Alcohol and drunkenness

This Wednesday night service at church, our pastor spoke on what the Bible says about alcohol and getting drunk with alcohol. Personally, in some ways the message did not apply as I grew up away from the temptations of alcohol and even in my adult life, alcohol has never really tempted me. I have seen what alcohol, most specifically getting drunk with alcohol, can do to a person and to others around them and I just do not want to deal with the consequences. However, in the midst of listening to the message, I had a few thoughts.

One of the most striking verses in the Bible relating to drunkenness is Ephesians 5:18 “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be ye filled with the Spirit;”. This verse strikes me powerfully because it contrasts being drunk with wine and being filled with the Spirit as if they are opposites. So, as I half-listened to the message, I began to think about the consequences if being drunk with wine (alcohol) was the opposite of being filled with the Spirit.

I realized that being drunk with alcohol removes inhibitions and reveals your true sin nature. Alcohol removes all the “rules” one has learned about behaving around other people and allows one to say what they want, take what they want and do what they want. The human sin nature is ugly and repulsive to God; it is the opposite of His character. We were created for fellowship with God, and any sin in our lives breaks fellowship with God. When we take action that causes us to sin without any restraint we are keeping ourselves from God and from who we were created to be. God’s plan is to refine, purify and sanctify us so that we can become more like Him.

Being “drunk” with the Holy Spirit also can remove inhibitions. It just removes different inhibitions. When we are drunk with the Spirit we can be released from our flesh and sin nature. Think about how fear often rules our life when we think about expressing and living our faith. Being filled with the Spirit should release us from the power of that fear and give us full and total confidence in our God. God’s goal and plan for each of our lives is to make us more like Himself and He does that through His Holy Spirit.

I remember my first encounter with someone who had been drinking and become drunk. I was four years old on a train with my mom and sister headed to a different state to visit family. I was coloring with the girl in the seat beside me, and this guy approached us and wanted to help us color. It was a little weird because he was quite persistent. Had that been the only encounter, I do not know that I would have remembered it. But hours later, this man caused a ruckus and was confronted by a woman who worked on the train. He threatened her. I was only a few rows away from where this was all going on. I remember being very scared of what was going on. Nothing major came of the situation; I think he eventually calmed down. But to this day, drunk people make me very nervous because that encounter is so etched in my mind. Last night, I realized something, whether you are drunk with alcohol, or you are “drunk” with the Spirit of God, anyone who encounters you will not forget that encounter. If you are filled with the Spirit, you might be witnessing to someone and despite the working of the Holy Spirit, they reject Christ at that time, but I guarantee you, they will not forget your attempt. You may be the first person that they have met who has actually been “different” because of  their faith; maybe you are just one of many, but no matter what a person filled with the Spirit of God is unforgettable.

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance; those fruits are what come out of us when we are filled with the Spirit. What are the fruits of being drunk with alcohol? Lust, anger, loudness, gluttony, impaired judgement, stealing, violence and even sometimes death. What kind of fruit do you want to have coming out in your life?

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