Traditions Of Men: Is It A Sin To Drink Wine Or Strong Drink?

Traditions Of Men

Is It A Sin To Drink Wine Or Strong Drink?

By Curt Wildy

Introduction

I have no doubt in my mind that in and of itself, drinking alcoholic beverages in moderation is no sin. Getting drunk is a sin and drinking in front of others when you know that it causes them offense, or causes them to stumble, is a sin; however, the mere act of drinking alcoholic beverages in moderation is no sin. If it were, rest assured that large numbers of Reformers, Puritans, Non-conformists, Particular Baptists, and other godly men would be openly, and unrepentantly, guilty of it.

Please note that I have no desire to encourage anyone to drink if it is against their conscience to do so. With one exception discussed below, I do not feel any pressing need to drink; thus, I feel no need to “defend myself” on the matter. I admittedly, and without shame, like to sample various types of lager, ales, and the like. I did so every few months and almost always limited myself to one a day and usually went several months in between such samplings. Lately, I have cut back even further given that even one glass or bottle of ale can significantly aggravate two digestive conditions of mine. It is because of these digestive (stomach) conditions that I follow God’s advice to Timothy (in 1 Timothy 5:23) and drink a little wine (not grape juice) each day, but never to drunkenness.

Nonetheless, I feel a need to address this matter to tear down the man-made walls that divide the body of Christ. I want to start with scriptural arguments supporting the Christian liberty to drink in moderation and end by addressing those arguments made to support the notion that drinking alcoholic beverages is a sin. I will be quoting from various commentaries, not because the Bible alone is insufficient to prove the argument, but to provide a historical context as well (one that evidences that true Christians have understood such liberty of conscience for hundreds of years now; it is only since the 1830’s, with the rise of the unbiblical Temperance Movement, and with the publishing of such debunked works as Patton’s Bible Wines, that this liberty has been held in derision to such a degree as we now find).

Drunkenness is the sin

I will not belabour this point; I trust that everyone knows that being a drunkard (alcoholic), or repeatedly falling into a drunken state (as opposed to a mere merry or gladdened state as we read in Psalm 104:14 and Ecclesiastes 9:7), is sinful. God commands in:

Ephesians 5:15-18 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, 16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord [is]. 18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.

 John Gill, states on the matter:

And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess,…. The sin of drunkenness here dehorted from, is a custom, or habit, of voluntary excessive drinking of any strong liquor, whereby the mind is disturbed, and deprived of the use of reason: though wine is only here mentioned, that being the usual liquor drank in the eastern countries, yet the same holds good of any other strong liquor, as of that; nor is drinking wine for necessary use prohibited, nor for honest delight and lawful pleasure; but excessive drinking of it, and this voluntary, and with design, and on purpose; otherwise persons may be overtaken and intoxicated, through ignorance of the strength of the liquor, and their own weakness; and it is a custom, or habit of excessive drinking, for not a single act, but a series of actions, a course of living in this sin, denominates a man a drunkard; and generally speaking, excessive drinking deprives persons of the use of reason, though not always; and such are criminal, who are mighty to drink wine, and strong to mingle strong drink; as are also such, who though not guilty of this sin themselves, are the means of it in others: the sin is very sinful; it is one of the works of the flesh; it is an abuse of the creature; it is opposed to walking honestly; for it persons are to be excluded from the communion of the church; and, without the grace of true repentance, shall not inherit the kingdom of heaven: many things might be said to dissuade from it; it hurts the mind, memory, and judgment; deprives of reason, and sets a man below a beast; it brings diseases on the body, and wastes the estate; it unfits for business and duty; it opens a door for every sin, and exposes to shame and danger; and therefore should be carefully avoided, and especially by professors of religion:

I aim to look further into the words pertaining to ” be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess” in my objection section below. Concerning the seriousness of the sin of drunkenness, however, we read in:

Galatians 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are [these]; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told [you] in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

Consider also,

1 Peter 4:1 Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; 2 That he no longer should live the rest of [his] time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. 3 For the time past of [our] life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries: 4 Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with [them] to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of [you]: 5 Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead. 6 For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.

1 Corinthians 5:11 But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. 12 For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? 13 But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.

1 Corinthians 6:9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

Clearly excess and drunkenness are in view in the passages above, not the drinking of wine (or strong drink) alone and in moderation. Proverbs 21:17 warns “He that loveth pleasure [shall be] a poor man: he that loveth wine and oil shall not be rich.” We ought not love wine, have undue affection for it, just like we ought not have such love and affection for food, money, clothing, etc. However, when used wisely, lovingly (concerning the known sensitivities of those around us), and unto God’s glory, all such things can serve as a blessing for the child of God.

The Word Of God On The Matter

Please consider the following carefully:

Psalm 104:1 Bless the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty… 14 He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth; 15 And wine [yayin; H3196; (yah’-yin); wine (as fermented; from an unused root meaning to effervesce] [that] maketh glad the heart of man, [and] oil to make [his] face to shine, and bread [which] strengtheneth man’s heart.7  16 The trees of the LORD are full [of sap]; the cedars of Lebanon, which he hath planted;

Ecclesiastes 9:7 Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine [yayin-H3196] with a merry heart; for God now accepteth thy works. 8 Let thy garments be always white; and let thy head lack no ointment. 9 Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity: for that [is] thy portion in [this] life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun.

The Lord causes the grasses and herbs to spring up, even the alcohol producing vines and grains, that man may drink with a gladdened or merry heart (to use the language of the AV/KJV). Saying that it is a sin to drink wine due to the risk of drunkenness is like saying it is a sin to eat food due to the risk of gluttony, or to earn money due to the risk of avarice, or to sleep due to the risk of slothfulness. Some argue that these other things are needful, but wine is not. Maybe in our day (and I stress maybe); but in days past, alcoholic beverages did for men of old what modern medicine (e.g. anesthesia) does for us today. We have replaced alcohol with modern drugs to generate some of the same types of effects.

