Is drinking alcohol or wine a SIN?

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QUESTION:  What does the Bible say about drinking alcohol or wine? Is it a SIN to do so?

ANSWER:  The Bible has plenty to say about the drinking of alcohol and its relationship to sin (see Judges 13:4, 7, 14, Isaiah 5:11, 22, 24:9, 28:7, 29:9, 56:12, and Proverbs 20:1, 31:4). Jesus made some very interesting comments about the criticism leveled at him and John the Baptist related to their behavior and habits. Some, because he did not have alcohol, were critical of John the Baptist for NOT consuming intoxicating beverages (he was under a Nazarite vow to God). These same folks also condemned Jesus FOR consuming such fermented liquids, even accusing him of being a DRUNK and a winebibber (see Matthew 11:19)! He made several pointed comments regarding what he thought of drinking.

"But to what shall I liken this generation? It is like children . . . saying: 'We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; We mourned to you, and you did not lament.' For John came neither eating nor drinking (alcohol), and they say, 'He has a demon.' The Son of Man came . . . and they say, 'Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' " (Matthew 11:16 - 19)

John's vow precluded him from having not only wine (fermented juice) or alcohol but also grape juice. In fact, he could not even eat any grapes! The primary location in the Scriptures that discusses the Nazarite vow is in the Book of Numbers, Chapter 6.

Jesus drank wine, but he did not sin; therefore, it is not wrong or bad if we do the same as our Savior. In fact, Jesus' own mother, Mary, asked her son to make more of it at the marriage feast in Cana (see John chapter 2). He obeyed His mother even though his time to perform miracles had not yet arrived. He ended up making more wine than the wedding guests could consume. One of the greatest proofs that imbibing the 'fruit of the vine,' in the eyes of God, is not wrong is the fact that drinking it shows Christ died for our transgressions.

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Some Christians believe that the Greek word for wine, which is oinos (Strong's Concordance #3631), means grape juice in the Bible. They therefore believe that Christ and the disciples, during his last Passover, did not partake of a beverage with alcohol in it as a symbol of Christ's shed blood freely given to pay for all sin (see Mark 14, Matthew 26, Luke 22 and 1Corinthians 11:25). This simply could not be the case, as what they were partaking of represented His blood, which pictures life. Wine is fermented grape juice that is active or "living" just as our blood.

Additionally, the Apostle Paul did not think or teach that drinking fermented beverages was wrong. He tells Timothy, who was having stomach trouble, that he should consume some of it for his stomach's sake.

23. No longer drink only water, but use a little wine (Greek oinos) for your stomach's sake and your frequent infirmities (1Timothy 5:23)

The latest scientific findings show that taking a moderate amount of wine may be helpful for our heart and lowers cholesterol and high blood pressure. Of course, the Bible does condemn drunkenness. Lot, Abraham's nephew, got drunk after the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and had sex with his daughters (Genesis 19:23 - 25, 30 - 36).

Paul's letter to Titus states that a minister of God should not be given to alcohol (be an alcoholic, see Titus 1:7). Drunkenness is clearly not acceptable in God's word (1Timothy 3:8). Paul warns us a second time that we should not be taking in intoxicating beverages until we are inebriated.

18. And do not be drunk with wine, in which is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18)

Scripture allows for the drinking of alcohol or wine as long as it is done in moderation. Is it not a sin to partake of these beverages so long as we do not do so until we are drunk, which is something God's word clearly condemns.

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