Drink But Don’t Get Drunk?

Is drinking alcohol a sin?

For the Christian, drunkenness is a sin and not to be pursued in any way. Period. It’s not expected of a man or woman to be under the influence of alcohol and be without self-control. Both the Old and New Testament are crystal clear on the subject matter so the problem isn’t so much as to whether drunkenness is acceptable or not; the issue really is whether or not it’s permissible for Christians to drink in moderation. Is it okay to drink but not get drunk? Well, let’s get on with it.

Nowhere in scripture are we told that drinking alcohol is sinful. However, there’s a lot of admonition on how we handle alcoholic beverages. King Solomon described wine as a “mocker” and a “brawler” because of the havoc it wreaked on people’s marriages, families, friendships etc. He was right. Alcohol is very addictive and can have disastrous effects on us. It has the potential to impair one’s judgment often leading to unrestrained behaviours. Already, it’s a struggle to keep ourselves in check even under perfectly sane conditions. MORE GRACE! *looking up to God*. Throwing alcohol into the mix, to me, is like trying to quench fire with petrol. Many people have suffered serious health problems, relationship troubles and premature deaths due to excessive drinking. In US alone, nearly 88,000 people die every year from alcohol-related incidents (check link). Don’t get me wrong. Alcohol isn’t inherently bad. As a matter of fact, God told the people of Israel that they could exchange their tithes with money and use it to buy whatever they liked INCLUDING wine or other fermented drink (see Deuteronomy 14). The Psalmist said that God brings forth food from the earth, and wine that makes glad the heart of man. As I said earlier, drinking isn’t sin but how we handle it determines whether it’s going to be beneficial or harmful to us.

It’s always been my fear that one may cross the line and do something regrettable in their attempt to drink in moderation. I feel like it’s the same story with the many alcoholics out there. They probably intended to drink only soberly but unfortunately became mastered by their booze. It’s one of the many reasons I for one prefer to stay away from alcohol because it’s very addictive plus I can’t really trust myself on staying within limits. But it’s not just about you or me. It’s not so much about knowing our alcohol intake limits. We need to be very mindful of how our actions affect the people around us. Jesus was really strict with the warning against causing others to sin. He said, “Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come BUT WOE TO THE PERSON THROUGH WHOM THEY COME!” It means you’re not only responsible for your actions but also how your actions affect and influence others. Apostle Paul also addressed this same issue of causing others to stumble in most of the letters he wrote. In Romans 14, Paul spoke against eating or drinking or doing anything lawful in a manner that might cause another person to stumble. Oh yes! It’s very possible to do lawful things unlawfully. Eating meat was offensive to the new converts then even though meat in itself wasn’t sinful (they perceived meat as something sacrificed to idols). According to Paul, it was wise for the strong Christians to abstain altogether from eating meat if it was going to hurt someone’s conscience and by extension cause that individual to sin. Paul expected the believers who are strong in faith to apply this same wisdom in their dealing with alcohol. It makes a lot of sense considering the fact that we’re examining the lives of people who prior to salvation performed religious acts of worship to gods in a drunken state. It means most of them were probably drunkards and you sure didn’t want to in anyway reintroduce them to what once a heavyweight in their lives. There’s absolutely no greater love than this: that we do nothing to offend or weaken our neighbor’s faith no matter how permissible or lawful that thing in question may be.