Moreover, if wine and the partaking of it were inherently sinful, I fully trust that God would not have used it as a type of His atoning blood and of the blessings that flow from it. If it were a sin to drink earthly wine, which is the type, it would be a sin to partake of the heavenly wine, which is the antitype. The type pictures, or symbolizes, the nature of the antitype. The Lord does not use swine, or dogs, or blemished animals, to typify the glorious aspects of His person and work. He does not use the unclean to typify the clean. If He does not use that which is inherently sinful to typify His greatness, why would we try to lump wine or fermented drink into that category? He does not liken his blood to poison or anything foul; but wouldn’t wine be foul if it was inherently sinful to partake of it? Would He allow such foulness to be sacrificed unto Him? We read in,

Exodus 29:39 The one lamb thou shalt offer in the morning; and the other lamb thou shalt offer at even: 40 And with the one lamb a tenth deal of flour mingled with the fourth part of an hin of beaten oil; and the fourth part of an hin of wine [yayin-H3196] [for] a drink offering.

Some say that unleavened, unfermented grape juice is in view and not wine; I reject this for reasons discussed at length in my three part series on A Biblical Look At Wine In Light Of The Atoning Work of Christ. For any who believe that wine is not wine but grape juice, please review the linked series. Otherwise, if we acknowledge that wine is wine, then (if we are to be objective) we must see that wine is a blessing of God when used in moderation; it is good for His people. This is why it is so heavily used as a type. If anyone still doubts the blessed nature of it, simply consider:

Deuteronomy 7:12 Wherefore it shall come to pass, if ye hearken to these judgments, and keep, and do them, that the LORD thy God shall keep unto thee the covenant and the mercy which he sware unto thy fathers: 13 And he will love thee, and bless thee, and multiply thee: he will also bless the fruit of thy womb, and the fruit of thy land, thy corn, and thy wine [tiyrowsh-H8492; see the linked study above regarding the alcoholic nature of this wine], and thine oil, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep, in the land which he sware unto thy fathers to give thee.

Proverbs 3:9 Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: 10 So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine [tiyrowsh-H8492].

Consider also,

Hosea 2:19 And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies. 20 I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the LORD. 21 And it shall come to pass in that day, I will hear, saith the LORD, I will hear the heavens, and they shall hear the earth; 22 And the earth shall hear the corn, and the wine [tiyrowsh-H8492], and the oil; and they shall hear Jezreel. 23 And I will sow her unto me in the earth; and I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to [them which were] not my people, Thou [art] my people; and they shall say, [Thou art] my God.  

Notice the pattern of good; it is corn/flour/bread, with wine, with oil…. repeatedly. Yes, the wine spiritually represents the blood of Christ and the Gospel promises associated with it (1 Corinthians 11:23-27, Luke 22:14-20); the corn represents the body of Christ, our Spiritual manna (Psalm 78:24, John 6:48-60); and the oil represents the Holy Spirit and His effectual anointing and working (1 Samuel 16:13, Isaiah 61:1 , Luke 4:18) — but physical wine is just as much of a benefit as physical bread/corn/grain/wheat and physical oil.

In Genesis 14:17-19 we read:

And the king of Sodom went out to meet him after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer, and of the kings that [were] with him, at the valley of Shaveh, which [is] the king’s dale. 18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine and he [was] the priest of the most high God. 19 And he blessed him, and said, Blessed [be] Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: 20 And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.

Did Melchizedek, that great type of Christ (or as some say, the pre-incarnate manifestation of Christ), bring forth refreshments that were inherently sinful? I do not believe that God would be providing one of His children with sinful things or moving a godly man to do so on His behalf as part of a clear act of blessing.

Consider also the great miracle of our Lord Jesus when He turned water into wine. If drinking wine is sinful, why would He tempt man to sin by miraculously providing it for them? Why would He reveal the account to us in such a positive light?  He would not! He would not perform such a miracle and portray it in such a positive light if drinking wine was truly evil.

John 2:1 And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: 2 And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. 3 And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. 4 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come. 5 His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do [it]. 6 And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. 7 Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. 8 And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare [it]. 9  When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom…

In Luke 7:33-34 we read “For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine; and ye say, He hath a devil. 34 The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners!” The Lord Jesus says that He ,”The Son of man,” is come eating and drinking.” Eating and drinking what? It would have to be bread and wine. They would not be accusing Him of being a winebibber if He was only drinking unfermented grape juice as some erroneously claim. Likewise, they would not be comparing the Lord to someone who did not drink wine at all unless the Lord drank wine. What we have in this passage is an ellipsis, a rhetorical device referring to “the omission of one or more words that are obviously understood but that must be supplied to make a construction grammatically complete.” This rhetorical device is often used for emphasis and not just brevity; so it is worth taking note that the absence of bread and wine in verse 34 suggests that we should pay particular attention to these words.

In Genesis 27:28,29 Isaac blessed Jacob as follows “Therefore God give thee of the dew of heaven, and the fatness of the earth, and :  29 Let people serve thee, and nations bow down to thee: be lord over thy brethren, and let thy mother’s sons bow down to thee: cursed [be] every one that curseth thee, and blessed [be] he that blesseth thee.” Did Isaac really bless Jacob by praying that God would give him plenty of corn and inherently-sinful-to-drink wine? Would Isaac really say to Esau in verse 37 “…Behold, I have made him thy lord, and all his brethren have I given to him for servants; and with corn and wine [tiyrowsh-H8492] have I sustained him: and what shall I do now unto thee, my son…” if drinking wine was a sin? When you consider all of the above, I think it is clear that drinking wine in moderation can be a blessing for God’s people.

