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).
And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, (Ephesians 5:18, NKJV)
Christians are to fill themselves with the Spirit, not with wine and its riotous excess. We do so by putting His word, the word of Christ, into our hearts and lives (Col. 3:16). Yet, a growing number of Christians justify the moderate consumption of intoxicating beverages. I wonder, do they also advocate for only being moderately filled with the Holy Spirit? If just a little alcohol is okay (as long as you don’t get drunk), then it follows that only a small amount of the Spirit in your life is okay (as long as you are not full of the Holy Spirit). Absurd? Absolutely. But, that is the consistent application of Ephesians 5:18 and the logical extension of the reasoning that promotes moderate alcohol consumption. The apostle contrasts being filled with wine and being filled with the Spirit. The fact that God’s word condemns drunkenness does not mean the drinking that leads to drunkenness is acceptable. The Scriptures must show it to be good, not merely asserted to be good (1 Thess. 5:21-22). Other passages teach us to be sober-minded, to use sound judgment, and to exercise self-control (Gal. 5:23; Titus 2:2, 6, 12). Consuming alcohol deconstructs and destroys these qualities the Spirit teaches us to possess. How can that be good? Drinking alcohol satisfies the desires of the flesh, but it is inconsistent with the mind of Christ and being filled with the Spirit of God (1 Pet. 4:1-4; Rom. 8:9-14).
“And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit,” (Ephesians 5:18, NKJV)
Christians are to be filled with the Spirit, not intoxicated with alcohol. But, what does that mean? Does it mean having a warm feeling in the heart, confident in feeling that we please God? No, since “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Prov. 14:12). Since the Scriptures do not assign our feelings to the Holy Spirit, neither can we. Does it mean claiming some miracle at work in our lives? No, since the purpose of the miraculous gifts of the Spirit has been accomplished. Plus, how those gifts were received is no longer possible (1 Cor. 13:8-10; Acts 8:14-17). To “be filled with the Spirit” is a commandment, therefore, we choose whether or not the Spirit will fill us. Paul’s parallel statement in Colossians 3:16 says to “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly,” persuading us to conclude we keep this command by imbibing of the Spirit’s word which He communicated to us by the apostles and prophets of Jesus (Jno. 16:8, 12-13; 1 Cor. 2:10-13; Eph. 3:5). Instead of filling your body with spirits that rob you of soberness, sound judgment, and honorable conduct, fill your soul with the holy directives of revealed truth. In this way, by being filled with the Spirit you will dwell with Him and bear His fruit in your life (Gal. 5:22-23).
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. (1 Thessalonians 5:5–7, NKJV)
The return of the Lord will not overtake Christians suddenly and unexpectedly, because we “are not in darkness” (1 Thess. 5:4). Paul uses light and day to describe the moral readiness of Christians concerning the coming of Jesus. What does it mean to be “sons of light” and “sons of the day?” The gospel called us out of sin’s darkness (1 Pet. 2:11). By the redemption we have in Christ we have been delivered from the power of darkness and conveyed into the Son’s kingdom (Col. 1:13). We used to live in the darkness of sin, “but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light” (Eph. 5:8). Darkness and night describe the moral slumber of living in sin. Just as we are unaware of our surroundings in sleep, the darkness of night gives cover to sin and its excesses. We must refuse to be lulled to sleep by the enticements of sin. Let us live vigilantly in truth and righteousness, abstaining from everything that intoxicates the mind and soul. Sons of light are sober, diligently living with self-control and not indulging the flesh with sin. That is why sons of light are ready for the Lord’s return. Walk in the light of truth, not in the darkness of sin (1 Jno. 1:5-10). Be ready of His return.
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).
9 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. 10 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 2:9–10, NKJV)
Many who support the social consumption of alcohol resort to the wedding feast in Cana (when Jesus turned water into wine) to support their cause (John 2:1-11). They overlook several crucial points in defending their consumption of what Scripture warns is a “mocker” (Proverbs 20:1). First, the word “wine” (Gr. oinos) may be used of either alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverage (Ephesians 5:18; Revelation 19:15), and context helps determine which. Next, Jesus would not purposefully contribute to someone’s sin, yet, that is what He did if He miraculously provided the feast with alcoholic beverage. If true, Jesus became a bartender, providing another 120-180 gallons of alcohol to inebriated people so they could remain in their drunkenness (which is sin, Galatians 5:21). In truth, Jesus bypassed the natural and months-long process of water going from the clouds to the ground, to the vine, to the grape, to the cup. In an instant, He showed His power over nature and time. To use His miracle to prop up a foolish practice that destroys soberness and self-control denies His glory – the very glory that was displayed at Cana (John 2:11).
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.