49-37 Spirit-Controlled Living

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Ephesians 5:18

My 1st assignment as a seminary student was in Hermeneutics class (methods of interpreting Scripture). The assignment was to make observations (primary step of interpretation) of Eph 5:18. We were to make 18 observations about what the text says; 7 what it doesn’t say; 10 analytical questions that would help us interpret.
It was a difficult task—(only 17 words in NASB; 12 in Gk)—my professor (Dr. Rosscup) was very gracious. But that assignment was the beginning of a new way for me to study God’s Word that always starts with observations about what is said in the text and not said.
Eph 5:18—a couple of simple observations
There is a negative command (a prohibition) followed by a positive command.
Vs begins with “and” which links it to the previous discussion of walking in wisdom.
in the middle of the vs “but” which serves as a contrast b/t getting drunk with wine and being filled with the Spirit (Eng. capital “S”—signifying HS).
It is that 1st negative command—a prohibition against getting drunk with wine that we’re going to study this morning.
This is one those “hot-button” topics that are addressed in the Bible. It is a highly charged issue that finds debate and disagreement today—esp in the church (where widely differing views are found).
There are even differing opinions within the world re: the use of alcoholic beverages. Some claim health benefits of drinking wine in moderation: a 2018 study finds benefits relating to:
cardiovascular disease, atherosclerosis, hypertension, certain types of cancer, type 2 diabetes, neurological disorders, metabolic syndrome
Other studies show the dangerous affects of consuming alcohol (long term):
shrinking brain, blackouts, dependency, behavior changes, hallucinations, heart damage, liver damage, cancer, lung infections, pancreatitis, stomach distress, birth defects, thinning bones, malnutrition, changes in coordination.
Clearly there is great danger when people consume alcohol—not the least of which is the danger to other people (2019 28 ppl die of drunk driving related accidents every day; physical/sexual abuse stemming from drinking; homicides and suicides).
The issue that I’d like to address today is the use or non-use of wine (other alcoholic beverages). The Bible has a great deal to say about drinking. In fact, you might be surprised that drinking is permissible (even commended) according to Scripture:
Drink offerings of wine accompanied OT sacrifices (Ex 29:40; Num 15:5). Wine was likely kept in the temple for this purpose.
Psalmist says
Psalm 104:15 (NASB95)
And wine which makes man’s heart glad,
Solomon advises (those under extreme, adverse circumstances)
Proverbs 31:6–7 NASB95
Give strong drink to him who is perishing, And wine to him whose life is bitter. Let him drink and forget his poverty And remember his trouble no more.
1 Timothy 5:23 NASB95
No longer drink water exclusively, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.
Jesus 1st miracle was to turn water into excellent wine; He spoke of Good Samaritan who poured oil and wine on the wounds of the man found beaten along the road (Lk 10:34).
The Bible’s teaching about drinking is not all negative. Like many other things, drinking has the potential for good and evil—so there is an inherent warning regarding drinking in Scripture.
Ephesians 5:18 (NASB95)
And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation
Drinking is not prohibited but drunkeness is. The term refers to intoxication. The question invariably comes up that at what point is a person considered “drunk.” Legal def “A state in which a person's normal capacity to act or reason is inhibited by alcohol or drugs.” We say that person is “under the influence.” People who are drunk say things they would not normally say; do things they would not normally do.
Marvin Vincent in his Word Studies mentions: “A curious use of the word occurs in Homer, where he is describing the stretching of a bull’s hide, which, in order to make it more elastic, is soaked (same term) with fat (“Iliad,” 17:390).”
The comparison is of a person “soaked” with wine—influenced by its introduction into the body. The prohibition is not against drinking but drunkeness. And you don’t get off with a technicality if you get drunk with beer or other alcoholic beverages.
The Bible always condemns drunkeness. Listen to the Word of the Lord:
Proverbs 20:1 NASB95
Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, And whoever is intoxicated by it is not wise.
Galatians 5:19–21 NASB95
Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Luke 21:34 (NASB95) Call to be alert ahead of coming of Christ
“Be on guard, so that your hearts will not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day will not come on you suddenly like a trap;
Romans 13:13 NASB95
Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy.
Isaiah 5:11 NASB95
Woe to those who rise early in the morning that they may pursue strong drink, Who stay up late in the evening that wine may inflame them!
Isaiah 5:22 (NASB95) Directed at judges who render unjustly b/c of influence
Woe to those who are heroes in drinking wine And valiant men in mixing strong drink,
1 Corinthians 6:9–10 NASB95
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.
Lexham Theological Wordbook (Concept Summary) Paul Hartog Writes:
Drunkenness is repeatedly associated with confusion, sorrow, strife, and woe. Biblical texts describe the loss of control, impaired judgment, and debilitating effects associated with drunkenness. It is said to lead to staggering, vomiting, hallucinations, injury, poverty, and sexual dissolution (e.g., Psa 107:27; Prov 23:21, 29–35; 26:20; Isa 19:14; Lam 4:21).
There are numerous examples of the tragic consequences of drunkenness in the Bible:
Noah was observed drunk in his tent after the flood (Gen 9:20)
Lot was involved in incest with his daughters after becoming drunk (Gen 19:30-38)
Amnon (killed by Absalom after becoming “merry with wine” Elah (king of Israel) assassinated after getting drunk.
Prov 23:19-21, 29-35
1 Peter 4:3–4 NASB95
For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties and abominable idolatries. In all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excesses of dissipation, and they malign you;
The reason for the prohibition against drunkenness is “for that is dissipation (debauchery other trss).
That word asotia is derived from the Gk word sozo “to save”. The word asotia (alpha privative) then means “Unsavingness” and refers to the fact that in the condition of drunkenness there is no saving quality but rather a destructive one. One who lives his life as a drunk has abandoned his life in profligacy and debauchery.
Note: Nowhere does the Bible ever call someone who is addicted to alcohol an “alcoholic.” Therapists use that term to imply this person has been a victim. The Bible calls such person a drunk or drunkard—emphasizing that a person is accountable for their actions/lifestyle.
So the issue remains—Bible does not prohibit drinking (but drunkenness) so “is there anything wrong with drinking (assuming it does not lead to excess)?” How do you as a believer know whether drinking is acceptable, and whether you ought to partake of alcohol (any form)?
John MacArthur has several questions that I’d like to have you think about in order to answer that question for yourself.
Since drinking is not forbidden, there is liberty in Christ:
1 Corinthians 10:23 NASB95
All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify.