What Notable “Church Fathers,” Reformers, Particular Baptists, et. al. Believed.

Thomas Watson

Thomas Watson (c. 1620—1686) was an English non-conformist (Puritan) author and preacher. He wrote in his “A body of practical divinity: consisting of above 176 sermons…”

10 Serpents are great Lovers of Wine. Pliny, who writes of Natural History, faith, if Serpents come where Wine is, they drink insatiably: In this be not like the Serpent; though the Scripture allows the use of Wine, 1 Tim. 5. 23 yet it forbids the excess, Eph. 5. 18. Be not drunk with Wine, wherein is excess; be not like the Serpents in this, Lovers of Wine. Because this Sin of Drunkenness doth so abound in this Age, I shall enlarge something more on this Head…. Drinking is not a Sin; but the meaning is, they drank to intemperance, they disordered themselves with Drink, and God let them have Liquor enough; first they were drowned in Wine, and then in Water.

In “Heaven Taken by Storm,” he wrote:

4. Satan tempts to evil in licilis, in lawful things. It was lawful for Noah to eat the fruit of the grape; but he took too much, and so sinned. Excess turns that which is good into evil. Eating and drinking may turn to intemperance. Industry in one’s calling (when excessive) is covetousness. Satan draws men to, an immoderate love of the creature, and then makes them offend in that which they love.

William Huntington

William Huntington (c. 1745—1813), an English preacher, and perhaps the greatest experimental (and Non-conformist) preacher in near modern times. In “Contemplations on the God of Israel,” he wrote:

“There is a great deal of mortification among the superstitious papists, pharisees, and legal workmongers; but it all stands for nothing, because it is not done through the Spirit; and, if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. Besides, whipping, thumping the breast, walking bare-footed, fasting in Lent, abstaining from animal food, and confining themselves to fish, are human inventions; for that which goes into a man defiles him not. And fasting is left to our own option; the Son of man came eating and drinking. It is not the lawful use, but the abuse, of temporal mercies, which the scriptures condemn.

John Calvin

John Calvin (c.  1509 – 1564); French theologian, pastor, biblical exegete, and leader of the Protestant Reformation (hence Calvinism), wrote in the “Golden Booklet of the True Christian Life:

“The first principle we should consider is that the use of the gifts of God cannot be wrong, if they are directed to the same purpose for which the Creator himself has created and destined for them. For he has made the earthly blessings for our benefit, and not for our harm. No one, therefore will observe a more proper rule than he who will faithfully observe this purpose. If we study for instance, why he has created the various kinds of food, we shall find that it was his intention not only to provide for our needs, but likewise for our pleasure and for our delight. In clothing he did not only keep in mind our needs, but also propriety and decency. In herbs, trees, and fruit, besides being useful in various ways, he planned to please us by their gracious lines and pleasant odors. For if this were not true, the psalmist would not enumerate among the divine blessings “the wine that makes glad the heart of man, and the oil that makes his face to shine.” (Ps. 104:15).

Matthew Poole

Matthew Poole (c. 1624–1679; an English Nonconformist theologian, wrote in his commentary:

4 ‘It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine ; nor for princes strong drink: To drink wine, to wit, to drunkenness or excess, as the next verse explains it. 5 ‘Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted.’ Forget the law; the laws of God, by which they are to govern themselves and their kingdoms. Pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted; which may easily be done by a drunken judge, because drunkenness deprives a man of the use of reason; by which alone men can distinguish between right and wrong, and withal stirs up those passions which incline him both to precipitation and partiality. 6 Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts.’ Unto him ; which is to be understood comparatively, to him rather than to kings, partly because he needs a liberal draught of it more than kings do; and principally because if it proceed to excess, in him it is only a private inconvenience, but in kings it is a public mischief and grievance. Ready to perish; sorely afflicted and overwhelmed with sorrow, as it is explained in the following words; for such need a cordial. 7 Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more. For wine, moderately used, allayeth men’s cares and fears, and cheereth their spirits, Psal. civ. 15.

John Gill 

John Gill (c. 1697 to 1771); an English Particular Baptist Theologian, Pastor, and Bible Commentator, wrote in his commentary:

Proverbs 31:4 Ver. 4. [It is] not for kings, O Lemuel,…. It is not fit for them, it is very unbecoming them; it is dishonourable to them, to such as Lemuel was, or was likely to be; or far be it from kings, let no such thing be done by them, nor by thee; [it is] not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink; it is lawful for kings to drink wine in a moderate manner, and for princes, counsellors, and judges, to drink strong drink; meaning not such as is made of malt, which in those times was not used; but of honey, dates, pomegranates, and such like things; but then it was very unbecoming for either of them to drink any of these to excess; it is very disgraceful to any man to drink immoderately, to make a beast of himself, and much more a king or judge, who, of all men, ought to be grave and sober; both that they may perform their office well, and maintain the grandeur and dignity of it, which otherwise would become useless and despicable, yea, pernicious, as follows….The last clause may be rendered, “nor for princes [to say], where is strong drink” {d}? where is it to be had? where is the best? as drunkards do; which is according to the marginal reading; but the “Cetib”, or writing, is wa, “or” {e}; but some render it as a noun, “the desire of strong drink” {f}: it does not become princes to covet it.

