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THE CHRISTIAN AND ALCOHOL

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Sir,

1 Timothy 5:23 has long been a source of controversy. In this text Paul encourages Timothy to “stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of his stomach and frequent illnesses.” Many people assume that the wine Paul recommends to Timothy is alcoholic. However, let me hasten to say this is a false assumption. The text is not a licence for Christians to drink alcohol.


This text clearly indicates that Timothy was afflicted with a stomach ailment, the nature of which is not precisely known. Paul was recommending wine as a medicine not as a social beverage.


Something of Timothy’s character is revealed in this text. He had abstained even from the medicinal use of wine, for the sake of his influence. His service to Christ was more valuable than the possible damage that might be done by some misguided critic.


Earlier in the same epistle, Paul instructs Timothy that elders were to be abstinent (1 Timothy 3:2–3). The apostle would not have encouraged Timothy to drink alcoholic beverages when he had, earlier in the same letter, forbidden their use by church leaders (1 Timothy 3:8). To take Paul’s advice to Timothy as an excuse for moderate drinking is to misapply the text.


When intoxicants are used, the conscience will lose its sensibility to sin, and a process of hardening to iniquity will most certainly take place, until the common and the sacred lose all difference of significance. How can we then meet the standard of the divine requirements?
Tests show that after drinking three bottles of beer, there is an average of 13 per cent net memory loss. After taking only small quantities of alcohol, trained typists were tested and their errors increased by 40 per cent.


The consumption of alcohol certainly does not glorify God in our bodies; instead, it slowly destroys the body and mind, which is a clear violation of the Sixth Commandment. Just as cigarette smoking is suicide on the installment plan, so is alcohol.


The whole of scripture is clearly against the consumption of alcohol, but human nature will look upon such texts as ‘loopholes’ to justify drinking alcohol. So much devastation is caused by alcohol in the community, on the roads and in homes. Indeed, even if the Bible were silent on the subject, the object lessons of devastation from a thousand years of history would still be crystal clear.
It is also a well-documented fact that drinking alcohol lowers a Christian’s resolve to resist temptation. Christians must not make it easier for the devil to snare them.
This is why Peter charges us to be ‘sober, be vigilant; because our adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour’ (1 Peter 5:8). The devil is already bent on getting us! Let’s not make it any easier for him by diluting with alcohol our God-given resistance!


Dear beloved, alcohol is unholy and unhealthy. Partaking in the worldly drink can only compromise God’s high standards. We are called to be sacred vessels filled with God’s spirit. “Be not drunk with wine, in which is debauchery; but be filled with the spirit,” Ephesians 5:18.

Bopoto Gwinyai
7663 8191

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