdom of God”.  God cannot break His word, so we know that drinking alcohol is serious, it will keep some out of heaven!  The salvation of many, the difference between heaven and hell is at stake from this toxic substance!

But what about the occasional drink?

“I know that it can be life destroying to some, but it has no influence on me, I can handle it after all I only have a few drinks”. There are many who claim that having a few drinks has no effect on them.   Because they do not drink large amounts, do not experience the physical outward effects of vomiting, hangovers, drunkenness or other extremes many in all walks of life claim that a few drinks has no influence.  So where does God draw the line?  We know drunkenness is condemned but what about casual drinking? If it is true, that alcohol has no influence on an individual then certainly it must be harmless in God’s eyes.  Therefore let us consider what influence alcohol has on us.

What type of influence does it have?  And whose kingdom are we advancing?

Every action is recorded by God and the influence, motivation and results are recorded by the great life giver.  With ever drink of alcohol and with every purchase of strong drink we must ask ourselves, what kingdom are we advancing?  Are those funds advancing God’s kingdom?  Certainly no honest Christian could claim that Budweiser is doing the Lord’s work.  But if they are not doing the Lord’s work, if the principles are not in accordance with God in any form, then which kingdom are they advancing?  “He who is not with Me is against Me[3], said Jesus. There is only one biblical conclusion, with each purchase of alcoholic drink, such funds go into the treasury of the enemy of souls.  Satan, having thousands of years to hone his craft, knows exactly what to do with the money you have graciously given him.  He is well pleased when professed Christians claim that their drinking has no negative influence, for Satan uses their charity to increase his influence in the world.  “Those whom God has made His stewards have no right to place in the enemy’s ranks the means which He has entrusted to them to use in His cause.”[4]

Besides this important point, some of the most sinful actions in the entire Bible were done while under the influence of alcohol.   Genesis 19:30-36 records the shocking and sinful action of Lot’s daughters…“So they made their father drink wine that night. And the firstborn went in and lay with her father, and he did not know when she lay down or when she arose.” (Genesis 19:33).   Alcohol consumption has been a primary factor in an increase of crime, murder, car accidents, rape and abuse.  It is confusing to say the least why any professed Christian would argue for its consumption.  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. (Romans 14:21)  What is a former alcoholic who has gained the victory through Christ to think when he sees his fellow brothers and sisters freely drinking of that, which has brought so much misery in his life?  And what about the brother who is struggling to overcome such a habit?  Will not the scene of his fellow believers consuming alcohol only greatly strengthen his justification of such a sin?

“Those who profess to be Christians amid the perils of the last days, and do not imitate the humble, self-denying Pattern, place themselves in the enemy’s ranks. He considers them his subjects, and they serve as important a purpose for him as do any of his subjects, for they have a name to live, and are dead. Others take them as an example, and by following them lose heaven, when, had these not professed to be Christians, their example would have been shunned. These unconsecrated professors are not aware of the weight of their influence.”[5]

But did Jesus drink?

The Bible records that “On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee… Now there were set there six waterpots of stone, according to the manner of purification of the Jews, containing twenty or thirty gallons apiece.  Jesus said to them, “Fill the waterpots with water.” And they filled them up to the brim.  And He said to them, “Draw some out now, and take it to the master of the feast.” And they took it.  When the master of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom.  And he said to him, “Every man at the beginning sets out the good wine, and when the guests have well drunk, then the inferior. You have kept the good wine until now!” (John 2:1, 6-10)

The reason the Lord recorded that last sentence is because He wants us to know that the wine Jesus made was good wine.   Let us therefore consider what the Lord considers good wine.  Is it new wine (non-alcoholic) or old wine (alcoholic)? Some may argue it was alcoholic, that is the good wine.  Others may argue no it was the non-alcoholic new wine that was good.  Imagine if you could ask God such a question, wouldn’t you accept His answer and follow Him?  If only we could ask the Lord, which wine is good and which is inferior!  The good news is the Lord gives us a direct answer in the book of Isaiah for it is written

Thus says the LORD:
“ As the new wine is found in the cluster,
And one says, ‘Do not destroy it,
For a blessing is in it
’” (Isaiah 65:8)

There is a blessing in new wine, the fresh grape juice of the vine.  But in the same book the Bible records a curse on those who drink intoxicating drink….

Woe to those who rise early in the morning,
That
they may follow intoxicating drink;
Who continue until night, till wine inflames them!