Proverbs 31:6 Ver. 6. Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish,…. Thou, O Lemuel, and other kings and judges, rather than drink strong drink yourselves, least to excess; give it out of your great abundance and liberality to poor persons in starving circumstances, who must perish, unless relieved; it will do them good, moderately used; and should they drink too freely, which they ought not, yet it would not be attended with such bad consequences as if kings and princes should; and wine to those that be of heavy heart; of melancholy dispositions, under gloomy apprehensions of things; pressed with the weight of their affliction and poverty: or, “bitter in soul” {i}; such as God has dealt bitterly with, as Naomi says was her case, and therefore called her own name Marah, which signifies bitter; of such a sorrowful spirit, and one thus bitter in soul, was Hannah; and so Job, and others; persons in great affliction and distress, to whom life itself is bitter; see Ru 1:20; now wine to such is very exhilarating and cheering; see Jud 9:13.

Matthew Henry

Matthew Henry (c. 1662 – 1714); English commentator on the Bible and (reformed) Presbyterian minister wrote:

2. Against drunkenness, Proverbs 31:4,5. He must not drink wine or strong drink to excess; he must never sit to drink, as they used to do in the day of their king, when the princes made him sick with bottles of wine, Hosea 7:7. Whatever temptation he might be in from the excellency of the wine, or the charms of the company, he must deny himself, and be strictly sober, considering, (1.) The indecency of drunkenness in a king. However some may call it a fashionable accomplishment and entertainment, it is not for kings, O Lemuel! it is not for kings, to allow themselves that liberty; it is a disparagement to their dignity, and profanes their crown, by confusing the head that wears it; that which for the time unmans them does for the time unking them. Shall we say, They are gods? No, they are worse than the beasts that perish. All Christians are made to our God kings and priests, and must apply this to themselves. It is not for Christians, it is not for Christians, to drink to excess; they debase themselves if they do; it ill becomes the heirs of the kingdom and the spiritual priests, Lev. x. 9. (2.)

John Chrysostom

John Chrysostom (c. 347 – 407); Archbishop of Constantinople, “Early Church Father” so-called, and fourth century Bible commentator:

Homily LVII – Matthew 17: I am ashamed to say how many ills men and women suffer from luxury, but I leave it to their own conscience, which knows it all more perfectly. For what is viler than a woman drunken, or at all led away by wine? For the weaker the vessel, the more entire the shipwreck, whether she be free…or a slave. For the free woman behaves herself unseemly in the midst of her slaves as spectators, and the slave again in like manner in the midst of the slaves, and they cause the gifts of God to be blasphemously spoken of by foolish men. For instance, I hear many say, when these excesses happen, “Would there were no wine.” O folly ! O madness ! When other men sin, dost thou find fault with God’s gifts ? And what great madness is this ? What ? did the wine, O man, produce this evil ? Not the wine, but the intemperance of such as take an evil delight in it. Say then, ” Would there were no drunkenness, no luxury;” but if thou say, ” Would there were no wine,” thou wilt say, going on by degrees, ” Would there were no steel, because of the murderers; no night, because of the thieves; no light, because of the informers ; no women, because of adulteries;” and, in a word, thou wilt destroy all.   But do not so; for this is of a Satanical mind; do not find fault with the wine, but with the drunkenness; and when thou hast found this self-same man sober, sketch out all his unseemliness, and say unto him, Wine was given, that we might be cheerful, not that we might behave ourselves unseemly ; that we might laugh, not that we might be a laughing-stock ; that we might be healthful, not that we might be diseased; that we might correct the weakness of our body, not cast down the might of our soul.   God honoured thee with the gift, why disgrace thyself with the excess thereof?

Hear what Paul saith, Use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake, and thine of ten infirmities.” But if that Saint, even when oppressed with disease, and enduring successive sicknessess, partook not of wine, until his Teacher suffered him; what excuse shall we have, who are drunken in health ? To him indeed He said, Use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake; but to each of you who are drunken, He will say, ” Use little wine, for thy fornications, thy frequent filthy talking, for the other wicked desires to which drunkenness is wont to give birth.” But if ye are not willing, for these reasons, to abstain ; at least on account of the despondencies which come of it, and the vexations, do ye abstain. For wine was given for gladness, Yea, wine, so it is said, maketh glad the heart of man3: but ye mar even this excellence in it.

The Consensus View

There is such an abundance of evidence that the Reformers, British Puritans, American Puritans, Particular Baptists, and other godly men and women drank wine, ale, and the like without fear of sin — for they did so in moderation. It was often safer to drink wine and ale than water due to the lack of modern purification methods in their day. Such drinks, especially ale, accompanied most meals, most celebrations, and could even be found in places of worship when beverages were needed. Again, we are speaking of Christians who drank as such — not the drunken, revelrous heathen world. To say that it is a sin to drink in moderation is to slander the character of an innumerable number of brethren. To accuse someone of sin, when God does not, makes you judge and jury and it erects walls that needlessly separate the brethren. The true sin is not in drinking in moderation, but in condemning those that do when God calls such use a blessing. It is judging by appearance, by men’s thoughts on the matter, and not by God’s word; therefore it is the opposite of judging with righteous judgment.

The following articles provide some good information on the subject but my linking to them should not be deemed a blanket endorsement of all they say on this matter or anything else:

For samples of the Orthodox Jewish testimony on the matter, please see my section on it found at the following link: http://lookuntothelord.com/2012/04/05/a-biblical-look-at-wine-in-light-of-the-atoning-work-of-christ-part-3/

Common Objections

Even if it is not a sin, Christians should not drink.

