Answer: (The following information can be found in our article on the use of alcohol by Christians.)
“Then the LORD spoke to Aaron, saying: ‘Do not drink wine or intoxicating drink, you, nor your sons with you, when you go into the tabernacle of meeting, lest you die. It shall be a statute forever throughout your generations, that you may distinguish between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean, and that you may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the LORD has spoken to them by the hand of Moses.” (Leviticus 10:8-11) “It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine, nor for princes intoxicating drink; lest they drink and forget the law, and pervert the justice of all the afflicted.” (Proverbs 31:4-5)
Following these Bible passages Jerry Dunn with Bernard Palmer, authors of God is for the Alcoholic, continues:
“Priests were ordered not to drink during their course in the Temple so they could tell the difference between the good and the bad. Kings and princes were not to drink for the same reason. They were to abstain from drinking so they could tell the difference between right and wrong and be fair in their judgment of the people who came before them.
“The book of Revelation states that those who have accepted Christ as Savior are kings and priests: “.and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (Revelation 1: 5-6)
“The apostle Peter also says that we became kings and priests. We are members of a royal family. “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” (1 Peter 2:9)
“Because of our salvation through faith in Christ we have become sons, the adopted sons of the King. As such we are members of the King’s family, and the orders that went out to the kings and priests apply to us. We are not to drink so that we will have clear judgment and discernment as God’s representatives in this world.
“As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” Jesus told His disciples (John 20:21b). As Christians we are sent to witness, to teach the people. This is the responsibility of the believer. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” the Lord Jesus Christ instructed His disciples (Matthew 28:19). In order to teach we must know the difference between right and wrong.
Therefore I believe that we as Christians are not to drink alcohol.
“On one occasion after I presented this thesis to a youth group a young man got to his feet. ‘The Bible says that the priest isn’t supposed to drink when he’s in the Temple, but what about when he’s outside the Temple? It doesn’t mention that.’
“That’s true,’ I told him. ‘But the Bible also says, “For you are the temple of the living God” (2 Corinthians 6:16b). As believers we are always living in God’s temple. We are to think of ourselves as serving God daily in the temple of our bodies, and to do this we must so live as to be usable to Him.’
“The Christian does not drink because he knows the Lord Jesus Christ personally and is a member of His family. The Christian is a king and a priest, and the Bible specifically says that kings and priests are not to drink. The matter of total abstinence, then, depends upon our love for the Lord Jesus Christ. How much do we love Him?” (God is for the Alcoholic by Jerry Dunn with Bernard Palmer)
I agree with these statements to a point, and I believe Mr. Dunn gave an excellent answer for us as Christians today, and I would highly recommend this book, but I would like to go further and answer the young man’s question about priests and other believers’ use of alcohol in the Old and New Testaments.
I would like to comment, first, that this warning to the priests was a warning given to them specifically about the tabernacle or temple service; and that it came after two men Nadab and Abihu died for drinking alcoholic wine while on duty, causing them to become careless and offer “strange (or profane) fire before the LORD.”
I say this because it is in this same context (in Leviticus 10: 1-11) that these two men were killed. This is an example of what the Lord thinks about believers drinking, and showing deadly consequences that can come from drinking. “Ancient Jewish interpretation taught that they were intoxicated when they came before the LORD, which intensified the gravity of their actions (Leviticus 10: 9).” (New Spirit Filled Bible) So this passage is not teaching that it was only wrong for priests to drink while on duty, but rather the seriousness of drinking alcoholic wine.
I would like to show that there were other warnings also in both the Old and New Testaments, to the average believer not to drink alcohol, and that these warnings were not just directed or restricted to priests or kings. We will see in this study, too, how we can help people with alcohol addiction today.
However, to start with I would like to give a little background to my own life and why I have come to these conclusions, that there are Biblical reasons from the Old and New Testaments why a Christian should not drink alcohol. I will do this, to begin with, by answering some questions that were asked of me through the years on our interactive web Bible Study at Bible-Christian.org.
The following are related questions and the answers given:
(This is a translation of a letter we received about our tract on Wine in the Bible):
“Many people think that the Bible is in agreement with drinking alcohol.” this is how you start your tract. This is not really true that the Bible is not talking about alcohol when the word “wine” is used. Look, you say that the term “wine” is unique in the Bible and is what is referred to in all the Scriptures (that it can be fermented or unfermented depending on the context). Here are my arguments against this view:
Is Paul endorsing the consumption of alcoholic beverages when he instructs Timothy to drink wine for his stomach’s sake in I Timothy 5:23?
Please explain Deuteronomy 14:26 to me. I have been doing an internet search regarding alcoholic beverage consumption and what the Bible has to say. This one verse has really perplexed me because this is the only time I have seen a possible endorsement of intoxicating liquors in the Bible.
I guess I didn’t isolate the part that bothered me. It is the other drink mentioned. The New King James says “wine or similar drink”. The Old King James says “wine or strong drink”. The Complete Jewish Bible says “wine, other intoxicating liquor”. One source I read says the noun in Hebrew means an intoxicating drink. Where did the New King James get “similar”? I was raised in a Baptist church and never ever heard a word about this verse. Do you disagree with the meaning of the Hebrew word for the other drink mentioned with wine?
Christ’s first miracle was the turning of water into wine at the marriage feast. I was always taught that the wine was unfermented. The wine that Lot’s daughters drank was fermented, etc. I guess the bottom line is that I was taught that when it was used in a good way in the Bible it was unfermented, when used in a bad way it was fermented. I believe that Scripture does not contradict itself and that if Jesus turned the water into wine, it must be unfermented, as Jesus knew the Scripture and He would not do anything against it. Can you help? Thanks.
Question: Hello, I was reading your online article about fermented and unfermented wine in the Bible and had a specific question about the passage which I have copied and pasted at the bottom of this message. You said that yayin is unfermented wine or grape juice and then say that Deut. 32:33 tells us that fermented wine is poison. My confusion is Deut. 32:33 uses the Hebrew word yayin to portray that wine was poisonous. It also used specifics here. Saying that Gomorrah’s wine was poisonous not that all wine was poisonous. Please help me to understand this interpretation as I am still trying to get a full understanding of whether wine is okay to drink or not. Thank you for your time and consideration. God Bless. –
These questions and answers cover most of the main issues concerning alcohol in the Bible, but here is another verse that some people claim condones the use of alcohol by Christians.
(Ephesians 5: 17-18) “Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation (intemperance); but be filled with the Spirit.”
If we want to be wise and know what the will of God for our lives as Christians is, it is given to us here in these two verses. First, verse 18 is not condoning the moderate use of alcohol, as some have claimed, but just the opposite. Being filled with wine or using any would be wrong, but being filled with the Holy Spirit is a command to be followed!
“The first command here could better be translated: ‘Do not begin to be drunk with wine.’ Since even a small amount of an intoxicant has a damaging effect on the brain, this command in effect calls for total abstinence from alcohol. Proverbs 23:31 warns against even looking on the wine, lest it tempt one to drink.
“The connotation of ‘filled’ here is ‘being filled.’ That is, the filling with the Spirit is not a once-for-all experience, like the baptism of the Spirit into the body of Christ [1 Corinthians 12:13]. Instead, we are urged to continually be filled with the Spirit-controlled by the Spirit. In a way analogous to how alcohol may control a person’s thoughts and actions, the better way is to allow the Holy Spirit to have control.” (The Defender’s Study Bible, Dr. Henry M. Morris)
Thanks for the question,
Gary T. Panell
For more information email me.