1) Is It Necessary?

In Bible times, pure water, healthy water was scarce. The safest drink was wine and esp wine with alcoholic content b/c of its antiseptic qualities. Wine was generally added to the water in order to make it fit for consumption. They would dilute the wine into water 20-1. More common was 2 or 3-1 in order to make the water drinkable.
Today, our water is not like theirs. We don’t have issues with safe drinking water that needs to be purified with alcohol. Another issue was using wine for medicinal purposes back then (Paul’s instruction to Timothy). With the advancement of medicine and the understanding of the human body, alcoholic beverages would be at the bottom of the list of numerous remedies for any medical condition.

2) Is It the Best Choice?

B/c drinking is not forbidden in Scripture and really not a necessity for most believers, the issue is a matter of choice. Is it the best one?
Throughout history God has held a higher standard to those in positions of greater responsibility. That was true for the priests:
Leviticus 10:9 NASB95
“Do not drink wine or strong drink, neither you nor your sons with you, when you come into the tent of meeting, so that you will not die—it is a perpetual statute throughout your generations—
It was true for kings and ruler of Israel
Proverbs 31:4–5 NASB95
It is not for kings, O Lemuel, It is not for kings to drink wine, Or for rulers to desire strong drink, For they will drink and forget what is decreed, And pervert the rights of all the afflicted.
Anyone in Israel could choose to set himself apart by taking the Nazirite vow.
Num 6:2-7
A Nazirite (word to consecrate) would last from 30 days to lifetime. Scripture mentions only 3 lifetime Nazirites (Samson, Samuel, John the Baptist). These could not partake of wine.
God did not lower the standard for NT saints—(who are even greater than John the Baptist—Mt 11:11). Elders and pastors cannot be addicted to wine (1 Tim 3:2). The purpose for that command is that the chosen leaders of Christ’s church need clear minds & pure examples as they make decisions—and are held to the highest possible standard.
All saints are to present their bodies as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God (Rom 12:1). And since your body is the temple of the HS, the question should be asked “Is it the best choice?” You’ll have to answer that for yourself.