If it were wrong for Christians to drink, why would God fail to inform us of this? God sets clear limits on drinking, but He never forbids it for all Christians. Consider the following examples:

Leviticus 10:9 Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: [it shall be] a statute for ever throughout your generations:

God did not command Aaron and his sons “Do not drink wine nor strong drink ever;” instead, He limited the prohibition to drinking before they went into the tabernacle of the congregation. The clear implication is that it was okay for them to drink, but not in the Tabernacle or before going therein. We see similar language in Ezekiel 44:21 “Neither shall any priest drink wine, when they enter into the inner court.” To open up the passages, consider John Gill on the matter:

when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die; they might drink wine at other times, in a moderate manner; but it seems by this they were not to drink any at all when they were about to go to service, or to enter into the tabernacle in order to do it: indeed, according to the Jewish canons, every priest that is fit for service, if he drinks wine, it is forbidden him to enter in (to the tabernacle, and so) from the altar (of burnt offering) and inward (into the holy place); and if he goes in and does his service it is profane (unlawful and rejected), and he is guilty of death by the hand of heaven; and he that drinks the fourth part (of a log) of wine at one time, of wine forty days old; but if he drinks less than a fourth part of wine, or drinks a fourth part and stops between, and mixes it with water, or drinks wine out of the press within forty days (i.e. not quite so many days old), though more than a fourth part, he is free, and does not profane his service…

Neither shall any priest drink wine,…. That is, to excess, immoderately, so as to be inebriated with it,  Le 10:9, should not be given to it, and greedy of it, and drink it so as to disguise themselves: this is reckoned among the qualifications of a Gospel minister, 1Ti 3:3, otherwise it is not forbidden good men, or ministers of the word, to drink wine, for health’s sake, and for the refreshment of nature, provided it is done in moderation, 1Ti 5:23, and particularly care should be taken that they drink it in such a manner, when they enter into the inner court: to attend divine service, since immoderate drinking affects the memory; and such may forget the law and doctrines of the Lord they are to deliver or hear; and may put them upon saying and doing that which is improper and indecent: drunkenness in any Christian professor is abominable, especially in a minister of the word; and when it appears in his ministration, it is scandalous to the last degree.

Concerning Nazarites, God stated:

Numbers 6:1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When either man or woman shall separate [themselves] to vow a vow of a Nazarite, to separate [themselves] unto the LORD:  3 He shall separate [himself] from wine and strong drink, and shall drink no vinegar of wine, or vinegar of strong drink, neither shall he drink any liquor of grapes, nor eat moist grapes, or dried. 4 All the days of his separation shall he eat nothing that is made of the vine tree, from the kernels even to the husk… 13 And this [is] the law of the Nazarite, when the days of his separation are fulfilled… 20 the Nazarite may drink wine.

The Nazarite, while under His vow could not drink alcoholic beverages; however, once the separation was fulfilled, he was free to do so. In fact, many Orthodox Jews believe that Nazirs were commanded to do so; consider the articles titled Nasso and Parshas Naso. In the AV/KJV, verse 20 states that “the Nazarite may drink wine…” However, the more literal Young’s Literal Translation states “afterwards doth the Nazarite drink wine.” According to the linked website (which is confirmed by others):

The Qal (קַל ) is the basic verbal stem which indicates active voice (though some passive forms do exist) and the unnuanced type of action. For example: שָמַע (he heard). The imperfect conjugation is used to express incomplete action and is usually translated as present tense (I walk) or future tense (I will walk). The imperfect also denotes habitual or customary action – past, present, or future tense. The imperfect may also be rendered as one of several modal values (would, should, can, etc.) which are suggested by context and syntax.

This definition of the verb form affirms, or at least affirms the reasonableness of, the argument that Nazirs/Nazarites were commanded to drink wine after their vow was completed. Thus, in light of all of the above, like Aaronic priests the prohibition against wine and strong drink was not absolute, but conditional. John the Baptist was a Nazarite, that is why they compared Jesus to Him saying that he abstained but Jesus did not (Luke 7:33-35). In Luke 1:13-15 we read “But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. 14 And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. 15 For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb.” Dr. Gill on Luke 1:15 states:

and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; which were forbidden the Nazarites, Nu 6:3 where the Jews, by “wine”, understand “new wine”; and by “strong drink”, old wine: so all the “three Targums”, of Onkelos, Jonathan ben Uzziel, and the Jerusalem, paraphrase the words there, “from wine new and old, he shall separate himself”; and they allow strong drink to a Nazarite, that has no wine in it: their canon {r} runs thus, “three things are forbidden a Nazarite, defilement, and shaving, and whatever proceeds from the vine, whether fruit, or the refuse of fruit; but strong drink made of dates, or dried figs, and such like, is free for a Nazarite; and the strong drink which is forbidden him in the law, is strong drink made of mixture of wine.” But the Hebrew word, שכר, and which is here retained by the evangelist, signifies {s} any sort of liquor, which is inebriating, whether it is made of fruits, or honey, or what not. The Jews had no such strong drink as ours, which we call beer or ale; but they speak of the strong drink of the Medes, which they say was an inebriating liquor, made of barley {t}:

What of David? Would any argue that he and his ten men poured out the wine given to them by Abigail in righteous indignation? We read in 1 Samuel 25:18 “Then Abigail made haste, and took two hundred loaves, and two bottles of wine, and five sheep ready dressed, and five measures of parched [corn], and an hundred clusters of raisins, and two hundred cakes of figs, and laid [them] on asses.” I definitely do not believe that they poured it out; especially given that we read in 2 Samuel 6:18-19 that David later gave his own wine to others: “And as soon as David had made an end of offering burnt offerings and peace offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the LORD of hosts. 19 And he dealt among all the people, [even] among the whole multitude of Israel, as well to the women as men, to every one a cake of bread, and a good piece [of flesh], and a flagon [of wine].”

