Be Wise About Alcohol
Proverbs 20:1, 23:19-21, 29-35, 31:4-7
February 8, 2004
Over the last couple of lessons I have tried to
emphasize the fact that we are all in this world
together. We are dealing with a very serious
topic this morning that affects millions of lives,
Through God’s grace, I made my commitment
in the mid 50’s about its use.
My father took the mowing machine and cut a
swath, in a back field, for my sisters & I to use
when we walked to school so that the dew would
not bother us too badly.
Within a hundred yards or so of this swath, once
upon a time I promised the Lord God that I would
never drink alcoholic beverages.
While I will not say that that has made me a better
man than you, I will say, it has made me a better
man and no doubt saved me from a lot of self-
inflicted heartache. They say that alcoholism is
a disease, if it is, it is self-inflicted.
I am not here this morning to place a curse on
anyone that uses alcohol, it apparently does that
I will try to give you straight from the Bible what I
have found that it says about this subject!
First, I know that the abuse of alcohol is a
work of the flesh because in Gal. 5:19-21
“Now the works of the flesh are manifest, ........
drunkenness.....of which I tell you before as
I have told you in time past, that they which do
such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God”
The New Testament is very emphatic about
the flesh - Rom. 8:5-8, Gal. 6:7-8, Eph. 5:14-18
Now when you associate these with
II Thess. 2:10-12 it clears things up for
those who want to know.
Secularly, the Greek god Dionysus, god of
wine - pleasure - civilization - represented as
a beautiful youth with a fawn draped over his
shoulders - there were festivals with processions,
The Romans called him Bacchus & celebrated
Bacchanalia - a festival that became so immoral
that in 186 B.C., the Roman Senate forbade it.
There is much evidence American Society is in
a decline, even sliding down the slippery bank
of alcohol abuse and into the quicksand of a
serious drug culture problem.
“witchcraft” used in Gal. 5:20 - Greek word
is translated “pharmaceia” - to use drugs.
BOTH ARE WRONG according to Scripture.
Now I will confess that I do not know everything,
but I also confess that I know truth when I see it.
When I think of American culture the way it is
portrayed in movies and on television, ( and during
Super Bowl half-time shows) contrasted with
what I have read in my commentaries this week,
even though I don’t like it, it does make sense!
I would like to allow the Bible make some sense
today, especially, by using the Proverbs of our
lesson: Prov. 20:1, 23:29-21,29-35, 31:4-7
For starters: ch. 20:1
“Wine is a mocker” - the inebriated persons scoff at
what is holy, reject reproof, and ridicule all that is serious.
“strong drink” - inordinate use of this renders men
noisy and boisterous, no longer masters of themselves
or restrained by the laws of morality & decency.
“Whoever is deceived thereby is not wise”
Where are the brains in American society when
it comes to this?
ch. 23:19-21 - An exhortation to temperance,
as an evidence of the fear of God.
v. 19 - “Hear thou” - personal pronoun
Of course, it is not recognized by Microsoft
Windows Spellcheck - perhaps there is a
relation, perhaps there is not.
Of course, it is not in modern versions of
the Bible, perhaps there is a relation with
their translators and their users turning their
heads at this maxim, then perhaps not.
“guide thy heart in the way” - the right way
in distinction with the many wrong paths
of life - ch. 9:6 - called “the way of understanding”
Right thoughts lead to right actions.
v. 20 - “wine-bibbers ...riotous eaters of the
flesh” - gluttony & luxury ruin their bodies.
these two terms were used in combination against
our Lord in Matt. 11:19
II Peter 2:21b-22 Rev. 14:4-5
v. 21 - Intemperance leads to prodigality (where did
it get the Prodigal Son?) - carelessness & ruin.
Luxury & excess leads to drowsiness
(profound insensibility) enfeebles the mind
and corrupts the higher faculties, converting
a rational being into a witless animal.
Also - inability to work - poverty naturally follows.
vs. 29-35 - a ode or song on the subject
v. 29 - Drunkenness is closely connected with the sin
mentioned in the previous two verses.
Who hath pain or grief? contentions/brawlings?
babbling/expressing sorrowful thought in regret
for lost fortune, ruined health, alienated friends?
Who hath wounds which might have been
avoided? bloodshot eyes or the change in power
of vision when alcohol reaches the brain?
Physical deterioration - dissipation soon tells on
a man’s personal appearance, and still more on
his countenance, that he is mastered by what he
puts in his mouth.
Contentiousness - last week we learned that we need
all our powers and the Lord, too, to control ourselves.
A man who is excited by strong drink is in the wrong
environment for ruling his spirit and controlling his
tongue. He is likely to speak the sentence, then comes
the blows and finally the feud.
v. 30 - The answer given - they who sit long hours
drinking - Isaiah 5:11-16
“they that go to seek mixed wine” - contrast Ps. 27:8
v. 31 - It is as though the cup had an eye which
glanced at the drinker with a fascination which
he could not resist.