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness;
Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes,
And prudent in their own sight!
Woe to men mighty at drinking wine,
Woe to men valiant for mixing intoxicating drink
~ Isaiah 5:11, 20-22

But besides this point let us ask the question, would Jesus fill six large waterpots with a total of 120 to 180 gallons of booze?

The weight of our influence not only has an effect on others’ salvation, it affects our own.  Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come. It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin.[6] The most sobering warning in the Bible regarding our influence is found in that warning from Jesus. He said it would be better to be drowned in the ocean than to use your influence to cause others to sin!  “A heavy penalty will rest upon those who suffered Satan to use them as mediums to lead astray, and corrupt the minds of others. A heavy curse rested upon the serpent in Eden, because he was the medium Satan used to tempt our first parents to transgress; and a heavy curse from God will follow those who yield themselves as instruments in the subversion of others.”[7] How can we face the judgment knowing that our casual drinking aided in the justification of another person’s sin and destruction?  How then can we suggest that Jesus at the wedding in Cana made between 120 to 180 gallons of booze?  Would Jesus break His own commandments?  The Bible says “Wine is a mocker, Strong drink is a brawler, And whoever is led astray by it is not wise[8]” This biblical proverb tells us that wine and strong drink can lead us astray.  It can turn us from salvation.  In essence it can destroy us.

The Bible calls all followers of Christ to “Abstain from every form of evil.” (1 Thessalonians 5:22)  Are we to think that Jesus went against His own consul? In doing so that would make us calling Jesus a hypocrite.  And Jesus is no hypocrite, but we could be.  The Lord declares “Would you indeed annul My judgment?
Would you condemn Me that you may be justified?
” (Job 40:8)

We can come to only one conclusion regarding the miracle in Cana, Jesus turned water into new wine.  To say otherwise would be to contradict Jesus’ own words “For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.[9]

Just one drink

How about just an occasional casual drink?  Or how about in times of deep distress?  Isn’t there certain points when God allows drinking?  The Bible gives us the answer when it says

Then the soldiers led Him (Jesus) away …And they clothed Him with purple; and they twisted a crown of thorns, put it on His head, and began to salute Him, “Hail, King of the Jews!”  Then they struck Him on the head with a reed and spat on Him; and bowing the knee, they worshiped Him. Then they gave Him wine mingled with myrrh to drink, but He did not take it. (Mark 15:16-19, 23)

The example of Jesus in Mark 15 demonstrates that there is never an excuse to drink alcohol.  Do you think there was a hidden purpose behind that offer?  Satan well knew that if he could cloud the mind of Christ, if he could get Jesus to disobey just once, victory would be his.  If Satan could only get Jesus to lose His self-control, if only the Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world would consume just one drink, He would not be a lamb without blemish.  Jesus would not defile Himself with alcohol.  Does defile sound like a harsh word?  Such is actually God’s choice of wording for it is written…

And the king appointed for them a daily provision of the king’s delicacies and of the wine which he drank …
But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.
(Daniel 1:5, 8 )

The word of God tells us in Daniel 1 that what we drink can defile us.  The Bible says every time we drink alcohol we are defiling ourselves.

Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?  If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are. ~ 1 Corinthians 3:16-17

God will destroy those who defile themselves.  Those who willfully transgress such a commandment and do not repent cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.  Having one drink is a serious matter your salvation is at stake.

Why would God have such a harsh commandment?  Is this loving?

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. ~ 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

We all agreed that we would take care of our friend’s $70,000 car. After all it was a free gift bought at a tremendous price.  Because our friend has lent us something of great value, it would be disrespectful and dangerous to neglect the maintenance of such a gift.  But in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, the word of God tells us that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.   The Bible says you are not your own.  You were bought at a price.  But at what price was it?

Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers,  but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. ~ 1 Peter 1:18-19

You were bought with the very price of God’s own Son.  There is no higher price than what God paid for you.   After all your health, your life, are free gifts from God, and they were bought at a tremendous price.  The highest price ever paid for anything was when God paid the price for you at the cross. What great value then do you have in His sight!  The value of an item is determined by its price.  Therefore it stands to reason that you have an infinite value in the sight of God.   “For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s“[10]

Since we were bought at such a great price… how can anyone dare to defile their body which was bought by God and stand in the judgment?  Shall we then drink?  Shall we then smoke?  Shall we then seek to destroy God’s own property?!  I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.[11]

Something Better

The reality is there is many reasons people drink.  Maybe they have lost a loved one, maybe it is to get over a broken relationship, maybe it is to help overcome depression, or physical pain.  Perhaps it is to gain friends, to help fill a deep loneliness inside.  Or maybe it is an addiction, one that seemingly cannot be broken. One day Jesus sat next to a woman at a well.  She was thirsty and sought to quench her thirst from an earthly vessel, but Jesus had something better than a physical drink.