Concerning Daniel, some may argue that he did not drink of the king’s wine, so that proves wine is bad (Daniel 1:5-16). Yet, Daniel did not eat of the king’s meat either; does that prove that meat is bad?  Moreover, Daniel never taught that he never drank wine. In Daniel 10:2 we read “In those days I Daniel was mourning three full weeks.  3 I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.” The strong implication is that after the three weeks, Daniel ate bread, drank wine, and anointed His head with oil (again we see the common link between bread/corn/grain/wheat, wine, and oil).

Kings are prohibited from drinking and Christians are spiritual kings

First note that kings are not prohibited from drinking wine or strong drink; they are advised against it, especially beyond that which is moderate. But consider the two passages that some tie-in to form this argument.

Proverbs 31:4 [It is] not for kings, O Lemuel, [it is] not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink: 5 Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted. 6 Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts. 7 Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.

Revelation 1:4 John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace [be] unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne; 5 And from Jesus Christ, [who is] the faithful witness, [and] the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, 6 And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him [be] glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

The argument goes that since we are spiritual kings, we ought not drink wine since King Lemuel (Solomon) warns “[It is] not for kings, O Lemuel, [it is] not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink.” Solomon was not saying here that God forbids the drinking of wine for kings; the Lord Jesus is King of Kings and Lord of Lords and the Scripture strongly implies that He drank wine. We saw that king David received the wine from Abigail. Nonetheless, we need to consider what this passage means.

King Solomon, as most commentators believe, is proclaiming moderation and not complete abstinence. For one, they point to the fact that the king has wine. The passage states “Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts…” The advice for kings not to drink wine and strong drink is followed by advice to kings to give others wine and strong drink. If the king has it to give, it suggests that he keeps a supply on hand. Why would it be a sin to drink wine, but not to own it and give it to others to drink? Moreover, the godly commentators (Gill, Henry, etc.) all see this passage as a warning against excess, not moderate use as per their quotes above.

Consider also that if we make kings spiritual and try to argue that since believers are kings, none should ever drink wine or strong drink — why can we not make the ready to perish and heavy-hearted spiritual also? Many Christians experience great sorrow, depression, etc.; many feel like they are perishing and heavy-hearted. Concerning the same Hebrew word for perish, ‘abad (H6), Job stated that “The blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon me: and I caused the widow’s heart to sing for joy” (Job 29:13); the Psalmist stated “I have gone astray like a lost (perishing) sheep; seek thy servant; for I do not forget thy commandments” (Psalm 119:176 ). Likewise, heavy-hearts is mar and nephesh and we see that again in Job 10:1 “My soul is weary of my life; I will leave my complaint upon myself; I will speak in the bitterness of my soul.” In 2 Samuel 17:8, Hushai said to Absalom, concerning King David, “thou knowest thy father and his men, that they be mighty men, and they be chafed in their minds, as a bear robbed of her whelps in the field: and thy father is a man of war, and will not lodge with the people.”

At times, Christians in this life are just as much heavy-hearted and nigh perishing as we are kings. Does this precept mean that we ought to run out and down a bottle of wine? No, we have the heavenly wine of which we should partake (the Gospel in the blood of Christ). However, to make our hearts gladdened or merry, and for our health’s sake, drinking  in moderation is no sin.

John the Baptist was a Nazarite and did not drink; we should be like John

John the Baptist was a Nazarite; God sometimes called people to be Nazarites from the womb of their mothers and forbade them (the mother or child) to drink for the time He specified (sometimes all their lives). We do not take it upon ourselves to become Nazarites in our day nor to make our children Nazarites; this was God’s doing in the Old Testament economy — no one is called to be a Nazarite today. If anyone thinks that we should be, let them keep the accompanying sacrifices and rituals as well as the rest of the Old Covenant ceremonial law. If the Christian, as a “spiritual Nazarite,” is to abstain from drinking (alcoholic) wine — is he also to abstain from grape juice, peanut butter and grape jelly, and raisin bran since Numbers 6:2 declares:

“Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When either man or woman shall separate [themselves] to vow a vow of a Nazarite, to separate [themselves] unto the LORD: 3 He shall separate [himself] from wine and strong drink, and shall drink no vinegar of wine, or vinegar of strong drink, neither shall he drink any liquor of grapes, nor eat moist grapes, or dried.   

Wine and strong drink represent judgment, so wine is bad

Wine is used in a negative since, as a type of spiritual confusion and of God’s resulting judgment; however, this ties-in not with moderation but with drunkenness. The abuse of wine by the ungodly typifies being drunk with, or immersed in, the false wine of this world, i.e. false gospels, as opposed to the good wine that represents the blood of Christ and the gospel that flows from it. Consider:

Psalm 60:1 O God, thou hast cast us off, thou hast scattered us, thou hast been displeased; O turn thyself to us again. 2 Thou hast made the earth to tremble; thou hast broken it: heal the breaches thereof; for it shaketh. 3 Thou hast shewed thy people hard things: thou hast made us to drink the wine of astonishment.

Psalm 75:7 But God [is] the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another. 8 For in the hand of the LORD [there is] a cup, and the wine is red; it is full of mixture; and he poureth out of the same: but the dregs thereof, all the wicked of the earth shall wring [them] out, [and] drink [them].

Proverbs 4:14 Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil [men]. 15 Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away. 16 For they sleep not, except they have done mischief; and their sleep is taken away, unless they cause [some] to fall. 17 For they eat the bread of wickedness, and drink the wine of violence. 18 But the path of the just [is] as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. 19 The way of the wicked [is] as darkness: they know not at what they stumble.

