4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. 5 You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. 6 Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. 8 But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. 9 For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, (1 Thessalonians 5:4–9, NKJV)
Christians (children of God) are children of the day. Therefore, we are to live watchfully and soberly in the light of truth. The contrast to the inebriation of darkness is easy to understand. Being “of the day” (v. 8) means living soberly in faith, love, and the hope of salvation we have in Jesus Christ. Yet, more and more Christians are partaking in the less than sober practice of drinking intoxicants. Defending “social drinking” of intoxicating beverages as a Christian’s liberty embraces the very thing Paul used to warn us against losing our spiritual alertness. Rather than justify the incremental loss of self-control and the corresponding loss of sharpness, we must refuse even the beginning of this activity associated with darkness (Eph. 5:18; 1 Pet. 4:3).
6 Likewise, exhort the young men to be sober-minded, 7 in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, 8 sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you. (Titus 2:6–8, NKJV)
Christians, young and old, are to be sober in our thinking, controlling our impulses, refusing to be doctrinally careless and morally shameful in our conduct. Alcohol comes to mind as that which hinders being sober-minded and temperate. Although drinking alcohol is quite common in the world (and condoned by an increasing number of Christians), it renders one intemperate and irreverent rather than a godly pattern of good works, moderation, and soundness. The Bible says wine a “mocker” and strong drink is turbulent, and to err thereby is not wise (i.e., foolish, Prov. 20:1). To take the first drink begins to decrease soberness, and left to run its course produces drunkenness (a work of the flesh, Gal. 5:21). How can the first drink of alcohol (which starts the process of intoxication) be wise, when it leads to such foolishness? Without the first drink, one does not get drunk (1 Pet. 4:3). We cannot conclude from Scripture that social drinking is sober-minded conduct – a “pattern of good works” that shows integrity, reverence, and incorruptibility (v. 7). Refuse the mind-altering effects of alcohol by refusing the first drink. In this way, you answer God’s call to be sober-minded and an example of good works in all things.
29 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, 30 Those who go in search of mixed wine. 31 Do not look on the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it swirls around smoothly; 32 At the last it bites like a serpent, and stings like a viper.” (Proverbs 23:29–32, NKJV)
This passage is a clear denunciation of drunkenness as well as the consumption of alcohol that leads to it. Wise king Solomon identifies the person who drinks and drinks and drinks as one who cries and moans with pain, sorrow, and strife (vss. 29-30). The way to avoid the problems associated with drunkenness is not to take the first drink! “Do not look on the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it swirls around smoothly” is a clear prohibition against starting to consume alcohol. Far from saying social drinking is allowable, this passage from God’s word says avoiding alcohol from the start protects a person from the subsequent trouble it produces. How can a Christian conclude it is wise, safe, and approved to have “one or two drinks” when this passage says do to even look upon the first drink (v. 31)? Only by drinking from the goblet of the unwise who mock God’s counsel against drunkenness and the drinking that starts that process (Proverbs 20:1; Ephesians 5:18; 1 Peter 4:3-4).
29 Judgments are prepared for scoffers, and beatings for the backs of fools. 1 Wine is a mocker, strong drink is a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise. (Proverbs 19:29-20:1, NKJV)
Intoxicating beverages lead people astray from the path of sober-mindedness and self-control, to a state of derision and tumult. The “scoffers” for which “judgments are prepared” (19:29), are none other than those under the influence of wine, which is a “mocker” (20:1). The same Hebrews word is used for scoffers and mocker in both verses. Drinking wine (not to mention, strong drink) mocks sobriety, and falls under judgment for doing so. Our passage says the person who is led astray by wine, as well as stronger intoxicating beverages, is “not wise” (a fool). God reveals the punishment (“judgments”) in verse 29: “beatings (are prepared) for the backs of fools.” You cannot consume alcohol without diminishing your sobriety and self-control. That is axiomatic. Inhibitions are lowered as alcoholic intake increases. Be wise, and abstain from the drinking that leads to excess (1 Peter 4:3). You will avoid the drunkenness that starts with the first drink, as well as the punishment of fools.
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. (1 Peter 4:3, NKJV)
Look carefully at this Scripture’s description of the “past lifetime” spent in “doing the will of the Gentiles,” instead of doing “the will of God” (1 Pet. 4:2). One thing all these sins have in common is the absence of self-control. From the sinful indulgence of lewd words and actions, to all manner of evil cravings, to drunkenness, carousing and the drinking parties that lead to excess, to the abominations of idolatry formed by unbelief – self-control is forfeited when these sins are practiced. Purity of heart protects us against lascivious, lustful conduct. Sober-mindedness refuses even the first drink of mind-numbing alcohol which, left unrestrained, invariably progresses to debauchery and drunkenness. Those who have armed themselves with the mind of Christ do not adopt the ways of unbelievers, much less defend those ways (1 Pet. 4:1-2). It grieves us when Christians defend the occasional consumption of alcohol, for it indicates a mind that is still “doing the will of the Gentiles,” instead of the will of God. Today’s tip: Put away all the sins of the past, exercise self-control, and live for the will of God today and every day.
29 Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaints? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? 30 Those who linger long at the wine, those who go in search of mixed wine. 31 Do not look on the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it swirls around smoothly; 32 At the last it bites like a serpent, and stings like a viper. (Proverbs 23:29–32, NKJV)
Social drinking is accepted by many who wear the name of Christ. Their rationale varies, but the consistent defense made by believers who drink alcohol is, “I don’t get drunk.” Therefore, to them, there is no problem. They see no problem in recreational drinking to get a “buzz” and to that extent, lose their self-control (Gal. 5:23). They overlook the problem of their diminished example of righteousness. They think Jesus was a “winebibber” (wine drinker) and so they can be, too (Jno. 2:1-11). (They forget that was a slur made against Jesus by unbelievers, with whom they thus associate themselves, Matthew 11:19.) They see no problem violating the apostle’s stipulation against “banquetings” (drinking parties, NKJV) in 1 Peter 4:3 (which denotes drinking without regard to amount). No, God’s word is clear that “wine is a mocker, strong drink is a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise” (Prov. 20:1). Be wise. Heed God’s warning and do not take the first drink, “when it sparkles in the cup, when it swirls around smoothly.” That’s how to escape the viper’s sting.