It appears to me that there’s a lot of controversy over the subject of Jesus turning water into wine in the New Testament (see John 2). First of all, if you’re wondering whether Jesus drank wine or not, He probably did. In Luke 7, Christ Himself said He came eating and drinking and the religious leaders tried to launch sham attacks at him by calling him a glutton and a drunkard. In addition to that, wine was used during the Last Supper prior to Christ’s crucifixion. In all these occasions, you can say Jesus probably took in some wine. Ok, so you want to use those instances to excuse your drunkenness? Don’t get it twisted! Nothing about what transpired in any of those instances should endorse anyone to indulge in alcoholism. Wine in those times was quite indispensable in their culture. It was often served alongside meals at home and at ceremonial functions. It had a lesser alcoholic content as compared to what we have in modern times (the process of distillation we use today increases the alcohol content). And what amazes me is the fact that there was the strong urge to drink soberly in an era where drunkenness was a hard feat to achieve. Bruh! you had to chug down lots of wine before you could become intoxicated…an unfortunately easy achievable feat in our time. Anyway, it was pretty hard to do away with wine considering the fact that it was the best healthy liquid alternative they had in a community with little or no safe drinking water. Furthermore, wine had its healthful benefits in the past (as it does in modern times too). Do you remember when Paul instructed Timothy to no longer drink water but use a little wine for the sake of his stomach? Exactly! Paul wasn’t trying to contradict the bible’s warning against intoxication. He urged Timothy to use wine to treat the ailment in his stomach. The fact that Jesus made more wine available at a wedding feast or Timothy drank a little wine for the sake of his stomach doesn’t mean it’s license for anyone to be hooked on to alcoholic beverages. Bible frowns on drunkenness that leads to dissipation – uncontrolled speech and actions – and anyone involved in such illicit acts (according to scripture) would have no place in heaven.

In my opinion, I wish everyone would go with abstinence. It isn’t because abstaining from drinking wine will draw one closer to God. No. Your abstention or involvement in moderate drinking will not make you less/more righteous before God. I just feel abstinence is a better choice looking at the rate at which drunk driving, homicide, sexual assault, violence and other alcohol-related incidents occur. It may not be you or I engaging in these dangerous activities but is it really worth it to lead someone else astray just so we can enjoy some few glasses of wine? We shouldn’t shrug our shoulders and whisper ‘well that’s their problem’ under our breath. If we’re really concerned about the well-being of others, it shouldn’t be a big deal to relinquish our right to do certain things. Not to spite you dear reader, but it’s not like anyone became deficient in vitamins or mineral salts because they did away with alcohol. All I’m saying is we shouldn’t be too keen on wanting to exercise our freedom to either satisfy our personal convictions or prove that we are at liberty to do lawful things. Paul gave up his rights to do so many things just so he could bring salvation to many. I believe it was very tough for him but he rather put up with anything than be an obstacle to the propagation of the Good News of Christ. No matter what, love must always lead.

When asked what the greatest commandment is, Jesus said that the first was to love God with our heart, soul, mind and strength. And that we ought to love our neighbours as ourselves. It’s my sincere prayer that whatever choice(s) we make with respect to drinking wine brings peace and mutual edification to the glory of God. May God grace us with the needed wisdom so that the exercise of our freedom doesn’t hinder the gospel of Christ. Let’s do what we do for the sake of the gospel, so that many may share in its blessings.

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Why is God Violent in the Old Testament but Loving in the New Testament?

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A misconception appears to prevail that God in the Old Testament is very stern and judgmental while He appears to be very soft and forgiving in the New Testament. In his book, Farewell to God, atheist Charles Templeton says:The God of the Old Testament is utterly unlike the God believed in by most practicing Christians” stating that “His justice is, by modern standards, outrageous…He is biased, querulous, vindictive and jealous of His prerogatives.” There are others who are of the view that the God of the OT (Yahweh) is entirely different from the Christian God of the NT. In other words, the Bible presents us with entirely two different Gods and that probably accounts for the difference in their personality traits. I’ll be very honest with you. I’ve also questioned myself a few times concerning this touchy subject. So I decided to do some research here and there and I’ve finally concluded that there’s absolutely NO DIFFERENCE between the nature of God expressed in the Old and the New Testament. Yes! God is the same yesterday, today and forever. The supposed difference one sees with respect to God’s image has got to do with the dispensation and relationship one finds himself/herself in relation to God. Follow me closely as I state and elaborate on the reasons for my stance on the subject matter.