Proverbs 23:19 Hear thou, my son, and be wise, and guide thine heart in the way. 20 Be not among winebibbers; among riotous eaters of flesh: 21 For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe [a man] with rags.

Jeremiah 25:15 For thus saith the LORD God of Israel unto me; Take the wine cup of this fury at my hand, and cause all the nations, to whom I send thee, to drink it. 16 And they shall drink, and be moved, and be mad, because of the sword that I will send among them.

Revelation 14:8 And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication. 9 And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive [his] mark in his forehead, or in his hand, 10 The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb.

Revelation 16:19 And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath.

However, wine does indeed point to the atoning blood of Christ because the Lord Jesus endured the fiery wrath and judgment of God on our behalf. For an in-depth look into this matter, please see:

http://lookuntothelord.com/2012/03/28/a-biblical-look-at-wine-in-light-of-the-atoning-work-of-christ-part-1/

The Bible says that Wine is a Mocker and we shouldn’t drink.

Proverbs 20:1 “Wine [is] a mocker, strong drink [is] raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.”

Every word counts in the Bible; every word. We cannot just dismiss words or take verses out of their immediate context and the overall biblical context. The key word is deceived; if you drink in moderation and remember that “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God, (1 Corinthians 10:31),” then you will not need to worry about being “deceived thereby.” We must look at the nuances of the language and the choice of each word. The context is not moderate use but being deceived by drunken intoxication.

The word deceived is shagah [שׁגה – H7686; shaw-gaw’] and literally means in its contextual verb form to err, stray; to swerve, meander, reel, roll, be intoxicated, err (in drunkenness); to go astray (morally); to commit sin of ignorance or inadvertence, err (ignorantly). When we read that yayin is a mocker and shekar is a raging, it would do us good to consider the actual intent. This entire verse is talking about drinking wine/yayin to the point wherein you are deceived into becoming a mocker or scorner by it. Likewise, it is speaking of drinking strong drink to the point wherein you rage (lit. growl; murmur; roar; be in a stir; be in a commotion; be boisterous/turbulent). Anyone who drinks ale, wine, or any other such thing knows that, in moderation, most people do not reach this point.   

Some make the argument that you should not drink in case you do not know your limitations. If you know or suspect that you have very low tolerance, be even more on guard. If you have a family history of addiction of any kind, be on guard all the more. In fact, why not play it safe and abstain if you know that you have a proneness or family history of excess.   As stated, I am not trying to encourage anyone to drink; abstain if you trust it is right for you and yours. My point is that we must never slander the brethren, dissemble from them for ungodly reasons (including arguments based upon man’s traditions), or otherwise call evil that which God has called good — and not just good but a blessing when rightly used by the people of God.

We are commanded to look not upon the wine when it is red, so drinking wine must be a sin.

Again, we have to read verses in context; Proverbs 23:29-35 declares:

Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? 30 They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. 31 Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, [when] it moveth itself aright. 32 At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.  33 Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things. 34 Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast.  35 They have stricken me, [shalt thou say, and] I was not sick; they have beaten me, [and] I felt [it] not: when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again.

God tells us specifically that this passage is addressed to those who “tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine.” Those who ‘achar [H309 in the Piel Participle form] are those who delay, wait, stay behind in the wine. Those who chaqar [H2713, search; explore; examine thoroughly] mixed wine, when we look at this word in the immediate and biblical context, are not those who partake of it in moderation — but those who seek it out to the point of searching for it (longing for it, like an addiction). Those in such a state are the ones whom God commands to “Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup…” A Christian drinking in moderation, unto the glory of God, is simply not tarrying long at the wine.

Consider these three very relevant passages:

1 Timothy 3:1 This [is] a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. 2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;  3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;2  4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; 5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) 6 Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.3  7 Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. 8 Likewise [must] the deacons [be] grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;

Titus 1:6 If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. 7 For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre;

Titus 2:1 But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine: 2 That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. 3 The aged women likewise, that [they be] in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;

We see in the above passages a sort of parallel to Proverbs 31:4-7. Just as with the king, godly men and women (especially elders, deacons, and the aged women), must avoid excess of wine and strong drink. But notice that neither the elder nor deacon is prohibited from drinking wine; if they are not prohibited from drinking, why would anyone else be (unless of course they have a preexisting condition that warrants such a prohibition; but this would be a medical rationale and not an expressly biblical one). Concerning elders in 1 Timothy 3:3 and Titus 1:7, the phrase given to wine is paroinos [παροινος G3943; par’-oy-nos] which means drunken, staying near wine, or (often) near or beside wine (so as to drink). Elders (pastors, bishops, etc.) can drink with a free conscience; however, they are not to be often near wine with the intent to drink.

Concerning deacons and the aged women, we are told that they must not be given to much wine. This phrase is different from the one for elders; it is made up of three Greek words:

prosecho (given): προσεχω G4337; pros-ekh’-o; which means bringing to, bringing near, turning the mind to, attending to, attentive to, taking heed to, holding unto, holding near, holding the mind towards (paying attention to, applying oneself to, adhering to);

polus (much): πολυς G4183; pol-oos’; which means many, much, large, great (amount)

 oinos (wine): οινος G3631; oy’-nos; which means… wine.

If drinking wine is a sin, why is there a distinction concerning its use between deacons and elders? Also, why would they be told not to overly heed, or be too near, wine if they were prohibited from drinking it altogether? Why not say “do not drink wine or strong drink” and leave it at that? It is because God causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth; 15 And wine [that] maketh glad the heart of man, [and] oil to make [his] face to shine, and bread [which] strengtheneth man’s heart (Psalm 104:14-15) — and that blessed use extends to God’s under-shepherds as well.

