By Wayne S. Walker
“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards…[will inherit the kingdom of God]” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). The word “drunkards” is translated from a term for wine which is the source of our English word “methyl” which is a kind of alcohol. It is defined literally as drunken or intoxicated. On the day of Pentecost, when the apostles spoke in tongues, we read, “Others mocking said, ‘They are full of new wine.’ But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, ‘Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day’” (Acts 2:13-15).
Even the Old Testament warned of the problems associated with drinking alcoholic beverages. Noah planted a vineyard, drank of the wine, and got drunk, and some very unpleasant consequences ensued (Genesis 9:20-21ff). “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise” (Proverbs 20:1). The word “wine” does not always necessarily suggest a fermented beverage. Sometimes it can refer to fresh grape juice (Isaiah 65:8). It has been suggested that whenever wine is spoken of positively in Scripture it means the non-fermented variety, as when Jesus turned water to wine (John 2:1-11). On the other hand, when it is talked about in negative terms it identifies the alcoholic kind, as we see in Proverbs 20:1 and the following passage, which also issues a stern warning.
“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. Yes, you will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea, or like one who lies at the top of the mast, saying: ‘They have struck me, but I was not hurt; they have beaten me, but I did not feel it. When shall I awake, that I may seek another drink?’” (Proverbs 23:29-35).
While it is true that these two Proverbs warnings are found in the Old Testament, they still are written for our learning and represent God’s wisdom on the subject. Furthermore, we have similar warnings in the New Testament. “And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). W. E. Vine says that the term translated “drunk with wine” means “to make drunk or to grow drunk (an inceptive verb, marking the process of…).” Thus, whatever is involved in the process of becoming drunk is condemned. There are only two possibilities here. One can be filled either with wine or with the Spirit—but not both.
“Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles—when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you” (1 Peter 4:1-4). The past lives of these disciples had included drunkenness, revelries (i.e., drunken orgies), and “drinking [i.e. cocktail] parties,” but no longer. They had ceased from such sinful activities. Why? Because those who engage themselves in the process which will make them drunk will not inherit the kingdom of God.
—in Search for Truth, 6/28/2015 (Vol. VI, No. 47)