 

To begin with, God is immutable – He DOES NOT change. God does not switch moods like humans. For Him to change His nature at any point in time would mean He’s either changing from worse to better or from better to worse which is highly impossible! The apostle James explained this truth using an interesting phenomenon. He referred to God as the Father of heavenly lights who does not change like shifting shadows. The analogy is that God is fixed in His position like the sun constantly giving off light to the Earth. Day and night only occur because of the Earth’s movement and not that of the sun – the sun doesn’t ever move. God, like the sun, only appears to ‘rise’ and ‘set’ with time but in reality, WE ARE the ones who like planet Earth’s movement, determine what we receive from God.

 

Quite a number of biblical references in the Old Testament tag God as a pitiless and bloodthirsty being who takes pleasure in our pain and suffering. So non-theists and skeptics for example, draw out historical accounts such as (not limited to) the Genesis Flood, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the mass killing of women and children and The Destruction of Jericho as concrete evidence to affirm their claims. But here is the thing: God in the OT is full of wrath and very tyrannical only if you analyze these historical accounts at a surface level. Upon deeper examination, there’s a lot more important aspects to these stories we so easily overlook and that is exactly the point where God is seen for who He truly is. Funnily  enough, our thoughts about God differs vastly from the testimonies of those who were closely associated with Him. People like Abraham, Moses, David and Jonah held different opinions of who God is (positive ones of course). Please turn your Bible to the book of Exodus 34:6-7 as a starter and read it out loud:

6 And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord! the Lord! a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abundant in loving-kindness and truth,

7 Keeping mercy and loving-kindness for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, BUT Who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children, to the third and fourth generation.

This is how God introduced Himself to Moses in the Old Testament. At the mountain top, God told Moses that His grace, mercy and loving-kindness were extremely plentiful and over-sufficient in supply. Action speaks louder than words, right? Well, I’ll go right ahead to cite some few examples to support who God says He is. Cain was one of the first men to experience God’s loving-kindness even after He murdered Abel in cold blood. God had every right to punish Him by death but rather, He stalled the punishment and put a mark on Cain as a form of protection from anyone who sought to kill him. Talk about God’s grace towards Nineveh. These people were exceedingly sinful and God’s anger burned strongly against them. Yet God didn’t wish to see any of them get destroyed. So He sent Jonah to warn them against their immoral acts. Jonah made an interesting statement which is key to the revelation of God’s character. He said: “God! I knew it – when I was back home, I knew this was going to happen!… I knew you were full of grace and mercy, not easily angered, rich in love, and ready at the drop of a hat to turn your plans of punishment to a program of forgiveness!  Amazing! I didn’t read this portion of scripture from Mark’s epistle or any other New Testament book. This is directly from the Old Testament passage (Jonah 4:2)! If you read the story further, you’ll learn that Jonah was rather furious with God for being ‘all too nice’ with the people of Nineveh. Imagine that! Do spend some time to read the whole book of Hosea. You’ll be INCREDIBLY ASTONISHED at the level of patience God has for mankind. But do all these actions seem to be in stark contrast to the brutal killings recorded in the books of old? Well, allow me to use the Genesis Flood story to make my point that God is not less loving in the OT. At a point in time in the history of mankind, sin went out of control. God was heartbroken because of increased sin in the world and therefore decided to rid the earth of every living creature. However, Noah won favor in God’s eyes and this compassionate, slow-to-anger God provided a means  of the salvation for  mankind: Noah’s Ark. Here is what we easily miss out on when we read this account. God did not only help Noah build this huge ark to save himself and his family from the pending flood, He actually made Noah a preacher of righteousness and salvation to the other inhabitants who were still living in sin (2 Peter 2:5). Dear reader, God was very gracious then! God created an opportunity for these evil, rebellious people to repent and be saved from their sins while they were champion sinners. According to this article, it took Noah about 75 years to construct the Ark meaning that these stiff-necked people were exposed to the message of salvation for as long as 75 years! But what did they do with it? They laughed at Noah (probably thought of him as a delusional being) and rejected God’s grace. How do you possibly blame God for your misfortunes when you despise His very grace that pardons? Throughout the OT passages, God sends people after people (it could be angels, prophets, etc) to warn man against the consequence of sin before He metes out any judgment. God’s free grace grants us enough space and time so that we can come to Him, repent and turn away from evil. However, this free grace is not cheap and as such has  grave consequences that come with undervaluing it.