Also, if we believe that God chose His words carefully and perfectly, then we must note that He stated much wine. Clearly, just as much is bad — moderation is good.

Excess does not mean excess

We read in:

Ephesians 5:15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, 16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord [is]. 18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;

One argument states that since excess in Ephesians 5:18 is the Greek word asotia [ἀσωτία; G810; (as-o-tee’-ah)] which literally means no salvation/deliverance or unsavedness, but its implied meaning is profligacy,  then all drinking is the equivalent to acting unsaved. Consider the use of asotia in the Bible:

Titus 1:6 If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. 7 For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; 8 But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate;

1 Peter 4:4 Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with [them] to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of [you]: 5 Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead. 6 For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.

God is not teaching that if a person drinks in moderation, he is acting unsaved, like a prodigal, in riot and excess. We know this because the word methusko [μεθύσκω G3182; meth-oos’-ko] is used not to denote those made joyous or cheerful by wine in a moderate sense, but those who were intoxicated unto drunkeness. By the way, what is in view is being drunk with wine — not drunk from the sugar high of too much unfermented grape juice.

Also, 1 Peter 4:3  declares” For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries…” the word excess of wine in this passage does mean excess;it is the word is oinophlugia [οινοφλυγια; G3632; oy-nof-loog-ee’-ah] and it comes from oinos [G3631-wine] and phluaros [φλυαρος; G539; floo’-ar-ros — from phluo (to bubble)]. Phluaros means tattler; the uttering or doing silly things, garrulous, babbling; the utterer of things, foolish, trifling, vain; excessively talkative; a prater. If you drink to the point wherein you are doing such things — it is excess — it is sin. If you are not so doing, then no one should twist scripture to make it teach that moderate use (use that does not lead to such ills) is also sin.

Causing our brethren to stumble is a sin

Romans 14:21 teaches that “[It is] good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor [any thing] whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.” You are not causing your brother to stumble by drinking outside of his presence or by not arguing with him about it if he tries to push the point. If a weak brother is against drinking, leave it be and abstain from drinking in front of him or discussing the matter if it causes contention. If he starts to try to convince you, discuss it calmly and give the biblical arguments that evidence the liberty and blessings associated with drinking in moderation. If it goes nowhere, becomes hostile (on the other person’s part), etc., simply back off and politely move on to other topics. Make every effort not to turn the matter into a debate, a cause for contention, or a matter of separation. Simply redirect and talk about other things.

If the other party does not leave it alone, and continues to accuse you of sin for drinking moderately (or for not agreeing with him about drinking moderately), strive to let it be. Do not fight back, do not defend yourself, just let it go. If you must state something, let it be biblical… something along the lines of ‘Let not him that [drinketh in moderation] despise him that [drinketh not]; and let not him which [drinketh not] judge him that [drinketh in moderation]: for God hath received him. 4 Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand….10 But why dost thou judge thy brother?’

If the weak brother continues to judge you unrighteously despite your moderation, and your abstinence in his or her presence, it is their sin; they will answer to God for it (temporally speaking of course, for eternally, all sins are forgiven the child of God). We ought not revile, condemn, or look down upon them in return. If we must walk away for a season, we should do so. It is better to leave things alone than to try and win the point… there should be no Pyrrhic victories amongst brethren.

Wine really means unfermented, non-alcoholic, grape juice

Please consider the following passages:

Genesis 9:20 And Noah began [to be] an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard: 21 And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent.

Genesis 19:30 And Lot went up out of Zoar, and dwelt in the mountain, and his two daughters with him; for he feared to dwell in Zoar: and he dwelt in a cave, he and his two daughters. 31 And the firstborn said unto the younger, Our father [is] old, and [there is] not a man in the earth to come in unto us after the manner of all the earth: 32 Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father.

In the Old Testament, the word wine is yayin [יין H3196 (yah’- yin); from an unused root meaning to effervesce]; it literally means wine (as fermented) and, by implication, it means intoxication. This is the same fermented, intoxicating wine spoken of in Psalm 104:14-15 (quoted above) as a blessing. We have already visited the Greek word oinos, and how it is used in relation to elders, deacons, the aged women, and to the medicinal effects of wine.

Given that no one would be accused of being a winebibber for drinking unfermented grape juice, and given that grape juice does not make the heart merry or gladdened any more that apple or orange juice, I think it is clear that wine and strong drink pertains to alcohol.

For the entire study on the true nature of wine, please see: http://lookuntothelord.com/2012/03/28/a-biblical-look-at-wine-in-light-of-the-atoning-work-of-christ-part-1/ — For a quick rebuttal to the two wine (grape juice) arguments, please see http://godofcomfort.com/Special_Studies/Wine/2WineTheory.htm

The Strength of Wine and Ale Has Changed

Wine and ale is no stronger today than it was in ancient times or even in near modern times. Some will try to argue that the ale and wine used by the Reformers, Puritans, etc. was not as strong as ours today. One would have to convince the Bavarian breweries of this since they have been using the same methods and formula for certain types of beer, by German law, for hundreds of years now.

Sure there was grog (see also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grog) and “small beer” for younger children; however, adults, especially adult males (including godly adult males), drank real wine and real beer. See:

http://www.history.org/foundation/journal/holiday07/drink.cfm

We are commanded to not give the appearance of evil; drinking gives the appearance of evil.

Drinking in moderation does not inherently give the appearance of evil; it may cause pharisees, weaker brethren, and some otherwise strong brethren to stumble, but it never gives the appearance of evil in and of itself.  To prove this, we must first define biblically what it means to give the appearance of evil. Please see https://spiritualwrestlings.com/2012/03/29/traditions-of-men-defining-the-appearance-of-evil/ for details.

To God be the glory.

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