Drinking Alcohol is Sinful – Jess Whitlock

Jess Whitlock

You can make alcohol legal in America, which we have most assuredly done; but you can never ever make it right! The problem arises when someone reads the word “wine” 194 times in the Old Testament and 37 times in the New Testament. The student then turns to Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary and reads: “the fermented juice of fresh grapes used as a beverage.” There’s the rub! President Ronald Regan once said, “Within the covers of that single Book (The Bible JLW) are all the answers to all the problems that face us today, if we would only read and believe.”

There are over 500 references to drink and drinking in God’s Word. Some are warnings, some are commendations, some are condemnations. That is why “study” is commanded (2 Tim. 2:15). Three Hebrew words are in the forefront:

  1. Yayin (pronounced wine), occurs 140 times, refers to that which is pressed or squeezed from the fruit, many times the grape (Exo. 29:40; Num. 6:3; Neh. 5:15; Isa. 5:11).

  2. Tirosh is found 32 times, associates with wheat, corn, oil, and sometimes can be eaten or vine-fruit, always commended (Num. 18:12; Deut. 28:51; Neh. 10:39).

  3. Shekar is found 42 times, comes from sources other than grapes, always condemned with woes and sorrow (Lev. 10:9; Num. 6:3; Deut. 14:26; Pro. 31:6; Isa. 24:9; 28:7; 56:12).

There are 6 other Hebrew words rendered “wine.” “Strong drink” is found 57 times in the Old Testament; only one time in the New Testament.

In the New Testament we have two words in Koine Greek.

  1. Oinos (corresponds to the Hebrew yayin and tirosh, but not shekar). Oinos is found 33 times, and is the general word for wine. The context must determine the intoxicating ability. Many have concluded that all “wine” in Bible times was intoxicating. Ancient writers such as Aristotle, Horace, Josephus, Pliny, Plutarch, et al. cite four processes by which the ancients could preserve fruit juices to prevent fermentation: boiling, filtration, subsidence, or fumigation with the use of Sulphur.

  2. Gleukos is found only in Acts 2:13. It is defined as “sweet wine, must (fresh juice, JLW), new wine” (Vine’s & Strong).

Gary Summers has noted that “Vine and Strong, after giving the proper definition of the word, then try to re-define it according to their interpretation of Acts 2:13, which is faulty. Wine that is sweet and new is not intoxicating…” Brother Summers cites the Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, stating that “gleukos means strictly (unfermented juice of grapes); hence, sweet new wine.” (Spiritual Perspectives, Vol, 8, No. 45).

We have three accounts of the “Last Supper”: Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; and Luke 22:15-20. In each account we read that Jesus “took a cup…the fruit of the vine…” Not one of the Gospel writers uses the word wine. The vine does not produce alcohol. None can doubt that the bread was “unleavened.” Leaven causes fermentation and was not accepted in Old Testament sacrifices (Lev. 2:11; Exo. 34:25; etc.) Leaven was not allowed in the houses of the Hebrews during the time of Feats of the Tabernacles (Exo. 12:15-20). The bread was unleavened, so why would any insist on fermented wine? The text specifies: “fruit of the vine.” Alcohol is the result of decay, so we know the drink was not fermented!

The favorite “sugar stick” of the “sipping saints” among us is found in John 2:1-11, the wedding feast in Cana, where Christ performed the first miracle. Christ changed water into wine! Christ lived and died under the Old Testament economy. God forbade even looking upon an intoxicating drink (Pro. 23:30-32). Christ miraculously created almost 150 gallons of the “best wine.” My Lord did not create one single drop of a fermented, intoxicating beverage.

I once visited my aunt in a congregation in north Texas. The class was in a study of John chapter 2. The teacher was doing a good job with the text. After a while, I heard a voice behind me, and a man stating: “we had better not leave the impression that it’s wrong to imbibe alcoholic drinks, because we have friends and neighbors who do drink!” A couple of other chimed in agreement. I waited as long as I could and held up my hand. I made the comment that Jesus “hath been in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin(Heb. 4:15). I observed that Christ had to be without sin to be our perfect sin-offering. I had the class to read from the prophet, Habakkuk: “Woe unto him that giveth his neighbor drink, to thee that addest thy venom (fury), and makes him drunken…” (Hab. 2:15). I observed that if Christ caused one wedding guest to drink an intoxicating beverage, then our Lord sinned, and we are left without a Savior! (Heb. 9:12-15; 10:7-17). I even got a few “amens.” “Wine is a mocker strong drink is a brawler; and whosever erreth thereby is not wise” (Pro. 20:1). If one is not wise, then he must be otherwise!

Lest we forget, Paul has listed “drunkenness” as a “work of the flesh” (Gal. 5:21). Mr. Webster actually agrees with Vine’s, Thayer, Strong’s, Robinson, and a host of others that the sin of drunkenness involves “habitual intoxication.” Paul plainly taught that those who partake of drink “shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” Paul had written to the church at Corinth to warn that “the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God…drunkards… and such were some of you…” (1 Cor. 6:9-11). Notice please, that in listing nine sins that will send your soul to hell, Paul stated such “were” not “are” some of you. They had been, but not any longer!

The Word of God condemns the first drink of any alcoholic beverage. Let your fingers do the walkin’ and let the Bible do the talkin’. “And be not drunken with wine, wherein is riot; but be filled with the Spirit;” (Eph. 5:18). Some will say the verse only condemns being drunken, and not taking a drink. Let’s look a little closer…the word “drunken” is from methusko, which signifies “to make drunk, or to grow drunk (an inceptive verb, marking the process or the state expressed in # 1) to become intoxicated” (Vine). “Inceptive” means expressing the beginning of an action. Thayer says: “to make drunk, to get drunk, become intoxicated.” In today’s vernacular Paul wrote, “Do not even begin to become drunk.” I have a friend, a member of the church and of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol. He once told me that when a person takes one drink, that person is “one drink drunk.” Paul and the OHP condemn even that first drink.