 

Another reason that tends to make one feel that God was very merciless in the OT but non-violent in the NT is the manner in which God executed judgment in both eras. It’s  very easy to assume that God’s punishment for lawbreakers then was stricter than it is in the NT. I won’t deny the fact that the detailed description of the unpleasant events that befell law offenders of the old have the ability to make us question where God’s wrath is in our day. In the OT…

  • King David lost his child because he committed adultery.
  • The sons of Eliab (Dathan and Abiram) were swallowed up into the bowels of the earth when they rebelled against Moses and God.
  • God sent poisonous snakes among the people of Israel in the wilderness for complaining.
  • Uzzah was struck dead for touching the Ark of the Covenant

Yet we don’t hear these kind of news among sinful believers today. No wiping  out of a city or a nation. No worms eating up our flesh. So God has mellowed eh? Or the common phrase from our mouths is ‘Thank God for abundant grace or else God would have directed a bolt of lightning at you FAST!’ We make it sound as though the measure of God’s Grace has increased in modern times. Well, the problem isn’t with God’s grace because the same measure of grace that existed during the time of the prophets and kings is the same measure of grace that abounds today. What we need to understand here is that the context in which God deals with mankind now is way different from the OT times. God only appears to be more gracious and merciful in the New Testament because of the Cross. Christ’s death on the cross was the perfect, ultimate sacrifice that paid our sin debt completely (once and for all) and offered forgiveness to all mankind. God was never pleased with the year-after-year sacrifice and offerings of the  old although that was the only way man could atone for his sins. Animal blood couldn’t fulfill the full requirements of the Law but Jesus blood did.  Let me quickly add that this is definitely not a permission for us to trifle with God’s grace. To think that we can keep on sinning because God can keep on forgiving is a deadly lullaby we must resist. God’s forgiveness is meant to lead us to repentance not sinfulness. Also, don’t forget that the Cross equally reveals God’s utmost displeasure towards sin. Because of God’s infinitely holy character and the nature of the ultimate sacrifice made by Christ, the punishment for sin which is hell is very horrific. Make no mistake! God is full of both wrath and love therefore never think His compassion for anyone will forbid Him from exercising righteous judgment. Do you think God will overlook sin when He Himself did not spare His own son from paying the ultimate price of sin on the cross? Jesus’ sacrifice satisfied God’s justice but it doesn’t rule out the fact that anyone who willfully tramples upon God’s free gift of salvation treasures up for themselves unimaginable wrath on the final day of judgment.

 

I’ve always wondered how non-theists manage to raise up arguments against the character of God. Please how do you accuse God of being a cosmic bully when you deny His existence in the first place? How do you even go ahead to bring up the issue of good vs evil when you outrightly deny objective moral reasoning? You can’t possibly call God evil if you believe in subjective moral reasoning where everything is at the mercy of one’s personal preference.

 

The extent and degree of God’s feelings for His creation in times past has never been different from what He feels for His creation today. The Bible is crystal clear on the fact that God is a perfect, unchangeable God. His perfection makes it highly impossible for someone of His caliber to be more/less gracious, kind, holy, just, merciful, pure etc than He is now. You don’t need to be bothered about God’s mood at any time because He does not change. What’s more important is that we establish the right relationship with Him. As simple as that. Someone put it nicely by saying: “Fire can burn. Fire can also provide warmth and comfort. It all depends on where we stand in relationship to the flame.” It’s the same with God. Your position in relation to Him will determine the kind of blessings or curses you’ll receive from Him. Before God, you stand as either His elect or His enemy. Today, I plead with you to make the right choice and enjoy His overflowing goodness.