3) Is It Habit Forming?

For many people, alcohol is very habit forming. I don’t think we know why some people have an overpowering dependency on alcohol while others do not. Those who are weak (believers) are susceptible that dependency. Christ calls you to be dependent on Him. As the head of the church He has come to have first place in everything. Yet as it forms a habit, alcohol causes distractions and disruptions of the brain and bodily functions and interferes with the judgment of the one drinking.
This is why drinking and sexual promiscuity are often seen together in our society. Xns must not only avoid sin but also the potential for sin. We must not allow ourselves to come under the control of anyone or anything—b/c these will lead us away from God and His purpose for us. Be wise in your Xn walk. Be careful of your consumption of alcohol that it not become a habit where you are dependent on it rather than LJC.

4) Is It Potentially Destructive?

Drinking and drunkenness leads to great destruction. Mental, physical, social destruction b/c of it is everywhere. 43.4% of Montana traffic accidents are drinking related (nationally 28.8%). One study found that 42 percent of violent crimes reported to the police involved alcohol, although 51 percent of the victims interviewed believed that their assailants had been drinking.
Roughly one third of individuals struggling with alcohol abuse also suffer from a mental illness. National Alliance on Mental Illness
Alcohol related problems have an untold financial cost to employees and their employers. “Dissipation” describes the self-destruction that comes to those who are disobedient to the Word of the Lord.
The OT often describes the close association b/t drinking and immoral behavior, rebellion, incest, disobedience to parents, violence.
Habakkuk 2:15–16 NASB95
“Woe to you who make your neighbors drink, Who mix in your venom even to make them drunk So as to look on their nakedness! “You will be filled with disgrace rather than honor. Now you yourself drink and expose your own nakedness. The cup in the Lord’s right hand will come around to you, And utter disgrace will come upon your glory.
Is it wise to associate with something that is potentially dangerous?

5) Will It Offend Other Believers?

Causing a fellow believer to stumble is a serious offense for a Xn.
Rom 14:13-21
You may be able to drink with full control in moderation but you cannot guarantee that another Xn who follows your example will try drinking and not become addicted.
Your freedom in Christ stops when it causes harm to another brother or sister in the Lord.
1 Corinthians 8:9 NASB95
But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.

6) Will It Hurt My Testimony of Christ?

1 Cor 10:26-30; 31-33
Sometimes having a drink might make you more acceptable in some circles, but Paul’s primary concern is not to give offense to a brother. The best testimony in that case would be to refuse the unbeliever for the sake of the believer and in that way your witness will be more effective when the one who is not saved sees how much you love the one who is.

7) Is It Right?

Romans 14:22–23 NASB95
The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin.
If you are not fully convinced in your mind that drinking is acceptable and not a sin, then you should not participate in it for the sake of your conscience. Violating your conscience will put you on a path of self-destruction. Your conscience is a God-given gift designed to warn you against something you know to be wrong. If you continually go against your conscience it can become seared to the point where it no longer functions the way God intended. Be very careful of violating the conscience and if your conviction does not allow drinking—don’t.
Consider these questions. And if you’ve come tot he point where you believe drinking is permitted then ask yourself 1 final question “can I glorify God in my drinking?” You may be able to—but give careful consideration.
Paul’s prohibition against drunkenness serves as a fitting contrast to the positive command to be filled with the Spirit. Don’t put yourself under the influence, control of any substance but rather be controlled by the HS of God who indwells you. We’ll study what that looks like in coming weeks.
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