Jesus answered and said to her, Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again,  but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.” – John 4:13-14

The woman heard what Jesus was claiming to have.  Something stronger than beer or wine.  What Jesus is offering helps you overcome depression with each drink, guaranteed.

Are you trying to fit in, be accepted with friends? Are you using alcohol simply as an escape from reality?  Perhaps you’ve lost a loved one, maybe you feel lonely, maybe you are depressed.  The woman at the well had attempted to fill her spiritual need by acquiring physical human relationships.  Yet no matter what she tried she was still empty inside. Just like the woman at the well, today Jesus says to you “You’re trying to fill your life with that which cannot satisfy.” Only one thing can quench your thirst, living water.  Jesus knows your struggles. He knows your pain.  He knows that you have been trying to fill the void in your life with alcohol for it is written…

O LORD, You have searched me and known me.
You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off.
You comprehend my path and my lying down,
And are acquainted with all my ways.
For there is not a word on my tongue,
But behold, O LORD, You know it altogether.
~ Psalm 139:1-4

He knows.  He knows that you are defiling yourself with alcohol, he knows your sins, even the deepest darkest ones, but He bought you anyways.  What great love is this?  That Christ would come to a sinful stained wicked planet to save us?  Billions of holy perfect angels worshiped the Lord day and night.  Yet he left the glory and riches of heaven, to come to this earth.  His life was one of toil and pain.  Men rejected Him and mocked Him.  He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. He was betrayed by one of His own, and suffered the death of a criminal on a cross.   He left the 99 found sheep, to seek and save the one lost.  And that one lost sheep was you.  He is calling you today to something better.  A life free from drunkenness, emptiness, depression, guilt and shame.  You were bought at a price.  The very life of God.  He has issued a standing rebuke to you today, rebuking the defiling drink that you have placed in your body.  But the Lord Himself says “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne[12].”

Jesus is knocking on your heart today friend.  He is calling you to something better.  A life of victory through His power.  Jesus has already proven at the cross His infinite love for you.  When offered to numb His mind of the suffering that He received on your behalf He refused “For your love is better than wine” (Song of Solomon 1:2)

Today the Lord is asking you to declare to the Lord “How much better than wine is your love!” (Song of Solomon 4:10)  It’s time to place all alcoholic drink on the altar friend.  Take all the alcohol you have in your home today, and make your toilet an altar.  Open each bottle of alcoholic drink, and pour it into that altar.  Then…flush the altar beloved.  Do not believe that Satan will pull you back into such an addiction.  Let no one despair of gaining the victory. Victory is sure when self is surrendered to God.[13] Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who trusts in Him![14] Trust In Jesus, go all the way.  Take a stand.  Today declare to Jesus “How much better than wine is your love![15]” How sad it would be to miss out on heaven for something that cannot satisfy.  Beloved, why not choose Jesus today?  Is that you prayer today?  If so then I encourage you to seek the Lord in prayer right now.  Pray for forgiveness, pray for victory, cleanse your home of alcohol and pray for the Holy Spirit to transform your desires, then believe that He will do so because He has promised.  May the Lord bless you as you follow Him!


[1] For an additional study on Bible verses which seem to advocate drinking see “The Christian And Alcohol” by Doug Batchelor

[2] Galatians 5:19-23

[3] Luke 11:23 NKJV

[4] Testimonies For The Church Volume 1 p. 550

[5] Testimonies For The Church Volume 1 p. 276 – E.G. White

[6] Luke 17:1-2 NIV

[7] A Solemn Appeal – p. 76 E.G. White

[8] Proverbs 20:1 NKJV

[9] Luke 9:56 NKJV

[10] 1 Corinthians 6:20 All scriptures are from NKJV unless otherwise noted

[11] Romans 12:1

[12] Revelation 3:19-21 NIV

[13] MS 2, 1903 – Ellen White

[14] Psalm 34:8 NKJV

[15] Song of Solomon 4:10 NKJV

Words in blue are from the Bible.

Words in red are the direct words of Jesus.