 

 

 

Remember, Remember this time the 14th of February

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Remember, remember this time the 14th of February! We’re at it again! Boys and girls are on the run—and as usual, not all the faces are beaming with smiles. I think we all have a fair idea of what’s going on here so let’s not bother ourselves with the trouble of inviting Scooby Doo’s Team to help solve the mystery for us. Let me start by warning the ladies, please don’t attempt to play any Catch-Me-If-You-Can games around this time. No “Hide ‘N’ Seek”. If for anything, not in the early weeks (before the 14th) of February. It’s a trap! Trust me, you won’t find him and not even NASA’s GPS navigation device can do anything about it—well, unless they get too serious with #OperationBringMyManDown. And yes, watch out for the sodas too. Very very important. Take precautions. If you have a dog at home, kindly make him/her/it sip your drink first before you do. You don’t want to retire to bed on 13th February only to wake up to a bright morning on the 17th of March (kind courtesy of Valium 10mg). I don’t know but I tend to hear these kind of jokes around this time of the year and sometimes I’m tempted to even believe they actually happen in some parts of our world. Ah well, I always say that it was never meant to be so but someway somehow…we’ve made it so. *sighs*

My friend, you’re under siege if your relationship with someone brings you constant sorrow and depression every time. It’s a PARASITIC RELATIONSHIP: somebody wants to benefit at the expense of your health. I know that because I always flee from the proboscis of the female anopheles mosquito. I don’t walk away. I said I FLEE. And at this moment, you should be nodding harder to support my statement if you’ve ever been pinned down by a severe malarial attack before. So I understand if that guy is Missing in Action okay? His wallet may be suffering from unconsciousness due to severe bleeding. That lady is wearing a serious frown on her face not because of any pungent smell around her. And it’s definitely not emanating from your body because you’re smelling very good— I trust. It’s just that she’s been let down so many times she’s even lost count of it. But I’m not here to lecture you on LOVE. If I should start now, I won’t end anytime soon. And I intend to keep this post short as planned so… *Discipline Mode Activated*

This year…no, wait let’s look at something briefly first. Can you guess the most searched word last two years around this time on Dictionary.com and also the day after on Thesaurus.com? What word do you think had the highest search on the web engine? According to their blog titled The Trending Words of Valentine’s Day”, the word ‘expenditure’ saw the biggest spike on Dictionary.com (on Val’s day) while ‘discourage’ saw the biggest spike on Thesaurus.com (a day after Val’s day). Other notable words were enlisted too but meehn, I’m feeling too lazy to type them now, so please check it out yourself (just click on the blog title). It’s a very short read so you should be fine. I want to give you an assignment. Go do your research and tell me why you believe people looked up those words the most (You can kindly drop your answers in the comment section below).

This year, can we try something new? I know you already have plans on how you’re going to celebrate Feb 14th. That’s cool. I just want to chip in something though. As you munch all the munchies and drink the drinkable, find some time within your fun moments to sit and talk about other pressing issues. Especially for the couples, try to reexamine the progress of your love relationship. If there has to be the redefinition of its purpose, don’t hesitate to do that. At least, make sure both parties still remember the ‘why’ for the pairing. Is the bigger picture still intact? You know, be intentional about it. Once your love life has a vision, it must be characterized by a sense of conscious commitment and discipline.

Now you…YES, YOU!!! Don’t give me that I-will-be-in-my-room-and-make-no-noise-and-pretend-as-if-I-do-not-exist excuse not to make merry on that day. Who told you that Val’s day is specially reserved for couples only? It’s a day (and this shouldn’t be your first and last by the way) to express your love to everyone around you—including friends and family members. It’s just like any other day but choose to do something a little more different than the usual. Do something special to make that ordinary day extraordinary for someone you admire. If it’s a friend you haven’t visited in a while, use this opportunity to pull that surprise on him (her). Still holding a grudge against Mum or Dad or any other relative? C’mon, this is a good time to quit taking stock of their shortcomings. We all make mistakes everyday. So why don’t you wipe the slate clean and forgive whoever it is that offended you, mmm? *Tweety’s voice* Love keeps no record of wrongs as the Bible says. Learn to let go so you can release the heavy weight from your chest. You can’t be sulking pal, You gotta be rejoicing!

Do something new this time around. I’m tired of the old stories already and I’m guessing you are too. February 14th, 2016 will never come again. Let’s make it special!