“moveth itself aright” - gliddeth down smoothly,
pleases the palate & passes over it without roughness
v. 32 - Wine is like the subtle poison of a serpent which
affects the whole body & produces fatal consequences.
The mischief is not seen at first - it is “at the last” that it
does its work.
It is so deadly that all need to be warned - half of all traffic
related deaths associated with alcohol -
Affects the pocketbook, money runs out, business fails, home
is wrecked, health is deteriorated, the brain is weakened, the
doctor, the lawyer, the judge, the scholar loose their mental
faculties needed to do their jobs, scars the conscience, destroys
character, the soul-life is poisoned and there is an aversion to
religion - the drunkard cannot enter heaven.
Pulpit Scan - p. 457
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Materials are reproduced by permission."
v. 33 - “Thine eyes shall behold strange women” - effect
on the brain by feverish conditions but seems to
make reference to the often denounced connection
between drunkenness & incontinence (sexual control?)
Illustration of health student in oral report - “alcohol increases
the desire but hinders the performance”
One of the effects of alcohol is the unbridling of lust, when
the eyes look out and rove after UNCHASTE WOMEN.
Who are they one might ask?
The excitement of the intoxicating cup has had a lot to do
with departures from the path of purity and honor, eventually
leading to ruin.
“thine heart shall utter perverse things” - Jesus said “For
out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries,
fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: these are the
things which defile a man” - Matt. 15:19
The sight of a drunkard is a better sermon against the
vice than the best that was ever preached upon the
Example of man staggering down Kentucky Ave.
on Jan. 18, 2004 - two steps forward, one back or
sideways - as if he needed to draw attention to
himself, he had on a huge and red Santa Clause hat.
Approached Mr. & Mrs Outland - I drove around again
to make sure there were no problems - I asked Mr.
Outland last Sunday about what the man said to him
as he was pulling back his coat and strutting - Mr.
Outland said he didn’t understand what he was saying
Drunkard’s notions distorted - he confuses right & wrong -
(Super Bowl half time fiasco last week) Say and do things
which one would not do if in possession of their full senses.
(INTOXICATION WITH ATTENTION, GLORY, etc.)
v. 34 - compared to a man asleep in a frail boat in stormy
waters - unconscious of surrounding circumstances.
Or sleeping where no one could sleep without the greatest
danger of falling off - the mast of a ship - you know - dropping
an object in your hand when you go to sleep.
The victim of intoxication is indeed “at sea” and like one
sleeping on the verge of danger and sudden death - LIVING
ON THE EDGE.
In a spiritual sense he is drunk who does not perceive the
great danger of his soul, and even becomes more stubborn
with every chastisement.
v. 35 - The drunkard is depicted as talking to himself -
“thou shalt say” - after the hang over he has some
vague idea that he has suffered certain rough
treatment at the hands of his companions but it has
made no impression on him.
“they have beaten me and I felt it not”
Far from profiting from his merited chastisement, he is
represented as looking forward to do it again?
“I will seek it yet again” - (back to intelligence issue or else
wicked habits have done in the conscience)
v. 4 - It is not for leadership to use strong drink.
I think of Isaiah 8:19
The evils of intemperance are bad enough in private persons,
but greatly enhanced in presidents, senators, representatives,
local judges, etc.
Their misdeeds affect a whole nation or community.
I think of Ted Kennedy whose family’s fortune was made
during Prohibition - what money can do - “to whom much
is given, much is required” - a thorn in the Judiciary
Committee - one of the primary ones to “bork” Robert
Bork, one of the more qualified persons to ever appear
as a nominee to the high court - author of Slouching
Towards Gommorha - it ought to replace Steinbeck’s
Of Mice or Men in local high school English Dept.’s
reading list - yea, along with Myrtle Hayes’ Only
There is no secret where drunkenness reigns - this in
accordance to the proverbs - “where drink enters,
wisdom departs” & “when wine goes in the secret
comes out” - a la Chappaquiddick.
v. 3 - a sin in close affinity these verses that follow.
Remember Hosea 4:11 - “ Whoredom and wine and
new wine take away the heart”!
Alcohol makes a man incapable of being a private friend
or a public counselor.
It disarms a man of all his reason and wisdom making him
more a fool and less a man. It breaks down a man's inhibition's,
the God provided natural braking system to keep man from doing
I don’t want to be cruel here but this is true. Abuse of
alcohol discovers the nakedness of the soul with all its
weakness and follies. I have enough nakedness in my
soul with weakness and follies, that I do not need the
provoking of alcohol for them to raise their ugly heads.
v. 5 - A warning - “Lest they drink, and forget thy Law”
and “Pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted” - literally
of all the sons of affliction - the whole class of poor people.
Intemperance leads to selfish disregard of other’s claims, an
inability to examine questions impartially, and consequently to
perversion of justice.
Who can juggle this stick of dynamite?
True use of wine - v. 6, Judges 9:13 - blessing of wine in
moderation & as promotive of social cheerfulness.
Oh that men should put an enemy in their mouths to steal away
their brains! that we should with joy, revel with pleasure, and
applause, transform ourselves into beasts!