The Christian is constantly admonished to be sober: (1 The. 5:6-8; 1 Tim. 3:2; 1 Pet. 1:13; 4:7; 5:6-8). Joel referred to wine that is dried up in the field (Joel 1:10); can someone explain how such could cause intoxication? Isaiah wrote of those that tread out the wine (Isa. 16:10) and Amos told of grapes being trodden (Amos 9:13); how intoxicating was that wine at the time? Joseph took grapes and pressed them into Pharaoh’s cup (Gen. 40:11); from the moment the juice left the grape and hit the cup, how much fermentation could have taken place?

History recalls a time in America known as “Prohibition Law,” enacted as the 18th Amendment of the Constitution in 1919. For some 14 years it was illegal for Americans to sell and/or consume alcoholic beverages. The 18th Amendment shut down 177,790 saloons and 1,775 breweries. America saw crime decrease 54%, the death rate due to alcohol consumption decreased by 42%, 97 of the 98 Keely Alcoholic Cure Clinics went out of business, insanity decreased by 66% and all 60 Neel Cure Clinics closed.

Then, in 1933 the 18th Amendment was repealed. The following year drunkenness (a work of the flesh) increased by 350%, major St. Louis hospitals alone recorded a 400% increase of alcoholic patients. Believe it or not, most history books in school classrooms refer to the days of prohibition as being the “scourge of American liberty”! By 1929 the Prohibition Bureau had arrested more than 500,000 violators. To charge that Prohibition was a “scourge” or that “it did not work” is simply to bury one’s head in the proverbial sand! Prohibition did drastically reduce the consumption of the beverage alcohol.

Alcohol abuse is nothing new. The ancient Egyptians offered advice to imbibers of alcohol in a book of etiquette dated c. 1,500 B.C. The book in Egyptian hieroglyphics is entitled, The Making of Ani. It states in part:

Make not thyself helpless in drinking in the beer shop. For will not the words of thy report repeated slip out from thy mouth without thy knowing that thou hast uttered them? Falling down thy limbs will be broken and no one will give thee a hand to help thee up. As for thy companions in the swilling of beer, they will get up and say, ‘outside with this drunkard.’

America is under attack from alcohol on a daily basis. Alcohol is a drug. Ethyl alcohol is contained in beer, wine, and whiskey. It is a depressant designed to dull inhibitions and to decrease self-control. America spends in excess of $60,000,000,000 per year on alcohol related problems. Annually our nation consumes more than 270,000,000 gallons of hard liquor, 1,600,000,000 gallons of beer, and 170,000,000 gallons of wine. The beverage alcohol contributes annually to 53% of all highway fatalities; 50% of spousal abuse cases; 40% of all child abuse cases; 72% of physical assaults; 69% of deaths by drowning; 70% of sexual abuse cases; and 83% of deaths related to fire.

It is very strange that a Roman Catholic priest welcomed the delegates of the “Small Brewers Convention” in Chicago. From the Roman Ritual, he prayed:

Bless O Lord, this Thy creation, beer, which thou hast designed to produce from the heart of the grain in order that it might be a healthful remedy for mankind. And grant that, through the invocation of Thy holy name, whoever shall drink of it shall receive health of body and safeguard of the soul, through Christ our Lord, Amen.

The H.A. Luvezzi Beer Company warned their drivers they could not drink beer on their lunch breaks. They believed it would be foolish for them to drink beer and then drive one of their eight-ton trucks! The year I graduated that company fired two of their drivers who were caught drinking beer while having lunch. I have never heard of a shoe company that fired its sales people for wearing their shoes. I have never heard of a driver for Pepsi or Coca-Cola being fired for drinking one of them. I have never heard of a driver for Wonder Bread, losing his job for having a sandwich made on Wonder Bread. How about you?

In Ardmore, Oklahoma I once interviewed a judge, a District Attorney, and a member of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol about the subject of beer and alcohol. Here are some of those responses, which I then used in one of my radio programs while in that city:

I know of no other factor that contributes more than drinking to family problems, divorce, and juvenile delinquency, than does alcoholism.”

I see children naked and hungry, whose mothers and fathers waste all their money on it.”

A four-year old was brought into my court for being drunk on the street!”

A teenage-girl whose mother is dead, spent nights on the front porch because she was afraid of being sexually molested by her drunken father.”

A mother had a baby that weighed less at three months of age, than when born, because the mother used money given to her to buy milk, to buy liquor for herself instead.”

Almost every community has at least one place that will sell beer/whiskey to minors.”

Dateline UPI:

Wilson Turner was sitting at a bar in Florida. ‘One more drink for the road won’t hurt’ he thought. He bought another bottle to carry with him. He got into his car and drove home. He was anxious to see his son, Randell, who was in the 5th grade. The nearer he got to home, the faster he drove. Maybe that last drink had dulled his senses. Suddenly from a side street a boy on a bicycle appeared… He swerved to miss, but struck the boy. In fear, he left the scene of the accident. Later the police came to his house and arrested Turner. He was found in the attic with the bottle he had bought, crying, as he tried to drown the event out of his mind. Turner was put in jail, but released long enough to attend the funeral service of the boy his car had struck. This was the worst thing that had ever happened to him in his life…

The newspapers carried this story and added one more fact that you really need to know. The young boy who had been killed was Turner’s only son, Randell! Turner had thought, just one more drink for the road won’t hurt—but it did!

Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it sparkleth in the cup, when it goeth down smoothly: at the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder” (Pro. 23:31-32). Alcohol will send your soul to hell!

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Author: Editor

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